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Rooney Mara and how she got the bruises while filming Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
"I couldn't imagine my life without doing it." That's how Rooney Mara describes a realization she had midway through the lengthy audition process for The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, David Fincher's new adaptation of the hugely popular Stieg Larsson novel. She doesn't go so far as to attribute the casting to fate-- she worked far too hard in the auditions for that-- but it's hard to deny there's something amazing about the whip-smart, highly verbal girl from the beginning of The Social Network transforming herself into the dark, repressed and furious Lisbeth Salander in Dragon Tattoo. Dyeing her hair black, bleaching her eyebrows and getting several piercings was only the beginning of the sacrifices made for Dragon Tattoo, which shot for 150 days and had her living in Stockholm on her own for weeks before production began, in order to understand the character better. By all accounts every sacrifice paid off-- even the film's weaker reviews single Mara out, and though she says she's "shot myself in the leg" in finding equally worthwhile projects to do next, she's suddenly a very big deal when a year ago few people knew her name. I talked to Mara-- still with the black hair, though minus the many piercings-- over the weekend about how Salander's physical appearance bled through into her own life, the "character flaw" she shares with Lisbeth, the relationship she and David Fincher built together, the bruises she took home from set, and the one scene that Fincher, notorious for his many many takes, tried to get done as quickly as possible. Take a look below, and see The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo in theaters everywhere this weekend. How do you go into a role that's this challenging and know that it's going to be worth it in the end? I didn't know. When I got that list [of what would be required in the role] from David after my first audition I hadn't read the books yet. I didn't want to read them until I knew I had a good shot at it, because I know myself and I can get very obsessed with things. I know that's how I work, and I knew it'd be that much more devastating to read the books and fall in love with this character and not be able to play it out. After I got the list I was like, if I don't get this, it's OK, because it's going to be really hard and I don't know that i want to go through that. Then after I read the books, as I knew I would be, I knew I had to do it. I couldn't imagine my life without doing it. I kept telling a friend, "I think I'm going to get this movie, because I actually can't imagine my future without it." It's just kind of a weird instinct, I just knew i was right. In the press conference you said it was refreshing to walk down the street after a day of shooting with your black hair and piercings and have nobody pay attention to you. Can you elaborate on that? There's just a certain amount of attention you get as a girl, when you've got sort of long, pretty hair. I've never been someone to play up my sexuality with my wardrobe, I've always sort of played it down, but regardless as a girl there is a certain attention you get. When you have a weird haircut and no eyebrows and lots of piercings and you're dressing like a boy, people don't look at you, and I found it to be so freeing. To just roll out of bed in the morning and not worry about what you look like. And I assume you've had the experience everyone has in New York, where you're not wearing anything special and you get catcalled anyway. Yeah, no one catcalls you when you look like I did. You were in Stockholm on your own for a few weeks before filming started. How did that contrast to what then happened on set when you're really micromanaged, being shepherded back and forth and fed and everything. That doesn't happen on a David Fincher set. And people don't do that to me because they learn very quickly that I hate that. They always have an airport greeter for me when you're doing something for Sony, and all the airport greeters have learned "Alright, you're OK, we're going to leave you alone now." I don't do well with a handler, and certainly not when I'm in character. People knew to stay away from me. How did you let people know you were in character? It's kind of just a part of me. It was certainly heightened when I was in character. It's quite clear in body language. Sometimes you get a person who doesn't read body language very well. But there's none of that. Shooting a Fincher film is very much like shooting an independent film, without stressing about getting your shots in. You have an endless amount of time, but it's an independent film in the fact that there are no producers on set, there's no bells and whistles. He likes everything as contained as possible. The money is on the screen. There's a contrast between the famous Fincher method of taking an endless amount of time for shots, and the way that people