Saoirse Ronan speaks about crippling nerves she felt ahead of her London stage debut

Saoirse Ronan and James McArdle

Irish superstar Saoirse Ronan has revealed that she felt ‘unbelievably nervous’ ahead of her stage debut in London.

The Little Women star is a critically acclaimed actress, having received four Oscar nominations in her career so far.

However, despite her success on the big screen, she still felt the nerves when she appeared as Lady Macbeth alongside Scottish star James McArdle at the Almeida Theatre in Islington.

Ronan told the BBC: “You get hit with waves of panic and terror and I’m not kidding about that.

“You do feel suddenly stuck for a minute in anxiety about what you’re doing. But then you pull yourself out of it. It’s been a real learning curve for me in just how much you can test yourself. Because you do feel that on film as well, but I think this is intensified.

“Every day, every hour is completely different. You could feel really confident for a while in what you are doing and feel really great going forward and then something happens that will knock you again.

“It’s just the experience of doing something that feels initially very, very new and feels like uncharted territory.”

Ronan said that she and McArdle would refer to their characters as Susan and Neil to help them understand them as a ‘modern power couple that is professional but also has tenderness and there is so much of their private life that we don’t know’.

She said: “It helps because this is a domestic tragedy about a couple.

“The tragedy is that these two people who are soul mates and peers and very much partners in every way… when that starts to come apart, what we would hope is that, when people come to see it, that is when the sadness seeps in.”

The star was also struck with anxiety when she made her debut on Broadway as a 22-year-old in 2016.

Ronan described the crippling stage fright she endured was so strong that when she performed she felt as if she was floating outside of her body during the first act.


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Written by Michael Kehoe @michaelcallingJoin our community