Director David Fincher began work on adapting Steig Larsson's best-selling The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo even while he was wrapping up production -- and awards-season duties -- on The Social Network. The finished film opened on Nov. 28, just two years after producer Scott Rudin first secured the deal.
Pictured, Rooney Mara as Lisbeth Salander, the film's mysterious female investigator. Mara's casting was the main object ot media attention on Fincher's version.
Rooney Mara as Lisbeth Salander
Rooney Mara garnered much attention for her brief role as Mark Zuckerberg's female foil in the opening scene of The Social Network, a role very different from Dragon Tattoo's Lisbeth, and she had to endure a series of screen tests to nab the part, including shooting a scene riding a Los Angeles subway, to covince Sony execs.
Says director David Fincher of Mara's audition process: "We did it a number of times, and about a month or five weeks into it, I realized, wow, she's been able to do every single thing we've asked of her."
Daniel Craig plays Mikael Blomkvist, a disgraced journalist hired to investigate the disappearance of a young woman among the industrialist elite of Sweden. The deal for Craig's role took some time to work out to accomodate his shooting commitments on Cowboys & Aliens and the next James Bond film, Skyfall.
Christopher Plummer & Daniel Craig
British actor Christopher Plummer (left) plays Henrik Vanger, the wealthy Swedish industrialist who hires Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) to investigate the disappearance of a young woman on the sprawling Vanger estate four decades before.
Rooney Mara & Daniel Craig
Screenwriter Steven Zaillian was already working on the screenplay adaption when director David Fincher came onboard, and Fincher didn't want to dictate what he would cut from Steig Larsson's sprawling novel to fit it into a manageable length. But he did discuss a central point of view for the film, telling Zaillian: "I see this as about a guy and a girl." When Zaillian agreed, Fincher says he knew they were heading in the same direction.
Five days after accepting the part, Rooney Mara was on a plane to Stockholm to begin an intense training program of martial arts, skateboarding, motorcycle riding and work with a dialect coach. Along with costume designer Trish Summerville, she also refined Lisbeth's look, submitting to a severe haircut, undergoing (real) piercings and sitting for (fake) tattoos.
Says Mara: "David (Fincher) made it his mission to keep me in a very safe bubble while making the film where I didn't have to think of anything but the character."
Rooney Mara as Lisbeth Salander
When director David Fincher offered Rooney Mara the part of Lisbeth Salander, he warned her it could be life-altering, identifying the young actress with an extreme character who might be hard to escape. But Mara, 26, had no second thoughts.
Says Mara: "After reading all three books, I saw her very clearly and understood most things about her personality and could relate to a lot of things about her. It was my job to bring her to life."
Walking in a Winter Wonderland
Says cinematographer Jeff Cronenweth (Fight Club, The Social Network): "David wanted to pay homage to Swedish filmmaking -- Bergman, Sven Nykvist's photography. ... Sven's style was all based on the actual available light that was in Sweden, so it was really interesting to finally get there, to see how low the light levels were, how low the sun was for such a big part of winter."
On the Set
Even before screenwriter Steven Zailiian's first draft was completed, director David Fincher and producing partner Cean Chaffin made a trip to Sweden to begin scouting locations, using the book as their guide. One major factor that had to be accomodated was Sweden's wintertime weather.
Says Chaffin: "I knew weather and daylight and darkness had to factor into the schedule in a big way. It was surprisingly complicated."
She's Got the Look
Director David Fincher (left) tapped costume designer Trish Summerville to create 50 warddrobe changes for the Lisbeth Salander character, knowing her clothes had to serve as armor, fashion -- and anti-fashion. Actress Rooney Mara took an active role in choosing many of the costumes.
Says Summerville: "As we went along, she grew close to certain pieces and put a lot of thought into where she'd want to wear them."
Therapy? Yep, the 'Still Alice' star has had plenty. And now, today, the onetime outsider is a five-time Oscar nominee who also believes in family and the ability to control her own fate: "I've completely created my own life. Structure, it's all imposed." Watch video