shoot tough scenes, where you want to get into a scene and get it right early and get out of there. Did you try to nail it early and get it over with, or did you just know that you might have to do 40 takes of a rape scene. You just know. You're always giving it your best, but you know that you have time to breathe, so it doesn't have that sort of panicked feeling, that I have four shots at this. You get to really play. The only scene where there was less of that, when we went in saying we've got to get this right, was not even the rape scene, but the scene leading up to the rape, when he chokes me out. That was really, really fucking hard. David came up to us before that and said "I'm going to try and do this six times." We did it much more than six times, but we all went in knowing there was a limited amount of takes we could get at that. Because of the physical toll it took on you? Yeah, after that first day of doing the choke-out part, I went home, and I can't remember who was there, but they thought I was in makeup. They thought I had the post-rape makeup on. I was really getting choked out. You can't really fake that-- we weren't faking that. So certainly on that scene we went into it with 100% on every take, and we tried to get it over with as fast as possible. The book occasionally describes Salander as being weird looking and strange but also attractive. The movie seems very uninterested in that. Is that something that you and David discussed or that came up with the costume designer, trying to make her as unsexy as possible? Yeah, she's meant to look like a little 14-year-old boy. Her look to us was always meant to repel. It's alway meant to be a means to get the kind of response that I got, people don't pay attention to you, they don't have expectations of you, they just ignore you. We certainly didn't want her to be sexy or attractive in any way. I think by the end of the film she is beautiful. I think a lot of people before they see the movie think "God, she's so ugly, why would they make her so ugly." I think those people will leave the film thinking she's beautiful. Did you want to get that shocked reaction out of people? It's not the reaction we wanted, but it's the reaction we knew would happen. It's the reason David always talks about E.T. If you just saw E.T. before the movie you'd think "That's an ugly little creature." By the end of the movie you're like "He's so cute!" And that's sort of what happens with Salander. By the end of it she's beautiful in her own little way. People talk about this movie and emphasize the way and David Fincher worked together. How did Daniel Craig fit into that? How much of it was the three of you putting your heads together? Me and Daniel didn't work together that often. Certainly me and David did a lot just me and him-- we had to, a lot of my stuff is on my own. Everything was new to me, so I needed more special attention and protectiveness. We had to really be careful about this character. But there were a lot of rehearsals with us sitting around a fire. What do you think you got out of all the time you had to build the relationship with David Fincher? Was there a noticeable difference in the relationship between when you first started shooting and the end? Obviously, yeah, after 150 days of shooting I probably know way too much about David, he knows way too much about me. Certainly by the end of it he knew how to push my buttons better, and what I needed when I was tired at hour 16. I'm very slow to trust people and slow to warm up to people-- it's one of my character flaws. I don't know, there's something about David, I immediately trusted him. Kind of the way Salander almost immediately trusts Blomkvist. And that's sort of how I felt about David. I just knew to trust him, and I couldn't have made the film without that, because there was so much I had to do that required trust. Having gone through a unique experience like this, how does it affect what you look for in the rest of your career? It's really hard. I've set the bar high. I've kind of shot myself in the leg a little bit. But again, I feel like David from early on empowered me to have an opinion and to have a choice. At the same time that's been very helpful in the way I look at things. I want to work with other directors who have a strong point of view and who are uncompromising in their method of filmmaking. That's really important to me after working with David. And also script is really important. I'm really ready to start working again, but I don't want to work on anything that I'm not equally as passionate about. I'm a workaholic, so I have to just work. If I'm not working I'm quite miserable. It helps me to have something to focus on, and i just really like working really hard. But at the same time, from Social Network to Girl with the Dragon Tattoo I didn't work once, because I didn't get cast in anything-- certainly there were things I went out for that I really wanted that I didn't get. But I wanted to be picky and not work unless it was something I was really passionate about.
