One of the more controversial casting choices of recent times has to be that of Rooney Mara in the role of Tiger Lily in Joe Wright’s upcoming Peter Pan reinvention “Pan”. Previous interpretations of the character always portrayed her as Native American, which made the casting of the very white Mara seem out of place.
Speaking with Collider, Mara revealed that she was as sceptical as anyone when she met with Wright about the part:
“When they told me that he was doing it and that he wanted to meet with me, I was like, ‘How is that going to work? I can’t play Tiger Lily.’ Because I always thought of her as a Native American, because that’s always how she has been portrayed. I met with him anyway, because I love him, and I asked how this is going to work.
Then he showed me all these images that he had of all these different cultures around the world. He explained to me what his vision was for the Native Village and it just made sense to me. They are natives of Neverland, and it’s a completely made up place. Then it just made sense to me.
The costume stuff all came later. I remember he called me up before I auditioned for it and told me that he wanted her to be like a tree hugger but also a punk. Not dirty, but a little bit of a hippie and also punk. Those two things smashed together.
Mara also confirmed she uses an English accent in the film. In the same interview, Wright spoke about the racial change and said:
“In the book, the natives are described as being redskins, which is a term I don’t really recognize. So I couldn’t work out where they were natives of. So I thought, should they be Native American, or should they be African, or should they be Mongolian?
And then I thought, well, better if they are from everywhere, that they are all natives of Planet Earth. So that’s what we did. It was a bit of a gamble really, because they still needed to feel like a cohesive community. I was a bit worried about whether that was going to work. But the supporting artists that we had were an amazing group of people, and they did become their own little community really and inhabited that space.
“Pan” is slated to open in cinemas in July.