Rooney Mara on Her Difficult Auditions and Playing Cate Blanchett’s Lover in ‘Carol’

Rooney Mara in Carol

“I thought, ‘If I don’t get a job soon, I’m just going to go back to New York.’” – Rooney Mara on her first years in LA

As part of a family that co-owns two NFL teams, Rooney Mara has been aware of the media spotlight for most of her life. But when she was first trying to break into acting she found herself trailing her much more successful older sister, Kate. In an interview with the New York Daily News, Mara speaks about those difficult early days and how her role opposite Cate Blanchett in her latest film, Carol, posed new challenges.

Mara admits that nearly a decade ago when trying to make it as an actress in Los Angeles, she was subject to so many “degrading” auditions that she nearly quit and returned to her native New York. She reveals, “L.A. is such a horrible, miserable, lonely place when you first move there and you don’t know anyone. You’re getting rejected all the time. When you’re starting out you’re auditioning for things that you don’t even think are good or want to do, but you have to get your foot in the door somehow…. I thought, ‘If I don’t get a job soon, I’m just going to go back to New York.’”

In Carol, a period romance movie about a younger working class woman who falls for an older society woman, Mara’s character looks up to Blanchett’s character as both a lover and a mentor, and Mara confesses it wasn’t difficult to feel the same in terms of the latter. She says, “Certainly that’s how I felt about Cate, I was enamored with her, and I sort of watched everything that she was doing.”

Rooney also addresses the “lover” aspect since she was required to film an explicit sex scene with Blanchett. She credits Blanchett for helping her be able to film that scene. She explains, “Luckily I felt very comfortable and safe with Cate. It’s just like shooting any other really intense scene, if you’re shooting a really emotional scene, you’re naked in a different way. And so that can be awkward to show that side of yourself to a crew.”

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