*When The Film Strip asked Rooney Mara (Tiger Lily) about her role in PAN at the Conrad hotel in New York City, she was very forthcoming and witty:
“I really wanted to work with Joe [director Joe Wright], but I also wanted to do a movie my family could see where I’m not taking my clothes off or getting horribly abused by someone.”
She went on to say:
“I grew up loving fairytales and Peter Pan. It was getting to go to work every day and not take yourself so seriously, and just play make believe. It was something really different for me, and it was something I really wanted and needed to do. It’s kinda like what Hugh [Jackson] said; a lot of it was done for us. We had an amazing script, we had Joe, we had an amazing hair and makeup team and I really spent a lot of time with the stunt department learning how to fight so I could stand up to Hugh who’s just good at everything he does. For me, the most challenging part was the fight with Hugh. We shot that fight for four weeks and we practiced it way longer than that.”
Wright addressed and explained his choice of Mara for Tiger Lily. “II first started considering the film and the world of Neverland before considering Tiger Lily’s casting,” Wright offered. “I thought about the community she’s part of, and I didn’t want to make them one specific nationality. The idea of Tiger Lily as Native American comes from Disney’s cartoon, not from J.M. Barry’s source material. Barry is kind of non-specific about Tiger Lily and her community’s race, so I decided trying to make the tribes and natives be natives of planet Earth and indigenous of the globe.
“That felt like a kind of opportunity then to have these people come together to fight Blackbeard, who’s the kind of colonial villain who wants to overtake their land. Then when I got to thinking about Tiger Lily’s casting I thought I could cast her from anywhere. So I had a lovely time meeting actresses from Africa, India, and China, and Japan, African Americans, Native Americans, First Nation Australian and so forth.”
Besides the love of fairytales, Mara enjoyed portraying a strong female. “I grew up loving fairy tales, but unfortunately in a lot of them the female characters end up being some sort of victim or damsel in distress. Tiger Lily wasn’t like that at all. In some ways she was more capable than the boys and she could fully take care of herself and then some. I loved and appreciated that about the script.” Wright chimed in with, “One of my favorite audience responses have been from girls coming to see the movie. Their favorite character is Tiger Lily. When asked what they like about Tiger Lily they respond, ‘because she can do anything.’ I’m always trying to portray strong and powerful. Those are the kind of women I like, so they’re the kind of women I like in my movie.”
Syndicated Entertainment journalist Marie Moore reports on film and TV from her New York City base. Contact her at [email protected]