Saoirse Ronan How I Live Now

Saoirse Ronan How I Live Now


Saoirse Ronan How I Live Now

Cast: Saoirse Ronan, George MacKay, Tom Holland
Director: Kevin Macdonald
Genre: Action, Drama, Thriller
Rated: MA
Running Time: 101 minutes

Synopsis: Daisy (Saoirse Ronan), a teenager from New York, is sent to the English countryside for the summer. She immerses herself in a dreamy pastoral idyll as she falls madly in love with Eddie (George MacKay), until their perfect summer is blown apart by the outbreak of a war. Along with Eddie's younger siblings, Isaac (Tom Holland) and Piper, they find themselves hiding and fighting for survival.

How I Live Now
Release Date: November 28th, 2013


About The Production

'The summer I went to England to stay with my cousins everything changed… Mostly everything changed because of Edmond." – How I Live Now, Meg Rosoff

When Meg Rosoff's novel How I Live Now was first published in 2004, it was widely greeted with acclaim and blossomed into a word-of-mouth best-seller. The London-based American author's remarkable debut found itself showered with prestigious literary awards, including the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize.

Written in the compellingly innocent but acerbic voice of its heroine, an intelligent but angry and anorexic 15-year-old New Yorker named Daisy, How I Live Now deftly and movingly touched on themes of love, loss and loyalty beneath the topical shadows of war, chaos and carnage. Exiled by her father from Manhattan to the English countryside, Daisy's coming of age is a mixture of bliss and heartache, the former generated by falling in love with her cousin Edmond, the latter by the darkness that falls when Britain is plunged into war.

Suddenly, this self-absorbed teenager is solely responsible for her youngest cousin Piper and forced to embark on an epic and courageous journey of survival.

It was the imaginative scope of Meg Rosoff's story, set in a parallel or not-too-distant future, and the relatable poignancy of Daisy's detached but sharply ironic observations about love, war, cousins and countryside that made the novel appeal to young and adult readers alike. Among its fans were Charles Steel and Alasdair Flind of Cowboy Films, who secured the option on Meg Rosoff's best-seller and put the adaptation into development at Film.

Early on, they sent the book to Kevin Macdonald, who Charles Steel had worked with on The Last King Of Scotland. He also read it and loved it but, after The Last King Of Scotland, he was a filmmaker in demand and his schedule rendered him unavailable. Kevin Macdonald was always drawn to the prospect of making a serious film about the teenage experience, as well as one that featured a female lead and a love story – both are firsts for the talented director. When the project came back around to him, he grabbed the opportunity with both hands.

'I think Meg Rosoff's book is really beautiful," says Kevin Macdonald. 'But as is so often the case, when there's a really beautiful book, you often have to move further away from it than you would if you were adapting what was a mediocre book. So much of what the book did you can't do on screen. For one thing it's Daisy's internal monologue, which meant that the structure of the book was very hard to replicate. And although Daisy's voice is so strong in the book, we realised she needed to be slightly different in order for the film to work."

The producers were faced with the challenge of distilling a novel that ventures into both youth and adult terrain in terms of its themes and subject matter, but without losing the poetic vision that made Meg Rosoff's manuscript such a celebrated success. Different screenwriters with varied skillsets were brought on board: Tony Grisoni (Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas, In This World) was the first to work on the adaptation, before he passed the baton to Jeremy Brock (The Last King Of Scotland, The Eagle). Acclaimed young playwright Penelope Skinner came on last to put the finishing touches on Daisy, who falls in love with one of her cousins and faces extreme challenges throughout the story.

'Kevin Macdonald was looking to bring a young female voice to capture Daisy's voice," notes Charles Steel. 'Penelope did a fantastic job and has contributed enormously to the screenplay."

'We tried so many different voices for Daisy," explains Kevin Macdonald. 'The breakthrough was figuring out that the key to Daisy was her willpower. She is somebody who has an amazingly strong sense of self and identity, but she has used that willpower in very negative ways in her life because her life has been very negative. But she ends up using the same thing that's made her a troubled person to survive."

Although it's likely to be classified in the young-adult section of any bookstore, Meg Rosoff's novel was strongly embraced by both a teenage and an adult audience. The book's publisher, Penguin Books, even created separate covers to target both markets. Although that crossover appeal is strongly reflected in Kevin Macdonald's adaptation, everyone involved was aware that the more they defined their target audience, the better chance they had of crossing over to reach both groups.

