Before Rooney Mara landed the lead in David Fincher’s ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,’ a long list of actresses were rumored for the part, including Ellen Page, Natalie Portman, Emma Watson and Scarlett Johansson.

According to Fincher, it was Scarlett who came closest to winning the coveted role of vengeance-seeking vigilante Lisbeth Salander — but in the end, she was just too darn sexy

“We flew in people from New Zealand and Swaziland and all over the place,” Fincher told Vogue in a recent profile on the director. “Look, we saw some amazing people. Scarlett Johansson was great. It was a great audition, I’m telling you. But the thing with Scarlett is, you can’t wait for her to take her clothes off.”

It’s hard to argue Fincher’s point, especially in light of recent developments — and although ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ certainly has its share of explicit sexual themes, he never saw it as a “sexy” story. “I keep trying to explain this. Salander should be like E.T.,” Fincher argued. “If you put E.T. dolls out before anyone had seen the movie, they would say, ‘What is this little squishy thing?’ Well, you know what? When he hides under the table and he grabs the Reese’s Pieces, you love him! It has to be like that.”

Ultimately, Fincher said, Mara’s audition was simply too powerful to ignore. “There were all these different versions of Salander, but the one that had the most layers was Rooney’s,” he explained. “I thought, This is the person to follow.”

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