24 Frames

Movies: Past, present and future

Category: Rooney Mara

Oscar voters: Meet the academy's youngest members

February 23, 2012 |  2:23 pm

Anna Paquin

For a preteen, membership in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences brings some particularly grown-up perks. The biggest thrill for Anna Paquin, who joined at age 11, wasn’t being able to vote on the best picture of the year — it was that her membership allowed her to see R-rated movies before she was 17.

“I remember thinking that was the pretty much the coolest thing that could happen to me,” recalled Paquin, now 29. “My parents were pretty finicky with ratings, and occasionally I’d get away with watching stuff that was a little older than they preferred. Plus, I was living in New Zealand, and once a year I’d get sent all of these movies that weren’t coming out for months where I lived.”

In 1994, Paquin took home the supporting actress Oscar for her role in “The Piano” as the daughter of a mute pianist. At 11, she became the second-youngest performer behind Tatum O’Neal to ever score one of the coveted awards. And months later, she became one of the youngest members of the academy.

Oscar voters studyA recent L.A. Times study of the academy found that the median age of voting members is 62, and few members are too young to legally buy a beer. Among the youngest are 17-year-old Saoirse Ronan, who scored a supporting actress nod for her turn in 2007’s “Atonement,” and Dakota Fanning, who turned 18 Thursday.

Twentysomethings include Keisha Castle-Hughes and Jennifer Lawrence, 21; Mia Wasikowska, 22; Michael Cera and Haley Joel Osment, 23; Ellen Page, 25; and Rooney Mara, 26. Mara, star of “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” is up for the lead actress prize at the Academy Awards on Sunday. She will be one of the youngest nominees at the ceremony, along with 28-year-old Jonah Hill, who earned a nod for his supporting role in “Moneyball.”

Not surprisingly, most of the academy’s young’uns are in the actors branch, since it’s easier to get a job at 13 as a kid star than, say, a makeup artist. The sound and public relations branch each have at least one member in their 20s.

Many of those who gained admission into the academy while they were minors, such as Paquin, became eligible for membership thanks to a nomination, which not that long ago almost guaranteed admission even if the nominee didn’t have a substantial body of work. Others were proposed for membership by academy members, which was the case with Marlee Matlin.

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'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo': Betsy Sharkey's film pick

January 12, 2012 |  8:30 am

Rooney Mara and Daniel Craig in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
"The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo's" Lisbeth Salander, the pierced-punk-hacker-tracker with a post-modern grudge in need of settling, has fascinated me from the first time I waded through the priceless pulpy viscera of the late Stieg Larsson’s books.

In 2009, when the Swedish films came along and the excellent Noomi Rapace brought her to searing life, I couldn’t imagine another Lisbeth. Ah, but never underestimate the power of director David Fincher to bring polish and panache to the party, which he has done to exhilarating and harrowing effect in this season’s “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.”

Actress Rooney Mara, haunted and hard, has given Lisbeth a new range of repressed emotions I didn't think possible. Meanwhile, Steven Zaillian’s excellent script has nicely bulked up Daniel Craig’s role -– significant in the book, downsized in the Swedish films.

With Fincher's deft touch, cinematographer Jeff Cronenweth’s stealth and speed set to chilling, thrilling music from composer Atticus Ross and Nine Inch Nails genius Trent Reznor (the three were part of Fincher's "The Social Network" success last year), it all works to keep Lisbeth’s world spinning darkly, violently, madly, wildly. Wow.


Betsy Sharkey's best film picks of 2011

More from Betsy Sharkey on 24 Frames

Review: 'The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo'

-- Betsy Sharkey, Los Angeles Times film critic

Photo: Rooney Mara, left, and Daniel Craig in David Fincher's "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo." Credit: Columbia Pictures

'Girl With the Dragon Tattoo' is cool and crafted, critics say

December 21, 2011 | 10:52 am

Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

The story of "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" has captivated audiences twice already in recent years — via Stieg Larsson's Millennium novels and their Swedish film adaptations — and introduced an iconic heroine in hacker Lisbeth Salander. Now David Fincher's new English-language version has the challenge of bringing Salander to life while bringing something new to the table. For movie critics, how well Fincher and his team fared depends on who you ask.

