One of the fastest rising talents in Hollywood right now is Rooney Mara. After landing a few small times roles in films here and there, Rooney met with the right people for her career, got the roles she deserved and is now a more recognisable name in Hollywood and the public domain. In the past five years alone, she has worked with some of the top directors around including David Fincher, Steven Soderbergh and Spike Jonze. But we aren’t here to talk about those guys specifically, we here to talk about the essential films to watch before the release of Rooney’s new film, Trash.
Out of all her roles, Rooney’s portrayal of Mark Zuckerburg’s ex-girlfriend, Erica Albright in The Social Network, is probably her sanest role to date. The role was different to the sort of person Rooney is, she even stated in an interview that she didn’t really empathise with the role of “Susie College”, but she really wanted to work with David Fincher. Despite playing a role she didn’t find relatable to herself, Rooney still put in a great performance. Erica is made out to be the perfect girl, cute and smart but honest at the same time. You understand Mark’s fascination for her and can see why she still plagues his mind years later. Erica isn’t the biggest role Rooney’s ever had, but it was the role that helped to introduce her as an actress. Because of the role she started appearing in magazine shoots and started to promote herself as an actual actress and not just the daughter of an NFL tycoon. The role also helped her get the role is now most famous for.
When news broke that Sony were making an American remake of the famed Swedish film, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, it was considered blasphemy; no one could equal Noomi Rapace’s performance as Lisbeth Salander. But when the film finally came out, everyone fell over backwards for Rooney Mara’s portrayal of the legendary heroine. Knowing full well that she needed to separate herself from the Swedish version, Rooney bought new life into Lisbeth, making her unique not just from Noomi’s performance but from many heroines around at the time. She didn’t play down Lisbeth to make her more “commercial” to mainstream audiences, she knew how far she was going to have to go for this role and didn’t hold back. Rooney’s story to how she got the part of Lisbeth is brilliant, and if you don’t believe me, watch the Blu-Ray extras of the film. But basically, she contacted David Fincher asking to audition when she saw the actresses auditioning for the role and knew she would give a better performance than any of them. The devotion she put into getting this role is incredible, never letting up and being ready for anything they ask her for. Whether Rooney knew how much this role would come to define her career is unknown, but it launched her into the mainstream. Her story for the role of Lisbeth is proof that as long as you keep trying, you will prevail.
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo may have cemented Rooney as a great actress, but in my personal opinion, Side Effects is her greatest performance to date. Steven Soderbergh’s psychological thriller is set around the ramifications an anti-depressant drug has on Emily, played by Rooney Mara, with deadly consequences. While the character of Emily may not be as insane as Lisbeth, she definitely has some problems. Her thinking is twisted but she is a lot smarter than everyone else in the film. Rooney’s performance helps the audience to flip flop their opinion of Emily throughout the film, is it the drugs or is it her? I don’t want to spoil the film but when the big reveal happens, no matter what your opinion of Emily is at that point, it changes. You don’t really see the twist coming and part of that is because of Rooney’s performance, changing the audience’s opinion of Emily numerous times throughout the film. Side Effects proved that Rooney wouldn’t become a one hit wonder and given the right material, she can open up the character more than many other actresses would do with the role.
So that she wouldn’t be typecast as the “crazy girl” in films, for Spike Jonze’s latest film, Her, she played a more normal character as Joaquin Phoenix’s ex-wife, Catherine. What’s interesting about this role is we see Rooney in a different light. When Phoenix’s Theodore looks back at his failed marriage we see a very happy Rooney, which is quite rare. I’m not saying she’s a miserable person, if you’ve seen interviews with her than you know she’s actually very funny. But since The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo she has mainly been casted as complex female characters. What Rooney does in Her is similar to playing Erica Albright in The Social Network; she portrays herself as the perfect wife who is not afraid to be blunt with someone. Basically Rooney portrays a more humanistic character than she does in other films, which isn’t a good or bad thing but it shows that she is willing to try different roles to make sure she isn’t typecast for the rest of her career.
After The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Rooney could have been typecast very easily, but as she has proved, she is willing to try different roles to make sure she doesn’t become a one-track record. She is continuing this in her upcoming roles in Trash, Carol and her very controversial role as Tiger Lily in Pan. No matter what, Rooney has great critical praise and a very loyal fanbase, so people will always be behind her, supporting her no matter what the role is. And at only 29 years old, you better believe she will be around for many years to come.
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Trash is out now!