'Driven by Kevin Macdonald, we've fully embraced it as a teenage love story aimed towards a teenage audience," says Charles Steel.

'What makes the film stand out," adds Alasdair Flind. 'Is that this is Kevin Macdonald's version of a teenage love story. He has the ability to make it real and rough around the edges in all the right ways. He'll make it stand out."

Saoirse Ronan was an actress whose name came up early on in How I Live Now's development, around the time of Atonement's release. Although she would have been too young at the time, the Irish actress' talent and charisma were obvious to all, and she has gone on to become the standout actress of her generation. Call it serendipity but by the time the stars aligned for How I Live Now to move into production, Saorise Ronan was the right age to play Daisy.

Initially, Kevin Macdonald had considered going with a cast of non-professionals to portray How I Live Now's group of five, and he arranged open casting calls to find an unknown to inhabit Daisy. Later, he abandoned that plan and began meeting with teenage actresses, but couldn't find anyone he felt had the edge that Daisy needed. Until he met Saoirse Ronan and was blown away. 'She came in to read and she was just fantastic, I mean jaw-dropping," says the Glasgow-born director. 'The most amazing thing was that she'd come over from Ireland but hadn't received the new pages we'd sent her so she had literally 10 minutes to prepare when she arrived. But she did it and she was fantastically good."

The most enjoyable part of the shoot for Kevin Macdonald was getting to work with his teenage and younger cast. 'They were fun and energetic and obedient, for the most part," he smiles. 'They were just a pleasure to work with and having so many kids around the whole time, even though Saoirse Ronan is 18 and George had just turned 20, created a lovely atmosphere for everybody. I was 44 when I shot it so quite distant from those sort of feelings and obviously I've also never experienced what it's like to be a teenage girl so I came to rely on them in different ways than you do when you're making a film about adults."

Daisy's Chain: The Characters

Daisy is spiky, unapologetic, forthright, a regular teenager navigating the intoxicating domain of first love before finding unexpected reservoirs of courage and resilience within herself to help her survive the most treacherous circumstances of her young life. For Ronan, the role came along at just the right time. 'After Byzantium and Hanna and The Host, I was desperate to play someone who was just a normal teenager," says the Irish actress, referring to the three roles she shot prior to How I Live Now as, respectively, a vampire, teen assassin and a girl whose body is host to an invading alien consciousness. 'It was perfect that she came along at that time because it was just what I needed, and I loved playing Daisy so much."

Unlike her co-stars Tom Holland and George MacKay, Saorise Ronan didn't read Meg Rosoff's novel before starting the project, deciding to wait until afterwards on Kevin Macdonald's advice. 'That's what I prefer to do anyway because a screenplay will always be different; it's someone else's take on the story," she observes. 'I'm interested to see how the book compares. But the script is amazing."

In both the novel and the screenplay, Daisy comes across as vulnerable, ironic, superior, the proud owner of a rebellious disposition that's been forged by the death of her mother in childbirth and the sense of abandonment she feels at her father's hands. But in Saorise Ronan's opinion, 'Daisy's not a natural rebel. It's something she's been pushed to do because it's her only way to express herself. I think she feels very chained up a lot of the time. Because she's been abandoned, she puts up this wall which comes in the form of her putting lots of black eyeliner on and getting her face pierced and dyeing her hair."

Arriving in the UK with piercings, bleached tresses and serious attitude, 16 year old Daisy is met at the airport not by Aunt Penn but by her 14-year-old middle cousin, Isaac. The stroppy American teenager is not impressed. But as she comes to adore both Brackendale and Eddie, Daisy's mood and maturity begin to change, before the cataclysmic detonation of a dirty nuclear bomb in London tips Britain into the abyss and changes all of their lives forever.

Lest we worry that Saorise Ronan had her face pierced for the film, her piercings were all fake and applied each day in the make-up trailer. 'They stick them on with a bit of glue and if it's too hot they start to slip off," she reveals. 'For some reason, whenever George is around, they all fall off. We were doing a scene where we had to kiss and all my piercings fell off. He told our 2nd Assistant Director, Jamie, about it afterwards so Jamie's now calling him -The Manimal'. But it's been such a great release for me to play someone who's so different to me in every way, someone who's not a good girl. She's so messed up and difficult and doesn't give a hoot if she offends someone, although deep down she just wants someone to love her."

