Childhood & Early Life
Rooney Mara was born Patricia Rooney Mara, on April 17, 1985, in Bedford, New York. Her father, Timothy Christopher Mara, is currently employed as the vice president of player evaluation for the ‘New York Giants,’ a professional football team founded by his grandfather, Tim Mara.
Her mother, Kathleen McNulty (née Rooney), is a part-time real-estate agent. Her family owns the ‘Pittsburgh Steelers,’ another well-known professional football team competing in the ‘National Football League’ (NFL).
Patricia is the third of the four children of her parents. She has an older brother named Daniel and an older sister named Kate, who is also a successful actor. She also has a younger brother named Conor.
Born into a well-known family, she had a privileged but normal childhood. In an interview, she said that they lived in a big house but did not have any butler or maid. In another interview, she said that she used to babysit for an aunt, to earn a ‘Cartier’ wristwatch.
As a child, she was very close to her mother. When she was 3 years old, her mother asked her how she wanted to be dressed for Halloween. She chose to be dressed ‘Klara,’ the crippled girl from 'Heidi’.
Her mother also made her watch old movies such as ‘Gone with the Wind,’ ‘Rebecca,’ and ‘Bringing up Baby.’ Soon, she began to develop a keen interest in acting and also took acting classes.
She also went to see football games. As a child, she never understood what was special about her family. However, her classmates treated her differently because of her lineage, and this puzzled her to a great extent and made her reclusive and anxious.
She attended ‘Fox Lane High School.’ She was so anxious on the first day of school that she had to return home midway.
She was never at ease in school and spent a lot of time alone, refusing to participate in any school activity, be it sports or drama. Eventually, in ninth grade, she decided to try her luck in acting, appearing for the audition of the school play ‘Romeo and Juliet.’
At the audition, she performed her monologue and then darted out of the room. Her English teacher, Mr. Shanley, was one of the judges. He ran after her across the hall, exclaiming, “I didn’t know you could really talk! That was amazing!” Eventually, she won the role of ‘Juliet.’
In early 2003, Patricia graduated from ‘Fox Lane High School’ and then joined a 4-month study-abroad program, visiting Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia in South America. On her return, she joined the ‘George Washington University,’ where she studied for one year.
In 2004, she moved to the ‘Gallatin School of Individualized Study’ at ‘New York University,’ studying psychology, international social policy, and nonprofits. Simultaneously, from the age of 19, she began to appear for auditions and started performing in a few student films. She earned her degree in 2010.
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In 2005, Patricia began her acting career with a small part in ‘Urban Legends: Bloody Mary,’ a film in which Kate Mara starred as ‘Samantha "Sam" Owens.’ Mara was an “extra” in the film, playing the part of a classroom girl.
In 2006, she made her professional acting debut with an episode of the popular TV series ‘Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,’ as a girl bullying obese children. The following year, she made a guest appearance in ‘Women's Murder Club,’ a legal drama aired on ‘ABC.’
In 2008, she appeared as a drug addict in ‘The Cleaner.’ She then made a guest appearance as ‘Megan’ in two episodes of ‘ER.’ The same year, she made her full-fledged film debut with ‘Dream Boy,’ in which she played ‘Evelyn,’ the girlfriend of ‘Roy,’ one of the protagonists.
In 2009, she starred in three major films, namely, 'The Winning Season,’ in which she appeared as ‘Wendy Webber’; ‘Friends (with benefit),’ in which she appeared as ‘Tara’; and ‘Youth in Revolt,’ in which she appeared as ‘Taggarty.’
The same year, she bagged the role of ‘Fernanda (Fern),’ her first leading role, in ‘Tanner Hall.’ The film premiered at the ‘Toronto Film Festival’ in September 2009. The film also gained a lot of praises at the ‘Hamptons International Film Festival’ and received the ‘Grand Jury Prize’ at the ‘Gen Art Film Festival.’
In May 2009, she began shooting for ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street,’ a remake of the 1984 film, appearing as the protagonist, ‘Nancy Holbrook.’ Released on April 30, 2010, the film was a huge hit, grossing $115.6 million at the box office. She later signed for a sequel.
