Scarlett Johansson Was Way Too Attractive to Be in ‘Girl With the Dragon Tattoo’

Tim Grierson
The Projector
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One of the things we really like about David Fincher is how candid he's willing to be in interviews. During the midst of Oscar campaigning for "The Social Network," he actually said on the record, "[The movie is] a little glib to be a film. Let's hope we strove to get at something interesting, but 'Social Network' is not earth-shattering." That's the exact sort of thing studios don't want their talent saying when they're trying to win Best Picture, but, hey, that's Fincher.

Now, he's doing some press to promote this December's "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo." And when it comes to explaining exactly why he selected relative unknown Rooney Mara for the much-coveted role of Lisbeth Salander over a lot of more high-profile actress ... well, maybe you should hear it straight from him.

Vogue profiled Mara, who played Mark Zuckerberg's girlfriend-who-got-away in "Social Network," and Fincher (who sat in during the interview) explained the process of deciding on her for the part of "Dragon Tattoo's" kinky, goth girl:

"We flew in people from New Zealand and Swaziland and all over the place," he says. "Look, we saw some amazing people. 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." He stops for a moment. "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."

Mara, it seems, had the right combination of lovability and strangeness. "There were all these different versions of Salander, but the one that had the most layers was Rooney's. I kept coming back to this." He gestures theatrically toward Mara as she stares at the table with a big grin on her face. "I thought, This is the person to follow."

We love he said all this while sitting right next to Mara.

And, listen, we get it. Though directors tend not to admit such things in interviews, there's no question that an actor's specific type of attractiveness informs the kind of roles he or she can get. That's why we have character types like The Girl Next Door or The Hunky Mimbo or what have you. Still, we're sure a lot of actresses would have a tough time being compared to an extra-terrestrial.

Then again, that sounds like the least Mara has had to endure for this role. In the same interview, she mentions that part of her audition process was proving that she had the right strung-out look to play Salander. To do this, she was instructed by Fincher to go out and get very drunk one night so that he could take pictures of her hungover the next morning. We're assuming nothing like this happened with those Snow White movies.

Rooney Mara: Playing with Fire [Vogue via The Playlist]