In what is really not a surprise, Sony Pictures has cast actress Rooney Mara in the coveted and hard fought role of Lisbeth Salander in David Fincher’s upcoming adaptation/remake of Stieg Larsson’s The Millennium Trilogy (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl who Played with Fire, The Girl who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest). Deadline reported yesterday afternoon that Mara had landed the role and a couple hours later Variety confirmed the story as well as the possibility of Max Von Sydow landing the role of Henry Vagner. Sony has now confirmed Mara’s casting as official in a press release. Hit the jump for my thoughts on Mara’s casting.
I saw this one coming, ever since the list appeared of the five actresses who were being considered for the role. Mara worked with Fincher in The Social Network, and if there is one thing we know about Fincher, he loves working with actors and actresses that he has worked with before. In the Variety article, it seemed that the reason for the hold up was that the studio was not convinced that Mara was the perfect fit for the part. I don’t think the issue was with her acting ability but with the fact that she was not a household name. I think the reports of wanting Natalie Portman were true and I think, while Fincher wanted an unknown, Sony wanted a household name. However, Fincher is a final-cut director and the most important thing for Sony is getting him on board to direct the entire trilogy. Had they gone with a household name, Fincher probably would have walked.
I think this is a fine move and I think Mara is a very good actress. She is probably best known in the mainstream as Nancy in the recent remake A Nightmare on Elm Street, however she cut her teeth in indie films like Dare, Kaboom, and The Winning Season. Last year, Filmmaker magazine listed her as one of “25 New Faces of Independent Film”. If Mara’s last name sounds familar, it is because she is Kate Mara’s younger sister. One particular writer for this web site (hint: he wrote this article right now), was actively campaigning for Kate to land the role. However, they are both great actresses and it is awesome that they are not going with a household name.
The biggest obstacle that the film series will face is the success of the trio of Swedish-language adaptions that are already out. That trilogy has grossed $202.9 million and counting worldwide. In many ways, this film series is the closest thing we have to the Harry Potter books right now. It is a phenomenon and the Swedish films have done gangbusters in the United States, despite only getting a limited release. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Girl who Played with Fire have earned a combine $15.1 million domestically, with the third film, The Girl who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, slated for release in November. Ficher has stated numerous times that he intends on keeping the book’s original setting of Sweden. My question is what will Fincher do different and is he setting up Mara for failure?
Mara’s biggest obstacle is Noomi Rapace, who played Salander in the Swedish films. While this wasn’t officially confirmed, it appears that she was offered the role in Fincher’s films and declined. Her performance is one of the most acclaimed performances of the year, and she has an outside shot of getting an Oscar nomination for it. To fans of the book and those films, she is Lisbeth Salander. Will people be willing to give Mara a chance or will she be doomed for failure? She will inevitably be judged against Rapace, and if she takes a different approach, people will probably trash her performance. It would have been much easier if they Americanized it or set it in Canada. That way she would be playing a different character.
Having read and loved the books, it will be interesting to see what kind of approach Fincher takes. The books center more on Mikael Blomkvist, while the Swedish films center around Lisbeth. I think, especially with Daniel Craig playing the Blomvist role, he will be the central character of all three films.
The Variety article also reports that Max Von Sydow is in talks to play the role of Henrik Vagner. I think this is fine casting, although my dream casting would have been Philip Baker Hall. Robin Wright and Stellan Skarsgard are also reportedly in talks to play Erika Berger and Martin Vagner, respectively.