When it was announced that Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie would be playing royal rivals in Mary Queen of Scots, there was no doubt it would be worth a watch. Both were Oscar-nominated last year for their respective roles in Lady Bird and I, Tonya, and their resumés were already impressive: Saoirse started acting aged 9, going on to appear in movies like Atonement, Hanna, and The Lovely Bones; Margot is immediately recognisable for playing Harley Quinn, who'll be getting her own Suicide Squad spinoff next year.
When we at BuzzFeed were given the chance to speak with Saoirse and Margot to promote Mary Queen of Scots in London recently, we couldn't pass up the opportunity. They told us all about what it was like to finally work together and what kind of roles they'd love to take on next...
Saoirse Ronan: Ah, this is quite interesting, actually. What was your first impression of me when we met?
Margot Robbie: We met a few years ago in New York at a mutual friend’s house, and I just thought you were so cool, and so rad, and so smart and witty.
SR: That was very cute.
MR: I loved you the minute I met you.
MR: What was the most exciting element of playing your character in Mary Queen of Scots?
SR: Honestly, I think the thing I enjoyed the most and I had the most fun with — and I’m not just saying this because it’s a hot topic — was getting to work with so many girls. I loved, so much, us getting to do our scene together and having this amazing day together, and spending two months with the four Marys, and having the lovely Gemma Chan on the film. It was just such a delight, and we kind of see ourselves as the 15th-century Spice Girls, for obvious reasons. We all became really, really close. We just laughed for two months, basically.
SR: Our characters in this film are both very strong-willed women. Is there anything you learned from playing your character that you’d apply to your real life?
MR: I think I’d learn from some of the things she didn’t do as opposed to the things she did do in this film. I think it’s a good reminder to always heed advice from the people around you, but also know when to be true to yourself and go with your gut instincts. I think she denied herself that a lot of the time, and was ultimately very unhappy because of it.
SR: Poor Elizabeth.
MR: Poor Lizzie. Anyway, on a brighter note — if you weren’t an actor, what job would you love to do?
SR: It’s funny you ask that, because we were doing interviews earlier for radio shows, and I said that exact thing, that I would love to work in the radio. Whether it was behind the scenes or I was a presenter, I don’t think I’d mind. I’d quite like to work on a music radio station and just not have to wear makeup ever again and not have any shoes on, like I do right now. What would you want to do?
MR: Well, when I was little, I wanted to own hotels/be a magician. I felt I could do both simultaneously. I don’t know if that’s what I’d want now. I’d need to work on a film set in some capacity — I’d miss that too much — but I’d love to work in pyrotechnics or special effects. That’d be pretty rad.
SR: Ooh, that’d be fun. Have you ever been to Weta Workshop in New Zealand?
MR: Oh my god, no, but they’re amazing. We have something on one of our projects, we’ve been working with them, actually. I can’t talk about it, so...
SR: [gasps] Wink wink! She can’t talk about it! She can’t talk about it. It’s all top secret.
MR: What’s one thing your fans would be surprised to learn about you?
SR: My fans! [laughs]
MR: Do your fans have a name for themselves, by the way? You know, like Chris Pine’s fans are the Pine Nuts, or something like that.
SR: That’s a good one. I don’t know — I think someone told me ages ago that they were called, like, the Saoirsettes or something. Something like that. What are yours called?
MR: The Saoirsettes! That’s cool! I once said in an interview that I didn’t know I had that, and then I saw online that a fan — a very dedicated one — was like, “Oh my gosh, it’s all our fault she doesn’t know that we have a name. We’re not doing a good enough job.” I was so upset, I was like, “No, it’s just because I don’t look online at that stuff that often!” But now I know they are the Robbers, and I so appreciate them. They’re very sweet, and I hope they know that was just my ignorance.
SR: What was the question?
MR: Oh! What’s something your fans would be surprised to know about you?
SR: [thinks] I cannot juggle. That’s the only thing I can think of off the top of my head. I’m a terrible juggler. I also think I’m a better dancer than I actually am, but I don’t know if you’re surprised to learn that. Everyone’s like, “No, we all thought that.”
SR: Alright, Queen of the Robbers. If you could take any personality trait of mine, what would it be?
MR: Oh, there’s so many!
SR: Right answer. [laughs]
MR: You’re very quick-witted, I would love to have that. You can come back with something so quickly, and it’s very cool and funny at the same time. I think if I have a good comeback I’m so excited about it that it’s no longer cool.
MR: We’ve both played a diverse range of characters throughout our careers. What kind of role would you most like to play next?
SR: I’ve always wanted to be in a silent film. It doesn’t necessarily have to be, like, an actual silent film, just a film that doesn’t have any dialogue in it. I’ve always enjoyed doing stuff where I don’t have to speak. [laughs] Then you don’t have to learn lines or an accent.
MR: That’s amazing! That’s a cool answer.
SR: I’ve always liked the idea of doing that. And I would really like to play a boy, because I love the idea of figuring out what that physicality would be.
SR: What scene in Mary Queen of Scots was most challenging for you to film?
MR: Probably the first one I ever did, and I don’t remember what it was, but I was terrified, because once you’ve done that first scene, there’s no going back. You’ve committed to the mannerisms, you’ve committed to the accent, the voice, everything. That scares me, so the weeks leading up to playing a role, I get so stressed, but once I’ve filmed that first scene, I’m like, “Well, I’ve established it now, I just have to stick to it!”
MR: What’s the most fun you’ve ever had playing a role?
SR: I probably had the most fun on Mary. I absolutely loved playing Mary. I’m really enjoying playing Jo March, as well, in Little Women.
SR: What were you most apprehensive about when it came to playing your character in Mary Queen of Scots?
MR: So many things, but primarily the fact that my acting idol, Cate Blanchett, had played her right before me the last two times. So, you know, I was scared.
SR: You gave her a run for her money, though.
MR: Last one — ooh, it’s a good one. You can talk about me. [laughs] What was your reaction when you found out we’d be working together?
SR: I was so excited, because — and I’ve told you this before, anyway — Margot and I met about a year and a half before we did the film together, and I always thought you were brilliant and fearless as an actor. Every single role you take on is completely different, and you can tell you just go for it — like we were saying, you’re like, “Well, I’m in it now, so I’m just going to go for it.” But being able to share this with someone who is not only really, really nice, but is really, really normal like you are is really amazing. So well done.