Kate Mara

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Not to be confused with Kate O'Mara.
Kate Mara
Kate Mara UNICEF 2012.jpg
Mara at the UNICEF Snowflake Ball in 2012
Born (1983-02-27) February 27, 1983 (age 32)
Bedford, New York, U.S.
Occupation Actress
Years active 1997–present

Kate Rooney Mara (born February 27, 1983)[1] is an American actress. She starred in House of Cards as Zoe Barnes and appeared in the TV series 24 as computer analyst Shari Rothenberg. She made her film debut in 1999 with Random Hearts. She appeared in Brokeback Mountain (2005), We Are Marshall (2006), Shooter (2007), Transsiberian (2008), Stone of Destiny (2008), The Open Road (2009) and Transcendence (2014). She also appeared in the horror mini-series American Horror Story: Murder House as Hayden McClaine.

She has been cast as Sue Storm / Invisible Woman in the upcoming Fant4stic (2015).

Early life[edit]

Kate Rooney Mara was born and raised in Bedford, New York, to Timothy Christopher Mara, a scout and the vice president of player evaluation for the New York Giants, and Kathleen McNulty Mara (née Rooney).[2] She is the second of four siblings, with one older brother, Daniel, one younger sister, Rooney (who is also an actress), and one younger brother, Conor.

Mara's father has Irish, German, and French Canadian ancestry, and her mother is of Irish and Italian descent.[3] Her paternal grandparents are Wellington Mara and Ann Mara. Wellington, a long-time co-owner of the Giants football team, was succeeded by her uncle, John Mara. Her maternal grandfather, Timothy James "Tim" Rooney, has run Yonkers Raceway in Yonkers, New York since 1972.[4][5] She is a great-granddaughter of both New York Giants founder Tim Mara and Pittsburgh Steelers founder Art Rooney, Sr.[6] Her granduncle, Dan Rooney, chairman of the Steelers, was a former United States Ambassador to Ireland and the co-founder of the charitable organization The Ireland Funds. An uncle, Art Rooney II, is the current President and co-owner of the Steelers.

Mara began acting at the age of nine in a school musical. She attended several youth theater-arts schools and appeared in community theater and in school plays.[7][8] Mara described herself to Esquire magazine as having been "painfully shy" while growing up and said she only had one friend.[9]

Her first audition was for the television drama Homicide: Life on the Street. She did not get the role but knew from then on that she just wanted to act. Mara graduated from Fox Lane High School a year early and was accepted into the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University to study musical theater, but she eventually deferred her slot to work as an actress.[citation needed]


Television and stage[edit]

Mara's first television role was in the drama Law & Order in 1997. She went on to guest star on numerous television series, including Madigan Men, Ed and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Mara landed two recurring roles in 2003, as Kate on Everwood, an 18-year-old who is impregnated by her piano teacher and then gets an abortion and as Vanessa on Nip/Tuck, a bisexual cheerleader involved in a love triangle with her boyfriend Matt McNamara (John Hensley) and another cheerleader (Sophia Bush).[10] Mara also appeared on Cold Case, Boston Public, CSI: Miami and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation that same year.

Mara was cast as the lead in the 2004 WB pilot Prodigy, about a teenage child prodigy.[11] She had a recurring role on the WB's Jack & Bobby in 2005 and a 5 episode arc on the Fox series 24 in 2006, playing computer analyst Shari Rothenberg. Mara joined the cast of the HBO series Entourage for the series' sixth season in 2009. She played Brittany, Eric "E" Murphy (Kevin Connolly)'s assistant at his talent-management company and a potential love interest.[12] Mara filmed four episodes for the series in 2009.[13] In 2011, she guest starred on the FX television series American Horror Story, as Hayden McClaine, a student who becomes Dr. Ben Harmon (Dylan McDermott)'s dead mistress, a spirit trapped in the Harmon house. Mara was offered the role by Ryan Murphy, her former producer on Nip/Tuck.[14]

In 2012, Mara joined the cast of the original Netflix series House of Cards. The political drama stars Kevin Spacey and is based on a novel by Michael Dobbs and the 1990 British TV series House of Cards. David Fincher directed the pilot episode. Mara stars as Zoe Barnes, a reporter from Washington, D.C..[15] She filmed a second season of the series, which was released on February 14, 2014. On July 10, 2014, she was nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series.

