Rooney Mara gets why some people shook their heads at the casting of a white actress as Tiger Lily in the new movie "Pan." Some cried "whitewashing" -- like Emma Stone in "Aloha" -- to give the role to a white actress instead of a Native American one, since so few roles are given to Native actresses and here's a part that was written as non-white from the start.

Rooney Mara addressed the criticism while promoting the movie at the NYC premiere:

"It wasn't great, I felt really bad about it," she told People. "It was something that I thought about before I met with [director Joe Wright]. When I met with Joe and heard what his plans for it were, it was something I really wanted to be a part of. But I totally sympathize with why people were upset and feel really bad about it."
Director Joe Wright also addressed the decision:

"I thought about the idea of having a Native American tribe, and that worried me actually," he told the New York Daily News. "What would I be saying with that choice? So then I thought, 'Well, where should they be from?' And I couldn't decide, so I felt like picking just one race would be an unwise choice. So then I thought about the potential of them being the indigenous people of the [entire] planet." He wanted to avoid alienating any culture with stereotypes from the original story, so he used a mix of ethnicities to populate the Native village, and Rooney Mara as the Native American princess. "It felt like Rooney had this kind of beautiful princess, kick-ass character."

Changing a character's race is always a touchy subject -- just ask Michael B. Jordan in "Fantastic Four" -- but Tiger Lily's casting probably won't affect how "Pan" performs, for better or worse. The real problem is that if the studio wanted both a famous name and a Native American actress for "Pan" they'd be out of luck, since most of Hollywood's famous film starlets are white and many viewers would be hard-pressed to name even one Native American actress. This is why they could use more casting. You can't become as known and respected as Rooney Mara if no one gives you a chance to begin with.

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categories Movies