“Look, Saoirse Ronan is a legend,” Esmé Creed-Miles tells me over the phone. A universally accepted statement, we’re both in agreement that there are only two types of people in the world: those who love Saoirse Ronan and those who lie about not loving her.
Luckily, both Creed-Miles and I fall into the former category, though her appreciation for the Irish Oscar-nominee has slightly more levels than mine. Not only is the 19-year-old stepping foot into the same industry, but she’s getting ready for her starring debut role in the television adaptation of Hanna, the film that pushed Ronan into stardom.
Following the eponymous heroine, it’s a gritty tale of a young girl’s survival as she takes on gun-wielding bad guys. Only five minutes in to the first episode, there’s already been a high-speed chase with helicopters, multiple murders, and enough dramatic brooding stares to let you know that some badass shit’s about to go down. Minutes later, Hanna’s mother is shot (told you shit was going down) and her father escapes with a baby Hanna into the wilderness. Cut off from the world for 15 years, she’s raised in complete isolation whilst expertly training to become an assassin, but soon begins to realise that there’s more to life than her forest surroundings and her dad’s strict rules.
“One day she just decides that she’s basically had enough of being on her own and is like: ‘Fuck this!’” Creed-Miles laughs. “She decides to take agency for her life and makes a run for it, which of course comes with its own dangers. She’s not ordinary and there’s a reason why she’s been protected in isolation, which she begins to find out.”
What comes after is the challenge of trying to adjust to normal life, albeit a normal life where she’s being trailed by a secret organisation of trained killers and doesn’t know what a mobile phone is. “She’s a teenager experiencing everything for the first time; music and love and friendship, feelings that most of us take for granted,” Creed-Miles explains. “That was really special, to vicariously discover things that I — like everyone else — have grown comfortable with being a part of my life. Even things like turning on a tap, she has to go to the river or stream to get water. I think, especially for someone who’s grown up in London and in a privileged environment, it taught me about the ways that a lot of people have to live. It was quite empowering to see a young girl going through that and doing it so courageously.”
A challenging mindset for any actor to adapt to, it’s doubled for Creed-Miles due to the fact that this is her first proper acting role. Although blessed with thespian parents who have imparted their wisdom onto her, she has never really thought of herself as an actress. “I more fell into it by accident,” she admits. “I was auditioning for fun in my spare time when I was at uni and then I got this job which was life changing. I remember bursting into tears like: ‘I can’t believe this is actually happening!’ I’m over the moon with the show and I really hope everyone else is. I just want people to see it and like it and that I can keep working and doing cool projects.”
It’s a sure thing that continued work will fly in after this breakout role. Although based on the 2011 feature-length thriller, Hanna is no second-rate knock off of an original. Overseen by one of the film’s original writers, the eight-episode series — which premieres on Amazon this March — contains all the same action to keep you on the edge of your seat, as well as diving deeper into elements the film didn’t have enough time to explore. “I remember seeing the film and thought it was so thrilling and exciting, and with this [series] you have moments of that but you also have moments of real drama,” Creed-Miles says. “Especially between my character and Rhianne Barreto, who plays Sophie.”
The relationship between Hanna and the Snapchat filter-loving millennial is a compelling aspect of the series. Meeting in the second episode, Sophie introduces Hanna to the modern world and the classic British teen lifestyle. You know the one: sneaking out late at night, downing cheap fluorescent-coloured shots and snogging questionable partner in nightclubs. “The relationship between them is explored in a lot more depth in the television series which I think is really fascinating because it’s about the juxtaposition of the modern girl and Hanna,” Creed-Miles continues. “You have this contrast and it’s so powerful.”
Although essentially an action/thriller series, Creed-Miles is hoping to convey that Hanna is not just the savage teenage-assassin that one might think she is at first glance. “I think when people watch it, they’ll be surprised by how vulnerable Hanna is,” she muses. “My intention was to bring a moral awakening into the role. It’s not just violence. The character is violent and the story is violent but it’s essentially a critique on that. It’s a young girl who’s been brought into this world where people are out to kill her but she’s just trying to protect herself. I think it raises really important questions about violence and stoicism and strength.”
Already receiving rave reviews following the first episode drop during this year’s Superbowl, Hanna is about to be your latest binge-watch craze with Creed-Miles destined to become your fave new action hero. Watch out Saoirse. Esme’s coming for your teen assassin crown.
Photography - Adam Whitehead
Fashion - Toni-Blaze
Hair - Brady Lea
Makeup - James O’Reily
Fashion Assistant - Shaquille Williams
Wonderland Magazine Spring 2019 Issue