A lovely duo on and off the screen

If Miley Cyrus is the Britney of the middle school crowd, just call Saiorse Ronan the Meryl Streep of the teens. At 15 years of age, Ronan has been nominated for an Academy Award (Best Supporting Actress for 2007’s “Atonement”) and, this month, graces the silver screen in Peter Jackson’s film adaptation of the wildly popular Alice Sebold novel “The Lovely Bones.”

The film tells the story of a girl stuck between life and the after life, obsessing over her rapist and killer and devastated family. Its adult-like subject matter seems oddly appropriate for a young leading lady with such an adult-like presence. The New York-born but Ireland-raised Ronan is sitting in a hotel room in the Mandarin Oriental in downtown Miami, accompanied by co-star Rose McIver. The two, who co-star as sisters in “Bones,” sit patiently in front of the television cameras and lights, ready for yet another close-up. In the interview with The Miami Hurricane, they discuss what it’s like to be young artists in Hollywood, loving co-stars Susan Sarandon and Stanley Tucci, and working with director Peter Jackson.

The Miami Hurricane: You seem like real sisters off camera, too.

Saoirse Ronan: Do we? Good!

Rose McIver: Aww, what a compliment!

TMH: Rose, you’ve said you enjoy reading scripts. What impact did the screenplay have on you after you first read it?

RM: Because I was always a fan of the novel, I was thrilled with how well [the story] translated. I think Peter [Jackson] took what made a big impression on him from the story and made something that was really true to the heart of what was written and conceived [in the book]. The things he chose to emphasize- the portrayal of the family, the idea of grief- I thought it was incredibly well-written.

TMH: The ensemble cast is fantastic. Susan Sarandon’s portrayal of your character’s grandmother is certainly tragic. But I found myself laughing.

SR: She’s very funny!

TMH: The booze, the smoke, her inability to clean. And those one-liners! What’s it like to be on set with her when she’s cracking those?

RM: On set and off set, she would make you laugh. It wasn’t like just when the cameras roll she turned on this humor. That’s who Susan is, which is great.

SR: She’s naturally relaxed and funny. She doesn’t put on a show for anyone.

TMH: Stanley Tucci…

RM: The Tuch!

SR: Aww, we love Stanley.

TMH: As your killer, he’s super creepy! Was it hard to not see him as such a creeper after watching his performance?

RM: Well, we met him as Stanley, not as Mr. Harvey. We got to know him as a person we really liked and trusted. We had great laughs with him when spending time together. When he would transform into this horrific and monstrous character, we realized he could play someone incredibly different than who he is.

TMH: Saoirse, I read that you felt very safe in director Peter Jackson’s hands. Is that typical on a film set? Do you feel respected as young actors and artists?

SR: I’ve been very lucky. But you do work with directors who don’t know what they want. That can be a scary place and a very scary position to be in for an actor.

RM: I think what’s most notable about Pete is it’s more than just being respected; it was like they were valued. What you brought to the table and what you suggested, he would take 100 percent seriously. Because he had such a strong vision as well, obviously he would refine and guide [the actor to] create the performance that he really wanted.

Nick Maslow may be contacted at nmaslow@themiamihurricane.com.