Welcome to Rooney Mara Archives, a fan resource for the talented actress. Our aim is to provide a high-quality website for fans of Rooney to keep updated with her latest career developments, articles, photos, and much more. The site is constantly growing, but we already provide a photo gallery with over 27,000 images, an in-depth look at Rooney's projects, and a press archive filled with magazine and online transcripts and interviews. Thank you for visiting!

Rooney on the Move

“I have a backpack and a small carry-on for two weeks,” Rooney Mara tells me one afternoon, after collapsing into a stiff chair at a café on the eastern flank of Manhattan’s Chinatown. She has recently arrived in New York on a red-eye out of California. In a few hours she will leave again, to travel on to Europe. During the precious time in between, there is a restless version of a New York life to live. Mara has just emerged from a dusty storage unit where her whole apartment is being held on ice. (She vacated one place in February and hasn’t yet found a new home to her taste.) This afternoon she’ll visit friends, run errands, traverse Manhattan by foot; later in the year, she plans to leave the country once again, to see the gorillas in Rwanda. (“Who knows how much longer they’ll be there?”) All of this follows an astonishing two-year period during which Mara left behind the Hollywood movies that made her name—The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Carol—to focus on a run of daring, demanding indie roles, each different from the last. After years building her reputation, Rooney Mara is on the move.

“I hate having a lot of baggage. Traveling when you have nothing—no options—is the best,” she says. She is wearing a careworn vintage T-shirt (the Smiths), pants from Forever 21, and a Yigal Azrouël jacket made bespoke for her, using no animal skin. For ethical reasons, she has embarked on what she describes as the long, hard process of phasing leather out of her wardrobe. (The big challenge, she says, is the shoes.) She has her hair cut short and blends in among the café’s shiftless-chic clientele. “Don’t tell anyone where we are—no one comes here!” she says. Then, with a sly grin, “Just say we’re in Brooklyn.”

A waitress comes by, and Mara places a brisk order: “A half and half.” She catches herself. “Not the creamer,” she says. That’s half iced tea, half lemonade. She gives the tight, amused smile for which she’s known: sweet, self-aware, a little furtive, the hint of her dimples around the edges. She’s been a vegetarian most of her life, and for the past six years, also for ethical reasons, a vegan. Even in New York, the state where she grew up, there’s something otherworldly about Mara, as if she arrived from somewhere else and must translate the universe that she inhabits—the goals, the foods, the customs—into language all the rest of us can understand.

At the moment, though, her attention is all ease and warmth; this summer, Mara is at last enjoying a break after two years of intense, emotionally draining work. A few years ago, explains Mara, who’s now 32, the contours of her creative ambition changed, and since then she has tried to make the films, and live the life, she personally cares about most. “I have more trust now in the universe and things happening when they’re supposed to,” she says. “What I try to live by now is: It doesn’t matter what other people think. I try to live for myself.” In some ways, it’s her most demanding standard yet. “I have to get good at myself, which is a challenge,” she says. “I’m the meanest critic there is.”

And so if 2011, when Mara starred in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, was her year of going wide, 2017 could be her year of going deep. First she played a young widow in David Lowery’s A Ghost Story, opposite Casey Affleck—an unusual role, in an even more brilliantly unusual film, and one she shot in only six days. Then, this fall, Mara stars in Una, Benedict Andrews’s daring movie about a suburban Lolita grown up. Mara fell in love with Blackbird, the David Harrower play on which it’s based, after seeing it on the New York stage in 2007. (“I was so affected by it,” she says. “Thinking about it, reading it.”) She confessed her nagging passion for the play to Cate Blanchett, while they were making Carol, and the universe smiled. “She’s like, ‘Oh, my God, my friend Benedict is doing it, and he’s desperate to have you!’ ” Mara recalls.

In the film adaptation, Mara plays Una, a woman in her 20s trying to reenter the life of an older man (Ben Mendelsohn) who sexually abused her when she was thirteen. He seems to want nothing to do with the adult Una, and they circle each other, sparring. The film was shot quickly, in five weeks, but its heightened emotional drama required close preparation with Mendelsohn—and a distinctive mix of vulnerability and strength. “That relationship was so important because it was really intense and it was mostly just the two of us,” she tells me. “We didn’t spend a lot of time bashing over stuff. We sort of felt for each other more than anything,” Mendelsohn says. He touts Mara’s craft. “I mean, blushing on-screen? That is a kind of holy grail.”

It’s unsurprising, then, that Mara’s Una—a questing girl who has grown into a haunted adult—shapes the film’s emotional core. “She possesses a fierce intelligence that is absolutely readable and clear on-screen, and, at the same time, she also has a beguiling sense of beauty and mystery that I thought was going to be very important,” Andrews explains. “One of the reasons for the shift in title from Blackbird to Una is that we’re drawn into questions that she is desperately seeking answers to. Was this love or was this abuse? Was I the only one?” He goes on, “Rooney’s completely unafraid to go into the raw nerves, the damaged places in characters.”

