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'Dragon Tattoo' Star Rooney Mara on Her Lisbeth Salander Transformation
Rooney Mara first emerged years as one of Hollywood’s rising stars with memorable roles in the remake of The Nightmare on Elm Street (2005) and later in The Social Network (2010).
Now, the 26-year-old Golden Globe nominee is creating brand new buzz as Lisbeth Salander in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
“I spent over a year with the character and there are so many different things that I love about her,” Mara told Parade.com. “I think the thing that makes her such a compelling character is that you do sort of fall instantly in love with her, but at the same time you don’t always agree with what she’s doing and you also question her and you get frustrated by her. She’s just an incredibly multi-layered character.”
Mara talked to Parade.com about landing the coveted role.
On the audition process.
“The casting director was calling girls in to read a poem in a Swedish accent, a poem they thought represented the character. A few days before I was meant to go in, she had called up and said she actually wanted me to read scenes from the film, and that I was going to be the first person to do that. Initially, they didn’t want to see me. They were like ‘We’re not going to bring you in. You’re not right for it.’ Then, all of a sudden, they were like, ‘You’re going to be the first person to read scenes from the film.’”
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She was confident in her ability to play the tattooed, body-pierced techie.
“I thought I did an OK job, and then a few days later I got a call from the casting director and she had shown [director David Fincher] my tape and he really responded to it. Because we had worked together for a few days on The Social Network, he wanted me to know what I was getting myself into if I were to get this part. So he gave me this laundry list of all the things I would have to do. I’d have to become a smoker, I’d have to be naked, I’d have to ride a motorcycle, all of this stuff. From that conversation, I knew that I had a really good shot at getting it.”
On getting into character — piercings and all.
“I think me in the movie is different than me outside of the movie. I don’t think most magazine covers would put me in character. That part of society hasn’t changed. I think people will go into the movie sort of repelled by the way that I look. I’ve certainly read enough online about people saying ‘Why did they make her so ugly?’ But I think those same people go into the movie feeling that way and they come out of it thinking she’s quite beautiful. And I think that’s with most people — the more you get to know them, the more beautiful they are. I think that she’s someone you learn to love and appreciate. Looks are sort of secondary to that.”
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On leading man, Daniel Craig.
“He’s such a gifted actor and I just can’t imagine anyone else in that role. You know someone’s done it right when you can’t imagine anyone else playing a part. He was incredibly patient and kind with me and he’s a very generous actor.”
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On filming nude scenes.
“You can’t prepare for it. I did a lot of kickboxing; that made me feel more comfortable taking off my clothes. The character is incredibly comfortable in her sexuality and I had to go in making the film feeling the same way. I’ve been much less exposed in other films and felt much more exploited in those films than I did in this. I think that’s a testament to David and the people he surrounds himself with. I constantly felt safe and protected and comfortable.”