Mara at the press junket for We Are Marshall on December 10, 2006.
February 27, 1983
Bedford, New York, U.S.
Kate Mara (born February 27, 1983) is an American television and film actress. Beginning acting in her hometown of Bedford, New York, she moved from the stage to her first film, Random Hearts (1999). Her notable roles include appearances in the Academy Award-winning film Brokeback Mountain, playing the daughter of Heath Ledger's character, and on the Fox television series 24, as computer analyst Shari Rothenberg. She has since appeared in the feature films We Are Marshall (2006), Shooter (2007), Transsiberian (2008), Stone of Destiny (2008), and The Open Road (2009). Mara joined the cast of the HBO series Entourage in its sixth season, and will appear in Iron Man 2 (2010).
Mara was born and raised in Bedford, New York, the daughter of Chris Mara, a scout for the New York Giants, and Kathleen (née Rooney). She is Irish-Italian-American; her family name used to be O'Mara. She has one older brother, Daniel, and two younger siblings, Patricia and Conor. Mara wanted to be an actress since seeing Les Misérables at a young age; she said she "fell in love with Broadway and musicals", and grew up watching movie musicals on television and going to Broadway shows with her mother. She was especially a fan of Judy Garland's films. Mara began acting at the age of nine in a school musical, and attended several youth theater-arts schools, and appeared in community theater and in school plays. Mara described herself to Esquire magazine as "painfully shy" while growing up, and said she only had one friend.
Beginning at a young age, Mara continually asked her mother to help her get an agent. Mara's mother got the name and address of a management company, sent in a photograph, and Mara signed with her first agent, beginning her professional career at the age of 14. Mara's first audition was for the television drama Homicide: Life on the Street. She didn't get the role, but knew from then on that she just wanted to act. Mara was accepted into the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University to study musical theater and graduated from Fox Lane High School a year early. Mara felt pressure from her parents to go to college, but was already getting work as an actress, so she deferred for three or four years before deciding not to go. Mara moved to Manhattan in order to act full time.
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, on Everwood as Kate, an 18-year-old who is impregnated by her piano teacher and then gets an abortion, and on Nip/Tuck as Vanessa, a bisexual cheerleader involved in a love triangle with her boyfriend Matt McNamara and another cheerleader (Sophia Bush). Mara also appeared on Cold Case, Boston Public, CSI: Miami, and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation that year. In 2004, Mara was cast as the lead in Prodigy, a series about a teenage child prodigy on the WB Television Network that only produced a pilot episode. Mara appeared in a large recurring role in 2005 on the WB series Jack & Bobby, and a 5 episode arc on the Fox series 24 in 2006, playing computer analyst Shari Rothenberg.
Mara debuted theatrically in 2003 at the Williamstown Theatre Festival in John Guare’s Landscape of the Body with Lili Taylor. 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. Mara 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".
Mara joined the cast of the HBO series Entourage for the series' sixth season in 2009. She plays opposite Kevin Connolly as Brittany, Eric "E" Murphy's assistant at his new talent-management company, and a potential love interest. Mara filmed four episodes for the series. Her first episode aired on August 23, 2009. She will return for the series' seventh season.
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. 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. It was her supporting role in the Academy Award-winning Brokeback Mountain that year however, playing the daughter of Heath Ledger's character, that brought her more widespread attention.
At the beginning of 2006, Mara signed with the William Morris Agency, and was included on the New York Daily News list of "10 young actors who have a shot at making it big". She appeared in the superhero movie Zoom that year, with Tim Allen and Courteney Cox, playing Summer Jones (aka Wonder), a 16-year-old girl with telekinetic and empathic abilities. She next appeared in We Are Marshall, a film 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 fictional cheerleader Annie Cantrell. It was a script that she responded to emotionally because of her football background.
In 2007, Mara 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." She appeared in Shooter, a thriller about a master sniper lured out of retirement to prevent an assassination, based on the novel Point of Impact. Mara played Kentucky widow Sarah Fenn, the love interest of Mark Wahlberg's character's partner, and then Wahlberg's character himself. She adopted a southern dialect for the role. Director Antoine Fuqua immediately felt Mara was right for the part when she auditioned.
Also in 2007, Mara finished the film Transsiberian by Brad Anderson, the director of The Machinist (2004). Transsiberian takes place on the Trans-Siberian Railway that runs from China to Moscow. The cast includes Woody Harrelson, Ben Kingsley, Eduardo Noriega, and Emily Mortimer. Mara spent three months shooting the thriller in Vilnius, Lithuania, starting in December 2006. The film also shot on location in Beijing and Russia. Mara plays Abby, a 20-year-old runaway from Seattle, a character she described to MoviesOnline as "dark", "mysterious", "sort of goth", and doesn't talk much. Transsiberian premiered at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival in January 2008 and was released in theaters on July 18, 2008.
In 2008, Mara starred in Stone of Destiny, written and directed by Charles Martin Smith, a film about the theft of the Stone of Scone on Christmas Day, 1950. Mara plays Kay Matheson, one of four students that removed the stone in a Scottish nationalist plot. The period "adventure-comedy" co-stars Billy Boyd, Robert Carlyle and Charlie Cox. Filming began in June 2007 in locations around Glasgow, including Film City studio and Arbroath Abbey. Mara employed a Scottish accent for the role, which she described to the Daily Mail as "incredibly difficult to master", and stayed near the Botanic Gardens in the city's West End while filming. Mara stated that she felt "lucky" and "proud" to play a role that "means a lot to people's heritage". Mara attended the film's world premiere at the Edinburgh International Film Festival in Fountainbridge, Edinburgh, Scotland on June 21, 2008. The film closed the 2008 Toronto International Film Festival on September 13, 2008, and was released on October 10, 2008 in the UK.
