Rooney Mara has been in the business for quite some time, but there’s no denying that in 2009, her career took off, to say the least. She appeared in the adaptation of Youth in Revolt, led Tanner Hall, then starred in the remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street, had a small part in the Oscar-winning The Social Network, earned her own Best Actress nomination for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and this year, brought us Side Effects. Currently she has both Ain’t Them Bodies Saints and Her on the way; even more impressive? Every single film on this list is so strikingly different.
In David Lowery’s Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, Mara steps in as Ruth, a woman who’s separated from the father of her unborn baby during a botched robbery, where he takes the fall for her and claims responsibility for shooting a police officer (Ben Foster). Years later, Ruth is living a humble life with their grown daughter, but her new existence is rattled when Bob (Casey Affleck) escapes from prison and makes a desperate attempt to rejoin his family.
The thought of an actress finding something to connect to in films ranging from this to Side Effects to Nightmare on Elm Street is rather profound, so it makes sense that one of Mara’s top priorities isn’t necessarily looking for a particular quality in each script, but rather a particular type of filmmaker:
“I guess the thing that connects most of the decisions I’ve made over the last few years is the filmmakers. The director is kind of everything to me … that’s really important to me and I’ve been so lucky with the filmmakers that I’ve gotten to work with the past few years.”
An element that makes Ain’t Them Bodies Saints a standout production is that Lowery steers clear of simply handing over character information. He builds a world, lets the viewer live in it, and learn about the players by doing so. But, of course, that means we’re only working with what we see on screen and any fully realized character should have a life beyond that, so you can’t help but to wonder, what was Ruth like before she became an outlaw with Bob?
“We talked a lot about that and it actually makes me upset because none of it’s in the film. There’s this whole Ruth that I want to talk about in these interviews, but no one would really get what I’m talking about because that’s not who she is in the film … I feel like the prequel to the movie would be such a good movie.
We talked mostly about Ruth and Bob’s relationship. They’re childhood lovers, they grew up together and they had a very passionate relationship with lots of fighting and making up. We thought of Ruth as being a very stubborn, feisty character who definitely had a lot of fire to her.”
Even though Ruth and Bob’s early romance isn’t part of Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, Mara noted that we do get hints of the type of people they were during their younger years in their daughter, Sylvie, a role played by sisters Kennadie and Jacklynn Smith. Mara’s on-screen connection with the girls is undeniable, so when asked if the young acting duo earned that because they’re miraculous little acting experts, Mara explained:
“No! They were not two little pros. They were so sweet though and I love them so much. We got really, really close really fast. We spent a lot of time together and everything that you’re seeing is genuine. They’re at the age where they don’t do anything that isn’t genuine and so it was really amazing getting to work with them. It was a really special part of making the film for me.”
You can hear about all of that and more straight from Mara herself in the video interview below.
Ain’t Them Bodies Saints will get a limited release on Friday, August 16, 2013.
Follow Perri on Twitter @PNemiroff.
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