Rooney Mara covers the new issue of Vogue (on stands on Oct. 25), and much of the photo shoot does seem Girl With a Dragon Tattoo-themed. As I was reading the Vogue interview with Mara, however, I started to get mad. I couldn’t put my finger on why I was getting so upset, though – I think it’s a combination of things. First, I really liked the Swedish films, and fans of the books should definitely try them, because the adaptations are very faithful to the books. I also think Noomi Rapace did an amazing job as Lisbeth Salander, and I think she should get more credit for her work, her take on this now iconic character. It feels like Rooney Mara is getting so much credit for “getting the part” – when the part was already OWNED by a wonderful actress, Noomi. With this Vogue cover story – which isn’t just a profile of Rooney, it also features a lot of David Fincher – it feels like people are already over-hyping Rooney and the project before anyone knows if it’s any good. And I’m seriously worried about the film, as I’ve said before. You can read the full Vogue piece here, and here are some highlights:
Mara on the poster with her exposed breast: “There’s a certain way people are used to seeing nude women, and that’s in a submissive, coy pose, not looking at the camera,” Mara says. “And in this poster, I’m looking dead into the camera with no expression on my face.” She smiles and flicks a cigarette into the street. “I think it freaks a lot of people out.”
Fincher on adapting the books: “Look, there are parts of the book that I don’t love, and parts of it that make it a maddeningly difficult story to turn into a movie. We are walking in other people’s footsteps, and we have to be careful.” He is referring to the fact that a lot of people already love the Swedish film versions. “I am a contrarian by nature, so all it does is make me want to take real risks. I am like, ‘If we are not out on the ledge juggling chain saws, then we are doing ourselves a huge disservice.’ ”
Daniel Craig on Fincher and Mara’s mentor-protégée working relationship: “It’s f-cking weird!”
Fincher gives Mara permission to eat: When a waiter appears to take our order, we are all looking at our menus, but I see out of the corner of my eye Fincher nudging Mara. He says with quiet seriousness, “You can eat.” I look up to see her reaction. Mara rolls her eyes, and Fincher laughs. “You can have lettuce and a grape. A raisin if you must.” She orders a piece of fish and barely touches it. “One of the things that make our version that much more heartbreaking,” says Mara, “is that even though I am playing a 24-year-old, I look much younger. I look like a child.” I ask if she had to get unhealthily skinny for the role. She says, “Umm . . . not really.” “It hasn’t been too hard for her,” Fincher quickly adds.
Fincher on casting Rooney, and auditioning Scarlett Johansson: “I had seen a lot of actresses,” he says. “I was beginning to get to the point where I was thinking, Maybe conceptually you are talking about a person who doesn’t exist.” One day his casting director said, “What about Rooney?” He resisted at first. “I believe in casting people whose core—that essential personality you can’t beat out of them with a tire iron—has to work for the character.” He needed someone who was dissociated, antisocial—the exact opposite of Erica Albright. But when he saw Mara’s audition, he was “struck by how different it was from what I felt I already knew about her.” Meanwhile, Fincher was also screen-testing every conceivable Salander on the planet. “We flew in people 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.” He stops for a moment. “I keep trying to explain this. Salander should be like E.T. If you put E.T. dolls out 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.”
Mara on her personal transformation: “Before, I dressed much girlier,” she says. “A lot of blush-colored things. Now I literally roll out of bed and put on whatever is there. I have really enjoyed being a boy this last year.” If it took a lot of work to make Mara look the part, in some ways she already possessed the right stuff. “I am very slow to warm,” Mara says. “I’ve always been sort of a loner. I didn’t play team sports. I am better one-on-one than in big groups.” This, she says, is one reason she gets the character. “I can understand wanting to be invisible and mistrusting people and wanting to understand everything before you engage with the world.”
Daniel Craig on Rooney: “I wish I’d had someone like David at Rooney’s age just to guide me and say what’s good and what’s bad. You don’t know at that age. You are full of confidence, but you are also full of huge insecurities.”
Mara on anticipation: Mara knows all too well she is breaking out at the very top. “Where do I go from here?” she says. “I’ve been trying to really live in the moment because I will never get this part of it back. As soon as the movie comes out, everyone will turn it into what they believe it is, so I’ve really been trying to appreciate every minute of now. Because I know what’s coming.” She is perhaps rightfully wary about the media circus that is sure to accompany the film’s release. “That kind of fame is not something I ever wanted for myself,” she says. “It just so happens that this huge, gigantic monster of a film came around that also happens to have the most incredible character that I ever could have dreamed up. But my fear with a movie like this is the kind of exposure you get from it. I think that can be death to an actor. The more people know about you, the less they can project who you are supposed to be. It’s unfortunate that you really only get one shot at that. After this, I won’t be able to be that girl again.”
I have to say, I want to think Mara is capable of playing this part, but I think if she falls flat, it’s not going to be her fault. It’s going to be David Fincher’s fault. Throughout the interview, there’s a lot of discussion of the violence and Fincher’s take on rape scene and who Lisbeth is as a woman, as a victim, as a moralist, and none of what he says inspires confidence in me. The genius of the Lisbeth character is that her physical and emotional strength is revealed in layers throughout the trilogy, and it’s those strengths that propel the story forward. It just seems like Fincher is more concerned with making a violent, sexy, stylized film than telling Lisbeth’s story, or doing justice to this amazing character.
See, I went through all of that and I didn’t even mention Rooney Mara’s bangs trauma.
Photos courtesy of Marcus Piggott & Mert Alas/Vogue, slideshow.