She made her stage debut in 2003 at the Williamstown Theatre Festival in John Guare's Landscape of the Body with Lili Taylor.[16] Mara starred in The Alice Complex, a play by Peter Barr Nickowitz, at Dixon Place in New York City in 2005 and at the Blank Theatre in Los Angeles in 2006. The production co-starred Tony Award-winner Harriet Harris.[17] She later told WFAN radio in 2006 that doing more theater work is a "dream" because it was "all I really wanted to do as a kid. I didn't care about movies or TV, I just wanted to do Broadway".[18]


Mara's film debut was in Random Hearts, with Harrison Ford in 1999, directed by Sydney Pollack. She played Jessica Chandler, the daughter of a congresswoman (Kristin Scott Thomas). She next appeared in the Sundance Film Festival award-winning films Joe the King (1999) and Tadpole (2002), alongside Sigourney Weaver. Mara co-starred in Peoples (2004), a drama and coming of age story filmed in Louisville, Kentucky. She starred in the direct-to-video horror film Urban Legends: Bloody Mary and appeared with Noah Wyle and Illeana Douglas in The Californians in 2005. Her supporting role as the daughter of Heath Ledger's character in the Academy Award-winning film Brokeback Mountain that year brought her more widespread critical notice.[7]

Mara signed with the William Morris Agency,[19] and was included on the New York Daily News list of "10 young actors who have a shot at making it big" at the start of 2006.[20] She appeared in Zoom that year as Summer Jones (aka Wonder), a 16-year-old girl with telekinetic and empathic abilities. She next appeared in We Are Marshall, starring Matthew McConaughey, which recalled the aftermath of the 1970 Marshall University plane crash that took the lives of most of the football team. Mara played cheerleader Annie Cantrell.[21]

In 2007, she appeared in the comedy Full of It with Ryan Pinkston for New Line Cinema. The film later aired on television as Big Liar on Campus. Mara was also featured in an advertising campaign for clothing retailer Gap called, "khakis with attitude."[22] She appeared in Shooter, a thriller about a master sniper portrayed by Mark Wahlberg, lured out of retirement to prevent an assassination.[23] Mara played a Kentucky widow, Sarah Fenn, adopting a southern accent for the role.

Mara at the 2008 Toronto International Film Festival in September 2008

In 2007, she finished her work in the film Transsiberian by Brad Anderson, which takes place on the Trans-Siberian Railway that runs from China to Moscow. She spent three months shooting the thriller in Vilnius, Lithuania,[24] starting in December 2006. The film also shot on location in Beijing and Russia.[25] Mara played Abby, a 20-year-old runaway from Seattle.[26] Transsiberian premiered at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival in January 2008.

Mara starred in the 2008 film Stone of Destiny, written and directed by Charles Martin Smith, about the theft of the Stone of Scone on Christmas Day, 1950. Mara played Kay Matheson, one of four students that removed the stone in a Scottish nationalist plot. The period adventure-comedy co-starred Billy Boyd, Robert Carlyle and Charlie Cox.[27] Filming began in June 2007 in locations around Glasgow.[28] She employed a Scottish accent for the role, which she found very difficult to master.[29] Mara felt lucky and proud to play a role that was important to people's heritage.[30] She stayed near the Botanic Gardens in the city's West End while filming,[31] attending the film premiere at the Edinburgh International Film Festival on June 21, 2008.[32] The film closed the 2008 Toronto International Film Festival on September 13, 2008.[33]

In December 2008, Mara appeared in T Takes: Brooklyn 09, a series of 6 improvised short films directed by Brody Baker.[34] She starred in The Open Road as Lucy.[35] Filming began in Hammond, Louisiana in February 2008, and continued in Memphis, Tennessee and elsewhere in the South.[35][36]

In 2009, Mara filmed the independent comedy Peep World, starring Michael C. Hall, Sarah Silverman and Rainn Wilson,[37] and joined the cast of Marvel's Iron Man 2, making a cameo appearance as a U.S. marshal.[38] Mara shot the ensemble romantic comedy happythankyoumoreplease in New York City in July 2009. She plays a waitress and aspiring singer named Mississippi, in a story about six single New Yorkers in their 20s. The film was written and directed by actor Josh Radnor (How I Met Your Mother).[13] The film won the U.S. Dramatic Audience Award at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival.[39] In 2010, Mara played hiker Kristi Moore in the survival drama 127 Hours, a true story directed by Danny Boyle about Aron Ralston, a climber trapped while mountaineering in Utah.[39]