One thing that really helped Saorise Ronan was Daisy's diary. Before the start of shooting, the art department gave her a journal they had created for the character, which included song lyrics, poetry and other teenage-girl iconography such as photos that that actress had sent them herself. 'Even though it had been put together by somebody who wasn't playing the part, they had shoved all this rebellion and guilt and anger into one little book and it really helped me," she recounts. 'I started adding to it and writing down all these things that I've felt and I do feel, frustrations and negative emotions that you sometimes have."

Daisy's angry feelings manifest themselves in terrible ways; she doesn't just lash out, she punishes herself. In Meg Rosoff's novel, Daisy's psychological torment is revealed quite overtly: she self-harms and has a serious eating disorder, elements that have been toned down for the film. The producers and Kevin Macdonald agreed that it would be too difficult to address such serious issues in a robust enough way without losing focus on the heart of the story, which is Daisy and Eddie and Daisy's coming of age. Thus, the film version of Daisy suffers more from obsessive compulsive disorder, and is a hyper-aware calorie-counter.

'The symptoms are still there so that people who love the book won't feel like they're missing out on anything," reveals Kevin Macdonald. 'Having that darkness is important to the character and to the story."

Saorise Ronan and Kevin Macdonald were completely in cahoots on Daisy's motivations and emotional evolution during her journey of love, discovery and survival. 'I absolutely love working with Kevin Macdonald," says the actress. 'He's got the patience of a saint. Being with all the guys, we have so much fun every day and are just laughing the whole time and he kind of has to put up with us. But I love that he's done so many documentaries and he incorporates that into the way he shoots. All the stuff we shot in Brackendale is very free and loose. And it's great when a director is emotionally invested in the characters themselves. He really understands what we're supposed to be feeling. He's become one of my favourite directors."

The fact that Daisy falls in love with her first cousin might be considered controversial, as it was when Saorise Rosoff's tale was first released, but Saorise Ronan doesn't see it that way and the filmmakers don't flinch from showing Daisy and Eddie's relationship becoming intimate. 'I think it's stronger and almost more romantic that they are cousins," the young star argues. 'It makes their connection stronger. She tries to go against it because she knows it defies convention but it's a lot more interesting than, -Daisy goes to summer camp and meets this dude.' Everything is against them but the fact that he understands her better than she does and figures her out straight away gives her such an attraction to him."

The Family

'Every single inch of me that was alive was flooded with the feeling that I was starving, starving, starving for Edmond. And what a coincidence, that was the feeling I loved best in the world."

Eddie
One of the early decisions regarding the script was reducing the head count of cousins from four to three. In Meg Rosoff's novel, Osbert was the eldest but he hasn't made it to the big screen, leaving Edmond – now Eddie – not only the first-born but also freighted with the silent, enigmatic characteristics possessed in the book by his twin Isaac, who is now his younger brother. But the most fundamental dynamic in How I Live Now hasn't altered and that's the love story between Daisy and Eddie.

Finding a leading man to play Saorise Ronan's on-screen soulmate generated an exhaustive search. The casting net was flung far and wide, hundreds of schools were visited, Kevin Macdonald began to worry they might not find what they were looking for. But four young actors were eventually picked to read with Saoirse Ronan, and the director and producers went for MacKay, who's had starring roles in Defiance, The Boys Are Back and Private Peaceful. 'It was clear that Saoirse responded to him far more than the others," says Kevin Macdonald. 'I didn't want a smooth-skinned Twilight pretty boy, I wanted somebody who felt like they were a country boy, and who had the awkwardness and mystical quality that Eddie is meant to have. They've got real chemistry together. He's also a very good actor."

'George has been acting for a long time as well and he's a similar age to me," says Saoirse Ronan, 'so it's nice to have someone like that to work out scenes with and really go for it together. We get on really well and have been having a laugh the whole time, so when it came to shooting the intimate scenes, it's been fine."

Eddie might keep to himself, spending much of his time with the trained hawk he dotes on, but he's also attuned on a core level to the feelings of other people, not least Daisy, and to the natural world. 'He's so sensitive towards everything around him that it makes him quite insular and socially awkward," observes MacKay. 'He sees straight through all the barriers that people put up, which is why he and Daisy fall in love: he sees the person behind all the pain. That's the first time anyone has seen that in her and that's what makes their connection so personal and so strong."

