First Look at Rooney Mara as Lisbeth Salander in Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
01.12.11 by Ryan
Some fans balked at news of an American adaptation of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, based on the first book of the late Swedish author Stieg Larsson's Millennium trilogy of thrillers. A Swedish version had already been released in 2009 and was finally arriving on the American DVD market just as Larsson's novels were becoming best-sellers.
For many, it was the performance by Noomi Rapace as the book and movie's heroine, Lisbeth Salander, that seemed irreplaceable. Rapace's Dragon Tattoo director, Niels Oplev, publicly expressed his frustration with the American version citing that Rapace had "captured" the character of Salander and "it should always be all her". Unfortunately for Oplev, another actress is getting the chance to portray the tattooed and pierced computer hacker.
Director David Fincher went on an exhaustive search of actresses for the role before finally casting Rooney Mara, whose most recent work was in Fincher's The Social Network. While Rooney's Salander has been caught in "spy pics" from the set, W Magazine has the first official look at the American version, looking very much in keeping with Rapace's version. Fincher told W why he cast Mara, who descends from the Rooney and Mara families that own the Pittsburgh Steelers and New York Giants.
I wanted her from the beginning. Rooney may be a trust-fund baby from football royalty, but she’s levelheaded and hardworking. It’s so odd how who people are comes out in auditions. We didn’t make it easy for Rooney, and there was no way to dissuade her.
Mara admitted that she wasn't sure she was up for the challenge at first.
Before I read the book, I didn’t think I could do it. I locked myself in a room for a week and read all three books, and decided I really wanted to be Lisbeth. But I thought I had no shot at it.
Fincher admitted there was pressure to "pick a name" for Salander, but found Scarlett Johansson too sexy, Jennifer Lawrence too tall, and Natalie Portman too exhausted. Meanwhile, Mara revealed, she continued to test for the role.
They did one test, then another a week later. They shot me in the subway in L.A. in full hair and makeup with a motorcycle. Every day they had a new request. On a Monday morning, David called me in, and I said, "What do you want me to do to my hair now?" I was at the end of my rope. He told me I had the part. I hadn’t even read the script yet.
Steven Zaillian adapted Larsson's novel into a screenplay, and Fincher has previously revealed that Zaillian "made his own version," which the W article reveals includes his own ending. Fincher was brought on board
Sony and Scott Rudin told me they wanted to be in the adult-film-franchise business. And they said, "We want you to kick the A in adult." They already had a release date — December 2011 — but I wasn’t sure I wanted to do another movie about a serial killer. Then I read the script, and I called Scott and said, "I can’t imagine why you thought of me.”
Admittedly, Fincher isn't in untread territory with The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, which follows a journalist (Daniel Craig) who teams with Salander to solve the 40-year-old disappearance of a young woman. Fincher is all-too-aware of what his own cinematic history means to movie studios.
At an early screening of Zodiac, an executive told me, "It’s an intellectual exercise. It’s about the unknowable." And I said, "Yes, that’s the point." But I have no misconceptions; I know what the game is. They wanted me to do Zodiac because Se7en was successful and both are about serial killers. Now they offer me Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. They think, No one does perv quite like this guy.