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Rooney Mara Talks Equal Pay and Whitewashed Casting in Hollywood

In just the span of four years, actress Rooney Mara has given us two, count them, two life-altering performances. Mara first received an Academy Award nomination in 2011. She received it for her role as Lisabeth Salander in the American film adaptation of the Millenium trilogy. She received a nomination this year for her role as Therese Belivet in Carol. Recently, Deadline sat down with her to talk the hot button issues in Hollywood right now.

Tasked with responding to blacklash for her earlier role as Tiger Lily in Pan, Mara was asked about her thoughts on whitewashing.

I do think it can curb art and creativity. That being said, 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.

So, just because the director was true to the novel makes it okay? Not so fast because Mara does share some twinge of regret in taking the role.

…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.

Mara also tackles the wage gap between men and women, not just in Hollywood, but well… everywhere. In a goofy, roundabout way of discussing the issue at hand, Mara does not think it’s just necessary for women to make as much as men.

The conversation should be why and where does that come from because it’s just a side effect of something much greater, which is that women…there is a certain language that we use or that people use to talk about women and certain types of women in our industry and in lots of different industries, that we would never use to describe men.

Like many women, Mara believes the issue is indicative of a general lack of respect for women.

If you’re a female who is sort of opinionated or has a point of view or is self-possessed in a way, you get described with this language in way that others would never talk about men. When I did Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, did Daniel Craig get paid more than me? Of course. He got paid a ton more than me, but he’s Daniel Craig and no one knew who I was so I don’t deserve to be getting paid what he’s getting. He’s the one putting asses in the seats, not me. I had never done anything, so that’s just sort of the way that went.

This is where she kind of loses me. She’s trying so hard to remain polite in conversation, but in reality, Mara should have been paid the same. If we’re being fair, Mara should’ve received even more for her top billing, poster appearance and kickass performance all over that series. Are you kidding me? Citing Daniel Craig’s notoriety as reason enough for a pay gap beyond her protest, Mara says that she hasn’t really had to face the gender wage gap in her career, working mostly on small independent films. She does, however, admit that her experiences are not universal and the pay gap is an issue… so yeah, that’s progress.

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