Rooney Mara Talks at THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO, the Sequels, David Fincher, and More at SBIFF

     February 5, 2012


In David Fincher’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Rooney Mara tore up every second that she was on screen as the complicated and complex computer hacker Lisbeth Salander. For that Academy Award-nominated performance, she was honored with a Virtuoso Award at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF). Collider was there to cover and attend the event, and we’ve compiled the highlights of what the actress had to say, both on the press line and during the Q&A.

While there, Rooney Mara talked about what the whole award season experience has been like for her, how she felt like she didn’t get to know director David Fincher at all from the four days she worked on The Social Network, that she doesn’t know when the next films in the Millennium trilogy will start shooting but that she would love to do them simultaneously, and that if Fincher decided not to direct the other films, it would be hard without him but she would get through it with his blessing. Check out what she had to say after the jump.

rooney-mara-the-girl-with-the-dragon-tattoo-movie-imageQuestion: What’s this whole award season experience been like for you?

ROONEY MARA: It’s been an amazing experience. I’ve been lucky that I’ve been surrounded by really amazing people, so it’s been great. It’s incredible. It seems crazy when I’m in a setting like this, but then I just go home and life feels very normal.

What has been the biggest highlight?

MARA: We worked so hard on this movie and I think just the fact that people recognize that and admire the work, and that the response has been so great, has been the best part.

What does the recognition that you’ve been getting for this role, specifically, mean to you? Do you feel like you poured your heart and soul into this character?

MARA: I did. I think everyone who worked on the movie poured their heart and soul into it.

Did playing this character impact your own life, in any way?

MARA: Well, the whole job impacted my life because I had to move and I was working 16 hours a day, five or six days a week. So, it affected my life a lot. It was really hard work, but I always felt really lucky and happy to be a part of it.

People seem to really have loved the different portrayal you gave for this character. Has that been gratifying?

MARA: Of course! It feels good that people pick up on the little things. We all worked really hard on the film and for people to recognize that and appreciate it, it feels really good.

rooney-mara-The-Girl-Who-Played-with-FireBefore doing The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo with David Fincher, you were in The Social Network. Did you ever think that a relatively small part in that film would lead to playing this lead role?

MARA: No. I still don’t really think of it like that. I actually think my part in The Social Network almost made David not really want to cast me for the part of Lisbeth, at first.

At what point did he start talking to you about this role? Had you already finished The Social Network?

MARA: I only worked for four days on The Social Network, so I really didn’t know David. I knew I had an immense amount of respect for the way that he worked, and I really enjoyed that experience, but it was only four days, so I really didn’t know him, at all. It wasn’t until much, much later that I even knew he would be directing The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

For the longest time, you had said that you hadn’t seen the movie and that you weren’t sure if you were ready. So, have you finally seen the movie?

MARA: Yes, I have. I saw it on opening night. I thought it was great!

Is it weird for you to watch yourself, particularly when you’re the title character, or do you get a kick out of it?

MARA: No, it’s still hard ‘cause it’s still very fresh. We really only finished the movie not that long ago. I remember those scenes very differently, shooting them. That subway scene (where Lisbeth gets her backpack stolen) was 25 or 30 seconds, but it was three days for me, and I remember it much differently, so it’s strange to see it.

One of the hallmarks of the way you characterize Lisbeth is the intense, matter-of-fact way that she speaks, and it’s so riveting to watch. Now that you’ve finished this movie, has that changed the way that you speak, at all?

MARA: I think, in my real life, I have a little bit of that, myself. To be socialized, you have to try not to be that way, but I think I’m pretty matter-of-fact myself. I don’t really think of it like that. I never really thought, “Okay, I’m in character now. Now, I’m out of character.” I’m sure that a lot of the character did rub off on me, but it’s not anything I’m really conscious of.

The-Girl-Who-Kicked-the-Hornets-Nest-rooney-maraWhen David Fincher offered you the role and explained all of the things that were going to have to happen to you, both to prepare for the film and during filming, you were most apprehensive about riding a motorcycle. Once you got on set, was there a particular scene or moment that scared you the most, before you did it?

MARA: Not really. There was definitely a lot of tension built up for two of the rape scenes. I wouldn’t say I was particularly nervous to shoot them. They’re just such important scenes to the entire trilogy and we had talked so much about them, leading up to it. There was a lot leading up to those days. But, I wouldn’t say there was anything I was particularly really scared to do.

Your character has such a complicated relationship in the film with Daniel Craig’s character. How did that affect the way the two of you, as actors, related to each other when you weren’t shooting? Did you try to get to know each other, or did you keep a distance?

MARA: I think me and Daniel are both quite aloof and guarded people, so we didn’t bond that much. We didn’t have that much to shoot together. But, we did spend quite a lot of time rehearsing with David [Fincher] and the rest of the cast, and with Steve Zaillian, just reading through the script and trying to make things work. We were lucky, in that we started off shooting in Stockholm. For the first few months, everything we were shooting was pretty insignificant. It was coming in and out of doors. So, we had a lot of time to get comfortable with each other before we went to L.A. and did the meat of the movie.

rooney-mara-the-girl-with-the-dragon-tattoo-movie-imageWhen you finished filming, what did you do first, to try to get back to being you again?

MARA: I don’t know. I think I tried not to do anything for awhile. It was hard to come off of the movie. There wasn’t really a day that it was over because we had to wait around for re-shoots. I waited as long as I could to take out some of the piercings. I wouldn’t say I was really dying to change anything right away.

What’s the time frame, before you have to get back into being Lisbeth Salander again?

MARA: I don’t really know. That’s a better question for Sony, I guess. I’m happy to have a little bit of a break, but I’m definitely looking forward to doing the next two. I would be really happy to do that.

Are you eager to revisit the character of Lisbeth Salander?

MARA: I’m happy to have a little break, but I am eager to revisit her. But, I’m happy to have a break first.

Is there anything you’re most looking forward to, in going back?

MARA: I’m just excited to go back into that world and go back to Sweden.

How do you feel about the prospect of maybe doing The Girl Who Played with Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest simultaneously?

MARA: I’d love to do that. That would be a smart way to do it.

rooney-mara-a-clockwork-orange-imageWould it be harder to be in that space for a longer period of time like that?

MARA: No. I don’t think it would be any harder than doing it, coming out of it, and then going back into it. I think it actually would be easier to do it, all at once.

What have you enjoyed about working so closely with David Fincher?

MARA: Everything about working with David is amazing. I wouldn’t trade anything about him. I love working with him.

If David Fincher decides not to do the other films, would it be difficult for you to go ahead and do them with another director?

MARA: Yeah, of course, it would be hard. But, it wouldn’t be without David’s blessing, and I would get through it.

Would you like to just sit on a beach in Fiji or somewhere, between now and then, or would you like to go make a romantic comedy first?

MARA: Beaches and romantic comedies are not my thing. I’m a workaholic, so I’m ready to get back to work.

What do you have lined up? Is there anything that you know that you’re doing?

MARA: Nothing that I can talk about just yet.

As an actor, do you prefer playing characters that are closer to who you are, or completely different from who you are?

MARA: I don’t think I really think about it, in terms of whether the character is different from myself. For myself, it probably is easier to play a character who is much different, with an accent and who looks different and walks different. I find that much more enjoyable. But, at the same time, I felt like [Lisbeth] Salander was very familiar to me. We do have a lot in common. I think a little bit of both is good.

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