Rising Star: ‘Dragon Tattoo’s’ Rooney Mara

With more than 40 million copies sold around the world, author Stieg Larsson’s “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” is an international phenomenon, having spawned a Swedish film that became one of the highest grossing foreign films ever. Now though, the franchise is heading west with an American remake of Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy heading to the big screen.

Everyone from Natalie Portman and Scarlett Johansson, to Kristen Stewart and Ellen Page, was reportedly after the lead female role of Lisbeth Salander, but it was a relative unknown actress — AccessHollywood.com’s newest Rising Star, Rooney Mara — who nabbed the part. So who is she?

Horror fans know the brunette beauty as Nancy Holbrook, the girl who stared down Freddy Krueger in the 2010 remake of “A Nightmare on Elm Street.”

“We always had sort of like a running joke about Nancy and Freddy’s romance — how in the sequel they’d run away together,” Rooney laughed in an interview earlier this year with Access Hollywood.

It’s a good bet though, now that her “Nightmare” days are behind her, that Rooney will be sticking with dark material for some time to come. She will need to stretch her acting chops as the complex Lisbeth Salander, an orphan, who not unlike Britney Spears, is under a conservatorship in “Dragon Tattoo” (the result of some bad behavior in her youth). While she’s a crackpot private security firm investigator, capable of getting the dirt on almost anyone, she struggles with dangerous controlling forces in her own life, before she meets up with Mikael Blomkvist (a disgraced journalist, to be played by Daniel Craig) and the two attempt to solve the decades-old disappearance of a member of an upper class industrial Swedish family.

In taking on the role, Rooney will give her own stamp to the part, which was originated by Swedish actress Noomi Rapace. Noomi had said she had no interest in reprising the role, although she is interested in breaking into the U.S. film market, having just signed with a talent agency and management company in Hollywood (On a side note: Noomi also could potentially be nominated for an Oscar for the original Lisbeth role; the Swedish version of “Dragon Tattoo” was screened in the U.S. during the 2011 Oscar eligibility period).

By the time Rooney’s version of “Dragon Tattoo” is released, however, the willowy brunette will have already made her stamp on America.

For starters, in October, Rooney can be seen in “The Social Network,” the film about the Facebook founders, which is helmed by her “Tattoo” director David Fincher. Rooney also co-stars this fall alongside Emma Roberts in “The Winning Season,” in theaters September 3.

At just 25-years-old, Rooney isn’t exactly new to the business or the spotlight. She played Megan in the final season of “ER” and she had a small role – as Taggarty in “Youth In Revolt.” Additionally, she grew up a part of a football dynasty. Her great grandfathers, Art Rooney and Tim Mara, founded the Pittsburgh Steelers and the New York Giants.

Rooney’s older sister, Kate Mara, has been around for more than a decade, most recently appearing in “Iron Man 2,” but there is no sibling rivalry of which to speak.

“It’s been really great for me because, you know, I’ve been able to look up to her and get advice from her,” Rooney previously told Access of her sister-in-the-business benefits. “We don’t have a rivalry at all.”

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