Meet ‘Girl With The Dragon Tattoo’ Star Rooney Mara

Before landing the dream role of Lisbeth Salander, Mara starred in 'Nightmare on Elm Street' remake and more.

Get used to hearing the name Rooney Mara.

After an extensive search that reportedly focused on A-list names like Scarlett Johansson and Natalie Portman, “Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” director David Fincher selected Mara to play the role of dark and damaged Lisbeth Salander. While hardly a newcomer to Hollywood — she starred in this year’s “A Nightmare on Elm Street” and her sister is “Iron Man 2″ star Kate — Mara remains largely unknown to the public.

That’s all about to change. “Dragon Tattoo” is based on the first of Stieg Larsson’s best-selling crime novels, a trilogy that has been published in 44 countries and has sold more than 40 million copies worldwide. Anticipation for Fincher’s adaptation, slated to get an Oscar-friendly December 2011 release, is already running high, with every casting rumor — Kristen Stewart as Salander? Ellen Page? — getting wide media attention.

So just who is Mara?

MTV News first met her in June 2009 on the set of “Elm Street.” By this point, she had appeared in a few low-profile roles on the big and small screens. But the remake of the beloved horror flick would give the actress her widest exposure to date. And taking on the iconic role of Nancy — originated in 1984 by Heather Langenkamp — left Mara more than a little nervous.

“It’s quite stressful,” she confessed. “There are big shoes to fill, and people love Nancy. There’s a lot of pressure to not let people down.”

How will Mara deal with the burden of portraying Salander? As with “Elm Street” and Nancy, there is already a cinematic Salander. The Swedish version of “Dragon Tattoo,” starring Noomi Rapace, opened in the U.S. earlier this year to wide acclaim. Perhaps, though, Mara’s success on “Elm Street” has boosted her confidence: The film notched an impressive $33 million opening in April.

A few months earlier, Mara had appeared in a supporting role alongside Michael Cera in “Youth in Revolt.” And by the time “Elm Street” hit theaters, she’d already lined up another high-profile flick, a prominent part in Fincher’s “The Social Network,” the story of the founding of Facebook, which arrives in October.

Before then, Mara will already be in Sweden, where “Dragon Tattoo” is expected to begin shooting in September. Last year on the “Elm Street” set, Mara revealed to us how she prepares for each day in front on the camera by creating specific playlists of songs that fit the day’s shoot.

“It’s sort of like reading my diary. It’s very personal,” she said, at first resisting the urge to open up about her musical tastes. But she eventually told us she listens to Red and Three Days Grace when she needs to get pumped up and, when she has a somber scene, Radiohead and every cover of Tears for Fears’ “Mad World” she can find.

“I have a playlist for Nancy for just every day, and I have a specific playlist for the stuff I have to do today, which is really hard-core and I really have to kick ass today,” she explained.

Check out everything we’ve got on “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.”

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