Kate Mara Biography

Actress (1983–)
Kate Mara is an American actress who's most famous for her roles on Netflix's 'House of Cards' and FX's '24.' She's also appeared in films such as 'Brokeback Mountain,' 'Fantastic Four' and 'Chappaquiddick.'

Who Is Kate Mara?

Born in 1983, Kate Mara is an American television and film actress. Mara got her start playing minor roles in television before landing the lead in the WB's Prodigy in 2004 and two years later, played analyst Shari Rothenberg on FX's 24. In 2011 Mara also did notable work on the first season of FX's American Horror Story, but, her major breakthrough was the following year in Netflix's House of Cards as ambitious journalist Zoe Barnes. Since then, Mara has gone on to appear in prominent films such as the Fantastic Four (2015) and The Martian (2015). In 2018 Mara starred as Mary Jo Kopechne in the Ted Kennedy saga Chappaquiddick

Kate Mara Photo

Kate Mara attends as Christian Dior showcases its spring summer 2017 cruise collection at Blenheim Palace on May 31, 2016 in Woodstock, England.

Famous Sister

Mara's younger sister is actress Rooney Mara who is known for starring in films like The Social Network (2010) and her titular role as Lisbeth Salander in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (2011), based on the book from the Stieg Larsson series.

Asked if she feels competitive with her younger sister, Kate Mara told the Guardian there's simply no drama to be told: “I know conflict is more interesting, but honestly, I just feel so grateful that we’re both living our dreams successfully and to be able to share that with someone you grew up with – it’s really special.”

In fact, the two sisters actually lived with each other as they were both embarking on their acting careers.

“So from the time I was 14 ‘til, I think, my sister started acting when I was 20, 21, I didn’t have someone to share this craziness with,” Mara told ABC about her relationship with Rooney. “So when she became an actor, we actually lived together in my apartment for the first year or two.”


In July 2017 Mara married actor Jamie Bell, who co-starred with her in Fantastic Four. Bell was previously married to actress Evan Rachel Wood and has a son with her.  


Despite describing herself as incredibly shy, Kate Mara knew she wanted to act from a very young age. On the big screen, Mara made her first film appearance in Sydney Pollack's Random Hearts in 1999, opposite Harrison Ford. After appearing in a number of award-winning independent fare, including 2002's Tadpole, which starred Sigourney Weaver, Mara nabbed a supporting role in Brokeback Mountain (2005) and a year later, in We Are Marshall, opposite Matthew McConaughey. 

Other notable films include Transsiberian (2007), Iron Man 2 (2010) the rom-com happythankyoumoreplease (2009), 127 Hours (2010), Deadfall (2012), Transcendence (2014), and the Fantastic Four (2015), in which she played the Invisible Woman. Mara also appeared in Ridley Scott's The Martian (2015). In 2017 the hardworking actress took on the titular role of real-life American marine Megan Leavey from the film by the same name and also co-produced and starred opposite Ellen Page in the gay love story My Days of Mercy

In 2018 Mara tackled an historically based political drama, playing campaign aide Mary Jo Kopechne in Chappaquiddick, the true story about Ted Kennedy's 1969 car accident which led to Kopechne's accidental drowning.

Working on the film, Mara confessed she didn't know the details of the tragedy: “Reading the script was riveting because I didn’t know much about Ted or the whole event,” she told Town and Country. “It’s still shocking to me that it happened and he continued his career. But then again, in this day and age, I guess it’s not that crazy, is it?”

TV Shows

Mara has also played a variety of roles and had substantial successes on the small screen. In 1997 Mara landed her first role on Law & Order and began getting recurring roles on shows like Everwood and Nip/Tuck, the latter being produced by Ryan Murphy

After a string of appearances on various procedurals and an opportunity to play the lead on WB's Prodigy, a recurring role as heroic analyst Shari Rothenberg on FX's 24, and a guest role on Entourage in 2009, Mara was contacted again by Murphy who offered her the part of college student Hayden McClaine on the first season of FX's American Horror Story (2011). In it Mara's character Hayden has an affair with a married man, Dr. Ben Harmon (played by Dylan McDermott), and ends up being wrongfully murdered. Hayden takes the form of an embittered ghost terrorizing Harmon's house, which he shares with his pregnant wife Vivien (played by Connie Britton).

As juicy as that role was for Mara's career, it was in 2012 that the actress turned heads when she starred in Netflix's House of Cards as young and ambitious D.C. journalist Zoe Barnes. On the show, Barnes aids the corrupt Democratic congressman Frank Underwood (played by Kevin Spacey) and eventually has an illicit affair with him, which seals her demise. In 2014 Mara was nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series for her work on the show.

Early Life

Kate Mara was born Kate Rooney Mara on February 27, 1983 in Bedford, New York. She has three additional siblings — her younger sister being actress Rooney Mara — and comes from a prominent and affluent NFL-owning family. Her father's family has owned the New York Giants since its inception, and her mother's family has owned the Pittsburgh Steelers since its inception. 

After graduating from Fox Lane High School, Mara had planned on matriculating to NYU's Tisch School of the Arts but ultimately traded in the opportunity for a career in acting.

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