After what has to have been one of the most meticulous searches for a female lead in quite some time, director David Fincher has finally chosen his Lisbeth Salander for his American remake/new adaptation of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.
Actress Rooney Mara, last seen in the remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street, will play Salander, a hyper-intelligent hacker who teams up with a journalist to solve the disappearance and possible murder of a teenage girl four decades prior.
Mara will join the previously-announced (and now confirmed) Daniel Craig, who will play the journalist Mikael Blomkvist. Like Craig, Mara is contracted to star in the next two movies in "The Millenium Trilogy": The Girl Who Played With Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest.
Pretty much every actress in Hollywood under 26 has been after the role of Salander, with actresses weaving in and out of contention for weeks now. Some of names that appeared on the list of contenders included Ellen Page, Carey Mulligan, Keira Knightley, Emily Browning, Sarah Snook, Sophie Lowe and Léa Seydoux. The latter three were on the shortlist along with Mara but evidently Mara has beaten out the competition.
There was speculation during the search that the actress cast for Salander would end up being an unknown. However, there were some who thought it would be smart for Fincher and Co. to go with a known name. It appears that they've ultimately gone for someone in the middle of those two extremes.
Mara is neither a household name nor a complete unknown, having starred in Youth in Revolt, a couple of episodes of E.R. and a few indie movies. However, she'll become known to an even wider audience in a couple of months after Fincher's next movie, The Social Network debuts in theaters. Perhaps the director was influenced in his choice because he has worked with Mara on the Facebook movie(?).
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.
The fact that Mara is playing Salander will obviously change her career dramatically. Sony is planning for Dragon Tattoo to kick off a franchise and with the help of the reputation of three worldwide best-sellers and highly-regarded film adaptations (released in Sweden), I can't see that being too much of a problem to accomplish. You may not know Mara's name now, but trust me, if this franchise is as successful as Sony is planning/hoping, in a couple of years you'll know her very well.
Along with Craig, Mara joins previously announced cast members Stellan Skarsgård, playing Martin Vanger, (brother of the missing girl) and Robin Wright Penn playing Mikael's colleague and lover, Erika Berger. The remake was written by Steve Zaillian (Gladiator, Schindler's List) and, as stated, will be directed by the masterful David Fincher.
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is scheduled to go into production soon and is set to hit theaters on December 21st, 2011.