“I think I'm so normal. I try to make all the roles I do feel as normal as possible so people believe them. People relate to the regular looking person.” Kate Mara
An American actress with a prominent football pedigree (her family owns the New York Giants and the Pittsburgh Steelers), Kate Mara was a guest star in such hit TV series as “Law & Order” and “Ed” before starting her recurring gigs on The WB’s “Everwood” and FX’s “Nip/Tuck” (both 2003). Two years later, she landed a recurring role on the WB series “Jack & Bobby,” but the New York native is probably best recalled for her five-episode stint on the Fox TV Emmy Award-winning series “24” (2006), where she portrayed computer analyst Shari Rothenberg.
On the wide screen, Mara, who made her debut in the Sundance favorite “Joe the King” and Sydney Pollack's “Random Heart” (both 1999), first made an impact with viewers and critics alike in Gary Winick's “Tadpole” (2002). She went on to enjoy recognition with her portrayal of 19-year-old Alma Del Mar in the Oscar-winning “Brokeback Mountain” (2005), opposite Heath Ledger. Since then, she has acted in notable movies like “Zoom” (with Tim Allen), “We Are… Marshall” (2006, opposite Matthew McConaughey and Ian McShane), “Shooter” (2007, with Mark Wahlberg) and “Transsiberian” (2008, opposite Woody Harrelson and Ben Kingsley). Mara will join Justin Timberlake in “The Open Road” and work with director Gideon Raff in “Flying Lessons” (2009).
Childhood and Family:
“I grew up in New York, so every home game we would wake up, go to church, and drive an hour to the stadium in New Jersey. Every Sunday it was church, then football.” Kate Mara
Kate Mara was born on February 27, 1983, in Bedford, New York, to Chris Mara and Kathleen Rooney. Both of her parents are of the NFL dynasty. Her paternal great-grandfather, Tim Mara, founded the New York Giants in 1925, and her grandfather, Wellington Mara (died in 2005), later became a co-owner. Her father is currently the Vice President of Player Evaluation with the New York Giants, while her uncle, John Mara, is President and CEO for the team. On her mother's side, Kate is the great-grandchild of Pittsburgh Steelers founder Art Rooney. She has an older brother named Daniel, a younger brother named Conor and a younger sister named Patricia.
Kate went to high school at Fox Lane High School in Bedford, New York. She graduated one year early and was accepted into New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. However, due to singing and acting, she had to postpone her education for three years. Since she was a teenager, Mara has regularly sung the National Anthem at Giants’ home games and season openers.
“For as long as I could remember, I had always wanted to be an actress. I grew up watching movie musicals, all the old classics like ‘Gypsy.’ That's what I grew up on. I fell in love with Broadway and musicals.” Kate Mara
Despite her eminent sports’ pedigree, Kate Mara made the decision to become an actress when she was a little girl. Inspired by a performance in “Les Miserable,” 9-year-old Mara told her mother she wanted to act. The active girl performed in plays at a variety of theater camps and after-school programs, but it was not until she was 14 years old that her mother agreed to help her land an agent. Shortly thereafter, Mara embarked on her professional career with a guest appearance in a 1997 episode of NBC's “Law & Order,” playing Jenna Erlich.
While in high school, Mara kept acting and singing the National Anthem at Giants’ home games. She appeared in the Sundance Film Festival-premiered “Joe the King” in 1999 and was introduced to mainstream audiences later that same year with Sydney Pollack's adaptation of Warren Adler's novel, “Random Heart,” starring Harrison Ford and Kristin Scott Thomas. She played Jessica Chandler, the daughter of Thomas and Peter Coyote, in the latter movie. She went on to have guest roles in television series like “Madigan Man,” “Ed” (both 2000), “Law & Order: SVU” (2001), and shelved her college education for three consecutive years to focus on acting.
