How Rooney Mara became "Girl With Dragon Tattoo"

Tue Aug 17, 2010 2:52am EDT
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By Borys Kit

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Bringing an end to the mounting suspense surrounding one of the biggest talent hunts in years, director David Fincher on Monday phoned Rooney Mara, a relatively unknown young actress, to break the good news.

Moments later, Columbia announced that Mara had been chosen to play punk hacker Lisbeth Salander in the English-language movie adaptation of Stieg Larsson's international best-seller, "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo."

Until the surprise announcement, Mara was best known -- at least among hard-core horror movie fans -- as the girl who fought Freddy Krueger earlier this year in the remake of "A Nightmare on Elm Street."

But all that is changing rapidly. Not only has Mara landed the coveted "Dragon" role opposite Daniel Craig, who will play investigative journalist Mikael Blomkvist, she also will appear in Fincher's new movie about the early days of Facebook, "The Social Network," which will open the prestigious New York Film Festival on September 24.

In fact, though young actresses from throughout the world were called in to test for the Salander role, Mara, born in Bedford, N.Y., might have had the inside track all along thanks to having worked with Fincher. Even before its release, "Network" is becoming a veritable farm team for future Sony franchises: While it has boosted Mara's fortunes, it also helped another member of the cast, Andrew Garfield, land the part of Peter Parker in the studio's relaunch of "Spider-Man."

Although moviegoers won't issue their final verdict on Mara's casting until Sony releases "Dragon" on December 21, 2011, the up-and-coming actress will see an immediate pay raise. She received $65,000 for her starring role in the low-budget "Nightmare."

In order to test for "Dragon," finalists had to agree to test deals with salaries in the $150,000-$200,000 range as well as options for the second and third movies in the planned trilogy that also would bring with them significant salary bumps.

Although fans might be disappointed that their favorite did not make the cut, industry reaction to Mara's selection was positive. "I think that's perfect," casting director Jane Jenkins -- who has worked on such high-profile book-to-movie adaptations as the first "Harry Potter" movie and "The Da Vinci Code" -- said of the decision to go with a fresh face.   Continued...