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David Fincher Says Despite A Great Audition, Scarlett Johansson Was Too Hot To Play Lisbeth Salander

Photo of Kevin Jagernauth By Kevin Jagernauth | The Playlist October 17, 2011 at 7:00AM

David Fincher Views The Series As A "Pervy Franchise"While Rooney Mara eventually won the coveted lead role of Lisbeth Salander in David Fincher's "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo," it was an arduous wait and the list of the contenders was fierce. Sarah Snook, Sophie Lowe and Léa Seydoux were said to be the final candidates, and a mix of established and lesser known names like Ellen Page, Natalie Portman, Carey Mulligan, Emma Watson, Mia Wasikowska, Emily Browning and Katie Jarvis were all in the running at various points. However, people might remember that just before Mara snagged the part, Scarlett Johansson was surprisingly being tipped as a "shoo-in." At the time it seemed somewhat unlikely, but talking to Vogue magazine as part of a profile on Rooney Mara, Fincher confirms that Johansson did indeed deliver strongly at the audition but that she was ultimately just too darned attractive to play the squirrely, oddball and rebellious Lisbeth Salander.
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David Fincher Views The Series As A "Pervy Franchise"



While Rooney Mara eventually won the coveted lead role of Lisbeth Salander in David Fincher's "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo," it was an arduous wait and the list of the contenders was fierce. Sarah Snook, Sophie Lowe and Léa Seydoux were said to be the final candidates, and a mix of established and lesser known names like Ellen Page, Natalie Portman, Carey Mulligan, Emma Watson, Mia Wasikowska, Emily Browning and Katie Jarvis were all in the running at various points. However, people might remember that just before Mara snagged the part, Scarlett Johansson was surprisingly being tipped as a "shoo-in." At the time it seemed somewhat unlikely, but talking to Vogue magazine as part of a profile on Rooney Mara, Fincher confirms that Johansson did indeed deliver strongly at the audition but that she was ultimately just too darned attractive to play the squirrely, oddball and rebellious Lisbeth Salander.

“We flew in people from New Zealand and Swaziland and all over the place,” Fincher said. “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 continues making a truly strange analogy, but one that basically posits that he wants Lisbeth Salander to be a bit unapproachable -- at least until we see who she is in the film. “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,” he explained.

But eventually, the depth Mara could bring to the role won the day. “There were all these different versions of Salander, but the one that had the most layers was Rooney’s,” he said. “I thought, This is the person to follow.”

And while this will easily be Mara's best known role to date by far -- in case you don't remember she played Mark Zuckerberg's ex-girlfriend Erica Albright in "The Social Network" -- Fincher warned her from the outset that 'Dragon Tattoo' may possibly ruin her career, pigeonholing her into one type of character. "... He sat me down and gave me this long spiel about all the bad things that are going to come to whoever plays this part. He said something like, ‘Vivien Leigh was incredible in 'A Streetcar Named Desire,' but she will always be Scarlett O’Hara, and you need to be prepared for that,’” Mara explained.

But while we'll see what history has to stay about about the movie Fincher and Mara are preparing to unleash on mainstream audiences, the director has high aspirations for the film based on a book that he had mixed feelings about. “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....," he said adding, “I saw this not as a blockbuster that appeals to everyone.I saw this as an interesting, specific, pervy franchise. The only chance for something like 'Dragon Tattoo' to be made in all of its perversions is to do it big. I think 'The Godfather' is a pretty good fucking movie. You can start with a supermarket potboiler, but it doesn’t mean you can’t aim high.”

We'll see the results on December 21st. Until then you can uncover some more images over at the new site named after the forthcoming poster slogan, What Is Hidden In Snow Comes Forth In The Thaw. And that doesn't sate your appetite, all of Stieg Larsson's Millenium trilogy books are getting the graphic novel treatment with the first coming in 2012.

This article is related to: Films, Actresses, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Scarlett Johansson, Rooney Mara


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