Why I Don't Buy the 'Begin Again' Hype
I might be late to the party, but if you haven't see Begin Again yet - don't. Please. If you really, really must see it, stop reading this immediately. Major spoiler alert. This movie was supposed to be great. It starred Keira Knightley, Mark Ruffalo, and Adam Levine. It was set in Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn. It had a stellar soundtrack. So where did it go wrong? First things first - are we supposed to like Mark Ruffalo's character? Sure he's artistic and depressed and 'is all about the music' but he's also a drunk dead-beat dad. He only comes back to life when Keira Knightley's character sings a half-catchy tune at open mic night in a dive bar. We rewind and see why she's singing her sad song in the first place and its a classic 'dating a musician who gets famous and cheats one me' story. Oy vey. She then is convinced by this hairy drunk man (yes, that's Ruffalo) to miss her flight back to London and record a record - without a record deal, recording studio, or any money whatsoever - and sleep on her friend's floor. Of course, Ruffalo is miraculously friends with C-Lo Green who pays for the entire recording process and everything works out. And during this entire process Knightley is able to teach Ruffalo's daughter that she'll probably get more guys if she dresses like a lady and suddenly the family is back together again. Knightley then gets a record deal! Dreams come true! But then of course she blows it off because she wants to give her music away and, with Ruffalo's blessing, she uploads her songs to the interwebs and gets a whopping 10k downloads in the first week. This does not happen. Not even in this world of YouTube stars and Kickstarters. There are such things as happy endings and big breaks, but I found the story ridiculous, the characters bland, and the portrayal of independent songwriters infuriating (as someone who has been involved in the music business and plans to pursue a career on the business side) Directors and script writers - stop trying to hide your 'meh' film under Keira Knightley's talent. Even she couldn't fix this one. The only positive thing I could say is that they didn't force a weird Ruffalo/Knightley love line. Even though there was that weird 15 minute long montage of them running through Manhattan together sharing an iPod? Did I totally miss the point of this movie or do you guys agree? I'd love for someone to convince me to like this!
Man Builds A Robot Scarlett Johansson Because, Obviously.
Here's some breaking news in the realm of Earth's impending robot takeover. It seems that one Hong Kong robotics enthusiast has fulfilled his 'childhood dream' of designing a robot and his (probable) adult dream of being able to hit on Scarlett Johansson by creating Mark 1, his very first humanoid robot. Okay, so Ricky Ma, the man in question, will not flat-out admit that Mark 1 was designed to look like Scarlett Johansson, but he does say that he was 'inspired by a Hollywood actress' which is probably dodgy robotics dude speak for 'I made a Robo-ScarJo.' The entire project cost Ma roughly $51,000 to create the robot, who was made mostly of 3D-printed plastics, silicone, and various hardware. Mark 1 has the ability to talk, walk, and make natural facial expressions - including a smirk when you tell her she's pretty. Because, of course, he programmed her that way. Yo, Ricky, you might want to cool off on hitting on Artificial Life ScarJo. (We've all seen 'Her'. We know how that'll end.) But anyway... Ma intends to sell the prototype to a major investor and help develop more and more versions of Mark 1, a robot he sees as extremely useful as our technology capabilities only continue to evolve. Could you imagine a fleet of Robo-ScarJos built to help run our banks, medical offices, or even retail centers? How do you think Scarlett feels about this? Let me know what YOU think about Ricky Ma and his Robot Johansson below. And for more strange tech news, follow my Weird Science collection!
Elizabeth Swann & Will Turner: Badass, Sexy Pirate Love
I'm not sure how many people saw it, but writing my Top 3 Disney Love Stories card reminded me of just how big a fan I am of the relationship between Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann from the Pirates of the Caribbean series. I think @MarySEW and @netchtiBates are right there with me ;) haha. So basically I just wanted to make a card entirely about them, so we can all relive the magic and revel in the badass awesomeness of our favorite movie couple :) Facing danger together, as usual. Will's puppy face here omg So close, and yet so far... this scene gets me with the sexual tension EVERY time. Of course, to remedy the sexual tension, here's them making out, making out, more making out, etc. How are they so sexy and adorable. Just casually being the best looking couple of all time... I love how Jack Sparrow's creepin' behind them in the last pic haha That time they decided to get married in the middle of a skirmish with undead pirates... if you like awesomeness, WATCH THE VIDEO BELOW <333 I seriously doubt there is any more awesome wedding in the history of film. If there is, somebody show it to me. How can you top getting married in the middle of an insane sword fight by a pirate captain, holding hands while slashing bad guys to bits (WHO HOLDS HANDS WHILE SWORD FIGHTING?!?), and then making out as battle rages all around you?!?!? Can this be my wedding? Plz help. Elizabeth's transformation from dainty lady to badass pirate is THE BOMB. Will Turner, how how HOW are you this sexy right now. Some tender moments... ugh, the way they look at each other <3 Elizabeth: "Did you honestly just tell me you don't like my new hat???" XD YES WILL TURNER I WILL WAIT FOR YOU FOREVERRRRRR Okay welp, this has been a brief fangirling sesh by me. Sorry for all the feels. Ahem. I hope you enjoyed this as much as I did.
