‘Atonement’ star shines in latest role as assassin

Beverly Hills, CA – Saiorise Ronan’s hair may be thicker than her biceps, but make no mistake, she kicks everyone’s ass in “Hanna.” Eric Bana, who plays her father in the film, is no exception.

“Initially, I was concerned,” Bana said at the film’s press junket. “After the second day, I had no issue at all. It was like, ‘Actually, I’m gonna have to watch out for myself.’ This jab she’s got- she’s got a really good boxer’s reach.”

The 16-year-old Academy Award-nominated actress worked with martial arts and stick-fighting coaches for months to prepare for her role as an assassin on the run. But Ronan credits director Joe Wright for her confidence.

“For him to have the belief that I could do [the role] justice, I suppose, was fantastic,” she said.

“Hanna” marks the second time Ronan and Wright have worked together. Their first project, “Atonement,” earned Ronan an Academy Award nomination at 13.

“I kind of felt like on this film it was more of a collaboration between us as well,” Ronan said. “We were both heading in a new direction. We were both taking a risk with this film. But we were safe with each other.”

The result is a mesmerizing “Bourne Identity”-esque tale of a girl on the run from a bat-crazy CIA agent, played by Cate Blanchett.

In between hunting Hanna and brushing her teeth so hard that her gums bleed, Blanchett’s character has a team of agents attempting to capture Hanna’s father. One of Bana’s first escape scenes features a close-up of the actor emerging from cold water in tight long-john underwear.

“We shot that on two locations actually, and both were quite cold,” Bana said.

And yet, Bana says this was not the most difficult scene to shoot.

“The one with the most pressure was the sequence in the subway,” he said. “It’s all one shot. There’s no cuts. He goes across the subway and comes across the four or five guys that are after him. That’s something that you would normally cut up into 20 different shots… That’s a real honor because in most fight scenes in most films the fights are put together by the editor.”

The action hits theaters this weekend.

Nick Maslow may be contacted at nmaslow@themiamihurricane.com