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Saoirse Ronan on Playing Back-to-Back Teen Killers in Hanna and Violet & Daisy

After Saoirse Ronan’s character was brutally raped and murdered in The Lovely Bones last year, perhaps it’s only fair for Ronan to seek some cinematic payback. The sixteen-year-old actress was in Manhattan this week for the New York Comic-Con unveiling of Hanna, where she plays a teen killer raised by Eric Bana and sent after Cate Blanchett (the movie reunites Ronan with director Joe Wright, who guided her to an Oscar nomination for 2007’s Atonement). Shortly after that, she’ll play another precocious assassin opposite Alexis Bledel and James Gandolfini in Violet & Daisy, the directorial debut of Precious screenwriter Geoffrey Fletcher. While she was in town, Vulture managed to corner Ronan to discuss about both films (but we didn’t get too close, because frankly, we’re a little afraid of her now).

So you’ve suddenly become Hollywood’s go-to hit girl!
Yes! I actually decided to do both movies around the same time, and I had a meeting with Geoffrey and said, “I’m going to be doing this film called Hanna, and she’s not exactly an assassin, but she kills people, and I hope that’s not going to affect our film.” The more I thought about the two stories, though, they’re so, so different.

How so?
Hanna is more serious, and funnily enough, it’s more realistic. Violet & Daisy is quite surreal. It’s these two girls who are like eighteen or nineteen, but they act quite young. They only stay together and they don’t really step outside their little bubble. They kill people, but it’s very cold, and it’s just kind of what they do – like Alexis Bledel’s character blows bubblegum while she’s shooting some guy. It’s that kind of thing, a little bit more comedic than Hanna, which is more of a fairy tale.

I’ve talked to Geoffrey before and he’s possibly one of the most unnervingly nice people ever.
Ever! I would say so, yeah. He is so sweet and lovely, and he’s so excited that he’s finally getting to make his first film.

I worry that he’s not a mean enough person to be a director.
I know! Sometimes you’ve just gotta go, “Come on, Geoffrey! You tell ‘em what you wanna do!” [Laughs] No, no. He’s a really, really sweet guy.

So how has your relationship with Joe Wright changed since you made Atonement together?
I think like any relationship, it just grew. We know each other better now, and we’re closer. We have a very good working relationship and we seem to be quite in sync. Also, this time, I’m sixteen and before, I was eleven or twelve.

Was he already treating you like a sixteen-year-old then?
I don’t think he’s ever really labeled me with an age, which I’m glad of. He’s always just treated me as Saoirse. I think when we started to work together on this, he got a bit of a shock that I had grown up since we’d last worked together – mentally and physically, you’re going to grow a lot in four years – so he may have been like, “Oh my God, Saoirse’s not a little kid anymore.” It was quite funny for me.

You told me how Hanna is different from Violet & Daisy tonally, but how is your own character different in each?
Hanna is very reserved. She’s very innocent and very calm when she kills people. [Laughs] She’s very nonjudgmental, which is probably my favorite thing about her. When she steps out into the world for the first time, she doesn’t know the difference between right and wrong or good and bad or what’s ugly and what’s beautiful – she’s got a completely open mind to everything. Daisy is an absolute sweetheart and she’s similar because they’d both do anything for the people they love, but Daisy’s quite funny. Some of the things she comes out with are hilarious. Puppy dogs and bubblegum are very serious things for her.

Did you have to do weapons training for these films?
Yeah, for both of them. It was great because Violet & Daisy came right after Hanna, and I had already done my weapons training and martial arts for Hanna. I was like, “Just give me the gun and I’ll shoot it, all right?”

“Just send Alexis. I’ve got this.”
[Laughs] That’s basically what happened! It came in really handy because I know how to hold a gun now and what to expect when you shoot it.

I’m an adult, and I don’t even know what to expect from that.
It’s fun! I like it, it really sets your heart racing.

Saoirse Ronan on Playing Back-to-Back Teen Killers in Hanna and Violet & Daisy