Rooney Mara's Extreme Makeover for "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo"

Rooney Mara on the February 2011 cover of W magazine.
W magazine
Rooney Mara on W magazine's February 2011 cover.
W magazine

NEW YORK (CBS) Rooney Mara got pierced, dyed and (temporary) tattooed to play Lisbeth Salander in the American adaptation of Stieg Larsson's blockbuster novel "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo."

New photos of the actress in the February issue of W magazine show just how much the 25-year-old did to take on the role.

PICTURES: Rooney Mara

The transformation from the actress seen playing Mark Zuckerberg's girlfriend in "The Social Network" to the one playing the titular girl with the dragon tattoo was drastic - in one day that Mara described as being "very intense," her eyebrows were bleached, her hair chopped, and her lip, brow, nose, and nipple pierced.

"I didn't even have pierced ears," Mara told the magazine. "They put four holes in each ear, and, weirdly, that hurt the most."

Director David Fincher praised Mara, who is the offspring of two football dynasties - the Rooneys (who own the Pittsburgh Steelers) and the Maras (who own the New York Giants) - for her ability to tackle the part of the brilliant but troubled hacker.

"I wanted her from the beginning," the director told W. "Rooney may be a trust-fund baby from football royalty, but she's levelheaded and hardworking. It's so odd how who people are comes out in auditions. We didn't make it easy for Rooney, and there was no way to dissuade her."

"The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" hits theaters Dec. 21, 2011.