MacKay entrusted himself to Kevin Macdonald's judgment in terms of how internal to make Eddie, and enjoyed the semi-improvisational approach the director applied to many of the scenes. 'The way Kevin shoots is quite free and organic," says MacKay. 'In scenes where there are more than two of us, he'll often roll the cameras as we're sort of joking around and mucking about before the scene's started. That means it all feels very natural." Helping everything run smoothly is the strong bond that the five young actors share. 'We rehearsed in London before we started shooting so by the time we got to the set, we had gelled into a natural group," says MacKay. 'Tom's a real joker, Danny's very sweet, Harley's wicked and Saoirse Ronan's lovely. Every day, someone would latch onto something that they found funny and we'd all hop in on the joke."

'We've been making a lot of noise for the last six weeks," echoes Saoirse Ronan. 'My throat's sore from too much singing and laughing! I didn't expect it to be as lovely as it has been. We've all gotten very close and I think it's allowing us to do things that will make the film quite special."

Isaac
Of Daisy's two male cousins, Isaac is the more boisterous and happy-go-lucky, a jolly, spectacle-wearing 14-year-old who flashes a smile at Daisy even at her most prickly. 'He's a funny kid," says Holland. 'He's bubbly and bohemian, he wears wacky clothes, he's very caring. He puts on this act to show everyone that he is this lively character when I actually think he's quite sad. When he has to say goodbye to his mum, he puts on a brave face, saying everything will be okay, but he's unsure. He's still a very young kid, which was really nice to play."

Holland's acting break came when he played Billy Elliot in the West End for two years (he was chosen from the various boys who alternated the role to play Billy in front of the show's composer, Elton John, in the special 5th anniversary performance). Two months after leaving the hit stage musical, Holland was cast as the eldest son of Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor in Juan Antonio Bayona's critically-acclaimed tsunami drama The Impossible, before following that role up with Isaac in How I Live Now.

Although both films delve into serious subject matter, Holland observes that 'they couldn't have been more different to shoot. For one thing, I'm working with people similar in age to me on How I Live Now, which is great because it means that we all get on very well." Holland endorses his older co-stars' opinion that forming a tight-knit group has made How I Live Now an unforgettable experience. 'A lot of the stuff you'll see on screen is us being completely natural together, just having fun, having a laugh, hanging out with each other," he says. 'It's such a lovely environment. I've been here five weeks and haven't come across a single nasty person."

Kevin Macdonald feels they were fortunate to get Holland when they did. The Impossible has launched his career onto an upward trajectory, and he can hardly walk down a street anymore in Spain without being mobbed; Bayona's family drama is the country's No. 1 box-office hit of all time. 'He's like the Leonardo DiCaprio-after-Titanic of Spain," laughs Kevin Macdonald. 'He's become a hot property off the back of The Impossible and he's absolutely brilliant. He's so charming as Isaac and he sketches this whole family in for the audience very quickly, who they are and the warmth they share together."

Holland and MacKay are keen to show off a trick they've developed that has become all the rage on set, involving the tossing of a grape to be caught in one mouth before being immediately expelled and caught in another. Passing the grape back and forth, until someone misses or drops the fruity orb. 'We did it in one of the montages so I hope it makes it into the film," laughs MacKay. They are also all huge fans of -Flight Of The Conchords', and can launch into an impressive rendition of the Kiwi comic duo's spoof rap -The Hiphopopotamus Vs Rhymenoceros'.

But it wasn't all fun and games, and Holland enjoyed the serious scenes as much as he did the lighter ones that dominate the first half of the narrative. In particular, he relished shooting the film's emotional turning point, when their Brackendale idyll is shattered as Isaac and Eddie are forcibly separated from Daisy and Piper by British soldiers. But not, it must be added, for the reason that it gave him the chance to show off his impressive acting chops. Rather, 'I loved it because I think it brought the whole unit closer together," observes Holland, wise beyond his years.

Piper
Playing the baby of the clan – the loud, eccentric, irrepressible Piper – is 10-year-old Harley Bird, who has already achieved small-screen fame as the voice of popular animated TV character -Peppa Pig'. It's a role that has made Bird the youngest BAFTA-winner of all time and a celebrity in her own right. Bird sees the youngest of the cousins as very similar to herself. 'Me and Piper, we're the same," chirps the exuberant young actress. 'We've got the same fashion sense; she doesn't get easily embarrassed; and I have pets and live on a farm, too, although not a working farm." Naturally, she's been looking up to her older co-stars, describing them as 'my older brothers and sister. We've spent so much time together, it's going to be sad when the movie ends." But everybody walked away with a nickname Bird gave them, including -Mr. Macdonald, Sir' (Kevin), -Squish' (Ronan) and the rather peculiar -Amelia Jane' (MacKay), so earned because the actor wanted to change his name to A.J. when he was younger.