In December 2008, Mara appeared in T Takes: Brooklyn 09, a series of 6 improvised short films directed by Brody Baker, in association with The New York TImes' T magazine. Mara starred in The Open Road, alongside Jeff Bridges, Justin Timberlake, and Mary Steenburgen, playing Lucy, the girlfriend of Timberlake's character, Carlton. Filming began in Hammond, Louisiana in February 2008, and continued in Memphis, Tennessee and elsewhere in the southern United States. The film was released on August 28, 2009.
In 2009, Mara filmed the independent comedy Peep World, starring Michael C. Hall, Sarah Silverman and Rainn Wilson. She joined the cast of Marvel's Iron Man 2, and will play an FBI agent. Mara also 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 Josh Radnor, the star of the CBS television comedy How I Met Your Mother. The film won the U.S. Dramatic Audience Award at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival.
Mara will appear in Ironclad, a film which tells the story of the siege of Rochester Castle by King John in the year 1215. Mara was cast alongside Eric Balfour and Laz Alonso in Skyline, a supernatural thriller directed by Greg and Colin Strause. The film was scheduled to begin shooting in February 2010. As of February 2010, Mara was in negotiations to appear alongside James Franco and Amber Tamblyn in 127 Hours, a survival drama film directed by Danny Boyle. Mara will play a hiker in a true story about a trapped mountain climber, set in Utah.
Mara's family owns the New York Giants and the Pittsburgh Steelers; she is the great-granddaughter of Giants founder Tim Mara, the granddaughter of late Giants owner Wellington Mara on her father's side, as well as the great-granddaughter of Steelers founder Art Rooney on her mother's side. Mara's uncle is John Mara, the president and CEO of the Giants, and her father is the vice president of player evaluation. Mara attended almost every Giants home game while growing up. On Sundays, after attending church, her family would head directly to the games. When asked by Vanity Fair magazine whom she roots for when the Giants play the Steelers she replied, "that question is not allowed. I can't answer", and has since told the New York Post, "rooting for the offense is the safe way to go. You win either way." Mara missed the Steelers' winning Super Bowl XL in 2006 because she was working in Los Angeles. Mara was so disappointed, she added to her contract that if the Giants or Steelers go to the Super Bowl, she can attend. She attended almost every game of the 2007 Giants season, leading up to the team's win in Super Bowl XLII.
Mara's favorite Giants game was when she was asked to sing the national anthem in honor of her grandfather, Wellington Mara, who died in October 2005. Mara has regularly sung at home games and season openers of the Giants since about the age of 15 or 16 when her uncle asked her to fill in when they couldn't find a singer. She has also sung at a couple of Steelers games. She sang the national anthem at the 2006 NFL season opener, dubbed the "Manning Bowl," where the Giants played the Indianapolis Colts. Mara's singing was featured in the film The Californians. She sang the national anthem at the last game played by the Giants at Giants Stadium in December 2009.
Mara has stated that she comes from a "huge" family. Her father was one of 11 children. She has 22 aunts and uncles and 40 cousins. She lives in Los Angeles, having resided there on and off since around 2003. Her younger sister, Patricia, lived with her temporarily after relocating to Los Angeles in 2007. Mara travels back to New York when her schedule allows and has stated, "If I could live in New York, I would", specifying that she likes "the cold... the rain" and "miss[es] it"; she also stated that she likes "not needing plans" in New York. Mara tries to spend the football season in New York when she can. As of 2007, her boyfriend was producer and director Joseph McGinty Nichol, with whom she worked on We Are Marshall. As of July 2008, she was linked to Stone of Destiny co-star Charlie Cox. Mara stated that "all I ever do when I’m not working is see movies. I’m the biggest movie nerd", she told AM New York in January 2010.
|1997||Law & Order||Jenna Erlich||TV series - in the episode "Shadow"|
|1999||Random Hearts||Jessica Chandler||Feature film debut|
|Joe the King||Allyson|
|2000||Madigan Men||Julie||TV series - in the episode "White Knight"|
|Ed||Kelly Kovacs||TV series - in the episode "Pretty Girls and Waffles"|
|2001||Law & Order: Special Victims Unit||Lori||TV series - in the episode "Pixies"|
|2003||Everwood||Kate Morris||TV series - in the episodes "Episode 20" and "Moonlight Sonata"|
|Nip/Tuck||Vanessa||TV series - in the episodes "Mandi/Randi", "Nanette Babcock", "Megan O'Hara" and "Cliff Mantegna"|
|Cold Case||Jill Shelby||TV series - in the episode "Look Again"|
|Boston Public||Helena Gelbke||TV series - in the episode "Chapter Seventy-Five"|
|Time Well Spent||Girl|
|CSI: Miami||Stephanie Brooks||TV series - in the episode "Murder in a Flash"|
|CSI: Crime Scene Investigation||Janelle Macklin||TV series - in the episode "Formalities"|
|2005||Jack & Bobby||Katie||TV series - 6 episodes|
|Urban Legends: Bloody Mary||Samantha Owens|
|Brokeback Mountain||Alma Jr., Age 19|
|The Californians||Zoe Tripp|
|2006||24||Shari Rothenberg||TV series - 5 episodes in season 5|
|Zoom||Summer Jones / Wonder|
|We Are Marshall||Annie Cantrell|
|2007||Full of It||Annie Dray|
|Stone of Destiny||Kay Matheson|
|T Takes: Brooklyn '09||Kate||Short film series|
|The Open Road||Lucy|
|"Big Guy"||Kate||Short film|
|Iron Man 2|