The same year, she started shooting for ‘The Social Network,’ appearing in it as Mark Zuckerberg's ex- girlfriend, Erica Albright. Released on October 1, 2010, the film debuted at No. 1, grossing $22.4 million in 2,771 theaters in the US in the first week alone, establishing Mara as one of the leading artists in the country.
In August 2010, Mara was cast in the lead role of ‘Lisbeth Salander’ in the Swedish–American psychological thriller ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.’ In order to bag the role, she had to undergo a grueling audition, beating Natalie Portman and Scarlett Johansson in the process.
The film released on December 20, 2011, and made a big splash, earning $232.6 million at the box office. Her portrayal of ‘Lisbeth Salander’ earned Mara great critical acclaim and several nominations and awards.
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In 2013, she appeared as ‘Emily Taylor’ in ‘Side Effects.’ She was nominated for the ‘International Online Cinema Award’ for the ‘Best Actress’ for her performance in the movie. The film was followed by 'Ain't Them Bodies Saints' and ‘Her.’
The shooting for 'Ain't Them Bodies Saints,’ in which she appeared in the lead role of ‘Ruth Guthrie,’ started in July 2012. Released in the US on August 16, 2013, the film received great critical acclaim, but flopped at the box office. Meanwhile, in May 2013, she became the face of ‘Down Town,’ a fragrance by ‘Calvin Klein.’
In 2014, she starred in only one film, ‘Trash,’ a Brazilian thriller. The film featured her in the role of ‘Sister Olivia.’ The same year, she designed costumes for her then-boyfriend Charlie McDowell’s film ‘The One I Love’ but was credited as “Bree Daniel.”
Her next film, ‘Pan,’ released in the US on October 9, 2015. Mara was cast as ‘Tiger Lily’ in the film. However, she was criticized for accepting the role because ‘Tiger Lily’ is traditionally portrayed as Native American and she was of European ancestry. Thus, she was accused of depriving Native American actors of the few roles that are available to them.
‘Carol’ released in the US on November 20, 2015, and was a great hit, both financially and critically. Based on ‘The Price of Salt’ by Patricia Highsmith, it told the story of the forbidden affair between two women. Her role of ‘Therese Belivet’ made a great impact. Her performance also earned her several nominations and awards.
In 2016, Mara appeared in ‘Kubo and the Two Strings,’ a stop-motion film that released in the US on August 19, 2016. She voiced the sisters ‘Karasu’ and ‘Washi.’ The next film was ‘The Secret Scripture,’ in which she appeared as ‘Young Roseanne McNulty.’ The film released on September 10, 2016.
‘Una,’ in which she appeared as ‘Una Spencer,’ premiered at the ‘Telluride Film Festival’ on September 2, 2016. It was released in the UK on September 1, 2017, and in the US on October 6, 2017.
‘Lion,’ an Australian biographical film, in which she appeared as ‘Lucy,’ ‘Saroo’s girlfriend, was released in the US on November 25, 2016. Although the film was a huge hit and received a number of awards and nominations, she failed to get any.
In 2017, Mara appeared in ‘The Discovery’ and ‘A Ghost Story,’ both of which premiered at the ‘Sundance Film Festival,’ on January 20 and January 22, respectively. She appeared as ‘Isla’ in the former and as ‘M’ in the latter.
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Her third film of the year, ‘Song to Song,’ released in the US on March 17, 2017, after a 3-year post-production period. In this film, she appeared as ‘Faye,’ a guitarist looking for success as a musician. She had signed for the role in 2011.
In 2018, she appeared in the titular role in ‘Mary Magdalene.’ It had its world premiere on February 26, 2018. It released in the UK on March 16, 2018, and in Australia on March 22, 2018.
The same year, she appeared in ‘Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on Foot,’ in which she was featured in the role of ‘Annu.’ The movie had its world premiere at the ‘Sundance Film Festival’ on January 19, 2018 and was theatrically released in the US on July 13, 2018.
Mara is now planning to co-produce ‘A House in the Sky,’ a film based on the memoir of the same name by Amanda Lindhout. The film, which is in its pre-production stage, will feature Mara as Lindhout.