In a few short years actress Rooney Mara has delivered a few iconic performances and characters, from Lisbeth Salander in David Fincher’s “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” to her work as the young Therese Belivet in Todd Haynes’ “Carol”.
One recent performance she’s likely trying to forget about though is that of Tiger Lily in Joe Wright’s fantasy epic “Pan”. A major flop both with critics and at the box-office, the very Caucasian Mara’s hiring in the traditionally Native-American role of Tiger Lily was frequently remarked on in regards to Hollywood whitewashing – a topic that has become a huge point of social discourse in the wake of this year’s Oscar nominations.
Speaking in a new interview for The Telegraph, Mara addressed her thoughts on the recent controversy and talked about her role as Tiger Lily which has come back into the conversation:
“[It was a] tricky thing to deal with. There were two different periods; right after I was initially cast, and the reaction to that, and then the reaction again when the film came out. I really hate, hate, hate that I am on that side of the whitewashing conversation. I really do.
I don’t ever want to be on that side of it again. I can understand why people were upset and frustrated. Do I think all of the four main people in the film should have been white with blonde hair and blue eyes? No. I think there should have been some diversity somewhere.”
Mara gets even more specific in an interview with Deadline when the topic comes up:
“Is there whitewashing in Hollywood? Absolutely, and I feel really bad and embarrassed to be a part of that. In J.M. Barrie’s book, the natives were not Native American. That was something later attributed and there’s probably racism behind even that attribution. In the book, they’re called the Pickaninny tribe, which is wrought with racism.
But it was never my intention to play a Native American girl. That was never an option to me. It was Joe (Wright’s) pure desire to make the natives a conglomeration of many different cultures and indigenous people. To make them people of the world. He wanted them to be natives of planet Earth. I thought that was a really beautiful intention of his. That being said, I understand the anger about whitewashing. I completely do, and I agree with it.”
Back to the original interview, Mara was also asked about the status of her role as Lisbeth Salander and whether she’ll return for the next film: “I think it’s their intention to resurrect it. They just hired Steve Knight to adapt the fourth book (The Girl In The Spider’s Web). That’s really as much as I know about their plan. As far as I know, the part is mine and I’ll be playing it until someone calls me up and tells me otherwise.”