When I spoke with David Fincher recently, it was at the end of his first day of filming The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo in Sweden. We talked mostly about things to do with The Social Network but I couldn't resist asking a couple of questions about his latest project, beginning with the casting of Rooney Mara — who had worked with him on The Social Network, playing the girl who dumps Jesse Eisenberg's Mark Zuckerberg in the opening scene — as his Lisbeth Salander.
If the media chatter is to be believed, your search for an actress to play Lisbeth Salander seemed akin to the hunt to find Scarlett O’Hara for Gone With The Wind. What was it about Rooney that convinced you she was the one?
"It was very tricky. It’s a feline emotional response thing. You kind of go, ‘Who’s the person that you think embodies most of what you’re trying to say about this character?’ I liked working with her, I thought that she worked really hard, I thought she came in really well prepared and didn’t bitch and moan about how many times we were going to shoot it, and I felt like she fed off of what Jesse [Eisenberg] was doing and he fed off of her. And I thought she’s amazing to look at in a really different kind of way. She can be oddly plain or incredibly photogenic and she read for us a bunch of times and continued to persevere and do the work.
"We saw a lot of really fabulous people. There were a lot of people that were interested, and in the end I really felt like I needed a mystery, I needed somebody who was a mystery, and I think she’s got that going for her... Look, you cast a role like this, it’s always a risk, but I also find myself wanting to take risks on people I really like and I really wanna see be successful, and I was like, for all the question marks, and all the things that would scare off of her, when it came down to it, here’s somebody you can call and say, We need you to do this. Or We need you to cut your hair, or We need you to get this pierced, you know, and she was truly great about that, and really wanted to go the whole way."
Is it fair to say you’re adapting the book rather than remaking the Swedish film?
"Yeah. I mean, there are certain similarities. Obviously they’re both based on the same source material but [screenwriter Steve] Zaillian is Zaillian and he’s done it for himself. He did it over. He started from scratch, and it’s good, it’s really good."