25 Things About Rooney Mara

Come meet the new Lisbeth Salander! Rooney Mara stars in 'The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,' out this week!
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25 Things About Rooney Mara

Come meet the new Lisbeth Salander! Rooney Mara stars in ‘The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,’ out this week!

-Lucia Peters

Rooney Mara

You’ve probably been hearing a lot of buzz about Rooney Mara lately. After all, she did manage to land one of the most high-profile roles of the year—the genius hacker Lisbeth Salander in the new film adaptation of Stieg Larsson’s The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo—in spite of being virtually unknown. But her star has been steadily on the rise lately; with The Social Network, she launched herself into the mainstream, and with Dragon Tattoo, out this week, she’s getting ready to show the world just how far she’s willing to go for a role. How much do you actually know about her, though? Have no fear; here’s a crash course in everything you need to know about Rooney Mara!

1. Patricia Rooney Mara was born on April 17, 1985 in Bedford in New York. Westchester? How chi-chi!

2. She’s of Italian and Irish descent. In fact, the Rooney family can trace their Irish ancestry to County Down in Northern Ireland.

3. Her older sister is actress Kate Mara, who you may have seen in films such as 127 Hours and Transsiberian, or on the current FX television series American Horror Story.

4. Football is in her family’s blood: Her great-grandfather on one side founded the New York Giants, the one on the other side founded the Pittsburgh Steelers, her uncle is the current CEO of the Giants, and her father, Timothy Christopher Mara, is the vice-president of player evaluation for the team.

5. However, that doesn’t mean she grew up liking it. Au contraire; she told Paper Mag in 2010, “I was dragged to football games every week. I just started liking it a few years ago, but I really hated it growing up.”

6. Rooney graduated from high school in 2003, after which she spent four months traveling through South America as part of an open learning environment called the Traveling School. During her journeys, she spent time in Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia.

Read 25 Things About Charlize Theron

Social Network

Rooney with Jesse Eisenberg in ‘The Social Network.’

7. After her months of traveling, she spent a year at George Washington University in Washington D.C before transferring to NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study.

8. The flexibility of Gallatin allowed her to study psychology, international policy, and nonprofits. She graduated in 2010. Gorgeous, talented, AND brainy? Some people have all the luck!

9. Her first professional gig was in Urban Legends: Bloody Mary, the 2005 straight-to-DVD sequel to Urban Legends and Urban Legends: Final Cut. Rooney only had a bit part, but her sister Kate starred.

10. Rooney would later get to star in a horror movie of her own: The 2010 reboot of A Nightmare on Elm Street.

11. Interestingly, Rooney never had any desire to be a child actor, even though Kate started acting at age 12. She once told The Journal News, “It never seemed that honorable to me, and I guess I was always afraid that I might fail.” She finally started auditioning for professional gigs at 19 while she was at NYU. She also told Paper Mag, “I wanted to finish high school and experience other parts of the world before I tried acting.”

12. Her first lead came in 2009’s Tanner Hall, a coming-of-age story that focused on four girls at a New England boarding school. It was well received at both the Toronto International Film Festival and the Hamptons Film Festival, but it only had a limited theatrical release this past September.

13. Rooney dropped her given first name—Patricia—after she finished shooting Tanner Hall. “I never really liked my first name,” Rooney said. “I never felt like a Tricia. And Rooney is more memorable.” We think she looks more like a Rooney, too.

More about Rooney, including how she won the role of Lisbeth Salander and what inspired her to start her own charity, up next!

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