Rooney Mara, Jason Segel and Riley Keough pose at the ‘The Discovery’ Portrait Session on January 21, 2017 in Park City, Utah.
Rooney Mara is not known for giving off the warmest of first impressions. Standoffish, aloof, icy, remote, guarded, distant, opaque, steely, impenetrable, unreadable: such tend to be the words used by journalists to describe their encounters with the actress, a less than inviting list of adjectives that I decide to lob at her the moment we meet in Manhattan. I figure my little ignoble stunt will put Mara on the defensive, stir up some deep-seated insecurities, maybe even provoke a flash of anger, all in the name of exposing some new, hidden dimension of the actress to the world.
“Yeah,” Mara says when I finish. “I kind of have a bad reputation, don’t I?”
Her tone is so unruffled that she may as well be remarking on the weather in a city she doesn’t care to visit. And from there? Silence. Mara fixes me with the same unblinking, glacier-eyed stare she deploys so penetratingly on screen — most notably in her breakout role, as the cyberpunk Lisbeth Salander, in David Fincher’s 2011 adaptation of “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.” Finally, sensing victory in my discomfort, a sly grin springs up on Mara’s elfin, alabaster face.
“Isn’t mystique and the unknown,” she asks, “part of what keeps you drawn to someone?”