16. Saoirse auditioned for the role of Luna Lovegood in the Harry Potter series back in 2006 when she was 12, but lost out to Evanna Lynch. Said Saoirse about the disappointment, “I was too young—but at the time I thought, ‘I’d love to be in Harry Potter.’ When I was younger, I used to think they had the best job in the world.”
17. Saoirse is the reason her Atonement director, Joe Wright, wound up at the helm of Hanna. When the actress was first in talks for the film, there wasn’t a director attached to it yet. “I wasn’t even confirmed to play the part yet,” she told the MetroWest Daily News in 2011. “I was just kind of talking about it with the people from Focus Films, and the first person who popped into my head was Joe. I said, ‘Why don’t you send the script to Joe Wright? I’m sure he’d be interested in it.’” She continued, “Then I said, ‘just tell him I’m doing it.’ I had never been so cheeky before. But Joe rang me a few days later and told me to get my butt in the gym and start training.”
18. She did all of her own stunts as the unusual action heroine Hanna, for which she underwent rigorous training: First she spent a few months in LA before shooting so that the stunt coordinator could get a feel for her strength, energy, and capability; then she went home to Ireland with a member of the film’s stunt team and trained in the gym for two hours a day until shooting began. She trained in martial arts, stick fighting, and weapons.
19. Why is the young actress drawn to such intense roles? “I like characters that interest me,” she once explained, “that I’m thinking about for ages and ages after I’ve finished the script. Usually they’re ones that are different from me in some way, or maybe there’s a piece of me that I haven’t brought out yet and I want to explore a little bit.”
20. When Saoirse was a child, she used to make up elaborate stories for her toys to play out—but probably not the way most kids do. “Little soap operas,” she’s called them, explaining, “Polly Pocket’s boyfriend was Woody from Toy Story. They were together for a very long time—since high school, actually. In college, he had an affair. It was very complex—things that probably a 7-year-old shouldn’t have been imagining. I was a weird girl.”
Above: Saoirse as ‘Hanna.’
Up next: What the future holds for Saoirse and more!