In the end it appears that proximity was the key. When filmmaker David Fincher finally put an end to his search for the actress to portray crime fiction's newly celebrated anti-heroine, Lisbeth Salander, in the Hollywood version of Stieg Larsson's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, he turned to 25-year-old Rooney Mara (pictured), who had recently worked for him on this December's The Social Network.
In the story of the rise and rise of Facebook, Mara plays the college student who breaks up with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg), inspiring him to start coding; in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, the first part of the Millennium Trilogy, Mara will play the brilliant, diminutive young punk who hacks computers, blackmails and brutalises the Swedish lawyer who sexually assaults her, sleeps with men and women without emotional explanation, tracks a killer and physically confronts anyone who tries to stand over her, no matter what the odds. That's something of a step up.
Mara, whose comparatively small CV includes the lead in the recent A Nightmare on Elm Street reboot and the straight to DVD in Australia Youth in Revolt, not only has to bear up to the burden of the readers who've purchased 27 million copies of the late author's door-stop thick crime thrillers, but also 30-year-old Swedish actress Noomi Rapace, who has proven a formidable Salander in the three Swedish language adaptations that have already enjoyed blockbuster status in Europe. The second installment of that series, Daniel Alfredson's The Girl Who Played with Fire, opens locally on September 23.
Mara doesn't have long to prepare. She's due in Sweden next month, for location shooting in a Hollywood remake not only directed by the legendarily demanding Fincher (Fight Club, Zodiac), but also starring Daniel Craig as investigative journalist Mikael Blomkvist with a script by the esteemed Steven Zaillian (Schindler's List). The cast will speak English, with Swedish accents, but there will be no wholesale transplant to the United States.
While Craig was confirmed comparatively easy, the search for an American Salander was an involved, increasingly public process. Based on box-office sales, an early favourite was Twilight star Kristen Stewart, but Fincher reportedly preferred an up and comer, with those tested including ethereal Australian actress Sophia Lowe (Beautiful Kate). When Harry Potter star Emma Watson recently cut her hair down to a pixie-style crop reports soon circulated that it was in a bid to convince Fincher to give her the underground-styled part, although her representatives denied it. But the role, and the responsibility to be fierce, inscrutable and tragically damaged by the Swedish state's corruption, went to Mara. In December of 2011 we'll find out how she fared.