Actress Saoirse Ronan found comfort watching TV drama series Girls when she first moved away from home because she related to the characters' struggle with independence.

The Atonement star was born in New York but raised in her parents' native Ireland, and when she eventually decided to relocate back to the Big Apple as an adult, she discovered adjusting to life on her own wasn't easy.

She started tuning in to Lena Dunham and co-writer Jenni Konner's hit TV show Girls, which is set in Brooklyn, New York, and found she had more than a little in common with the characters onscreen.

"Even though they were a little older, Lena and Jenni captured what it was to be a girl and in a city and on your own and not knowing what the f**k you're doing...," the 23-year-old told The Associated Press. "You feel like you're being understood."

Saoirse is currently promoting her coming-of-age drama Lady Bird, in which she portrays a high school senior desperate to go to a college away from her family home, and the actress is glad to see how well other young people are relating to the storyline, which focuses on her titular character's turbulent relationship with her mother, played by Laurie Metcalf.

She said, "I hope that Lady Bird, well, I feel like it is doing that - helping people to feel like they're being understood."

In real life, the star has a tight bond with her mum Monica, and Saoirse turned to her for input when she initially had trouble nailing down her character's personality.

"My mum was so wise. She kept saying to me that the fact that you haven't figured her out completely, or were kept on your toes, in a way was good because she (Lady Bird) is sort of that way too. Myself and Greta (Gerwig, writer/director) and Lady Bird were all trying to figure her out together. That actually made sense to me. The character kind of takes on a life of her own and you're just trying to keep up with them."