'Girl With the Dragon Tattoo' star Rooney Mara is 'exceptionally gifted,' says her 'Youth in Revolt' director

Rooney-MaraImage Credit: James Atoa/Everett CollectionAfter news broke yesterday that Rooney Mara had landed the lead role of Lisbeth Salander in the three-picture Hollywood adaptation of Stieg Larsson’s The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, interest in the relatively unknown actress spiked, landing her in the top 10 Google search trends.

Mara most recently starred in the 2010 reboot of A Nightmare on Elm Street update and 2009’s Youth in Revolt, in which she played Portia Doubleday’s promiscuous roommate Taggarty. “She auditioned for the role of Sheeni [which went to Doubleday] and was great,” says Youth director Miguel Arteta. “We were debating the right person for that part, and she was among the people we loved. We wanted her in the movie and asked if she would do this smaller part, and she was gracious enough to do it.”

And while it’s no small task to go from a supporting role in an indie comedy to the title character in a hotly anticipated U.S. remake of a literary phenomenon, Arteta sounds unconcerned, calling Mara an “exceptionally talented” actress. “She’s got that perfect combination of mystery and familiarity that it takes to make a movie star,” he says. “The reason I cast her was because she had to be able to look at somebody and seduce them without a word. She has one of those gazes where you can see so much into what she’s thinking, without her saying anything.”

But with a high-profile gig like Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy comes intense scrutiny, something that Arteta believes the Lisbeth-to-be is more than capable of handling. He says: “I wouldn’t be surprised at all if she handles it in a very elegant way. She is a surprisingly confident woman for her age. I had no doubt when I cast her that she would go on to be a movie star.”

What do you think about the casting? If you’ve seen Youth in Revolt or 2010’s A Nightmare on Elm Street, how do you think Mara will do as the pixie hacker? Sound off in the comments below!

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  • Em

    I saw her in Nightmare on Elm St. She sucked. Or the script sucked. Or the movie sucked. So, I am not thrilled at this casting move based on her previous work, but I think she could surprise us all and have a kick-ass performance. She has the right ‘look’ and I am confident that the producers chose her because she was damn good.

    • Shiny

      To heck with the Rooney fortune heiress; what about Dolph Lundgren? He’s Swedish and would make a fabulous Lisbeth. And he wouldn’t need the fake accent. Nobody would mess with a six foot five 245 pound Lisbeth.

      • BlackIrish4094

        Not the Rooneys (who own the Steelers), the Maras (who own the Giants).

  • jason

    She definitely has the right look for the role. People can’t write her off, when she has had such limited work. And she was actually funny in very limited role in Youth In Revolt. It was one of the only parts that stood out to me from that film.

  • Tommy

    “We wanted her in the movie and asked if she would do this smaller part, and she was gracious enough to do it.” That’s kind of an odd thing to say. It’s not like she’s a big star who has lots of movie roles to choose from. It’s kind of expected for a no-name like her to get the smaller role.

    • Paul

      Well, Tommy, you can’t piss off too much her family; they’re pretty loaded with gazillions of dollars and actually think they’re hot stuff.

  • laura

    She was wonderful in Youth in Revolt
    As the director said, she has this seductive gaze that just seems to cut straight through you.

    • Madd

      Was she Sheeny’s roommate?

      • asdiwqdj

        Yes. Read the article.

    • dec

      Seductive gaze is the polar opposite of what Lisbeth Salander exudes, unnecessary for this role.

      I worry that she doesn’t have the edgy background needed to draw on the emotional texture and tone of Salander. She come from a sheltered and wealthy background. Hopeless in helping her embody this character.

  • zeldadelwest

    Thank god it wasn’t that smirking nitwith Kristen Stewart.

  • Diana

    I’ve only seen that Nightmare On Elm Street remake. After that movie was over my friend and I remarked that the lead girl was quite good, too bad the movie was so terrible. I could see her playing Salander though, her Nightmare character was sort of an unusual loner, so if she can bring that edge of anger that Salander has, it should be good!

  • Jessy

    I was really rooting for Ellen Paige. My first impression is skeptical, since she looks nothing like Lisbeth, but we’ll see what a gothy makeover (makeunder?) can do…but most importantly, will she get the character right?

  • kurt

    This remake is a shameless cash grab.

    • Tommy

      It’s not a remake of the Swedish movies. It’s a new adaptation of the books.

      • Shiny

        It’s a shot-for-shot remake of the Swedish movie, with fake accents.

  • filmsection

    I think her look is good for playing Lisbeth, and while I have yet to see any of her films, I trust director David Fincher, who did already work with her on ‘The Social Network’.

  • John

    The Swedish film versions of the first two books have been incredibly overrated. (I think the books themselves are overrated as well, but are far better than the films.) That said, David Fincher is one of the top directors working today. Steve Zaillian is a fantastic screenwriter and Scott Rudin produces classy, elegant films. How anyone could be looking at any of this as a negative is beyond me.

    • DL

      Completely agree with you, John.

  • Mary

    “I wouldn’t be surprised at all if she handles it in a very elegant way”. Describes Lisbeth perfectly-not!

  • Desi

    @John: I totally disagree. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is nuanced and superbly rendered and should have been widely distributed in theatres in North America. I think mass general American audiences are intelligent enough to deal with subtitles. Unfortunately, no matter how good the writing/production team is on paper, the American remake so quickly on the heels of the original, will have to go a long way to provide a different vision of the films. Especially sticky will be repeating the wonderful performance by Noomi Rapace as Lisbeth Salander.

  • patanhis

    Don’t know wwho this person is. But after reading the books, the first person I thought of to play Salander was Juliett Lewis. I also think Allison Scagliotti has a good look and attitude (Warehouse 13).

    • Typeaux

      Juliette Lewis is now far too old to play Salander, who is in her mid-twenties by the story’s conclusion. Ellen Page would have been my pick. She can do intense, if you’ve ever seen “Hard Candy.”

  • gigi

    My first choice was Anna Kendrick, but I’m glad they picked an “unknown” for the part. Loved the book. I wish Mara luck in the role.

  • jen

    God,why must americans always do a remake? Can’t you guys read subtitles? Noomi Rapace is the only Lisbet in my opinion.

    • Katie


      • joolsy

        You got that right. Just like The Departed (original Infernal Affairs was great) and Vanilla Sky wasj Just awful. I wonder if they will do a real hatchet job on “Let the Right One in” too!

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