Saoirse Ronan was nominated for her first Academy Award when she was just 13, for her role in 2007’s Atonement. It turns out, however, that she’d actually won a pretty impressive prize for her acting several years prior, long before she’d ever even appeared onscreen: a summer vacation from her native Ireland to Florida. On Friday’s episode of The Graham Norton Show, Ronan recounted the spectacular bit of Shrek 2-inspired voice work she used to earn that coveted prize.
The trip, she recalled, was the grand prize for a competition held by the late Irish radio host Gerry Ryan shortly after Shrek 2‘s 2004 release. To enter, Ronan had to call in to Ryan’s radio show as one of the film’s characters; as a 10-year-old girl with a naturally high-pitched voice, she wisely chose to impersonate the Gingerbread Man. Norton, fortunately, obtained a recording of Ronan’s call, much to the delight of Timothée Chalamet, who was also on Friday’s episode of the show. As 10-year-old Ronan’s self-described “very squeaky” voice—made even squeakier to match the Gingerbread Man’s—breathlessly explained to Ryan why she needed that Floridian getaway, Chalamet was unable to hold in his laughter, putting his arms out to Ronan and fellow guest Laura Linney for support before, eventually, completely collapsing into his Lady Bird costar’s shoulder.
Chalamet was even more entertained by the elementary school-aged Ronan’s actual voice, the star of a follow-up recording in which she was told she’d won the competition. After Ryan quietly, calmly presented her with the prize, Ronan let out an ear-splitting “Oh, my god! I’m going to Florida!” then dissolved into a fit of high-pitched screams and squeals, much to the delight of the present-day Ronan and Chalamet.
That wasn’t even the only prize Ronan won for her stellar turn as the beleaguered baked good (take that, Academy!). As she went on to explain to Norton, in the week between her entry into the contest and the day she found out she’d won, the radio show sent her an inflatable version of Shrek’s frenemy Donkey, which she initially took to be a consolation prize. “I was like, ‘Aw, I’m out of it then, if they’ve sent me a blow-up Donkey,'” she recalled. “I brought him into school and everything. I was like, ‘I haven’t won the prize, but at least I got this!'”