The actress, who underwent an extreme transformation for the role, said that while Lisbeth's appearance is far different to her own in real life, she believes that audiences will grow to appreciate Lisbeth's unconventional beauty.
"I think me in the movie is different than me outside of the movie. I don't think most magazine covers would put me in character. That part of society hasn't changed. I think people will go into the movie sort of repelled by the way that I look," Mara explained to Parade.
"I've certainly read enough online about people saying 'Why did they make her so ugly?' But I think those same people go into the movie feeling that way and they come out of it thinking she's quite beautiful.
"And I think that's with most people - the more you get to know them, the more beautiful they are. I think that she's someone you learn to love and appreciate. Looks are sort of secondary to that."
Mara, who has insisted that her nude scenes in the film were entirely natural, went on to say that she found it difficult to prepare for such vulnerable moments.
"You can't prepare for it. I did a lot of kickboxing; that made me feel more comfortable taking off my clothes. The character is incredibly comfortable in her sexuality and I had to go in making the film feeling the same way," she said.
"I've been much less exposed in other films and felt much more exploited in those films than I did in this. I think that's a testament to David and the people he surrounds himself with. I constantly felt safe and protected and comfortable."
> Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Rooney Mara excited by Golden Globe nod
Watch Digital Spy discuss The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo with Rooney Mara below: