For November’s Vogue, Rooney Mara opened up about her experience working on the sure-to-be career catapulting film The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Hand-selected by auteur David Fincher to play anti-heroine Lisbeth Salander in the high-profile American adaptation of Stieg Larsson’s ultraviolent series, Mara admitted she had some reservations about taking the role. “My fear with a movie like this is the kind of exposure you get from it,” she said. “I think that can be death to an actor.” Mara, Fincher, Daniel Craig, and Dutch co-star Yorick van Wageningen (who plays sadistic case worker Nils Bjurman) shared behind-the-scenes secrets from filming the wrenching start to Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy. Which A-list star did Mara best for the role? What did Craig have to say about Fincher and Mara’s relationship? And who spent the entire day crying in a hotel room before a pivotal scene? Read on…
Fincher was an early champion of Mara — whom he called “a weirdo… a great weirdo” — after working with her on The Social Network. The studio wasn’t convinced. The director revealed one top-tier name from those he auditioned: “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.” Fincher said he fought for Mara like “that last puppy that nobody else [wanted].” He added, “I didn’t want the consensus. I wanted the person that made everybody go, ‘Really?’ I needed that.”
Not that Mara didn’t earn the role through sheer commitment. She followed every one of Fincher’s strange directives from day one. According to the story, “[Mara] mentions a time Fincher said, ‘Go out and get really, really drunk and come in the next morning so we can take pictures of you.’ He wanted to show Sony that she could look strung out. ‘And I did it!’ says Mara. ‘Threw up all night!’” That set the tone for their relationship, which Craig characterized as “f—ing weird!” During one dinner during filming, Fincher tells Mara “with quiet seriousness, ‘You can eat.’… 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.”
Co-star van Wageningen admitted he struggled to prepare for the film’s make-or-break rape scene. He calls it, “Probably the most terrifying thing I’ve ever done. I spent a day crying in my hotel room. I’m sure [Mara] did, too.” He teased, it’s “one of the nastiest things you will ever see on-screen. But it’s very stylish! Typical Fincher.”
Are you excited to see this new Dragon Tattoo, PopWatchers? Can Mara carry a character as strong and strange as Salander? And if she does, will it shadow every role she does for the rest of her career? What about Fincher and Mara’s relationship? Is it appropriately twisted for the source material? What are you most looking forward to about the film?