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Ronan furrows deep into ‘Lovely Bones’

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(Courtesy Paramount Pictures)

On Dec. 11, 2009, Paramount Pictures will release a limited viewing of the much-anticipated film adaptation of Alice Sebold’s 2002 novel, “The Lovely Bones.” The film, directed by Peter Jackson (“The Lord of the Rings” trilogy), tells the story of Susie Salmon, a young girl who meets an unfortunate demise at the hands of her neighbor. But that’s only the beginning. “The Lovely Bones” traces the dramas that unfold after Susie’s death, as she watches down on her family from a heaven-like place called the “in-between.”

Young Irish actress Saoirse Ronan plays the role of Susie Salmon. Ronan was last seen as Briony Tallis in the 2007 film “Atonement,” for which she was nominated for several Academy Awards, including Best Supporting Actress.

When asked about what it felt like to be nominated in a recent conference call, Ronan said that, “It was crazy. I was working – I was actually on ‘Lovely Bones’ at the time, so I was very busy with that. And then, suddenly this thing happened and it was exciting, and it was kind of nerve-wracking and – but you know, it was great and it was a great honor for me to be nominated so young and it was a film that I really enjoyed doing. I was really, really happy.”

Ever since her nominations, Ronan’s celebrity status has only gotten bigger. With award season coming up, it would be easy to get caught up in all the hype, but Ronan tries to stay calm in regards to awards. “To be honest, I try not to think about award season at all, especially when it concerns a movie that I’ve made,” she said.

Ronan said that she thoroughly enjoyed filming “The Lovely Bones,” in part because she felt that the characters were so relatable. Ronan feels that young girls – herself included – will be able to easily see a part of themselves in Susie.

            “I mean, Susie’s a typical teenage girl,” said Ronan, “so I think that hopefully when girls go and see this movie, they’re going to connect with her in some way. I mean, you know, she’s interested in photography and fashion, and things like that, and boys of course… I’m interested in all those things!”

“The Lovely Bones” is expected to reach a diverse audience, but the primary focus has been on teenage girls and young adults. Ronan believes the film’s overall message will be understood by both teenagers and adults alike.

“I think that the message of this movie, although it may not seem like it to people who haven’t seen it yet, is ultimately hope, and how you get there,” said Ronan.

“You know, when Susie arrives in the in-between, she doesn’t want to go forward, which would mean accepting her death. She wants to be back on Earth with her family and she knows she can’t do that. And to get there, you know, it’s about her love for her family and not the hate and vengeance that she has for her murder.”

Ronan has said that although the film may seem very dark and dreary, it is also very uplifting, perpetuating a message of hope and inspiration for viewers. Filming a movie with such a traumatic plot line could be an intense experience for young actors and actresses, however Ronan was able to stay strong and figure out what she needed to do in order to film sequence correctly.

“When we dealt with very emotional scenes, intense scenes, there would be a lot of discussion between me and Pete and Fran, and Philippa, who are the writers, as well. We just talked a lot about it and just made sure that we were going in the same direction and we were on the same page,” she said.

The relationship that Ronan formed with Jackson and the writers of the film allowed her to make the best decisions when filming these dramatic scenes. Although the film was based on a best-selling novel, Ronan chose to wait until after she finished filming to read it.

“I just really wanted to focus on the screenplay version, and also I felt like I was a little bit too young to read it at the time, I was 13,” she said.

“So, as you know the book is little bit more visual and a bit more violent than the film, so it just made sense. But, I read the book this year for the first time and I absolutely loved it. I felt every emotion possible. And I think because I had been through the whole experience of making the movie and living through the story, I think that helps me to really connect with the book, and to understand the book fully,” said Ronan.

“The Lovely Bones” is expected to attract readers of the original novel as well as bring in new fans. The film also stars several veteran actors, including Mark Wahlberg, Rachel Weisz, Stanley Tucci and Susan Sarandon. The film is expected to be released everywhere on Janurary 15, 2010.

Samantha Marsh can be reached at smarsh@student.umass.edu.

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