Rooney Mara is a mystery. A chameleon. In this era of oversharing, she's spent the last few years making the right kind of headlines, quietly snabbing coveted roles in the most hyped movies such as The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Social Network and Pan. Next month, she'll be back with Carol, the upcoming big screen adaptation of 50's gay romance novel The Price of Salt, in which she'll star alongside Cate Blanchett.
Annie Clark, the prolific musician best known under her stage name St. Vincent, caught up with her (spoiler: the two are friends, and met when Annie gave a guitar lesson to Rooney! Stars, they're just like us) for the November issue of Interview, and grilled her on everything from her creative process, to keeping a healthy routine when you're stranded in remote places for months at a time, and getting drunk on stage with the Flaming Lips (#dreamjob). Here's what happens when two mystical creatures meet up:
On Stage Fright:
CLARK: If you have stage fright, how do you do movies?
MARA: Because there’s no stage.
MARA: On film, yes, the camera is watching you, but it’s so intimate. But it’s just you and the other actor and then there’s some people watching the monitor. I would like to do theater, but I’m terrified. I have such bad stage fright.
CLARK: What are you afraid is going to happen?
MARA: I hate being on display like that. On stage, there are hundreds of people watching you. It’s so much energy directed at you. I pick up energy really easily. Even if I go to the grocery store and no one is paying attention to me, I can pick up other people’s moods and it’s really intense. I would not be able to perform on stage the way you do, but I’m sure it’s exhilarating.
CLARK: Did you ever get lonely at night?
MARA: I like being alone. I need a lot of alone time as a human. And especially on a movie set when you’re around people all day long. So it’s actually kind of nice to go home to a hotel and be alone and unwind. But, of course, it gets lonely. It’s one of the weird parts about being an actor or a musician, we’re Gypsies. People ask me where I live, and I say L.A. or New York, but really I don’t spend much time in either of those places. I’m constantly either in hotels or somewhere else. But I like it. I might get tired of it at some point, but for now I like being a nomad.
CLARK: Me too. People ask, “What do you do to get your creature comforts when you’re on set?” And I’m like, “I don’t know,” because I’m used to being here.
MARA: Yeah. Or people are like, “What do you do in your off time?” But you don’t really have a life. I’m like, “I go to the post office. I go see friends that I haven’t seen in three months.”
On Meeting Patti Smith:
CLARK: Don’t look at my notes. I prepped for this for a long time. I’ve been prepping for this for three years.
MARA: Which is when we first met.
CLARK: It was 2012. The first time I met you I was supposed to give you a guitar lesson.
MARA: What was that place called?
CLARK: Electric Lady Studios. Patti Smith was recently there doing a private show of Horses.
MARA: She was on the Terrence Malick movie I did. She shot, like, three days. I don’t know if she’ll end up in the cut, but her first day, she knocked on my trailer door—I hadn’t met her yet—and she introduced herself, because she was a huge fan of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. I was like [screams]. We had scenes together where she’s showing me stuff on the guitar, and then she does a show in Austin. They really wanted me to go out on stage and play with her, which I refused to do. But she put a chair on stage for me to sit and played a song to me. It was amazing. She was playing herself but giving my character all this advice. And it was actually really good advice, all about relationships.
CLARK: So in the movie she’s “Patti Smith.”
MARA: She’s playing herself. My character idolized her.
On Her On-Set Relationships:
MARA: ...The thing is, on a film, you’re together for a short period of time, but then the movie comes out and you see them again, and it’s kind of like you never left each other.
CLARK: That’s really nice. I feel like most people don’t get to forge extremely close bonds with their co- workers. Most people who are working a nine-to-five aren’t like, “Oh, my God, Dave in sales!” It’s special.
MARA: It is. And everyone on set is also a Gypsy. We’re all like carnie folk. We’re all freaks. We’re all insane. But there is an understanding there.
Photo Credit: Peter Lindbergh for Interview Magazine