After being criticized for playing a Native American character in the 2015 film Pan,Rooney Mara has opened up about the role and expressed her regret over taking on the part of Tiger Lily. "I can understand why people were upset and frustrated," the Oscar-nominated actress told The Telegraph, adding, "I really hate, hate, hate that I am on that side of the whitewashing conversation. I really do. I don’t ever want to be on that side of it again."
Race issues in Hollywood have come to the forefront after the Academy failed to recognize the work of any non-white actors on the Oscars ballot. Stars like Jada Pinkett Smith have vowed to boycott the awards show while other celebrities like George Clooney and Reese Witherspoon have shared in the frustration felt by many in the industry. Rooney, who is nominated for her work in Carol, admits that she has "very strong opinions" about the sensitive issue but fears that her remarks will be "reduced to a sound bite." She adds, “I feel like that is what is happening. It is being turned into pull quotes and headlines, and that isn’t opening up a conversation so much as pointing fingers at people and taking their awards out of context. I don’t want to step into the conversation in that way.”
Prior to Pan's release, thousands of fans voiced their outrage over Rooney's casting by signing a petition. At the time, the Carol star believed her interpretation of the character was just after having lengthy discussions with the film's director Joe Wright. Speaking with CinemaBlend, Rooney stated: "He showed me all of these images that he had of all of these different cultures around the world, and he explained to me what his vision was for the native village. It made sense to me. They are natives of Neverland, a completely made-up place. Then it made sense to me."