The Times' Kenneth Turan finds the film too frigid, writing that the combination of Fincher's steely precision and Larsson's bleak source material "feels, in a coals-to-Newcastle way, like shipping truckloads of ice to the far reaches of the polar regions." Turan also takes issue with the film's handling of Salander, whom he says is the heart of the franchise. Actress Rooney Mara "clearly did everything her director asked of her," Turan writes, "but this film's cold, almost robotic conception of Salander as a twitchy, anorexic waif feels more like a stunt than a complete character, and so the best part of the reason we care enough to endure all that mayhem has gone away."

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Golden Globes: 'Dragon Tattoo's' Rooney Mara on her nom, fan expectations

December 15, 2011 |  9:18 am

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

David Fincher's "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" doesn't hit theaters until Dec. 20, but the film received two Golden Globe nominations Thursday -- one for its score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross and one for its star, Rooney Mara, who plays the computer hacker Lisbeth Salander originally brought to the screen by actress Noomi Rapace in the Swedish movie version of the bestselling thriller. Mara spoke by phone to 24 Frames' Amy Kaufman about how she feels about the nomination and the "Dragon Tattoo" whirlwind.

A.K.: Where are you?

R.M.: I’m in New York. I’ve kind of just been all busy. It’s been crazy. We had three premieres in three different countries in three nights.

A.K.: So you’re jet lagged?

R.M.: I was like half asleep getting my hair and makeup done to go to something when I heard about the nomination. It was a very pleasant surprise. I had totally forgotten that was even happening, because I’ve been travelling for three days. I was really excited.

A.K.: Is it weird to be nominated when the film hasn’t even come out yet?

R.M.: I’ve never had any other experience with anything like this, so I’m just looking forward to the movie finally coming out. We all put so much hard work into it.

A.K.: You’ve said it’s been hard to transition out of playing Lisbeth. Are you still in the Lisbeth mindset?

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'Girl with Dragon Tattoo' offers deja vu [Trailer]

September 22, 2011 | 12:41 pm

A scene from 'Girl with the Dragon Tattoo'

Intense and familiar are two words that come to mind upon viewing the extended trailer for David Fincher's "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo," which of course tells of magazine-man Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) and hacker Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara) teaming up to solve a decades-old murder on a remote Swedish island.

There's tension galore, and plenty of distinct Fincherian touches, in the material unveiled Thursday for the English-language slated for a Christmas release. But from the story beats to the locations, there's also a feeling we've seen it all before. Which, of course, we have, in Niels Arden Oplev's earlier Swedish-language release.

The spot unspools the story pretty much sequentially. It takes its time setting up Blomkvist's and Salander's personal troubles, pauses as Henrik Vanger tells Blomqvist his assignment, then brings together the James Bond actor and the newly pierced one, both of whom cop convincing Swedish accents. (Interestingly, there are several glimpses of/allusions to Salander's lesbianism, though one of the more explicit shots of the heroine torturing her guardian, a shocking sequence in the original, isn't here.)

As Blomkvist and Salander get further into the mystery, clues and events come at us faster and faster until the trailer finishes in a barrage of quick cuts.

For those worried that Fincher would take too many liberties with Stieg Larsson's original novel or depart from Oplev's well-received first film, they're given little reason for concern here.

But does the faithfulness also work against the movie? Anxiety about deviation mutates into the opposite problem, the one gnawing at this film from the beginning: If Fincher hews too closely to what we've already seen, why do we need a new movie in the first place?

The deja vu problem is especially evident in Mara's performance. The actress holds her own in shoes previously filled by Noomi Rapace, channeling the Swedish upstart at her brooding best. That's a compliment, but it also means she doesn't really give us a good reason to watch the character again.


