Celebrity Then And Now
Posted by Ryan Neal
Celebrity Then And Now
Publication: RidiculouslyExtraordinary. Posted by Ryan Neal
House of Cards, 24, Fantastic Four
February 27, 1983
Currently Known For:
Actress and Fashion Model
House of Cards, 24, Fantastic Four
February 27, 1983
Actress and Fashion Model
“I have a ridiculous fear of sharks but I’d jump in the water in a second for an amazing role.” Launching her career as an actress at only 14 years old, Kate Mara has proven she continues to get better with time as the 35-year-old has settled into Hollywood quite nicely over the last two decades. Making her film debut in Random Hearts in 1999, Mara is perhaps best known for her television roles as computer analyst Shari Rothenberg in the Fox thriller series 24 (2006), as Hayden McClaine in the FX horror miniseries American Horror Story: Murder House (2011), and as reporter Zoe Barnes in the Netflix political drama House of Cards (2013-2014, 2016).
Apart from her stellar work on television, Mara has also taken her talents to the silver screen. In 2005, she stunned audiences and critics alike with her performance alongside Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal in Brokeback Mountain. She then joined Matthew McConaughey in the 2006 historical drama We Are Marshall before taking on another dramatic role opposite Mark Wahlberg in Shooter in 2007. Adding in credits in Transsiberian (2008), Stone of Destiny (2008), The Open Road (2009), and Transcendence (2014), Mara’s film career skyrocketed in 2015 when she starred in The Martian. Over the last three years, she’s snagged roles in Fantastic Four (2015), Morgan (2016), and Megan Leavey (2017) with her most recent role taking her into the Kennedy’s version of Camelot with Chappaquiddick (2018). What’s next for the 35-year-old actress? Let’s find out!
“In New York, you can just wake up and everything sorts itself out. I love that, not having a plan.” Hailing from the Big Apple, Kate Rooney Mara came into this world on February 27, 1983 in Bedford, New York where her family was already well-known thanks to their ties to the NFL. Her paternal great grandfather, Tim Mara, founded the New York Giants in 1925 and her maternal great grandfather, Art Rooney, Sr., founded the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1933. With each family holding ownership in the teams since their inception, Mara was born into a rich NFL legacy with her father, who is one of 11 children, serving as an NFL scout and the vice president of the New York Giants.
Raised alongside her three siblings in an idyllic home where church, football, and large family gatherings consumed most weekends, Mara appreciated sports but her interests were geared more toward performing especially after her mother took her and her sister, Rooney, to their first Broadway show. At nine years old, she made her acting debut in a school musical and appeared in several productions afterward before venturing into community theater. She honed her talents at several youth theater arts schools where she found it easy to break free of her usual shyness. As it turns out, acting helped the young Mara find her voice.
In 1997, Mara auditioned for a part on the NBC drama series Homicide: Life on the Street. Although she lost the role, she made a lasting impression on the network and was invited back for a guest appearance on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (1997). After several more failed auditions, Mara was close to calling it quits when she learned an invaluable lesson that would serve her well in her career—that if one door closes, another will open. “I was up for a part in The Sound of Music on Broadway, and I was completely devastated when I didn’t get it,” Mara recalled. “It was like someone died. And my mum said, ‘It’s happening for a reason, just wait.’ And soon afterwards I got this part in Random Hearts, a Sydney Pollack movie, which was incredible.”
Mara made her silver screen debut opposite Harrison Ford in Pollack’s 1999 film, Random Hearts. She then appeared in the Sundance Film Festival’s award-winning films Joe the King (1999) and Tadpole (2002). By this time, she knew her future was in Hollywood and gave up her spot in the prestigious Tisch School of the Performing Arts at New York University. Instead, she bought a Boston Terrier named Bruno and set out for Los Angeles. “I knew I would need the company. Because where I was going, I knew literally no one,” Mara said of buying a dog and moving out west. “I look back and think, wow, that’s how ambitious I was. I was prepared to go through all that. but I’m glad I did. It was worth it.”
The move to Los Angeles certainly proved worthwhile as Mara landed on her feet in the new millennium with several guest appearances in television series like Madigan Men (2000), Ed (2000), Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (2001), Everwood (2003), Nip/Tuck (2003), Cold Case (2003), and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (2004). She was cast as the lead in The WB’s new series, Prodigy, in 2004 and followed up with a recurring role on Jack & Bobby before she caught a huge break that took her back to the silver screen.
Still incredibly naïve about the film industry, Mara didn’t have the slightest idea or opinion of Ang Lee when she went to audition for his next film, Brokeback Mountain. “At the audition, I didn’t understand what a big deal it was to read for Ang Lee, the director, so there was less pressure,” Mara admits. “But he was so gentle and quiet, it felt like he was rooting for me.” Likening Lee to director David Fincher, whom she worked with on House of Cards, Mara now realizes the value of her experience on Brokeback Mountain and the benefit of working with Lee. “They’re both very specific directors. Like, don’t blink so much, don’t raise your eyebrows… I crave that now, but making Brokeback Mountain, I didn't understand. I just thought I was doing a terrible job and I was going to be fired!”
