Rooney Mara, the high-society actress picked to play the gritty heroine in “Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” says the movie’s rape scene will be brutally realistic and took days to film to get it right.

The scene is one of the darkest in a movie that is as close to film noir as pictures get these days. Director David Fincher has promised to pull out all the stops to capture the darkness of late-author Stieg Larsson’s Swedish crime novels “Millennium Trilogy.”

Mara plays Lisbeth Salander, who is haunted by her own dark past and determined to come to grips with it.

Shes a nihilistic, goth, avenging angel, who has a photographic memory and a knack for computer hacking.

Check out Rooney’s photos; click to enlarge

Daniel Craig is investigative journalist Mikael Blomkvist, who teams up with her to crack the criminal underworld of Henrik Vanger, played by Christopher Plummer.

Although from a wealthy family with a huge trust fund, she’s wrongly committed to a mental institution as a child to conceal what she knows about her past.

In the rape scene, her guardian brutally savages her.

“It was incredibly intense. We did it all in a week — the week of Valentine’s Day, oddly enough,” she tells Entertainment Weekly in their fall movie guide.

“We were working 16 hours a day, and it was really, really challenging, not just emotionally but physically. But it’s such an important scene. We wanted to do everything we could to get that right,” Mara said.

Among Larsson’s dark themes, his books explore sexual violence, corporate corruption and latent Nazism in Swedish society.

So far, a teaser video and a poster with Mara topless suggest that this may be Fincher’s darkest picture yet, and if you remember “Fight Club,” with Brad Pitt and Edward Norton, that’s saying a lot.

“People have a hard time with strong females and with nudity,” says Mara. “But I think had I been doing something incredibly violent on the poster, people wouldn’t have had a problem with it. That sort of says a lot about the world that we live in.”

For more from Mara on the film, check out EW on newsstands. The movie debuts Dec. 21.

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