The first round of the NFL playoffs is set, and as fate would have it, one Golden Globe-nominated actress has a rooting interest in both of this Sunday’s games. You could say it’s in her blood. In fact, every syllable of 26-year-old Rooney Mara’s name oozes football tradition.
That’s because the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo star’s great-grandfather, Art Rooney, founded the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1933. Meanwhile, the New York Giants are co-owned by her uncle, John Mara, and were previously controlled by her grandfather, the late Wellington Mara. Two legendary, blue-collar franchises led by classy men. A dozen Super Bowl appearances between them. And this young lady has had a front-row seat.
Rooney, who refers to herself as “very shy, aloof and quiet,” talked about growing up in a football family in the latest issue of Entertainment Weekly. But the quote that really struck me had nothing to do with Super Bowls or the way she spent her Sunday afternoons as a child. Rather, it was a comment about how entertainment informed her view of sexuality at a young age.
When asked what inspired her to pursue acting, she mentioned that her mom had raised her on old movies such as Gone With the Wind and Bringing Up Baby, then added, “I was really into Broadway musicals. I’ve seen Les Misérables, like, six times. And I was obsessed with Rent. I knew all the words. That’s where I got my sex ed from, listening to those songs. I’d be like, ‘What does that mean? What’s S&M?'”
Of course, it’s reasonable to assume that various forces have shaped her view of sexuality over the years. Images. Messages. Peers. Adolescents get hit from all sides. Likewise, no one is suggesting that Rent single-handedly inspired Rooney to appear in graphic scenes of nudity, sexuality and rape in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. But we can’t dismiss her comments, either. The fact that she recognizes media’s influence in her life proves that it can leave a mark—and not just on one shy little girl who attended football games after church on Sundays.