'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo' begins to breathe its fire

'Girl with the Dragon Tattoo' stars says there's plenty of room to improve on the original

For 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,' Sony takes page out of 'Black Swan'

-- Steven Zeitchik


Photo: A moment from "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" trailer. Credit: Columbia Pictures

For 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,' Sony takes a page out of 'Black Swan'

June 8, 2011 |  2:52 pm

Even with its tough-as-nails protagonist, David Fincher's "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" is a broad audience play: It's based on a book read by millions, contains an accessible mystery and sports an A-list star in Daniel Craig. So whatever gritty elements the "Se7en" director was putting into the film, you'd expect to get played down in a marketing campaign.

But studio Sony is choosing a different path. After a red-band trailer that went for the gore, a new poster goes one step further: It shows Rooney Mara, of course taking on the Lisbeth Salander character that Noomi Rapace made famous in the original, looking tough and baring a pierced nipple as Craig looms behind her. The image is risqué enough that we can't show it here, though here's a link (more sensitive readers, note the partial nudity).

It's hard not to see the poster as a reply to early questions about whether the actress, most recently on screen as a well-scrubbed Boston University coed in "The Social Network," was tough enough for the part. Who knows if the film is as hard-edged as the early marketing material suggests? But it's telling that Sony is doing this much to emphasize that angle.

It's an interesting strategy for a studio with a wide-release picture coming out over the holidays; a campaign like this may turn off more delicate filmgoers. But there's a logic too: This image gets the buzz going and appeases fans worried about losing the grit. There's time to soften things up later. Or, given how well "Black Swan" did last winter, not.


With new trailer, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo' begins to breathe its fire

Rooney Mara will be The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Will Rooney Mara make a good Lisbeth Salander?

-- Steven Zeitchik


With new trailer, 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo' begins to breathe its fire

May 29, 2011 |  5:46 pm

There's already a debate about how this trailer for "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" got online: Was it leaked from a European theater or stealthily put there by Sony? Whatever your conspiracy theory, the source is perhaps less important than the content of this so-called "feel-bad" Christmas movie, all of which comes at us fast, gritty and stylish. (We link to the trailer here instead of embedding it because it's been red-banded, apparently owing to a blink-and-you'll-miss-it nudity shot; please use your discretion in clicking through.)

Shrewdly assuming knowledge of the Stieg Larsson literary series, the spot for the David Fincher movie eschews traditional setup and exposition in favor of quick cuts and a driving Led Zeppelin cover by Trent Reznor and Karen O. This one's for the devotees.

Still, if you pause the spot or watch it multiple times, you'll see many allusions to the mystery that Daniel Craig's Mikael Blomkvist and Rooney Mara's Lisbeth Salander are trying to solve in the Swedish snow. It's a smart approach: The story is there for those who want it, but it's not laid out in a way that could subject it to scrutiny.

The trailer's cumulative effect is to make the movie feel both polished and raw, a sophisticated product that moves miles beyond the made-for-TV feel of the Swedish-language original. If the book and the casting already have fans excited for the first installment this December, this one will make them rapturous.


Rooney Mara will be the girl with the dragon tattoo

Will Rooney Mara make a good Lisbeth Salander?

Noomi Rapace, the girl with the dragon tattoo, will have a vampire bite

-- Steven Zeitchik


Photo: Rooney Mara on the set of  "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo." Credit: Vanity Fair


Rooney Mara, showing more than dragon tattoos

January 13, 2011 | 10:00 am

Funny how a few images can change the tenor of Interweb conversation. A few months ago, people were worrying if Rooney Mara was too sexy to pull off the toughness of Lisbeth Salander. Now people are wondering if she's too tough and not sexy enough. A photo spread in the new issue of W magazine seems calculated to dispel any notions of softness. Dispel it does, as you can see from the image in the cropped cover above. Click here for a slide show of Dress-Up: The Goth Hacker Edition.

