12/22/2011 08:00 am ET

Pat McGrath Gave Rooney Mara 200 Versions Of The Smoky Eye

As any beauty expert can tell you, makeup can be literally transformative. So for Rooney Mara's evolution from sweet-faced Hollywood actress to Swedish computer hacking loner, David Fincher chose the fashion industry's most respected makeup artist, Pat McGrath, to lead the transformation.

And what a transformation it was. Much has been made about Mara's "goth" (although she hates the word) makeover, but McGrath reveals how much work it really took.

"The moment I heard that Rooney got the part, I thought, wow, the hair has to be short and we have to bleach the brows," McGrath told "As soon as I saw her bone structure and her skin, I knew that I could take her look in so many different directions."

That included going easy on the skin and heavy on the eyes, creating the perfect balance for the complicated Lisbeth Salander. Mara herself said of the role, in an interview with The Huffington Post, "The thing that I found most interesting was that she could be as off-putting as she is, but at the same time she's also quite innocent and childlike."

McGrath struck that contrast with complex eye makeup:

"We came up with about 200 different versions of this reddish smoky eye with many different dimensions. The trick was to take black and brown eye colors and add a tiny drop of red -- that created a look that was vulnerable but hard and strong."

The darkness was juxtaposed with Rooney's bare face: "There was no foundation. I wanted her skin to be translucent and for it to change color in the cold. In fact, the most beautiful scene is when she was actually very cold."

Oy, poor girl. Nipple piercing, extreme dieting and shivering in the cold? Becoming Lisbeth Salander was no walk in the park.

But Mara, McGrath assures, loved every moment of it:

She handled the piercings, shaving her hair short -- she just embraced the character. And she loved all the makeup, from the natural to weird to the beautiful. She really became that character. In the end, we created 26 different versions of Lisbeth for all three of the films.

Goodie! We can't wait to see how Mara outdoes herself in movies 2 and 3.

Read more at and hear Mara sound off on her own transformation here.