Rooney Mara, shown in January 2009, is to take on the difficult role of Lisbeth Salander. ((Mark Mainz/Associated Press))

Rooney Mara, a little-known American actress who had small roles in films such as Youth in Revolt and The Winning Season, has been cast as Lisbeth Salander in the English-language remake of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.

Sony Pictures announced the casting Monday. The studio has chosen British actor Daniel Craig to play Mikael Blomkvist, the crusading journalist who works with Salander to track a serial killer.

Salander is a prickly character, a computer genius with a photographic memory, a suspicious outlook on life and many piercings.

The Swedish version of the film based on writer Stieg Larsson's Millennium trilogy starred Noomi Rapace as the tattooed Lisbeth. She was widely acclaimed as an excellent choice for the role.

Mara, 25, has previously worked with Dragon Tattoo director David Fincher in The Social Network, a drama that has commercial release Oct. 1.

The English-language film begins shooting next month in Sweden and will be released December 2011.

With files from The Associated Press