10 Actors to Watch
Bow Wow | Cecile De France | Garrett Hedlund | Jennifer Lawrence | Logan Lerman | Rooney Mara | Lucy Punch | Edgar Ramirez | Andrea Riseborough | June Temple


“I have an attraction to playing complex characters, and they don’t come around that often, especially for women.”

Rooney Mara shares this piece of info from the set of her next film in Sweden. The film, of course, is “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo,” David Fincher’s adaptation of Stieg Larsson’s bestselling posthumous book. And her role is the much-hyped lead: Lisbeth Salander.

Clearly, Mara has struck “complex character” gold. The twentysomething Salander is a world-worn, tough-as-nails computer hacker. She has crude oil-colored hair, a plethora of piercings and a short fuse of a temper. As a child, she was beaten by her father, and only later did she enact her revenge.

Outside of the book (the first in a trilogy), the character of Salander has been interpreted by a Swedish film adaptation of “Dragon Tattoo,” which made its Stateside debut earlier this year. But Mara is quick to set this upcoming version apart from the previous film.

“I don’t categorize it as a remake,” she says. “We are making our interpretation of Stieg Larsson’s book. I don’t plan on ‘borrowing’ anything. I plan on giving my interpretation of the character.”

When it was announced that Mara would be playing Salander, there was some skepticism. At the time, Mara was a relative unknown. That was only two months ago.

It’s amazing how quickly things change in this industry. Mara recently appeared in the Fincher-directed “The Social Network.” Her character kicks off the film by breaking up with Mark Zuckerberg, appearing sporadically throughout, sometimes simply as a Facebook page. Her screen time was brief, but found Mara flawlessly chewing Aaron Sorkin’s savory dialogue.

Mara certainly had a strong track record prior to “The Social Network.” She appeared in “Youth in Revolt,” “Tanner Hall,” and this year’s reboot of the “Nightmare on Elm Street” franchise. Her work on indies “Dare” and “The Winning Season,” both premiering at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival, earned her a spot on Filmmaker’s list of “25 New Faces of Independent Film.”

“She has depth and wisdom beyond her years,” says Tanner Hall director Francesca Gregorini. “She has so much going on behind her eyes.”

“The Social Network” is clearly a boost in Mara’s profile — others can notice what Gregorini knew all along — and marks a turning point in her career.

Says the actress: “After ‘The Social Network,’ I was re-inspired to give it my all.”

LUCKY BREAK: “The Social Network”
FAVORITE FILMS: “Can I only pick one?”
THE CAREER I’D LIKE TO EMULATE: “Daniel Day-Lewis. Though I don’t think that’s humanly possible.”