'He said we couldn't call him A.J. because it would make him feel like he was in a crazy rock band," says Bird. 'So I said, -Okay then, how about Amelia Jane?'"

Bird was especially close to Ronan, whom she shares nearly all of her scenes with. 'I've adopted her. I gave her the certificate and everything," says the 10-year-old actress. As for Saorise Ronan, she found herself being protective of her younger co-star. 'It's her first film and to be thrown into something that's so emotional and so heavy, it's a lot for a 10 year old but she's done it," she says.

There is very little adult presence in How I Live Now, and those grown-ups who do appear mostly exist in a shadow of fear or violence. Apart from, that is, Aunt Penn. As a peace envoy trying to help avert impending disaster, she is also fearful, but she takes a momentary respite from her frantic negotiating to bond with her niece the night before flying off to Geneva. To make the most of the brief but pivotal role, the production turned to Anna Chancellor, who makes her exchange with Saorise Ronan one of the most resonant scenes in the film.

'It was a hard scene to shoot because she has to convey so many different emotions and so much information to the audience," says Kevin Macdonald. 'Anna was able to accomplish that. I'm so happy with her and it actually made me think what an underused actress she is."

Green and Pleasant Land: The Shoot and Locations

'First let's get it clear that the house is practically falling down, but for some reason that doesn't seem to make any difference to how beautiful it is."

Finding Brackendale

For a time, despite the war, the idyllic homestead where Daisy rocks up to live with her cousins exists as a children's paradise. With Aunt Penn too preoccupied to offer much supervision, the farm is an isolated pastoral Eden, and remains so for a few blissful months after hostilities break out. It's in this slightly feral atmosphere that Daisy's bonds to her cousins, and Eddie in particular, begin to grow into something special. The eight-week shoot took place over summer 2012 in locations around southwest Wales, with a final week on the outskirts of London. The key to everything was finding the rambling country house that would become Brackendale, the heart of the story and a character in its own right. It needed to be beautiful, magical and remote, nestled in picturesque surroundings, but also a bit dilapidated and unmodernised. 'To find that anywhere near London was impossible because everything nice has been snapped up by a multi-millionaire and given an underground swimming pool," says Kevin Macdonald.

The locations team scouted far and wide, from Dorset to the Peak District, before finding a place that offered everything they were looking for in the rolling, verdant landscape of south Wales, near the Brecon Beacons. A large Welsh farmhouse and grounds called Mandinam, it had a ramshackle feel, funky gardens, and easy access to other Welsh locations. 'I instantly fell in love with it," says Kevin Macdonald. 'It sits on top of a hill, surrounded by trees, hidden away, and the house itself was built originally by Oliver Cromwell's doctor after the Civil War as a place to get away from all the blood and gore that he'd seen. In Welsh, Mandinam means -place of healing' so that also seemed appropriate."

The production dressed every room in the residence to make it feel like a modest but extremely cosy and comfortable family home, with the children's rooms decorated to reflect their characters and Daisy herself taking the bedroom that was her mother's when she was a girl. It's a house filled with history and stories. Whereas mixing and matching locations is common filmmaking practice, Kevin Macdonald decided to use the house for both exteriors and interiors, in part because a single location gave the production the flexibility to react to the variable Welsh weather.

The story never specifies where in the UK the Brackendale farmstead is situated since it's thematically a representation of Britain's green and pleasant land before being ruined by invasion. The production removed signage, including the bilingual signage that's part of the Welsh landscape, as would happen in any war to deprive the enemy of any advantage when trying to navigate unfamiliar landscapes.

Wales and London

Once they'd located Brackendale, Kevin Macdonald instructed the locations team to find as many unusual locations as they could nearby: a quarry; an abandoned church; an old garden centre with windswept trees; a modern, tidy housing estate where Daisy and Piper are briefly housed. A European-style village constructed by the Ministry of Defence in the Brecon Beacons for urban-warfare training served as the grisly site of a wartime atrocity the girls stumble upon during their journey back to Brackendale. The production also made use of Longcross Studios in Surrey, an agricultural farm near Guildford and Cardiff Airport for Daisy's arrival scene, all dressed to convey the oppressive nature of a nation on military high-alert or under occupation.

