Why Rooney Mara beat out ScarJo for 'Dragon Tattoo' job
October 18th, 2011
10:12 AM ET

Why Rooney Mara beat out ScarJo for 'Dragon Tattoo' job

Rooney Mara may not have looked the part of Stieg Larsson's "Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" at first, but she understood the character of Lisbeth Salander more easily than you'd think.

"I am very slow to warm," she tells Vogue in an interview for the magazine's November issue. "I've always been sort of a loner. I didn't play team sports. I'm better one-on-one than in big groups...I can understand wanting to be invisible and mistrusting people and wanting to understand everything before you engage with the world."

Read the full interview with Mara in Vogue

But of course, Mara's physical presence had to change dramatically. Gone is the fresh-faced Ive League look she sported in director David Fincher's "The Social Network" - they've been replaced with a starkly black dye job, severe haircut, bleached brows, slight frame and piercings.

As she explains to Vogue, "one of the things that makes our version [of 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo'] much more heartbreaking [than the Swedish adaptation] is that even though I am playing a 24-year-old, I look much younger. I look like a child."

The casting process for Lisbeth was closely watched and exhaustive. Fincher, who is once again instructing Mara from the director's chair, says that at one point he started to think that maybe the actress he needed for this part didn't exist.

Vogue's annual age issue portfolio

"I believe in casting people whose core - that essential personality you couldn't beat out of them with a tire iron - has to work for the character," he explains, adding that he wasn't quite sure Mara had what he was looking for. But then again, neither did anyone else he'd seen.

"We flew people in from New Zealand and Swaziland and all over the place," he says. "Look, we saw some amazing people. Scarlett Johansson was great. It was a great audition, I'm telling you. But the thing with Scarlett is, you can't wait for her to take her clothes off."

Instead, the director continues, he needed a Salander who was kind of like E.T.

"If you put out E.T. dolls before anyone had seen the movie, they would say, 'What is this little squishy thing?' Well you know what? When he hides under the table and he grabs the Reese's Pieces, you love him! It has to be like that."

"The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" opens December 21. Read the rest of Mara's interview in Vogue when the issue hits newsstands October 25.

Filed under: Celebrities • movies

soundoff (12 Responses)
  1. Her Brother

    S.J. is stolen biological material, taken against will and formed to clones line 200 pieces total. Sign of dangerous criminal activity. Original Scarlett Galabekian educated and licensed pediatrician doctor

    October 19, 2011 at 1:59 am | Report abuse |
  2. Billie

    Scarlett naked would be great and in a lesbian scene would be awesome or getting banged would be really good.

    October 18, 2011 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Casondrah

    E.T., that's pretty bad...lol

    October 18, 2011 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
  4. lol

    Wow, quite a compliment to be compared to E.T. ! She must be proud!

    October 18, 2011 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Faith

    The best way to ruin an adaptation is to adhere so slavishly to the book that you stilfe your movie. Not sure if a debutante heiress can play an abused foster child, don't really care either since Naomi Rapace already did such a terrific job.

    October 18, 2011 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • s

      Um... that's what actors do. They act like other people. Rapace wasn't an abused foster child either, by the way.

      October 18, 2011 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
  6. HeeroYuy

    Johansson isn't strong enough of an actress to play Lisbeth.

    October 18, 2011 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • ......

      I totally agree. Lisbeth is a very deep and introverted character. Scarlett is about as deep as a child's swimming pool. Plus, all the bad publicity she's gotten lately would have tainted the movie. I don't think anyone takes ScarJo as a serious actress. Not sure about Mara, but so far she looks exactly like what I imagined Lisbeth to look like. And it was going to be very hard to fill Rapace's shoes. She was spot on!

      October 18, 2011 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Anomic Office Drone

    I'm glad they went for someone who fit the part instead of a big name, but let's not pretend Rooney Mara isn't a beautiful woman. I mean, an ET comparison, really?

    October 18, 2011 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Dan P

    Haven't any of you read the books? Salander is a very small, thin, waifish girl with small breasts. Scarlett Johansson is none of those things. Casting her in this part would have been stupid stunt casting. Given the monumental success of the books a big star is totally unnecessary. Finding a good actress that looks the part was the smart way to go.

    October 18, 2011 at 11:51 am | Report abuse |
  9. Lucy

    She looks like a corpse. Way too skinny.

    October 18, 2011 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
  10. ann

    Only when she is firsty.

    October 18, 2011 at 10:35 am | Report abuse |

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