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waves of panic Saoirse Ronan reveals she was 'unbelievably nervous' about her London stage debut

The four-time Oscar nominee stars in The Tragedy of Macbeth, which opened at Islington’s Almeida Theatre on Friday


Saoirse Ronan (Ian West/PA)

Saoirse Ronan (Ian West/PA)

Saoirse Ronan (Ian West/PA)

Saoirse Ronan has revealed she was "unbelievably nervous" about her debut on the London stage in The Tragedy of Macbeth.

The four-time Oscar nominee stars opposite Mare of Easttown actor James McArdle in the latest stage retelling of William Shakespeare's tragedy, which opened at Islington’s Almeida Theatre on Friday.

The 27-year-old Irish star said that during rehearsals she was sick with butterflies over taking to the London stage for the first time.

"You get hit with waves of panic and terror and I'm not kidding about that,” she told the BBC.

“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."

She said she also suffered crippling stage fright when she made her Broadway debut in a revival of Arthur Miller's play The Crucible in 2016.

She said she sometimes "sort of floated above my body for the whole first act".

Laughing, she added: "But... it's not going to happen on this, so it's fine."

In the drama she plays Lady Macbeth in a “feminist” version of Shakespeare’s famous play opposite her Mary Queen of Scots co-star McArdle in the title role.

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According to artistic director Ruper Goold it presents a “more equivalent relationship” between the Macbeths than is usually shown.

The play was in the works before theatres were closed because of the pandemic. And Goold said he was relieved that he had been able to keep a team of such in-demand talents together.

The Tragedy of Macbeth runs until 20 November.

In January Ronan is heading to Australia to star in a science fiction movie, Foe, with Normal People’s Paul Mescal.

They will play a couple in the future where corporate power and environmental decay are ravaging the planet. They lead a solitary life on an isolated farm until a visitor turns up and changes everything.

Ronan has already earned an astonishing reputation for her screen work, having been nominated four times for Academy Awards for Atonement in 2008,  Brooklyn (2016), Lady Bird (2018) and Little Women (2020)

She has also received raves for her recent role in lesbian period drama Ammonite with Kate Winslet.

The busy star has also been signed on for a murder mystery movie with Oscar winner Sam Rockwell and David Oyelowo.

The untitled film will be set in 1950s London, where a desperate Hollywood film producer sets out to turn a popular West End play into a movie when members of the production team are murdered.

She can be seen next in Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch.

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