How I Live Now - Saoirse Ronan
How I Live Now - Daisy (Saoirse Ronan) ©2013 Magnolia Pictures

Irish actress Saoirse Ronan (Atonement, Hanna, The Host) stars in the new drama How I Live Now, based on the book of the same name by Meg Rosoff.

Set in the near future, Daisy (Ronan), an alienated American teenager, is sent to stay with her relatives in the English countryside. But an escalating conflict in Europe erupts and a nuclear bomb is dropped on the UK, turning the country into a military state, where Daisy and her cousins must fight for their lives.

Saoirse spoke about the movie earlier this week, which opens on Friday, November 8th.

Had you read the book prior to beginning the movie?

How I Live Now - Saoirse Ronan and George MacKay
How I Live Now – Daisy (Saoirse Ronan) and Eddie (George MacKay) ©2013 Magnolia Pictures

I hadn’t, no. I waited until afterwards. But it depends on the film.

Did you read The Host before you started that?

I did, because it was this size (shows how big it was), and I thought I should probably read it. But with this, the script had been changed a little bit. In most cases it’s an adaptation of a story, it’s a different version of it and it’s a different angle or take on the story.

I think if [the screenplay] is written very well and it’s quite strong to begin with then, for me, it’s better to just focus on that.

Daisy’s a very angry, edgy character. Was it hard to get under her skin?

How I Live Now - Daisy (Saoirse Ronan) ©2013 Magnolia Pictures
How I Live Now – Daisy (Saoirse Ronan) ©2013 Magnolia Pictures

I think the tricky thing was to find the balance between somebody who needs to come across as quite unlikeable and quite abrasive, but still have an element of vulnerability to them that makes them someone who you ultimately care about.

The one thing that I was worried about when I was reading it was you need to make sure that she’s not just a bitch the whole way through because, if she is, no one is going to care what happens to her.

So you need to grow to, hopefully, love her, and hopefully people do.

Was it strange to film a movie in England playing an American?

How I Live Now - Saoirse Ronan and Harley Bird
How I Live Now – Daisy (Saoirse Ronan) and Piper (Harley Bird) ©2013 Magnolia Pictures

It was a bit, actually, yes, because everyone else is English in it and I wasn’t. And she has this kind of New York vibe to her as well, which I really liked.

But that helped in a way, because she’s supposed to feel a little bit alienated and intimidated by the place.

So I think by me not necessarily [playing] an American, but that teenage modern attitude toward everything, the countryside and animals, it made me feel like I was in that foreign environment.

The movie depicts a very scary scenario…

The idea of it is terrifying. I couldn’t really sit back and watch the film as an audience member, but the one thing that really did strike me about it was the scenery was very familiar to me.

It was the kind of place that I grew up in, a place that is so safe, and [for it to] be completely obliterated, destroyed and emptied of its people is what’s really terrifying about it, because it could very easily happen at any point.

There are several child actors in the movie, particularly Harley Bird who plays 10-year-old Piper. Saoirse spoke about being a child actor herself on Atonement. Play the video below to see what she said…



Judy Sloane

Judy is Film Review Online's regular Los Angeles based reporter.