Mara certainly wasn’t fired from Brokeback Mountain and gave a stellar performance as Heath Ledger’s on-screen daughter in the Oscar-winning film. In fact, the film’s incredible success put Mara on the map in Hollywood and opened countless doors for her. In 2006, she was given a five-episode arc as computer analyst Shari Rothenberg on the Fox hit series 24. After signing on with the William Morris Agency, she enjoyed another career boost when she starred opposite Matthew McConaughey in We Are Marshall (2006). A year later, she appeared in Full of It and signed on to model for Gap before joining Mark Wahlberg in Shooter.
In 2008, Mara wowed audiences at the Sundance Film Festival with her performance in Transsiberian and then starred in Stone of Destiny, which ended the 2008 Toronto International Film Festival. She appeared in another string of lesser-known flicks like T Takes: Brooklyn 09 and The Open Road before joining Sarah Silverman and Michael C. Hall in the 2009 independent comedy, Peep World. She also made a cameo as a United States Marshal in Iron Man 2 and joined an ensemble cast for Happy. Thank You. More. Please.
Returning to television in 2009 to star as Brittany in four episodes of Entourage, Mara proved her niche for horror in 2011 when she joined the cast of American Horror Story: Murder House as Hayden McClaine. Then, in 2013, she caught another huge break when she was cast as reporter Zoe Barnes in the award-winning Netflix series, House of Cards. Nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series in 2014, Mara spent three seasons in the role before calling it quits in 2016.
Amid her success on House of Cards, the New York native joined the Marvel realm when she was cast as Sue Storm “The Invisible Woman” in Fantastic Four. Although the film was a flop among Marvel fans, nothing could stop Mara’s momentum as she showcased her geeky side as astronaut Beth Johanssen in Ridley Scott’s 2015 blockbuster, The Martian. Adding in another credit in Captive in 2015, she returned to film again in 2017 as the star in Megan Leavey and then joined Ellen Page to co-produce and star in My Days of Mercy (2017). Most recently, she starred in Chappaquiddick (2017), a film that tells the story and controversy behind United States Senator Ted Kennedy’s involvement in the death of Mary Jo Kopechne, a teacher, secretary, and political campaign specialist who died in a car accident with Kennedy behind the wheel in 1969.
“Reading the script was riveting because I didn’t know much about Ted or the whole event,” Mara admitted. “It’s still shocking to me that it happened and he continued his career. But then again, in this day and age, I guess it’s not that crazy, is it?” Although Mara has very little screen time in the film, she jumped at the chance to portray Kopechne with the hopes of showing a different side of the campaign specialist and teacher that the media never portrayed. “People didn’t really know who she was or how important she was to the Kennedy campaign. She played a vital role to both Bobby and Ted when they were running for office,” Mara said. “She was very smart and a hard worker, but all of those things were clouded by the event.”
“If 10 years ago I was told I’d be where I am now, I would’ve been pretty happy.” Apart from her flourishing career as an actress, Mara certainly seems to have it all from her large family—22 aunts and uncles and 40 cousins—in New York to her life at home in Los Angeles with her Fantastic Four costar and husband, Jamie Bell. The couple fell in love behind the scenes and dated for two years before they announced the engagement in January 2017. Months later, they exchanged vows in a private ceremony in front of their closest family and friends including Bell’s son from his first marriage to actress Evan Rachel Wood. Of course, Mara’s boisterous childhood with her “huge” family certainly has the actress hoping to add a few more children to their home in the next few years. “When people ask, ‘Where do you want to be in 10 years?’ I just say that I hope I’m still acting. Oh, and kids, sure. Kids are compulsory in my family anyway,” she says.
And, speaking of family, Mara certainly knows her way around a big family and sibling rivalry, especially since her sister, Rooney Mara, launched her acting career. While many argue that Rooney is a bigger name in Hollywood thanks to her work in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011), Mara says that the siblings don’t actually compete with one another. In fact, they don't even know if they’re auditioning for the same roles. “I know conflict is more interesting, but honestly, I just feel so grateful that we’re both living our dreams successfully and to be able to share that with someone you grew up with—it’s really special,” Mara says. What about going up for the same role? “We would be the last to know. Our agents would never tell us. So, I don’t think it’s happened. But maybe there are producers out there laughing saying, ‘Haha, it happened yesterday and we hired your sister!’”
While that’s highly unlikely, both sisters have earned enough success to set their own rules in their career. For Mara, that means being available for the Super Bowl. After work forced her to miss the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2006 victory at Super Bowl XL, Mara reworked her contract to state that she can now attend the Super Bowl if either the New York Giants or the Steelers go to the big game. How’s that for cashing in on her fame and family legacy? So, who does she root for when it comes to a game? For Mara, it’s all about which parent she’s trying to annoy the most. “If I’m mad at my mom, I root for the Giants, and if I'm pissed at my dad, I root for the Steelers,” she says. “But let’s be honest. I just want a Super Bowl ring!” Seems pretty reasonable, if you ask us!