Rooney Mara played the part of Tiger Lily in Joe Wright’s Pan, which started a conversation about whitewashing that Mara wishes she hadn’t inspired.

Rooney Mara On Playing Tiger Lily

The din of voices critiquing the casting of Mara, a white woman, as the historically Native American Tiger Lily was a “tricky thing to deal with,” Mara admitted to The Telegraph. “There were two different periods; right after I was initially cast, and the reaction to that, and then the reaction again when the film came out.”

Mara went on to state her intense loathing for having been on the side of the conversation that she was – the side being forced to defend the casting of a white person in a minority role.

“I really hate, hate, hate that I am on that side of the whitewashing conversation,” Mara said. “I really do. I don’t ever want to be on that side of it again. I can understand why people were upset and frustrated.”

She added, “Do I think all of the four main people in [Pan] should have been white with blonde hair and blue eyes? No. I think there should have been some diversity somewhere.”

As for the current controversy about the lack of diversity among the Oscar nominees and Hollywood in general, Mara is wary of wading too deeply into it. She’s concerned, and rightly so, that whatever she says will become trite in its repackaging in the media.

“Here is the thing, I have a lot to say and I have very strong opinions about it, but it is such a sensitive issue I don’t want to reduce it to a sound bite,” she told The Telegraph. “I feel like that is what is happening. It is being turned into pull quotes and headlines, and that isn’t opening up a conversation so much as pointing fingers at people and taking their awards out of context. I don’t want to step into the conversation in that way.”

Rooney is nominated for an Academy Award for her supporting role in Carol opposite Cate Blanchett.

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