After weeks and weeks of teases and narrowing down and screen tests and speculation, Sony has finally unveiled the actress selected to play Lisbeth Salander in the English-language version of “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.” Not Kristen Stewart, not Natalie Portman, not Ellen Page, not Scarlett Johansson or Emma Watson or Miley Cyrus or Betty White or Justin Bieber or anyone else that’s a household name. The winner of the most coveted role of the year (Anne Thompson compares it to the casting of Scarlet O’Hara) — and therefore the most scrutiny-prone of next year — is relatiely unknown 25-year-old Rooney Mara, who you may have seen in another remake this year, “A Nightmare on Elm Street,” in which she played the lead character, Nancy. She now joins Daniel Craig, Stellan Skarsgard and Robin Wright for the first movie, which will be directed by David Fincher, as well as its two sequels, “The Girl Who Played with Fire” and “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest.”
Mara is also co-starring in Fincher’s highly anticipated Facebook-origin drama, “The Social Network,” out this fall, so fans of Stieg Larsson’s best-selling “Millenium Trilogy” books will have another performance to judge her by as they wonder if she’s suitable to play Salander. For now, though, there is plenty of immediate reactions to the announcement. I guess I saw her as the promiscuous roommate in “Youth in Revolt,” but that’s hardly enough to base an opinion of her worth on. Plus, my familiarity with the character is limited to Noomi Rapace’s portrayal in Niels Arden Oplev’s adaptation of the first novel. So I would have been fine with her just coming over to Hollywood to reprise the part. But everyone has had a favorite leading up to this news. Was she anyone other than Fincher’s?
After the jump we look at how the Internet feels about the casting choice.
Welcome to the big time. You are now officially a female franchise. Talk about pressure.
All eyes will be on Mara as she tackles the complex, harsh and brilliant character of Lisbeth Salander, the guarded and violent computer hacker at the center of all three novels. It’s exactly the star-making role any young actress would hope for; now we all have to watch to see if Mara can take advantage of it.
I don’t know what it is, but on some level she seems…I’m searching for the word. Opaque? Unremarkable? I’m not thinking off-pretty — she’s mildly attractive — as much as off-charismatic. I’m just not getting that Vivien Leigh voltage.
I am told she is meant to be 4′ 11″… which she is not. Based on group red carpet photos, she seems to be at least 5′ 5″. But height would be a silly reason to cast anyone but an elf.
While some are already complaining that Mara’s performance in “Elm Street” was so wooden in made Paul Walker look like Sir Laurence Olivier by comparison, remember that Fincher has a tendency to bring out the best in actors.
Hopefully, she’s got what it takes to pull this role off because her performance in “A Nightmare on Elm Street” was as enticing as cardboard, but then again none of the characters in that film had a personality.
It’s difficult to judge how Mara may fare in the role. Most of the reviews for the “Elm Street” reboot earlier this year were left largely without mention of her. But take what you will from this April assessment by Robert Abele in the Times, which said of Mara and her young male costar, Kyle Gallner: “[they were] cast out of the Kristen Stewart-Robert Pattinson school of pasty, glum adolescence.”
So far, Mara is relatively under-exposed. Her biggest role to date has been as the ‘new Nancy’ in the “A Nightmare on Elm Street” remake, in which she was certainly fine, if not exceptional. (It’s a far from exceptional movie, so there’s a lot of slack to be cut there.)
I have no idea if she’ll make a good Lisbeth Salander. She didn’t make a very good Nancy in the New Nightmare, but then again, that wasn’t a very good movie. All I know is that, with a trilogy expected, she’s even more set for life than before. Also, she’ll get to make out with Daniel Craig.
There are worse fates.
Instead of going with a complete unknown, it looks like Sony will be going with one of those Known Unknowns the government warned us about. As for ability, Fincher must have seen something during the filming of “The Social Network” because she hasn’t made much of a screen presence known up to this point. Audience response to her performance in the Facebook movie might be the first indication as to whether the right choice was made (instead of, say, judging from her brooding one-note style in “Nightmare on Elm Street”).
I’ve only seen Mara in the “Elm Street” remake and she was solid. I can’t really judge her too harshly as far as her suitability for this role, but I have to admit I personally would have liked Ellen Page to get the role, simply because she’s a known name (first with “Juno” but more so now since “Inception” was a success) and is a crackerjack talent in the acting department. But I’m willing to accept Mara – she certainly looks the part and hopefully she’ll do the role justice.
Though NewsFeed doesn’t know much about Mara, we approve of the casting for the sole reason that we didn’t want anyone famous playing Salander. Sorry every famous actress in Hollywood, you’re just too pretty.
Having only seen the Swedish version of the film and not having read the book, none of the name actresses who had been identified for the part seemed right to me. I don’t know if Mara will be any good, but I’m glad they didn’t go with a familiar face. Lisbeth Salander is a great and potentially iconic modern character and an unknown will have an easier time disappearing into her.
Mara will now be the center of the planned trilogy opposite Daniel Craig as journalist Mikael Blomkvist, which should raise her profile considerably, to make a characteristically blasé understatement. She will next be seen in Fincher’s “The Social Network,” a film that’s already helped land co-star Andrew Garfield his role as Spider-Man. So truly, it’s like the “St. Elmo’s Fire” of our generation, or something.
The 25-year-old Mara will soon be seen in “The Social Network,” which co-stars recently appointed Spider-Man Andrew Garfield (they have lots to talk about now!), and will probably look very nice with short, spiky black hair, a nose ring, and lots of tats.
Mara is a strong match: she is the right age and looks like Salander.
Her older sister is the actress Kate Mara; unlike Kate – who’s strong-jawed and tawny – Rooney has a moody, ethereal quality to her, a quiet intelligence.
This might serve her well as Lisbeth.
In “Nightmare,” Mara took over an iconic role in the form of Nancy Thompson, the original protagonist of the classic horror series. Though the movie itself wasn’t exactly a critical darling, Mara showed a tremendous amount of potential. Her experience in filling the shoes of a popular character will be quite useful in taking over the role of Lisbeth, played in the Swedish “Dragon Tattoo” film by Noomi Rapace.
She certainly appears to have the acting chops to pull off the plum role of Salander, the emotionally repressed hacker-cum-Terminator who teams up with Blomkvist to crack a decades-old mystery in Sweden.
It’s an extraordinary role, layered and complex, and if Mara can knock it out of the park, she’s almost certain to have her face show up in one of those five little on-screen boxes when it comes to the Best Actress category at the 2012 Oscars. Which is the most long-winded way ever of saying she’ll almost certainly bag an Oscar nomination.
Also, check out Scott Harris’ guide to “Who is Rooney Mara?” at Moviefone’s Inside Movies.