In 2002, Mara costarred with John Ritter, Sigourney Weaver and Aaron Stanford in “Tadpole,” a comedy from director Gary Winick which was screened at various film festivals following its debut at Sundance in January 2002. As Miranda Spear, she gained notice from critics and audiences. The next year, Mara landed recurring roles on The WB’s “Everwood” and FX’s plastic surgery drama “Nip/Tuck.” Also that year, she appeared in episodes of “Cold Case” and “Boston Public,” and made her professional stage debut at the Williamstown Theatre Festival in a production of “Landscape of the Body,” alongside Lili Taylor. She stated, “Yeah, I love stage. I love it. I would love to do that so much. That's how I started. That's basically how I learned how to act was in theatre. I think the first play I did, I was nine or something like that, just community stuff, and that was really my acting school.”
Mara took on the important role of Jessica Anderson in the award-winning coming of age drama “Peoples” (2004), opposite John Hensley, Joshua Harto and Billoah Greene, and a part in the short “Time Well Spent” (also 2004), helmed by Tom Chilcoat. She soon returned to television with the 2004 made-for-TV drama “Prodigy” and appeared in guest spots in “CSI” and “CSI: Miami” (both also 2004). In 2005, she landed the recurring role of Katie on the WB series “Jack & Bobby,” starring Matt Long, Logan Lerman and John Slattery.
After leaving the series, Mara starred as Samantha Owens in the direct-to-video sequel “Urban Legends: Bloody Mary” (2005) and costarred with Illeana Douglas and Noah Wyle in the based-on-novel “The Californians” (2005), directed by Jonathan Parker. Her career acquired a significant boost when she landed a supporting role in Ang Lee's highly acclaimed drama, “Brokeback Mountain” (2005), which won three Oscars, including one for Best Achievement in Directing and Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay. She portrayed Alma Del Mar Jr., the grown daughter of cowboy Ennis Del Mar (played by Oscar nominee Heath Ledger), a role that brought the young actress widespread attention.
Mara signed with the William Morris Agency in early 2006 and portrayed computer analyst Shari Rothenberg on the popular Fox series “24,” starring Kiefer Sutherland. She appeared in the show in five episodes during the fifth season. Still in 2006, Mara resumed her film career by taking roles in Peter Hewitt's adventure “Zoom” (2006), opposite Tim Allen, Courteney Cox and Chevy Chase, and the football movie “We Are… Marshall” (2006), where she was cast as a cheerleader named Annie Cantrell. She also starred as Taylor in the drama “Fireflies.”
In 2007, Mara joined Ryan Pinkston to star in New Line Cinema's “Full of It,” shown at the European Film Market in Germany on February 11, and then teamed up with Mark Wahlberg, Michael Peña and Danny Glover for the action movie “Shooter” (2007), based on Stephen Hunter's novel “Point of Impact.” She memorably played Sarah Fenn, a widow from Kentucky who later becomes the love interest of Bob Lee Swagger's (played by Wahlberg). Talking about her character in “Shooter,” Kate said, “I like that she's a really strong Southern woman and she's very different from anyone I've played before. It's hard for her when Swagger just shows up in her life because he brings back all these demons and reminds her of the husband she lost. She's sort of thrown into a tough dilemma, but she can't help but care about Swagger and feel for him.”
In 2008, Mara joined the cast of “Transsiberian,” a thriller directed by Brad Anderson. Playing Abby, a twenty-something runaway from Seattle, she costarred alongside Woody Harrelson, Emily Mortimer and Ben Kingsley. It was followed by a role in the 2008 adventure comedy called “Stone of Destiny,” adapted by Charles Martin Smith from Ian Hamilton's book, “The Taking of the Stone Destiny.” Among her costars in the film were Charlie Cox, Billy Boyd and Robert Carlyle.
Mara is set to star with Justin Timberlake, Jeff Bridges and Mary Steenburgen in the Michael Meredith-directed/written “The Open Road.” She is also scheduled to star as Sophie Conway in the 20th Century Fox upcoming drama “Flying Lessons” (2009), helmed by Gideon Raff.