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Fincher, Soderbergh, Tatum Talk the Rooney Mara Mystique in Newsweek Profile

Photo of Beth Hanna By Beth Hanna | Thompson on Hollywood February 4, 2013 at 12:50PM

Newsweek's profile of actress Rooney Mara looks at the Girl with the Cool-As-Ice Demeanor, and what makes her so alluring to some of Hollywood's biggest directors. After being nominated for an Oscar in 2011 for David Fincher's "Girl with the Dragon Tattoo"...
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Rooney Mara
Rooney Mara

Newsweek's profile of actress Rooney Mara looks at the Girl with the Cool-As-Ice Demeanor, and what makes her so alluring to some of Hollywood's biggest directors. After being nominated for an Oscar in 2011 for David Fincher's "Girl with the Dragon Tattoo," her 2013 slate includes Steven Soderbergh's upcoming "Side Effects," David Lowery's Sundance entry "Ain't Them Bodies Saints" and Spike Jonze's "Her." She's also in a currently untitled Terrence Malick film. Highlights from the profile below, with quotes from Fincher, Soderbergh, Channing Tatum and Mara herself.

Mara on her preference for complex, prickly characters:

“I’m interested in the duality of people. I have a lot of darkness and frenetic energy inside myself, so it’s easier for me to portray people with shades of gray.”

And on being an isolated teenager:

“I was kind of a troubled teenager. I think everyone has an experience with depression, anxiety, or sadness because growing up is so traumatizing. The first day of high school, I went home halfway through because I was sick with anxiety. Actually, the whole first week of school I was terrified. As a teenager, I spent a lot of time alone. I sat alone during lunch. I was a very strange child.”

David Fincher on the gruelling aspects of the Lisbeth Salander role:

“We asked her to do some pretty horrendous s--t, and I never felt her shy away from anything.  If there’s one thing Lisbeth had to have, it’s what Rooney has in spades: she’s singular.”

And on Mara's role in "The Social Network":

“We had two mandates: she had to be somebody who could go toe-to-toe with Jesse, because he’s so verbal and quicksilver, and she also had to be the one that got away, so she needed to be special, really bright, and pretty. You can fake a lot of things in movies, but that’s not one of them.”

Channing Tatum on Mara's mystique:

“It’s hard to really quantify Rooney. She has such a fire in her and you don’t think she does, because she’s so unassuming. So when she snaps, you’re just like, ‘How the f--k did that come out of this little, ethereal being with the porcelain skin?’ And when she laughs it’s completely shocking, too. It’s part of her mystique.”

Steven Soderbergh on Mara:

“She didn’t seem to have any interest in being my friend, which is totally fine. I found her very private, or whatever the opposite of oversharing is.”

This article is related to: Interviews, Newsweek, Rooney Mara, David Fincher, Steven Soderbergh, Channing Tatum, David Fincher, Steven Soderbergh


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.