Kate Mara on Life, Death, and Her Devotion to the Giants
What a delight.
Kate Mara and I swallowed up by a couple quicksand cushions, on the open-air back patio of a Manhattan hotel on a Saturday. The weather: coolly humid. The birds: chirping without concern. She seems in a bit of a rush, checking out in between shaking my hand and leading us here. She’s been in New York for five days. Tomorrow she will fly to Belfast to shoot a film for two months. Her plan after this interview is to take a car back to her family’s home upstate.
Ah. That’ll be nice.
“Well, my family’s dog, Betty Boop, died a couple days ago.”
And with that, the birds stop chirping.
Not that she seems down. There’s a steady hum to her cadence. “It was kind of crazy. I’m here doing a little Fantastic Four press. I went to the Met [Costume Gala], and I planned on going to see my family for two nights. The day I got there, the dog passed. I felt lucky to be there.”
The Maras are a dog family. “Oh, my gosh. We’ve never not had them.” Kate has two. She got them about twelve years ago. There’s Bruno, and there’s Lucius, who is a rescue, like Betty, who was four years younger than both of them. “I hate to say this, because I love my dog who’s not a rescue, Bruno,
but I got him before I really understood how desperately dogs need to be rescued,” she says. “Now we’re obsessed with the breed. Boston terriers are like little gremlins. But that’s why I love them.
“You want to see?”
The picture is the background of her phone, which she hands to me. The dogs could be twins.
“Can you guess which one is Lucius?”
Uh . . .
“You can do it.”
I point to the terrier with the slightly more austere cheekbones. Looks like a Lucius.
“Wow,” she says. “You got it wrong.”
Her drink is “hot water with, like, lots of lemon on the side.” She sips it, in between curse-laden sentences and sniggers. She lies slack on the couch, legs uncrossed. We talk about whether she’ll visit her family’s Dublin farm in between workdays; her wisecracking Fantastic Four costars (“I don’t really fuck with them. They fuck with me”); the serial mispronunciation by her “more proper” sister, Rooney, of the first a in Mare-uh (“We give her shit all the time”); her support of the Humane Society and Oceana; her veganism and gluten-freeism and belief that movie-theater-popcorn butter is sacrilege. (“That, to me, is gross. It makes the popcorn soggy, too.”) She takes offense at my hypothesis that when she’s training for a film and cannot eat movie-theater popcorn but brings a popcorn-pang palliative snack with her, she chooses carrots. (“No. Not carrots.”)
So, how did it feel to lose to the Philadelphia Eagles 27–0 last year?
(The Eagles are the rivals of her, well, genealogy, which comprises two cornerstones of the National Football League. They are the intrastate rivals of the Pittsburgh Steelers, founded by her maternal great-grandfather in 1933, and the chief rivals of the New York Giants, founded by her paternal great-grandfather in 1925 and, gloriously, the losers of both games against the Eagles last season.)
“I didn’t play in the game.”
Well . . .
“Yes, I am wearing a Giants shirt. Of course I’m a huge fan. It’s never nice to lose against the Eagles. Never.”
I’m an Eagles fan.
“You didn’t hurt me. I’m not giving you the satisfaction.”
She once said that her contract stipulates she cannot work during the Super Bowl—”People love that”—but she clarifies that it’s an issue only if she’s shooting in February. Though, yes, she asks to have the days surrounding the Super Bowl off, because one time—we hypothesize (incorrectly, it turns out) it’s the championship game in which the Steelers defeated the Arizona Cardinals—she was working. “It’s like missing the biggest family event of your life.” I share a brief anecdote about a Steelers-loving
friend who, a half hour after that game, returned home screaming with joy.
“Well, I’m sure you can relate to that . . . if your team won.”
She lets the line sit there.
But they haven’t.
“If they won, I said.”
She’s now spent more than half her thirty-two years working as a professional actress and is well past Brokeback Mountain and 24 and Entourage. After playing a power-thirsty reporter/seductress on House of Cards, giving such nuance to her character’s neediness and savvy and posturing that she received an Emmy nomination (see: episode ten, in which she shrinks when confronted by her paramour’s wife in one scene but in the next attempts to milk the confrontation for dominion over him); earning a preemptively scheduled-for-a-sequel superhero blockbuster in Fantastic Four and a Ridley Scott–directed space epic in the autumn; and wrapping two other films, Mara has a new agency. She can decide how she spends her time.
“I think I’ve become more aware of whom I’m going to spend three months of my life with,” she says. “Why do I want to have that experience with that person? And what will it give me? Will it help me grow? I’ve started actually making a list of directors that I’m excited about—and now I’m not just waiting for them to have a movie but maybe creating one myself.” The list is in the Notes section of her phone.
She motions for the check—not to cap the conversation but to prepare for maximal efficiency whenever it does end. Though soon after the waiter arrives, I tell her to go.
She bounces up. “Well, listen, thanks so much for my lemon water,” she says. “It was a treat.” She slicks the line and offers a hug and is gone.