‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ Casting Rumors: Sizing Up Our Potential Lisbeth Salander

I’ll make you a bet. Pick up Stieg Larsson’s “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” make it about 50 pages in, and I promise you’ll never want to put the book down again. You’ll be pissed when it’s over, in fact, even if you’re thankful there are two more installments of the Swedish crime thrillers already available at your local bookstore.

“Dragon Tattoo” introduces us to two unforgettable characters: Mikael Blomkvist, a disgraced journalist hired to solve a 40-year-old missing person case, and Lisbeth Salander, a dark and damaged hacker who joins the investigation. Sony is deep into preproduction on an American film adaptation set to open on December 21st, 2011 — following the successful Swedish version — and seems to have located its preferred Blomkvist in Daniel Craig (no decision has been made, and there are reportedly potential scheduling conflicts for the actor involving the next James Bond flick and Jon Favreau’s “Cowboys and Aliens”).

A wider net is being cast for Salander, a role that has become one of the most sought after in Hollywood. Actresses such as Carey Mulligan, Ellen Page, Mia Wasikowska and Kristen Stewart have been mentioned as possible candidates. But now Thompson on Hollywood is reporting Sony and director David Fincher have focused on five mostly unknown names: Rooney Mara (“The Social Network”), Emily Browning (“Sucker Punch”), new Australian faces Sophie Lowe and Sarah Snook (interview), and an unnamed Frenchwoman.

Who would make the best Lisbeth Salander? After the jump, let’s hop on the casting couch and evaluate the candidates.

Rooney Mara
The younger sister of “Iron Man 2″ co-star Kate, Rooney is primed for a breakout turn. We’re just not sure “Dragon Tattoo” is the right fit. Salander is a broken soul, covered in body ink and piercings; she’s gruff and guarded and capable of great violence when threatened. Mara simply seems too sweet, from what we’ve seen of her. Then again, she does star in Fincher’s “Social Network,” so perhaps the director is convinced Mara can transform herself into Salander.

Emily Browning
We’re expecting great and kick-ass things from Zack Synder’s “Sucker Punch.” Browning plays Baby Doll, who has been tormented by her stepfather and institutionalized in a mental hospital. Baby Doll, then, is a kindred spirit to Salander, who spent her childhood in and out of dysfunctional foster care. Early on in “Dragon Tattoo,” there are two frightening rape scenes, and without giving away too much, suffice to say that Salander is a woman who becomes both victim and aggressor. We think Browning would make a killer Salander.

Sophie Lowe
We can’t say we’ve ever seen Lowe in anything, but we dig the idea of going with a total unknown. Pictures makes clear Lowe certainly has the right look: pale, somewhat frail, an adult who still retains an adolescent quality to her. She’d just have to head to the salon for a jet-black dye job for those long locks of hers.

Sarah Snook
Snook would not just be a newcomer on American shores. She’s relatively new to the Australian scene as well. As with Lowe, we’ve never seen her act. But the mere fact that she has so few credits on her resume and is being considered for such a coveted role gives us a hint that she’s got chops. In Fincher, we trust.