‘Succession’ Star Sarah Snook ‘Happy’ Rooney Mara Beat Her for ‘Dragon Tattoo’ Role

Thanks to Succession, Sarah Snook will always be known as Shiv Roy. But could you imagine her as Lisbeth Salander? It almost happened. According to Snook, she came down to the finals with Rooney Mara for David Fincher’s English-language Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

'Succession': Sarah Snook leans over her desk looking at her computer
Sarah Snook | Macall B. Polay/HBO

Snook was a guest on The Hollywood Reporter’s Awards Chatter podcast on August 19. Discussing her career leading up to the Emmy-nominated Succession, Snook included her close call with Lisbeth Salander in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Succession Season 4 is now filming

Before ‘Succession,’ Sarah Snook was almost ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’

Noomi Rapace was the first on screen Lisbeth Salander in the Swedish Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy. When David Fincher made his American version, ultimately released in 2011, he cast Rooney Mara. 

“It was between myself and Rooney Mara,” Snook said on Awards Chatter.  “That could also just be, you get told these things. Hey, well, I didn’t get it. That’s the end of the story. But actually, philosophically, at the time I had this opinion anyway, I was quite happy I didn’t’ get it. I was quite young and quite green and very wide-eyed I think in a way. I think I would’ve been a very different actor now had I got that role at such a young age.”

‘Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ might have been too much for Sarah Snook too soon

Snook graduated from the National Institute of Dramatic Arts in 2008. Her first professional roles were an episode of the medical drama All Saints, and the Australian TV movie Sisters of War. On Succession, Shiv has no fear, but in real life, Snook had reservations about The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

“It would’ve been an amazing thing to get, great catapult what have you,” Snook acknowledged. “But when you know in yourself there’s a level of maturity, or self-understanding, self-knowledge that is not quite ready for somethings. So when I didn’t get it I was like oh, that’s disappointing, but also… that’s kind of great.”

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Lisbeth Salander is a hacker who investigates rapists, and survives an attack herself. Snook worried about being a vulnerable young actor fresh out of school in material like Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

“Because I’d just come out of drama school, the main tenant of drama school and on stage you say ‘yes and,’” Snook said. “You don’t say no, you can’t block. So you say ‘yes and’ which is not a great thing for a young woman necessarily to learn. Say yes but within your boundaries of what you want to agree to. Or say no. No is just as powerful. I would’ve been a naive ‘yes and’ person in Dragon Tattoo.”

‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ did lead to big things 

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo did serve its purpose on Snook’s path to Succession. First, she credits her Sisters of War costar, Claire van der Boom, with encouraging her to audition for it. 

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“My friend, Claire van der Bloom, lovely woman, [is] very talented actress and also a bit of a mentor in that she’s five years older than me and had gone through the hoops in different ways before me,” Snook said. “I was very disenchanted in self-tapes…. I had to put a poem on tape. What am I going to do, a poem? What poem? She was really encouraging. She’s like, ‘It doesn’t matter. Throw your hat in the ring. Failing is fun. You can just try and great. If you don’t you’ll never know. So just do something‘ and gave me the courage to.”

Snook made it to the screen testing stage, which took her to the United States to meet casting director Laray Mayfield Sabrina. On the same trip, she separately met casting director Francine Maisler, who later cast the Succession pilot. 

“I met Francine on that trip and got cast in Steve Jobs years later in 2015,” Snook said.

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