TIFF 2020: Saoirse Ronan opens up about working with Kate Winslet in 'Ammonite'

By Zach Harper

Saoirse Ronan is full of nothing but praise for Kate Winslet.

The two worked together in their upcoming new film Ammonite, which is screening at the 2020 Toronto International Film Festival. In it, Saoirse plays British geologist Charlotte Murchison, while Kate portrays paleontologist Mary Anning, who later became known for her Jurassic fossil discoveries in Dorset, England.

In the movie, Charlotte's husband approaches Mary and asks her to take his wife on as an apprentice to help ease her depression. Charlotte has just lost a child and is in the midst of the grieving process. After some clashes, the two characters eventually fall in love.

"It was important for Kate and myself and Francis [Lee, director] to sort of map out where these shifts happen in their relationship," Saoirse said during an In Conversation With... virtual event on Sept. 13 as part of TIFF.

The film has garnered critical praise for both stars' performances, and it's no wonder.

Kate, 44, has a career that's glittered with awards since she made her film debut in Peter Jackson's Heavenly Creatures in 1994. She's taken home an Oscar, three BAFTAs, one Emmy, four Golden Globes and three SAG Awards during her time in Hollywood, and received dozens of other nominations.

At just 26, Saoirse already has a Golden Globe for her performance in Lady Bird, and has received four Oscar and SAG Award nominations, five BAFTA nods and numerous other accolades. The film could see both stars add to their already considerable and growing collections of trophies.

Kate with her Oscar for The Reader in 2009 and Saoirse with her Golden Globe for Lady Bird in 2018. Photos: © Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Acting prowess is one thing, but chemistry is another. It's vital for two stars to be able to not only get along on screen and off, but also to be able to understand each other. Saoirse said the balance the two were able to strike on screen is thanks to how approachable and kind Kate is off camera.

"I think it is kind of the luck of the draw whether you get to work with someone who you just kind of click with or you really have to work on it a bit, but Kate and I just got on straight away, and I think a big part of that is her because she's just very personable and very friendly and open," Saoirse said. "She was kind of behind me from the get-go, which was brilliant."

Saoirse said her character changes quite a lot emotionally throughout the film, and she needed to balance the dual storylines of finding love at the end of a time of bereavement and grief.

"Especially with more of the intimate scenes, just being able to choreograph that ourselves was a new experience for me and it was great to be able to do that with Kate."

You can see Ammonite at the TIFF Bell Lightbox on Sept. 14 and 15 as part of the festival.

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