Like Franco, Mara took a turn at poking fun at the paradoxical world of stardom by way of a 4-episode guest spot on HBO’s Entourage last season — purposely not a cameo. A fan of the show, and obviously an astute observer of celebrity culture, Mara revelled in the chance to behold Hollywood from the other side of the fence, in the role of Brittany, E’s (Kevin Connolly) secretary and new potential love interest.

How closely does the show’s drama, circling the life and good times of an up-and-coming actor, mirror real life, in the opinion of this reluctant insider? “I think it’s an exaggerated version, and that’s why I find it so hilarious,” says Mara. “There are so many things that happen when I watch that show and think ‘Oh my god, people think that’s a joke, but it’s real.’ I find it really funny, and I like to watch it with my friends who are in the business.”

When not playing the part of the average Jill on screen, Mara is pressing hard to maintain a pedestrian life in reality. And part of dodging celebrity — arguably the part — is keeping the nummy tidbits of one’s love life safe from peckish journalists. She circumvents questions pertaining to the rumoured romantic relationship between her and former Stone of Destiny (2008) co-star Charlie Cox with puckish prowess. “I mean anything is possible,” she laughs when asked about the possibility of a love connection. “So far I think I have succeeded in my career in being private about my private life and we’ll see if it continues.”



Gossip aside, it was Cox — who stars next in the $25.5 million telepic adaptation of Moby Dick alongside William Hurt and Ethan Hawke — that wrangled Mara into “one of the greatest experiences” of her life: the starring role in The Shoe Must Go On, performed in London’s West End, with proceeds going to the Starlight Children’s Foundation. A bona fide triple threat in the Judy Garland (one of Mara’s all-time favourite screen stars) sense of the term, it was not the chance to sing in one of the city’s premiere theatrical venues that excited her, but, instead, sharing the stage with Starlight wish recipient Chelsea-Louise that awed the actress. “It’s one of the most emotional things I’ve ever been a part of,” says Mara.

Coupling acting with her natural vocal talents has always been a dream of Mara’s — though one she ended up being quite petrified to realize in this year’s Sundance Grand Jury Prize nominee, happythankyoumoreplease, written/directed and starring CBS’s How I Met Your Mother’s Josh Radnor.

In the role of Mississippi, a bartender-by-day/aspiring-cabaret singer-by-night, Mara flexes her larynx, while her character tests Radnor’s Sam’s ability to love and be loved — one of the film’s three interconnected storylines in this adult coming-of-age romantic dramedy. Moonlighting comes to a head with a grand performance at the film’s end by Mara. “That was the scariest thing for me to shoot,” she admits. “If you don’t do it for a while, it’s nerve-racking!” But well worth the alien spell of stage fright: “I have such a huge passion for musicals, so it felt like a very different experience than shooting regular scenes.”