Saoirse: Hi, Jasmine.
Jasmine: How are you? I was just wondering, how emotionally invested do you think you were in the character of Eilis since you and her both come from New York and Ireland?
Saoirse: I mean initially that was the real personal connection for me was the fact that my mom and dad had made that trip over from Ireland to New York and had gotten married in City Hall just like Eilis and Tony did, and I was born there. Yes, these two places really very much made up who I am, but by the time we actually made the film which was maybe a year or so after I had signed on. I had moved away from home and was living in London and was going through home sickness myself and still trying to figure out where I stood in the grownup world. It’s a very daunting feeling I think, and I was right in the middle of that while we were making the film, so it meant that every kind of stage that we see Eilis reaching and overcoming, I was going through myself. It was very scary because of that, because there was sort of nowhere to hide, but by the same token, once you actually get through something like that there’s nothing more gratifying.
Kate: This is your first role or one of your first roles playing an adult woman in a coming of age story where she’s adapting to a new country, could you speak about the role and the character, and how you feel about moving beyond juvenile roles?
Saoirse: I mean it’s interesting because even when I was a kid, I never was involved in children’s films apart from maybe one or two. They were always quite grown up, and so when I got to the age of about 18 and 19, I was really ready to play someone older, and certainly by the time I reached 20. It’s a tricky time because there’s a lot of execs and writers and studios and all the rest that can’t really pinpoint exactly what a journey would be for a young woman between the ages of 18 and 21, so it’s a tricky time to get the role that is interesting and still kind of matches your maturity and where you’re at in your own life. When Brooklyn came along, it was perfect, and it was like a bloody guardian angel or something coming down and kind of going, “Okay, you’re ready now.” I think just going through that experience, I felt quite changed afterwards, but I was very much ready to take that step.
Moderator: Next is Kelly Wells with Emerson College.
Kelly: …my question is, when people go to see this movie what do you want them to take away from it?
Saoirse: I think honestly, I mean John has put it really well whenever anyone’s asked, just to be kind to people. I think the real—if there’s any message with this film, apart from the personal connections that everyone has seemed to have to us in one way or another, the heart of this movie is that she gets on well in life and she grows, and she grows into this amazing young woman because the people around her have been kind to her and they’ve helped her and they’ve shared advice and wisdom and their experience. And because of that, she has been able to, as I said, ultimately stand up and announce who she is and realize that she needs to make a choice. She wouldn’t have been able to do that at the start of the film, she wasn’t there yet. It’s really—it’s the people around her that helped her to come out of herself in order for her to get the confidence and have that security in who she is.
Moderator: Next up we’ll go to Gabrielle Ulubay with Northeastern University.
Gabrielle: Hello! I’d like to start by thanking you so much for taking the time out to talk with us today, I really do appreciate it. My question is that Eilis arguably undergoes both a physical and an emotional transformation in this movie because she becomes confident, she becomes older, she’s more comfortable, she’s stronger because of what she’s been through, and you do a really great job in the movie of manifesting this physically. So I was wondering what preparation you took in preparing for this role and manifesting her physicality? Also, does it differ from the preparation you’ve taken before other roles?
Saoirse: When I did a film called Atonement a few years ago when I was about 12, the director on that, one of the first things that we worked on apart from the accent, was the way a character would walk. And so that’s always been quite important for me, and I think from that it naturally meant that a character’s emotional face really reflected and fed into their physicality as well, and it kind of naturally starts to happen. Yes, I guess it was just one of those things that sort of naturally, as you say, manifested through the course of the script, but the more confident emotionally the character was, I guess I just kind of naturally stood in a different way. I think when a character has purpose as well, when a young woman has purpose and she knows where she’s going, your walk is going to always reflect that. And so I think it was just one of those things that really kind of happened naturally. I could feel that like when we brought Eilis back home to Ireland in the second half of the film, she was more in control of herself. She, as you said, has been through quite a life experience since she’s been away, has gone through fear and grief and love, and has taken on so much responsibility for herself. And so, just like it would in real life, that just kind of naturally reflects or feeds into the way you hold yourself, I guess.
Gabrielle: Thank you so much!
Saoirse: Thank you!