BY DONNA FREYDKIN
Her movie "Brooklyn" is being hailed as one of the best of the year. But Saoirse Ronan, who plays an Irish immigrant in the 1950s period drama, is keeping her head firmly in the sand, by choice.
"I don't read any (reviews) at all," says Ronan, who has one Oscar nomination to her name, for playing Keira Knightley's vengeful younger sister in 2007's "Atonement."
And yes, all the plaudits she's heard second-hand have gone straight to her head.
"I refer to Saoirse in the third person. Saoirse's happy with everything," she jokes.
The Irish actress, who was born in the Bronx, is planning to relocate to Manhattan next year. Like her character, who moves to New York from her home in Ireland, she knows what it's like to shed a skin and find a new one.
"Everyone goes through it. I left the country as well when I was 19 and went over to London. That was about eight months before we shot 'Brooklyn.' To go through that journey at the same time as the character I was playing was a new experience for me. There was nowhere to hide. It's such a liberating thing to be able to disappear into someone so very different from you," says Ronan.
She feels the most at home in "Ireland, ultimately. That's where my family is. That doesn't mean I want to live there right now. So many people move away. New York is the kind of place I want to be while I'm young. But I can't imagine raising my kids anywhere else but Ireland."
Her parents helped her retain perspective when she first broke through in Hollywood, and work as an actress not for the fame or money, but because she loved the jobs.
"I just don't think I was famous," says Ronan, the daughter of actor Paul Ronan. "I find that hard to comprehend in any way. Any attention I got, my parents were not fazed by it."
Ronan is fazed by one thing: her inability to juggle. Recently, Ellen Page demonstrated her impressive skills with four oranges. Ronan sighs when she's told about it.
"Of course she's good at it. She can do anything," says Ronan. "I'm never going to be like Ellen. I will never be Ellen Page."
Ronan doesn't measure up, even after her turn in 2007's "Death Defying Acts."
"I can't juggle to save my life. And that's sharing a lot about myself. That's a big part of myself that I swore I would never share. Years ago I did a film about Harry Houdini and I played this little Scottish girl from Edinburgh," she says. "We were these con artists. I had to juggle in a scene. I just could not. I still can't do it."
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