LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Irish actress Saoirse Ronan was only 13-years-old when she took the part of a murdered girl who watches over her grieving family in The Lovely Bones. But even at such a young age, she never once worried about playing a dead person.
I never really thought of Susie Salmon as someone who was dead, says Ronan, now 15, of her Bones character. Although her body is dead, her soul is still there. Thats what makes Susie who she is and thats what I love about her.
Ronans performance in the film, which opens in US theatres on Friday and is an adaptation of the best-selling novel by Alice Sebold, seems impressive for such a young woman. Then again, the last few year of Ronans life have been pretty impressive, too.
The Irish actress (whose first name is pronounced Sir-sha) earned an Oscar nomination for her role as Keira Knightleys younger sister, Briony Tallis, in 2007s romantic drama Atonement.
In Bones, Ronan finds herself carrying an entire movie, with a little help from a stellar cast and crew that includes director Peter Jackson, and Susan Sarandon, Rachel Weisz and Mark Wahlberg as her devastated family.
Despite being adept at handling such heavy subject matter, Ronan seems a typical, carefree teenager. She loves clothes and spending time with her friends back home in Ireland.
I dont see my friends as often as I would like to, so its always nice to meet up with them, she said. We talk and laugh and listen to music. We also dress up and have a fashion show with the premiere dresses I have at home.
The gown count in her closet is only likely to increase in years ahead. While Bones has earned mixed reviews, Ronans work has been well-received. There are more films on the way, and Ronan says she expects to make a career as an actress.
After parts in City of Ember and Death Defying Acts, the decision to pursue acting for good crystallized after Atonement, in which she played a young girl who accuses her sisters boyfriend of a crime he did not commit.
'Atonement was the first film I did that was a real challenge, she says. I was working with some very experienced people. I came out of it feeling like I did a pretty good job and had a good time. The bar was raised for me with acting on that movie. I felt like maybe I could do this professionally.
'Maybe is modest considering Academy Award voters made her the 11th youngest person ever to be nominated for an Oscar in more than 80 years of giving the worlds top film honors.
It is perhaps not surprising to learn that performing runs in Ronans blood. Born in New York to Irish parents, she moved to Ireland when she was 3-years-old and still speaks with an Irish brogue.
Her father, Paul, is an actor whos had parts in films like The Devils Own in 1997 and Veronica Guerin. Her parents told her that, when she was a toddler visiting the set of Devils Own, she was held by cast member Brad Pitt although she has no recollection of meeting him.
Yet, Ronan now finds herself travelling in the same Hollywood movie circles as Pitt, working with A-list talent like Sarandon and her next co-star, Colin Farrell, in Peter Weirs war drama The Way Back
But the young actress said she doesnt worry about the trappings of fame, crediting her parents for providing her with a normal childhood in the Irish countryside complete with a dog, a garden and home-cooked meals.
When Ronan works on a film, be it the US, England or New Zealand where much of The Lovely Bones was shot the trio uproots as a unit.
As long as people still want me in their films, I would love to do this for the rest of my life, Ronan says. I have a passion for it. I love it and I have fun. (Editing by Jill Serjeant and Bob Tourtellotte