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Rooney Mara Talks 'Dragon Tattoo' Transformation

ETonline, Tuesday, October 18, 2011, 10:45am (PDT)

Rooney Mara covers the November issue of Vogue, rocking her distinct The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo look to perfection in an array of dazzling, high-fashion gowns.

But in addition to the stunning pictorial, Mara and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo director David Fincher give the fashion mag a surprisingly candid and in-depth interview, in which they discuss the 26-year-old's startling transformation to play the wildly popular trilogy's brilliant, disturbed heroine Lisbeth Salander -- a role that is being called the most coveted since Scarlett O'Hara in Gone with the Wind.

MORE: Are You Prepared for 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo?'

"We flew in people from New Zealand and Swaziland and all over the place," Fincher says about his grueling search for the perfect actress to play Salander.

He then drops the bombshell that he seriously considered Scarlett Johansson for the role.

"Look, we saw some amazing people," he recalls. "Scarlett Johansson was great. It was a great audition, I'm telling you. But the thing with Scarlett is, you can't wait for her to take her clothes off ... I keep trying to explain this. Salander should be like E.T. If you put E.T. dolls out before anyone had seen the movie, they would say, 'What is this little squishy thing?' Well, you know what? When he hides under the table and he grabs the Reese's Pieces, you love him! It has to be like that."

After finding in Mara the right mixture of "lovability and strangeness", she had to undergo one of the most radical physical transformations in recent cinematic history, which included a severe haircut, bleaching her eyebrows, multiple piercings and dropping weight to play the character the book describes as being "anorexic-looking."

And was the experience traumatic for Mara?

"The eyebrows were the biggest shock because that really changed my face, and I didn't recognize myself. But I was fine because I knew it was going to be really helpful for getting into character," she says.

But it turns out Mara already shares certain key personality traits with Salander aside from the new physical qualities.

"I am very slow to warm," she shares. "I've always been sort of a loner. I didn't play team sports. I am better one-on-one than in big groups. … I can understand wanting to be invisible and mistrusting people and wanting to understand everything before you engage with the world."

And is she prepared for the media circus sure to surround the release of perhaps the most anticipated film of the year?

"That kind of fame is not something I ever wanted for myself," she tells Vogue. "I've been trying to really live in the moment because I will never get this part of it back. As soon as the movie comes out, everyone will turn it into what they believe it is, so I've really been trying to appreciate every minute of now. Because I know what's coming."

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo comes out December 21st. The November issue of Vogue hits newsstands October 25th.

MORE: FIRST LOOK: Rooney Mara is 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo'

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