Did they seriously put Scarlett Johansson in yellowface?
Dear Hollywood: Asian actresses exist. Of course, you wouldn't know it just from watching our movies. Of the top films in 2014, only 5.3% of the characters were Asian, and only about 2-4% of main characters on television are Asian (via). Even on shows like Orange is the New Black, which has been lauded for its progressive representations of race, gender, and sexuality, only featured Asian characters as central to the story in season three. Representations of Asian people in our media is sparse as it is. Which brings me to Ghost in the Shell. Polish actress Scarlett Johansson has been cast to play the Japanese character Motoko Kusinagi. And to add insult to injury, there's a rumor that the studio was experimenting with CGI to make the white actors they cast appear more Asian (via). Instead of actually CASTING an Asian person in the role. The idea has reportedly been rejected, but why on earth was it even considered in the first place? When Asian actors absolutely were never on the table??? Ghost in the Shell is NOT a universal story. The story was originally released in the 90s, during a period when Japan was dominating in the field of technology. Every major innovation, from cars to video games, was coming from Japan or relied on Japanese technology. They were a world leader in a way that no one expected them to be. In the aftermath of World War II, this was a huge source of pride for the Japanese people (via). Ghost in the Shell is a story about Japan's relationship with technology. It's something that an American audience can understand and relate to, but it's not one that we specifically experienced. It is literally not our story. Does it feel like a big deal? Representation might feel insignificant if it's something you already have. After all, it's just tv, just movies (just books, just our political system, just our lives...) but representation is how we shape our identities. Exposure to television can actually lead to a decrease in self-esteem for white and black girls, as well as black boys, but an increase in self-esteem for white boys. What kind of message are we sending when we prioritize white faces over others? We're saying: You don't matter. You are less important. And when that is the prevailing- if not the ONLY message- it's impossible not to hear it. It's deafening.
How to Work out Like Black Widow
Natasha Romanoff, aka Black Widow is one of the most kickass women in comics. She's brainy and bold and totally unapologetic. Who wouldn't want to be her? Sure, her backstory is a little dark. Okay, a lot dark. I probably don't want to try and live through training as a spy for the KGB. I'd love to be as powerful as she is though! Here's a fool-proof guide to get you started as you wipe out the red from your ledger (or just want to start getting more exercise). The workout Designed by Neila Ray, this workout is going to get you moving! Natasha is a master gymnast as well as an incredible hero, so if you're having trouble getting yourself to do a solo workout like this as often as you need to, try exploring classes that engage your entire body. I'm not talking "booty boot camp", go for something more adventurous like a mixed martial arts class or an aerial fabric workout (check out the second pic on this block). Trying something new can really get your adrenaline going, and you'll be amazed by how strong your body can be! Protip Trainer Bobby Strom and stunt double Heidi Moneymaker revealed that proper nutrition and hydration were key to maintaining the intense workout regimen that actress Scarlett Johansson dedicated herself to for the Marvel films. Make sure you're nourishing your body with lots of protein and nutrients. The music Remember when Natasha stole the show... in another character's movie? I actually imagine her taste in music might be a little odd, and I don't think that she'd want any when she's working out (some people are like that- no judgement!). If you're like me and need a little mood music to get you in the right mindset, listen to the soundtrack to her fight scene in Iron Man 2 and remember how much butt she kicks. The cool-down After your workout, your muscles might be sore. That's normal, but kind of unpleasant. There are a lot of things you can do, but my favorite solution is a nice warm bath. The heat helps to relieve tension and relax your muscles. Who wouldn't want to feel a little pampered after a hard workout? And definitely get yourself a Black Widow bath bomb! The comforting smells and essential oils will make you feel oh-so-good after a hard day fighting crime and saving the world!