Photo Credit: Mike Marsland/WireImage
While other tween/teen actresses are taking the Disney high-speed monorail to success, 17-year-old Saoirse Ronan, star of the new action thriller Hanna, is letting her talent speak for itself -- one dramatic turn at a time.
You might remember the almond-eyed Ronan as Mark Wahlberg's haunted (and haunting) daughter in The Lovely Bones, or from her Oscar-nominated 2007 performance as Briony Tallis in Atonement. But with this latest high-visibility role -- opposite Eric Bana and Cate Blanchett no less -- Ronan should rise to the recognition level of Chloe Moretz and Dakota Fanning.
Hanna reunites Ronan with Atonement director Joe Wright, but the two roles couldn't be more different. "Every day, I would do two hour trainings in the gym -- weightlifting, treadmill, bench pressing, ab-crunching," Ronan told E! about the training regimen required for a would-be (big-screen) assassin.
Ronan's Lovely Bones director, Peter Jackson, may have even bigger plans for her. According to MTV, Ronan will likely play Itaril, an elf, in Jackson's highly-anticipated two-part Lord of the Rings prequel, The Hobbit. Transitioning to Middle-earth may not be so disorienting to Ronan, who was born in New York but has lived in Ireland since she was was 3.
Ronan, who pronounces her first name "Ser-sha," will appear in two more 2011 films: Violet & Daisy, playing another, less seasoned and considerably ditzier, hired killer alongside Alexis Bledel; and The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, based on an award-winning young adult historical fiction novel.
Like fellow butt-kicker Moretz, Ronan has established the kind of hard-earned credibility that doesn't come from clever youth marketing or a hit record -- but rather from consistent quality work. And more power to her -- as if this talented teen needed any more of that!