After successful collaborations with David Fincher on “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” and “The Social Network,” Oscar-nominated actress Rooney Mara is in advanced negotiations to star in the director’s upcoming HBO series “Utopia,” an individual familiar with the project has told TheWrap.
Fincher will direct every episode of the first season of the one-hour drama, which has been written by “Gone Girl” author Gillian Flynn. “Utopia” is based on the hit British series that Dennis Kelly created and Kudos produced for Channel 4. Endemol Shine North America’s scripted division, Endemol Shine Studios, will produce the series with HBO.
Mara is nearing a deal to play Jessica Hyde on “Utopia,” which follows a group of die-hard fans of an iconic, underground novel who find themselves in their own pop-culture thriller when they learn that the author has secretly written a sequel. Those who seek it out are thrust into a twisted game in which nothing is as it seems, including the true meaning of the book.
An insider told TheWrap that Mara’s representatives were initially reluctant to pursue the project, as TV often requires a multi-year commitment and her movie career is on fire thanks to Todd Haynes‘ “Carol,” for which Mara earned Oscar buzz out of Cannes. However, Mara has a close creative relationship with Fincher, who convinced her to join him at HBO, which has had success luring movie stars to the small screen in the wake of “True Detective.” Negotiations are under way to help alleviate the series’ time demands on her busy schedule.
In addition to “Carol,” Mara also plays Tiger Lily in Joe Wright‘s “Pan” and has indie films on the horizon from Terrence Malick, Stephen Daldry (“Trash”), Jim Sheridan (“The Secret Scripture”) and Garth Davis (“Lion”). She’s also filming the drama “Blackbird” with Riz Ahmed and Ben Mendelsohn.
HBO recently pumped the brakes on Fincher’s other series, “Video Synchronicity,” which was formerly known as “Living on Video.” The series was based on Fincher’s experiences as a music video director and followed a group of crew members who work in that business.
“Video Synchronicity” was considered a creative gamble, as the premise didn’t lend itself to longevity and the show didn’t feature a well-known cast, though the network has long wanted to be in business with Fincher. Several episodes were filmed but insiders told TheWrap that HBO shut down production because the series wasn’t what executives imagined and they wanted Fincher to focus on “Utopia,” for which casting breakdowns were sent to talent agencies the following day.
HBO gave “Utopia” a straight-to-series order, and production will start later this year.
Mara’s sister, Kate Mara, worked with Fincher on Netflix’s “House of Cards,” and her feature career has taken off since then with upcoming turns in “Fantastic Four” and “The Martian.” Rooney received an Oscar nomination for “The Girl with Dragon Tattoo,” and she’s represented by WME, Management 360 and attorney Neil Meyer.