Rooney Mara recalls film fear

Rooney Mara didn't realise Carol would go down so well.

Rooney Mara "panicked" before shooting her new film.

The 30-year-old actress stars in upcoming drama Carol as shop clerk Therese Belivet, who falls for the elegant title character (Cate Blanchett) as a complicated relationship develops between them.

Rooney's role earned her the best actress award at Cannes Film Festival earlier this year, but she never predicted the success at the beginning.

"I was kind of panicked before we started. I was like, 'Oh my God, what do I do? There's nothing for me to do! I don't say that much,'" she recalled to Empire magazine. "So much of it is subtext; so much of it is internal."

Cate also found the feature taxing, despite having won two Oscars, three Golden Globes and three BAFTAs throughout her career. Her alter ego is an older married woman who was brought to life from novel The Price of Salt, penned by The Talented Mr. Ripley author Patricia Highsmith.

"The challenge for me was to create a character where there enough perforations in her that allow the audience in, but you still maintain that mystery and ambiguity that is in the hallmark of Patricia Highsmith's writing," Cate explained.

Cate also starred in the 1999 film adaption of The Talented Mr. Ripley, with Matt Damon in the chilling title role.

Carol is set in 1950s New York, an era of repression where people rarely shared their emotions, let alone their sexuality. Talking about the topic during Cannes, Cate admitted she felt pressure to portray the character accurately.

"Even today, if you’re playing gay or lesbian, as a performer that’s meant to be the thing you’re putting front and centre. And not everyone is like that. Not everyone wants to talk about their sexuality all the time," she shared.

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