Rooney Mara Interview | The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Rooney Mara began acting in 2005 and got her big break in the remake of Nightmare on Elm Street last year. She made a name of herself in The Social Network and now stars in another remake: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
Rooney Mara ©Sony Pictures
Mara, 26, stars as the films lead female Lisbeth Salander, a computer hacker turned private investigator. Salander has a violent past and remains under legal guardianship following a stint in a children's mental institution.
Though a strong female character, Salander is troubled, deeply anti-social person.
sofeminine's George Wales finds out how Rooney Mara coped with the pressure of following Noomi Rapace's acclaimed performance in the Swedish original and how she took to on-screen nudity.
It’s rare to see a film that tackles the abuse of women head on. Was that important to you when you took the role?
Yeah, of course. I think that’s a really important part of the story, and it’s great to bring awareness to something like that, but that wasn’t the main thing on my mind when I took the part.
What attracted you to the part of Salander?
She’s unlike any character I’ve read before, and I think there’s a reason the whole world has fallen in love with her. It’s hard not to.I felt like I really understood her.
I went in for Erica Albright (in The Social Network) never thinking I’d get it because I couldn’t really relate to her. Playing that character was actually much more foreign to me than playing Salander, but they loved me, which was a shock.
Then when I was trying for Dragon Tattoo, David didn’t want to see me at first. He said, “nobody thinks you can be this girl. You’re too capable, too articulate; you need to be this and that.” And I would think, but I am those things! You have it all backwards.
How do you relate to her?
Well our upbringings couldn’t be more different, but if I had grown up in that household, I would have grown up like Lisbeth. There’s just something at my core that means I can relate to her as a person.
You went quite far to prepare for this role…
Yeah, the piercings were really important to me. I’m naked in quite a lot of this movie, and it felt like between the tattoos and the piercings and the strawberry-blonde merkin, that I would always be in costume.
I never felt naked, I always felt as though I was someone else. I was never going to be fearful of the nudity, as I don’t think there’s anything to be ashamed of in the human body. Sexuality is such an important part of this character and I think the nudity is part of the story.
Do you think the way she dresses might influence a new generation of girls?
Who knows? Anything’s possible, yeah, and at least it’s more interesting than some of the other fads that have gone on.
Was your physical transformation a shock to you when you first saw it?
No, it wasn’t. I’d been auditioning for two months, and I was excited by it. I never really went through a stage like that as a teenager, so it was kind of like my chance!
Was it difficult to prepare yourself physically for the role?
It was a great challenge, and I really learned a lot about myself. I learned what I’m capable of, and that’s one of my favorite parts of the job. You get to learn the most random things that you would never learn otherwise. I learned to ride a motorcycle for this movie!
Did you see the Swedish version?
I did, I saw it in the cinema and I liked it. I thought she (Noomi Rapace) was great, but I didn’t leave the theater thinking ‘Oh my God, I have to play that part, I’d be perfect!’
I knew they were making an American version and I knew I would probably audition for it, but I didn’t leave the theater thinking I should play this girl. But then I read the three books and couldn’t imagine life without playing the part!
Do you read the film as a feminist story?
I think Larsson had some feminist ideas, and there are a lot of feminist themes in there, but I never thought about that while filming. I don’t think the character is a feminist. I can see why feminists might respond to her, but she doesn’t really act in the name of any cause. She follows her own moral code.
Do you feel any sense of responsibility towards girls who might see Salander as a role model?
Well I don’t think young girls will be watching this movie, so no. I think if you’re eighteen years old you’re probably developed enough to think for yourself and make your own decisions.