Everything You Need to Know About ‘The Host’ Star Saoirse Ronan’s Name

Saoirse Ronan in 'The Host'
Saoirse Ronan in 'The Host'

She has an Oscar nod for her breakthrough turn in 2007's "Atonement." She was hand-picked by Peter Jackson as the purgatory-dwelling girl from "The Lovely Bones" (2009) and made a perfect young assassin in "Hanna" (2011).

You might recognize Saoirse Ronan's face. You might even recognize her name. But even the 18-year-old actress, who is now starring in "The Host," admits you might not know how to say it and that's OK.

"I like it," she tells Yahoo! Movies. "It's like my own little stage name … that no one can pronounce."

[Related: 'The Host' Q&A with Stephenie Meyer]

Ronan says her first name has been butchered as "Sowers," "Source-say," "Sorsha," "Sar-say," "Soo-see," "Say-ice," and "Soyers."

So how do you say it? Ronan explains that her name really can be pronounced a few different ways: "SIR-shah," which is how most people, including her "Host" cast mates, address her, or "SEER-shah," which is the preferred form in her native Ireland. And if you want to get really fancy, Ronan may even let you get away with "SHEER-sha" (some baby-naming guides claim as proper pronunciation). "I didn't like it when I was younger because nobody had that name," Ronan told us.

As for its origins?

Saoirse means freedom or liberty in Irish Gaelic. The word itself has been around only since the 1920s and has become a popular name for Irish girls in recent years.

In Ireland, Ronan is now quite famous. So famous, it has caused some problems. Her father, Paul Ronan, told us that she could no longer attend school because she became the subject of intense inquiry -- and, yes, even some bullying. (He cited one example of her coat being stolen.) The Ronans decided to home school their daughter, which seems a wise decision for a teen who has six more films coming out after "The Host."

'The Host' Insider Access with Saoirse Ronan:

[Related: 'The Host' creators discuss well-intentioned aliens and star Saoirse Ronan]

In "The Host," Ronan plays a human named Melanie Stryder who has been infected with an alien being called Wanderer that takes over her body. At times Stryder can take control of her invader -- kind of like what Lily Tomlin did to Steve Martin in the 1984 comedy "All of Me" -- a comparison "Host" author and creator Stephenie Meyer (who also wrote a little saga called "Twilight") agrees with.

Taking the Bella (Kristen Stewart)-Edward (Robert Pattinson)-Jacob (Taylor Lautner) "Twilight" love triangle to the next level, "The Host" depicts a love square -- in which Ronan's duel characters fall in love with two striking young men played by Max Irons (Jeremy Irons' son) and Jake Abel. "There were definitely a few jokes that I was the butt of," Ronan said. "I was kissing Jake one day and I was kissing Max the next day -- over and over again." Irons noted Ronan's high level of professionalism, but, "when the camera stops rolling, you can have a laugh [with her]."

"The Host," in theaters March 29, marks Ronan's first time playing a romantic lead.

Watch 'The Host' Trailer -- Soulmates:

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