‘Lady Bird’s’ Saoirse Ronan comes of age on screen, in life

BEVERLY HILLS: Saoirse Ronan is eyeing the lobster salad at Spago in Beverly Hills and has a difficult decision to make regarding cherry tomatoes. She doesn’t like them, but she also doesn’t like asking for special accommodations.

“It’s so Irish,” Ronan explains. “In Ireland you feel so guilty for requesting something to not be in the dish. No one would ever do it. But I like that they do it over here. I like the gutsiness!”

After a moment of deliberation she decides to go full American and ask the waiter whether or not it might be possible to hold the cherry tomatoes.

“Absolutely,” he says without pause.

“America,” she sighs, smiling.

Ronan has recently arrived stateside fresh off of filming “Mary Queen of Scots” in Scotland and is staring down months of campaigning for “Lady Bird,” the semi-autobiographical film from writer-director Greta Gerwig that has become an unlikely awards season mainstay. It recently even surpassed last year’s best picture winner “Moonlight” to become the highest-grossing film for distributor A24.

Ronan plays the Gerwig stand-in Christine McPherson, who has begun insisting that everyone call her Lady Bird for reasons that are never wholly explained. She’s navigating college applications, shifting friendships, boys and an increasingly tense relationship with her mother, played by Laurie Metcalf. It’s been earning Ronan some of the best reviews of her career, and will likely result in a third Oscar nomination for the 23-year-old.

“I know we’re doing an interview but I’m sorry I’m just talking about myself,” Ronan says wearily. “You reach a point when you’re doing press and you’re like ‘I’ve JUST spoken about myself for three weeks.’”

Still, Ronan is in particularly good spirits today (though one could not really imagine any other state of being) because her mother (“my best friend”) has just flown in to stay with her for a while.

With two Oscar nominations under her belt (she’s among the youngest to have ever received a supporting actress nomination, at 13 for “Atonement,” and a best actress nomination, at 21, for “Brooklyn”) Ronan is, by all accounts, ahead of the curve among her peers and adored by those who work with her.

“Saoirse is the best acting partner in the world,” says Metcalf. “She is a beautiful mix of somebody with a strong work ethic, and yet, she knows how to keep things light on the set and joke with the crew and the cast and then manage to be fully present as soon as it was time to work.”