Movie Fanatic flew to New York City to sit down with the cast of Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Our first interview is with the film’s main stars, Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara. Craig flew from London where he is filming Skyfall to extol the virtues of Dragon Tattoo. We give you a front row seat to the mutual admiration society that happens when the stars of the American version of author Stieg Larsson’s vision get together.
Mara and Craig are Dragon Tattoo’s Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist, respectively. Their journey into the world of Larsson’s thriller and director David Fincher's film is coming to a zenith as The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is finally in theaters. Craig and Mara take Movie Fanatic inside the Dragon.
Movie Fanatic: Ms. Mara, how easy was it to leave Lisbeth behind?
Rooney Mara: You work at 100 mph for over a year on something and you wake up one day and you have nothing to do. I think it was harder to leave the whole experience behind you. It is harder to come off of an experience where you are incredibly focused and hard working.
Movie Fanatic: Do you fear any backlash to making a film based on a book that was made into a film just a few years ago?
Daniel Craig: I think that the source material is good enough. I think that everyone wins in this situation. I think that we have 65 million readers of the book and we have lots of people that have seen the Swedish version of the movie. We may get millions of other people to see this movie and everybody is going to go back and read the book and watch the Swedish version. It is a win-win.
Movie Fanatic: Rooney, you were famously given a list of things you’d have to do to play Lisbeth. What types of things did David Fincher have on that list?
Rooney Mara: David had told the casting director to let me know before I went down the long road of auditioning that if I were to get the part that I would have to become a smoker and have to go off and be among myself for a year. I would have to be buck naked, do these horrible rape scenes, and ride a motorcycle.
Movie Fanatic: What was the most difficult thing for you to accomplish off the list?
Rooney Mara: It was all challenging. I couldn’t pick one thing that was the hardest. The motorcycle was definitely the thing that I was the least excited about doing. It just seemed very dangerous to me.
Movie Fanatic: Did Daniel ever get on the bike with you?
Rooney Mara: Daniel wouldn’t get on the back.
Daniel Craig: That is not true!
[We all laugh]
Movie Fanatic: Lisbeth and Mikael are clearly drawn to each other in Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. What do you see that attracts these polar opposites together?
Daniel Craig: I think it has a lot to do with honesty and trust. I think that is what was so great in the books. They shouldn’t have a relationship and they shouldn’t even meet in life. I think that Salander has never really gotten to trust anyone or there are few people in her life that are straight with her and he is. They come from different social classes and whatever. He comes in and she has broken the law and has hacked into his life. He walks in and says, “Forget that. I think you’re great and I would like to work with you and I’ll walk away.” I think that this appeals to her.
Rooney Mara: I agree. It is that and also I think that he is one of the first people in her life to ever just appreciate her for the way she is with any sort of decency or respect.
Movie Fanatic: Rooney and Daniel, millions have read these books. As actors, how do you balance characterization and expectation?
Rooney Mara: To be honest, I didn’t really think much about what other people thought of her. I used what I imagined it to be. I had read all three books and I had a really clear picture of who this girl was. Luckily, David’s idea was pretty similar.
Daniel Craig: Exactly. In this industry, the less you think about what other people are thinking about, the better and more original you can be. You can’t go into a project thinking. “How will these people like it? How will those people like it?” You want to be single minded about it. You can’t please everybody.
Movie Fanatic: How did you find Mr. Fincher as a collaborator?
Rooney Mara: David and I read through the script a few times with just us together. Then all of us sat around together and went through the scenes with [screenwriter] Steve Zaillian and Stellan [Skarsgard]. We did do a lot of rehearsal.
Movie Fanatic: Daniel, that contraption you were tied up to in a certain basement, you looked uniquely uncomfortable.
Daniel Craig: I took it home [laughs].
Movie Fanatic: Were there any mishaps with that and how many takes did that take?
Daniel Craig: Just another day working with David Fincher.
Movie Fanatic: Rooney, did you see people looking at you differently if you kept things from your character on after hours?
Rooney Mara: The eyebrows remained bleach and the piercings that I got that were real obviously stayed in. Obviously, I wasn’t wearing my wardrobe at home at night. The hair was stuck to my head so there wasn’t much I could do about that. I expected people to treat me much differently, but it really didn’t happen. The biggest change that I noticed was that when you look slightly off in that way people sort of pay less attention to you and their expectations of you are lowered. I didn’t mind that and actually enjoyed that.
Movie Fanatic: What was it like shooting Dragon's stunts as someone who is actually scared of a speeding bullet flying towards them, versus what you’re doing in James Bond?
Daniel Craig: The most important thing about this character for me was to make him as real and as believable as possible. Obviously, there is another person that I play that would deal with it in a different way. It wasn’t like I was ever thinking about that. I wanted to put the reality into this. He gets shot and runs away screaming like anybody else would. That was really the key and it was dead easy, just to be sort of by the by, but that is what I love about this character and the relationship he has with Salander. He doesn’t have to prove that he is a man. He is a guy and he doesn’t have to go around beating his chest and he is very happy to fall into this relationship where she is literally wearing the trousers.