In the café, Mara takes a sip of her drink and offers her famously inscrutable smile. (“There’s an enormous amount you can’t know about Rooney, and that is a really powerful characteristic,” Mendelsohn says.) Many directors view her as something of a cipher, showing up to work with an almost magical mastery of the material. David Lowery recalls her appearing on the first day of filming for his first film with her, Ain’t Them Bodies Saints. “She came to set with a character who was fully defined and was entirely hers,” he says. “She would not share with me the accent she was preparing until the first take.” Gus Van Sant, who recently directed Mara for the first time, describes her as “very self-contained.” He says, “She doesn’t need a lot from me.”

That opaque self-sufficiency has costs: A few years back, when she was chasing down a part she dearly wanted, she was brushed off. “The producers were like, ‘You’re just too Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. You’re not wide-eyed and innocent enough,’ ” she recalls. “It was right after I had shot Carol, but it hadn’t come out yet. I’m literally wide-eyed in that.”

She smiles wryly; she has come to take such disappointments in stride. “I’m sure at some point it will be the reverse: ‘You’re not edgy enough,’ ” she says. She chuckles. “It only makes me bolder. It only makes me want to be like, Fuck you! Watch me be wide-eyed and innocent!”

A 37,000-foot view of Mara’s childhood reveals how little of it seems to carry forward into her adult self. There’s the famous football dynasty: Her father’s family founded the New York Giants, and her mother’s, the Rooneys, founded the Pittsburgh Steelers. Nothing could seem more distant from Mara’s narrow-shouldered hipster frame. There’s her early-teenage passion for horror films, a genre that she says she now loathes. And, of course, there’s what she describes as her shy, distrustful demeanor as a child, so unlike that of her older sister, Kate, also an actress. “She has a better personality than I do,” Rooney says, deadpan. “People like her more.” When they were growing up, Kate and their cousins would put on dance shows around the house, but Rooney (then called Tricia) was so timorous that she could never do anything except press stop and play on their cassette player.

“Kate knew definitively that she wanted to be on Broadway and do music and acting by age ten,” Rooney explains. “Maybe because I was a contrarian, I wanted to go to school and not be a child actor.” Her essential taste in films has never changed—“dark, cerebral, deeply romantic, goth, weird”—but at eighteen and nineteen she tried out for everything. “Auditioning is like going on a job interview. You have to wear a certain outfit and behave a certain way and play the game a little bit, and I’m just not good at that. I’m really not,” she says. She hates small talk. “I either want no conversation or ‘Let’s talk about your failing marriage,’ ” she says.

The roles came slowly at first; it wasn’t until David Fincher cast her as the lead in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, after working with her in The Social Network, that she got her break. And yet, where many actresses would use such a role as an entrée into Hollywood, Mara has taken a different path. Following The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, she’s made relatively few big studio films, building out her reputation instead in emotionally demanding indie proj­ects. There was her performance as a Texan outlaw turned young mother in Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, and as an aid worker in Rio de Janeiro in Stephen Daldry’s Trash. Mara makes a point of avoiding the “girlfriend or wife” roles that young actresses are often slotted into, but she’s been known to take interesting iterations: as a murderous sleepwalker in Side Effects, as the ex of a man in love with his operating system in Her, and, of course, as the department-store waif who falls in love with an older woman in Carol. Earlier this year, she starred with Robert Redford in the philosophical sci-fi thriller The Discovery, made by her own former boyfriend of several years, Charlie McDowell.

All of this is a fittingly broad range for a woman who prefers to move through the world less like a movie star than like a student on a gap year, hopping planes and living out of carry-ons. A few years ago, while shooting Trash in Brazil, she insisted on exploring the local favelas alone. It wasn’t her first time in a struggling foreign quarter: After spending a college summer in a volunteer program in Nairobi’s Kibera slum, one of the largest in the world, Mara founded a charity to administer care and services to children there. She has a lengthy bucket list of places she hopes to visit—India, Nepal, Bhutan, parts of South America—but returns to Africa from time to time, both to check in with kids in her charity and to take in what she hasn’t seen before.

What’s she chasing? A certain kind of immersive experience that carries into acting, too, she says: “I need to really be feeling like this is the truth of what’s really happening.” David Lowery was surprised, as a relatively unknown indie filmmaker, to get a cold call saying Rooney Mara might be interested in Ain’t Them Bodies Saints. “My first thought was, This actress is at the top of the world right now, and there’s no way she’d want to do a tiny film in Texas,” he says. She did, though, and turned up not just ready but alert. “She is so intelligent, so sharp, that you can see the wheels turning in her head—it’s almost as if you can feel her judging your direction as you give it to her,” he says with a laugh.

I have the idea that, after the twelve-hour window in New York and her ten-day European vacation, but before the trip to see the gorillas in Rwanda and the start of her next film, I will finally be able to see Mara in the rarest of conditions: a state of rest. She insists that when she’s not insanely busy, she is insanely indolent. (“I like to spend a lot of time in bed. If I could take all my meetings and calls there, I would love that.”) I meet her one bright afternoon at the Trails Cafe, an outdoor coffee-and-snacks spot near the foot of the trailheads in Griffith Park.

One of the first things she tells me, though, is that she’s selling her Los Angeles house—another move in process. Also, adding to the chaos of the day, the house is full of moths. She returned from Europe to find part of her home full of pantry pests: those tiny yet alarmingly fast-breeding creatures that haunt cupboards. It doesn’t seem to have occurred to her to call an exterminator. Instead—as usual—she is trying to solve the issue herself, by swatting. “I’m so ashamed. I feel horrible,” she says.

Still, the sunshine is enlivening, and Mara—albeit lathered in sunscreen to preserve her sensitive skin—seems pleased to be out. Although she loves the pedestrian ease of New York, she prefers the quality of life in Los Angeles, where she takes the outdoors seriously: On arriving, even before saying hello, she reflexively stoops to pick a plastic cup littering the ground, and ferries it to a trash can nearby. On the red carpet, she is known for her romantic-goth taste, wearing almost exclusively black or creamy white. (Who could forget the intricate lace Givenchy dress she wore to the 2016 Oscars, or the slick, black Louis Vuitton ensemble she donned for the Una Canadian premiere—part Blade Runner, part ballerina?) Today, though, she’s back in crunchy-traveler mode: a favorite black T-shirt, matching Eckhaus Latta jeans, black Converse sneakers, and a vintage-style broad-brimmed hat.

I order an iced mint tea. Mara asks for the same and, after rummaging in her knapsack, produces a Mason jar. “Can you put it in here?” she asks the cashier. She’s trying to spare the Earth another disposable cup. We settle at a picnic table, underneath a lovely parched oak.

Mara assures me that in L.A. she is a homebody. In New York, she often goes out for dinner with friends, most of whom she’s known since childhood. But in California her friends are from work, and she claims she leaves her house only to go grocery shopping (“I’m a winter cook—banana muffins or soup”) and to exercise (“important for me mentally”). Here in California, she works out with her friend Andie Hecker, a former ballerina. In New York, she goes to Katonah yoga with Danielle Rosati. In both places, she drops in on The Class, a calisthenic regimen by Taryn Toomey. She recently started karate.

It is dipping into afternoon, and the Southern California light has taken on a buttery blur. This evening, Mara says, she plans to buy a ticket at her local theater and see A Ghost Story for the first time. She much prefers slipping into the back of a dark theater than parading into a premiere, but it’s the rare film that allows such freedom. In the end, she quails; she hasn’t yet watched A Ghost Story as of late summer. Mara says she never looks forward to seeing herself on-screen. “For me it’s all about the experience of making a movie,” she explains.

The coming months will bring two films that reflect the range of that experience. In Van Sant’s new biopic about the late quadriplegic cartoonist John Callahan, Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot, Mara plays Callahan’s Swedish-American caretaker. And she spent much of last autumn in Italy, shooting what may be her most daring part to date: the title role of Mary Magdalene, directed by Garth Davis, with whom she first worked in last year’s Lion.

Mara was brought up Catholic, and, although she still considers herself broadly spiritual, she has moved away from the faith. At first, she says, the prospect of playing Mary Magdalene struck her as absurd. “I’m like, ‘I can’t do a scene with Jesus. I just can’t!’ ” Yet she was heartened to learn that Joaquin Phoenix would be playing Christ; they are reported to be dating. (Although Mara is coy on details—“I cannot confirm or deny!”—she reports that all is going well. Or, in fact, better: “My love life is great,” she corrects.) Along the way, Mara developed a special creative relationship with Davis, the director: He is also the favorite to direct the first film she has been developing herself. Based on the best-selling memoir A House in the Sky, about Amanda Lindhout’s time as a young journalist held hostage by militants in Somalia, the movie is one Mara has been working toward for most of her adult career. After four years of work with Megan Ellison’s Annapurna Pictures, Mara hopes the film will be made in 2018.

Will A House in the Sky be enough to bring Mara in for a landing at last? “We’ve all been working really hard to get it made, but we want to do it right,” she says. “Hopefully it all works out.” She jingles her jar of iced tea in the sun and takes a sip. She smiles. “But you never know.”