Rooney Mara Regrets Playing Tiger Lily in ‘Pan’: ‘I Hate That I Am on That Side of Whitewashing’

by Rachel McRady 6:21 AM PST, February 23, 2016
Photo: Getty Images

Rooney Mara is lending her voice to Hollywood's whitewashing problem, as someone who has been a part of the debate since Pan was released last year. The Oscar nominee -- Rooney is up for her role in the lesbian drama, Carol -- played Tiger Lily in the Joe Wright-directed film. The casting choice was widely criticized at the time.

"I really hate, hate, hate that I am on that side of the whitewashing conversation," Mara said in a new interview with The Telegraph, when the conversation turned to the debate about diversity in Hollywood. "I really do. I don't ever want to be on that side of it again. I can understand why people were upset and frustrated."

RELATED: Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara Fall in Love in 'Carol' Trailer

"Do I think all of the four main people in the film should have been white with blonde hair and blue eyes? No," she continued, although insisting the director's intentions were "genuine." "I think there should have been some diversity somewhere."

Mara also spoke with Deadline about the casting debate, saying, "Yes, I do think it curbs art and creativity, and I also think that if you're going to go by that, you have to be able to … it has to go both ways. It can't just be that you don't want a white girl to play a certain part. It has to be both sides."

#RooneyMara is Tiger Lily. #PAN

A photo posted by PAN (@panmovie) on

She added, "It was never my intention to play a Native American girl. That was never an option to me."

The issue of whitewashing has also been conflated with the fact that no person of color was nominated for one of the Oscars' four acting awards. It's a problem that has led many stars to boycott this year's ceremony, leading the Academy to make some changes in its membership and voting.

Mara said that she will attend this year's show, despite the controversy.

WATCH: Hugh Jackman and Rooney Mara in the 'Pan' Trailer

"Here is the thing, I have a lot to say and I have very strong opinions about it, but it is such a sensitive issue I don't want to reduce it to a sound bite," she explained, seemingly wanting to avoid the same controversy her fellow nominee, Charlotte Rampling, found herself in when she said a boycott was "racist to whites."

Rampling later said her comment was misinterpreted.

Mara is not the only nominee to be asked if she's avoiding this year's Oscars. Kate Winslet told ET that she's focusing on what has been "an amazing year for film" and for women in the industry. "[It's] important to acknowledge," she continued. "[I'm] proud to be included."