The actress goes glam and dishes on behind-the-scenes beauty for her latest Calvin Klein ad

By Alex Apatoff
Updated October 22, 2013 05:02 PM

Courtesy Downtown Calvin Klein

An A-list actress, a top director and a storied art director collaborate on a film set — but you won’t be able to buy tickets to see the finished product. That’s because they were working on an ad for Downtown Calvin Klein starring the fragrance’s face Rooney Mara, who teamed up with her Girl With the Dragon Tattoo director David Fincher and French design guru David Baron to create the super-artsy ad, released earlier this year.

Now Mara is taking PEOPLE exclusively behind the scenes of the ad shoot, which portrayed her as a more heightened version of herself — an in-demand starlet racing between movie sets, press conferences and parties, looking impeccable the whole time.

Credit: Courtesy COTY

Courtesy Downtown Calvin Klein

Though the Rooney in the ad is the height of glamour, in real life, Mara says, “My everyday style is quite lazy. I don’t put a lot of effort into it which is why most of my clothes are black, white, and gray. I don’t have to put that much thought or effort into what I wear. I just like it to be simple and comfortable.”

She also confesses to being a little at sea in the world of beauty — and relying on her older sister, actress Kate, for tips. “I am horrible at putting on makeup,” Mara says. “[Kate] has tried to help me in that department because she is really good at it. But I am still pretty hopeless.”

Rooney Mara Calvin Klein

Courtesy Downtown Calvin Klein

But most importantly, we had to ask — what was it like reuniting with a major film director like Fincher for a short TV spot? “It was very different working with David on this than it is working on a film,” she says. “It’s a different world, fashion and film. We would have Skype conversations with Fabien Baron about what we wanted out of the campaign and how we saw it. We all decided that black and white was the most timeless. