‘Dragon Tattoo’ Star Rooney Mara’s First Photo As Lisbeth Salander

Mara appears as the badass hacker on the cover of W.

After the leak of a few unauthorized photos snapped during pre-production on David Fincher’s “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” and the appearance of a short-haired Rooney Mara on a recent red carpet, we finally have our first official look at the actress who will play Lisbeth Salander in the American adaptation of the hit mystery tale.

W magazine has splashed Mara, in character as the damaged hacker, across its February cover. She’s rocking a jagged, black hairdo, eyebrow and lip rings, and a chest tattoo declaring her surname. Oh, and her hands are covered in blood. But according to the accompanying story, there originally wasn’t enough blood for Fincher’s liking.

“I think we need more blood,” he said. “Lisbeth Salander is not about suffering! She is not Jesus! She is about vengeance!”

Indeed. Salander is one-half of the narrative engine driving the story together. As fans of Stieg Larsson’s worldwide best-seller know, Salander teams up with disgraced journalist Mikael Blomkvist (to be played by Daniel Craig) to investigate the decades-old disappearance of a teenager born into a fabulously rich, wildly dysfunctional family. She is brilliant yet haunted, covered in tattoos and almost autistic in her relation to the world.

“Before I read the book, I didn’t think I could do it,” Mara said. “I locked myself in a room for a week and read all three books, and decided I really wanted to be Lisbeth. But I thought I had no shot at it.”

Another W photo captures Mara, revealing some skin as she gets a tattoo, a cigarette hanging from her mouth. That’s the Salander we know. But according to W, the film will depart significantly from the book. Blomkvist is apparently set to be less of a playboy, Salander will be even more aggressive than Larsson had written her to be, and the dramatic ending has been completely altered.

“Sony and [producer] Scott Rudin told me they wanted to be in the adult-film-franchise business,” Fincher said. “And they said, ‘We want you to kick the A in adult.’ ”

To that end, Fincher auditioned a range of well-known Hollywood names: Natalie Portman, Scarlett Johansson and Jennifer Lawrence, as well as unexpected actresses like Yo-Landi Vi$$er, the lead singer of Die Antwoord. Many of them he subjected to reading through a vicious rape scene.

“David added the rape scene at the last minute, and I said, ‘Ohmigod! They must be really serious,’ ” said Mara. “They did one test, then another a week later. They shot me in the subway in L.A. in full hair and makeup with a motorcycle. Every day they had a new request. On a Monday morning, David called me in, and I said, ‘What do you want me to do to my hair now?’ I was at the end of my rope. He told me I had the part. I hadn’t even read the script yet.”

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

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