Saoirse Ronan, Oscar veteran at 23, laughs off her chances

Saoirse Ronan arrives for the British Academy of Film and Television Awards (BAFTA) at the Royal Albert Hall in London, Britain, February 18, 2018. (Reuters)
Updated 20 February 2018
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Saoirse Ronan, Oscar veteran at 23, laughs off her chances

PARIS: Saoirse Ronan is not like other Hollywood stars.
Spread out on a sofa in a luxury Paris hotel in a “Mary Magdalene, sorry Maggie Marilyn” pyjama suit looking like a vamp from “The Great Gatsby,” she is joking about her bad skin.
The sideburns of acne she has in “Lady Bird,” the acclaimed coming-of-age movie that has won her a third Oscar nomination at the age of 23, were very much her own, she laughed.
“No, they were real!” she told AFP. “I had a bad skin at the time so we just didn’t cover it up.
“Weirdly I never got bad skin as a teenager at all,” said the Irish actress, who was first nominated for an Academy Award when she was only 13 for “Atonement.”
“It was only when I was 21 or 22 when I was doing loads of press that I got it. So, it was you that did it,” she laughed.
Ronan is often talked about as one of the most talented actors of her generation — she won a best actress Golden Globe last month for “Lady Bird,” her “sensational” portrayal of a Sacramento teenager in the last year of high school whose lofty ambitions are often at odds with reality and her family’s precarious finances.
She is also one of the most down-to-earth, seemingly unphased by having grown up in front of the camera as a child actor from the age of eight.
“My Mam came away with me on every job till I was 18, and my Dad is an actor, so they understood the pitfalls.”
Even so, “going through puberty on screen can very easily be terrifying. You are so aware of what you look like, and to have a lens pointed at your face,” she told AFP as she promoted “Lady Bird” in the French capital.
“So you have to have the attitude that it is more important to get what you are doing right than worry whether you look pretty.”
Doing good work has been Ronan’s watchword since she was very young, carefully choosing quality films rather than playing the fame game.
“I was offered an action film at the same time as ‘Atonement’ (when she was 12) but I knew even then that was not the direction I wanted to go in,” she said.
She was a more obvious choice to play an Irish immigrant in “Brooklyn,” and Ronan insisted that hooking up with indie star Greta Gerwig for her directorial debut on “Lady Bird” was also a “no-brainer.”
“When you read a script where one of the introductory scenes is someone arguing with their mother and jumping out of a car it is a massive selling point. With Greta I knew it would be smart, interesting and funny,” she said.
Gerwig, who made her name both writing and starring in “Frances Ha” and “Mistress America” with director Noah Baumbach, said it was a marriage made in heaven.
Even though the film is semi-autobiographical, Gerwig said she didn’t really “understand the character until (Ronan) started saying the lines... she is this flawed but amazing heroine.”
And for her part, Ronan said she cried when Gerwig was nominated for an Oscar. Incredibly it was only the fifth time that a woman had been nominated for best director.
“She deserves it so much. It was a really momentous thing for the times we are in to have at least one woman nominated and completely deservedly. That means a lot to all of us,” said Ronan.
In terms of empowerment, “getting to play a confident teenage girl” also mattered hugely, she said.
“It’s so rare to see a teenage girl just own it in a film — someone who just goes for it and isn’t afraid to fall on their face. There is a strength and a bravery you can catch from that person.”
Ronan is acutely conscious that “Lady Bird” has already become a key cultural reference for many teenage girls.
“She is quite outspoken which I am too. She is trying to find her people and her places. When I was around 18 I knew (like her that) I needed to get out and find who I was.
“Like Greta and Lady Bird I wanted to go to New York. I was only there eight months but it was enough to say, ‘I’ve found myself!’” she laughed.
As for finally lifting an Oscar next month at the third attempt, Ronan insists that she “hasn’t thought about winning. When you win you have to do all the press afterwards, and you don’t get a chance to have a dance. So it is also quite nice losing because you can enjoy the night.”


Six classic car films to watch as women in Saudi Arabia prepare to take the wheel

Updated 23 June 2018
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Six classic car films to watch as women in Saudi Arabia prepare to take the wheel

DUBAI: In celebration of women in Saudi Arabia getting behind the wheel on June 24, we take a look at six classic car films — female-driven flicks included — that are guaranteed to get your adrenaline going.
‘The Italian Job’ (1969)
“You were only supposed to blow the bloody doors off!” It’s an iconic line known the world over, but have you actually sat down to watch this Michael Caine-starring classic? The plot centers on Caine’s character and his crew of gangsters who pull off a dazzling heist while driving a bevy of Mini Coopers. It’s fantastically fun and even inspired a 2003 remake. If it’s your first time, however, we suggest sticking to the original — they don’t build ‘em like they used to.
‘Thelma and Louise’ (1991)
It may have a controversial ending, but many see this film as the high octane, feminist version of “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” and it is revered in film culture. Directed by Ridley Scott and starring Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon, the film sees the pair flee after they kill a rapist and follows them as they fight until the very end — and meet a very young Brad Pitt on the way.
‘Crossroads’ (2002)
It may have received lukewarm reviews at the time, but this film was loved by teenage girls the world over. The flick stars Britney Spears (alarm bells, anyone?) and tells the story of three childhood friends who rekindle their connection on a cross-country trip.
‘Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby’ (2006)
The humor may be eye-roll inducing, but this film has too many fans to discount. The film pokes fun at NASCAR and sees Will Ferrell play the role of Ricky Bobby, a driver who was at the top of his game but loses it all to a snotty Frenchman.
‘Drive’ (2011)
It’s dark, it’s gritty and best of all it stars Ryan Gosling. He is known for his deadpan, inexpressive face (and oh, what a face) and skillfully portrays a Hollywood stuntman who moonlights as a getaway driver and ends up risking it all to protect a woman and her son from vengeful criminals.
‘Baby Driver’ (2017)
You can’t discuss this film without giving special mention to its epic soundtrack — it features everything from James Brown to Beck and will have you wiggling in your seat throughout the movie. Ansel Elgort plays a brilliant young getaway driver with a penchant for seriously good music, stunningly choreographed car chases and the primal desire to escape a mob boss with the girl he loves.