Dissecting Rooney Mara’s Disturbing ‘Dragon Tattoo’ Rape

Rooney Mara as Lisbeth Salander in "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo."

Rooney Mara is nothing short of amazing in " The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo." There's the slew of stuff she did to get in character: the piercings, the hair bleaching and dying, the tattoos. On screen, it comes together in a chilling, sharp portrayal of Lisbeth Salander, hacker extraordinaire, insane by her own admission and, to paraphrase Samuel L. Jackson, a badass motherf***er.

Which makes that rape scene all the more disturbing.

Fans of Stieg Larsson know the story: Salander's newly appointed, court-ordered guardian forces her to perform oral sex on him to get access to her own money. The really cringe-worthy stuff happens later, when Salander asks for another check (for food) and gets handcuffed, tied down, stripped and anally raped.

Mara told Vogue that physically, that scene was the hardest for her. "I got really beat up," she said, and you see that in the carnation pink blotches blooming on her skin as she cowers in the shower afterward.

And yet, she wasn't fazed. "I wasn't really scared to do any of those things," Mara, 26, told "Popcorn with Peter Travers" when asked about the rape and her preparation for it. "[But] I was hesitant to ride a motorcycle because it seemed very dangerous." (She does that expertly, too.)

Mara told "Popcorn" that "Dragon Tattoo" director David Fincher, notorious for making actors do as many as 100 takes of a scene, mercifully called for only one take of the rape. But one take does not always a rape make. The  revenge rape - in which Salander stun-guns her sadistic social worker, ties him to his bed posts, duct tapes his mouth, penetrates him with a large sex toy and tattoos "I am a rapist pig" all over his torso - took three.