— Steven Zeitchik


Noomi Rapace: I'm glad Rooney Mara is a relative unknown

October 27, 2010 | 12:04 pm

Noomi2 Noomi Rapace had never heard of Rooney Mara, the young actress who was recently tapped to play Lisbeth Salander in the English-language version of of "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo," before she was cast in the part.

But Rapace, who, of course, originated the Salander role in the three Swedish films adapted from author Stieg Larsson's Millennium series, says she now endorses the choice.

“I don’t know her. I haven’t seen her,” said the 30-year-old, who was in Hollywood to promote the Friday U.S. release of the final film in the trilogy, “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest.” But, she added, "I think that David Fincher is a great filmmaker, and he probably made a good choice.... I don’t think that people should ever know so much about an actor that they go into the theater and can't see the character."

Since she was cast in the Salander role several months ago, Mara has faced criticism (perhaps inevitable, given the affection for Rapace) about whether she could walk in the actress' footsteps. Mara has sought to answer those critics by throwing herself into the role. It’s been reported that Mara, who has been in production on the remake in Sweden since September, recently pierced her nipples and dyed her hair to get into character.

Rapace herself famously went to similar lengths to play Salander, cutting off her hair, buffing up and getting seven body piercings. "I’m overwhelmed by how people have embraced my performance in the films," Rapace said. "I didn’t expect that at all."

 Rapace, on a brief respite from production of Guy Ritchie’s “Sherlock Holmes” sequel in London, said, despite the acclaim it brought her, she was not eager to reprise the Salander role.  "I was done with it, and I was very clear that I didn’t want to do it again. And when people knew that it was David Fincher, everybody came back to me and said, ‘Have you changed your mind?’ No. Why should I?”

The actress says she has not been asked by the filmmaker or Mara for advice on how to approach Salander. "I don't think I could help her, because she has to find her own [version]. I don't know more about this book than she does, because she's probably read the books, and she has to find her own truth and give something from her to it. She will probably do something completely different."

— Amy Kaufman


Photo: Rapace in West Hollywood earlier this week. Credit: Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times.


Noomi Rapace is not Lisbeth Salander

Noomi Rapace, the girl with the dragon tattoo, will have a vampire bite

Rooney Mara's shoulder, transfixing Sweden more than ABBA

Will Rooney Mara make a good Lisbeth Salander?

Rooney Mara will be 'The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo'

Rooney Mara's shoulder, transfixing Sweden more than ABBA

September 22, 2010 | 12:34 pm

Matt Damon, Fred Savage and Rick Astley are not dead. And, apparently, Rooney Mara was not "seriously injured" as she got in shape to play Lisbeth Salander in "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo."

It apparently all began with a report on this Swedish site -- try to read it closely and maybe you'll understand why so many gave it credibility -- that production had to be shut down after Mara injured her shoulder on the set of the David Fincher film. (At least so said some American bloggers who, apparently, speak Swedish.)

The rumor gained currency after a Perez Hilton post, whose URL claimed  that production was "shut down indefinitely after star suffers severe injury."

And then just as quickly, after conversations with Sony and Mara reps, came the headlines that "Rooney Mara  NOT Injured on Set of 'The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo." It appears as though, at most, Mara may have tweaked her shoulder while getting in shape, but production isn't shut down and she's just fine. The Perez post has been taken down, and all seems to be proceeding apace over in Stockholm and its environs.

Internet hoaxes tend to play on what we're already predisposed to believe. And a story of Mara getting banged up feeds nicely into questions about whether the actress is tough enough to play the role of the Goth hacker and justice-seeker, which may be why so many were quick to run it. That, or someone is just a really bad Swedish translator.

--Steven Zeitchik


Photo: Rooney Mara in "A Nightmare on Elm Street" (with horror-movie makeup). Credit: New Line


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