Macdonald was also keen to show that Daisy and Piper's journey back to Brackendale is a long and arduous one and thus sought out a variety of different landscapes for them to cross. This included a woodland on the outskirts of London where the starving pair have a perilous run-in with a pair of modern day armed bandits. Before the war, Kevin Macdonald presents an idyllic portrait of the countryside: rolling pastures, ancient glades, forests and streams, including a swimming sequence in which Daisy's façade finally melts in the face of her cousins' friendly persistence, and her feelings for Eddie come bubbling to the surface.

Any film shot in Wales is going to face challenges with the weather, and How I Live Now was no exception. Between cool temperatures and constant rain which turned locations into mudtraps, the weather mostly refused to cooperate. Locations had to be swapped at short notice, and sunshine – when it appeared – needed to be put to instant, advantageous use. The cloud-and-water factor disrupted Macdonald's best intentions to shoot in chronology as much as possible.

'We had to grab the sunshine whenever it appeared and we're grateful because when you watch the film, it actually looks like a nice summer in the first half, which is what we wanted," says Kevin Macdonald. 'But when you know how much pain went into that, you feel envious of a film shooting somewhere where it is sunny every day. Other than the complications provoked by the weather, though, it was one of the happiest shoots I've been involved in."

Kevin Macdonald envisioned two distinct atmospheres: the first half of the film is loose, spontaneous and organic, with a significant amount of hand-held camerawork and rich in saturated colours; in the second half, as the story becomes darker and Daisy and Piper are forced to fight for survival, Kevin Macdonald switches to using dollies, cranes and long, static shots.

'It becomes a little bit more alienating and cold," the director states, adding, 'It's the first film I've shot digitally. We debated about whether to shoot the first half on film and the second half on digital, and in the end we went digital all the way. There are some real advantages to it, in particular when you're working with children. You can do a lot of different takes and keep it spontaneous without the stop-start-and-reload of shooting on film."

Wartime Mysteries

'No matter how much you put on a sad expression and talked about how awful it was that all those people were killed and what about Democracy and the Future of Our Great Nation the fact that none of us kids said out loud was that we didn't really care."

How I Live Now depicts its wartime with frightening realism, and yet, seen through the eyes of its largely oblivious teenage protagonists, leaves a shroud of mystery around what's actually happening. The unknown enemy that manages to seize control of the nation remains a shadowy force. 'The world that Meg created is very much about ambiguity and we wanted to leave it in that world," says Kevin Macdonald. 'I'm sure that some people will ask, -Who are the enemy? What's going on?' But I believe it's the right decision to keep it as vague as possible because, in a way, it's all a metaphor. It's not a political film, it's not a film about the situation in the world, it's the story of an unhappy teenage girl falling in love."

'I don't think it's necessarily important for the audience to know everything that Eddie's been through," says MacKay, agreeing with his director. 'What's important is that the film is about healing damaged people and Eddie heals Daisy through their love. Sex and true love are new discoveries that come with being with each other and at the end of the film, Daisy is on the path to healing him."

Kevin Macdonald wanted to steep the film in the English romantic tradition, which is why songs by melodic folk-rockers Fairport Convention and English singer-songwriter Nick Drake feature on the soundtrack. 'It's about the beauty of the landscape and the threat of the landscape at the same time," he notes, 'and I want to reflect this magical, melancholic version of England in the music."

More than any film Kevin Macdonald has made, How I Live Now rests on a single character's journey. Daisy goes on a staggering arc during the narrative, conveyed by Saorise Ronan with extraordinary conviction; the novel's numerous fans will be thrilled to witness her performance. 'I know teenage girls who got so excited when they heard I was making this movie," says the actress. 'Having a leading young woman like Daisy who's very messed up and unsure of herself and insecure, I know as a teenager they're the kind of characters I relate to more because they're not perfect and they're not glorified. Pretty much every teenage girl goes through at least some of what Daisy experiences."

'What I find interesting about Saoirse Ronan's performance is that she's not always sympathetic in the film and she did sometimes find that difficult because she is, by nature, such a lovely person," muses Kevin Macdonald. 'But that makes it a particularly strong performance because it's Saoirse Ronan as you've never seen her before. She's tough, ballsy and the most grown-up we've seen her be. In this film, we watch her becoming a grown-up in front of our eyes and that's exciting. After this film, you'll see people start casting her as a leading lady."

How I Live Now
Release Date: November 28th, 2013



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