Rooney Mara wanted to return as Lisbeth Salander, 'but they decided to do a different thing'

Ethan Alter
Senior Writer
Rooney Mara as Lisbeth Salander in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. (Photo: Everett Collection)

When Lisbeth Salander returns to the big screen in 2018, she’s not going to be the same girl (with the dragon tattoo) that audiences remember from David Fincher‘s 2011 adaptation of Stieg Larsson’s blockbuster book series. In September, Sony revealed that British actress Claire Foy will be replacing Rooney Mara as Lisbeth in The Girl in the Spider’s Web, the long-delayed next installment in the English-language version of the Millennium franchise to be directed by Fede Álvarez. (Mara, of course, inherited the role from Noomi Rapace, who played Salander in three Swedish-language features.) While speaking with Mara about her new film, Una, the actress revealed to Yahoo Entertainment that it wasn’t entirely her decision to exit the series. “I was hopeful to come back, but they decided to do a different thing. It was always a character I wanted to revisit; but that’s not what happened.”

At the time of Dragon Tattoo‘s release, what Mara hoped would happen is that the film’s creative team — including Fincher and co-star Daniel Craig — would reunite for adaptations of Larsson’s next two novels, The Girl Who Played With Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest. While Dragon Tattoo received critical accolades and five Oscar nominations, including a Best Actress nod for Mara, it didn’t become the box-office behemoth that Sony necessarily hoped for, leading to reports that the sequels were being delayed over budget concerns. “We made that movie for an entire year, which in movie time is unheard of,” Mara remarks of the experience she and Fincher enjoyed shooting the original film. “It was one of the most incredible experiences I’ll ever have in my life, I’m sure. I still feel very close to it. Some of those people are still my dearest friends in the world; making it without them would have been very strange.”

Claire Foy is the new Salander in The Girl in the Spider’s Web. (Photo: Getty Images)

Because of that sense of kinship for the character, as well as the film’s crew, Mara remembers feeling frustrated while waiting for official word on whether the next two Millennium films would be made and with whom. Then at a certain point she realized she just had to let the experience go, especially once it became clear that Fincher wouldn’t be behind the camera again. Sony’s decision to move directly to The Girl in the Spider’s Web — the fourth book in the series, and the first not written by Larsson, who died in 2004 — tempered her enthusiasm as well. “Nothing would have matched that [initial] experience,” Mara says now, confessing that she still hasn’t read Spider’s Web. “Different director, different author of the book. I would have loved to have done it, but I think it probably would have been a letdown in a way. It never would have matched the experience I already had.”

Una opens in limited theatrical release on Oct. 6. The Girl in the Spider’s Web is slated to open on Oct. 19, 2018. 

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