Mara appeared in Ironclad (2011), which tells the story of the siege of Rochester Castle by King John in the year 1215.[40] It is her first film where she speaks in an English accent.[41] Mara appeared in the short film Ten Year, produced by Channing Tatum to attract financing for a feature film.[42] The full-length feature went into production in Albuquerque in January 2010, with Mara starring in a large ensemble cast film about a 10-year high school reunion.[43] In 2012, Mara starred in Stefan Ruzowitzky's thriller Deadfall with Eric Bana and Olivia Wilde.[44][45] In 2013 Kate starred in Broken Bells video for the song Holding On For Life. Mara appeared in Transcendence (2014), starring Johnny Depp and directed by Wally Pfister.[46] In February 2014, she was officially cast as Invisible Woman in a new film version of the Fantastic Four.[47]

Personal life[edit]

Mara has stated she comes from a "huge" family.[18] Her father is one of 11 children, and she has 22 aunts and uncles and 40 cousins.[24][48]

Mara formerly dated actor Max Minghella from 2010 to 2014.[49] Mara credits her vegan diet and regular workouts for keeping herself fit.[50]

As a descendant of the New York Giants' Tim Mara and Wellington Mara, as well as the Pittsburgh Steelers' Art Rooney, she is a fan of both teams.[21][51] She jokes: "If I'm mad at my mom I root for the Giants, and if I'm pissed at my dad I root for the Steelers".[52] This relationship contributed to her being cast in We Are Marshall.[53] Mara has sung at both teams' games,[4][54] and after missing the Steelers' victory at Super Bowl XL due to work, her contracts now state that she can attend if either team goes to the Super Bowl.[53] She was in attendance for the Giants' victory in Super Bowl XLII, the Steelers' victory the next year in Super Bowl XLIII, and the Giants' victory in Super Bowl XLVI. She currently lives in Los Angeles, California[55][56] or New York.[57][58]

Kate Mara is one of the faces of the Humane Society of the United States.[59] In 2015, she was featured in one of their campaign videos to promote the Meatless Monday.[60]


Mara at the press junket for We Are Marshall on December 10, 2006


Year Title Role Notes
1999 Joe the King Allyson
Random Hearts Jessica Chandler
2002 Tadpole Miranda Spear
2004 Time Well Spent Girl Short film
2005 Urban Legends: Bloody Mary Samantha Owens Direct-to-video
Brokeback Mountain Alma Del Mar Jr. (Age 19)
Californians, TheThe Californians Zoe Tripp
2006 Zoom Summer Jones / Wonder
Fireflies Taylor
We Are Marshall Annie Cantrell
2007 Full of It Annie Dray
Shooter Sarah Fenn
2008 Transsiberian Abby
Stone of Destiny Kay Matheson
2009 Big Guy Kate Short film
T Takes: Brooklyn '09 Episode 1 Kate
T Takes: Brooklyn '09 Episode 4 Kate
Open Road, TheThe Open Road Lucy
2010 Happythankyoumoreplease Mississippi Nominated – Georgia Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress
Iron Man 2 U.S. Marshal
127 Hours Kristi Moore
Peep World Meg
2011 Ironclad Isabel
10 Years Elise
2012 Deadfall Hanna
2013 Fighting Jacob Becky
2014 Transcendence Bree
2014 Tiny Detectives Detective Kate Short film
2015 The Martian Beth Johanssen Filming
Man Down Natalie Drummer Post-production
Fantastic Four Sue Storm / Invisible Woman Post-production
Captive Ashley Smith Completed


Year Title Role Notes
1997 Law & Order Jenna Erlich Episode: "Shadow"
2000 Madigan Men Julie Episode: "White Knight"
Ed Kelly Kovacs Episode: "Pretty Girls and Waffles"
2001 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Lori Episode: "Pixies"
2003 Everwood Kate Morris 2 episodes
Nip/Tuck Vanessa Bartholomew 4 episodes
Cold Case Jill Shelby Episode: "Look Again"
Boston Public Helena Gelbke Episode: "Chapter Seventy-Five"
2004 CSI: Miami Stephanie Brooks Episode: "Murder in a Flash"
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Janelle Macklin Episode: "Formalities"
2005 Jack & Bobby Katie 6 episodes
2006 24 Shari Rothenberg 5 episodes
2009 Entourage Brittany 4 episodes
2011 American Horror Story: Murder House Hayden McClaine 8 episodes
2012 Tron: Uprising Perl Voice
2 episodes
2013–2014 House of Cards Zoe Barnes 13 episodes
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series (2014)


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  46. ^ Kate Mara Boards Johnny Depp Project ‘Transcendence’
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  60. ^ Wayne Pacelle (2015-03-02). "Is Industrialized Agriculture a House of Cards?". humanesociety.org. Retrieved 2015-03-25. 
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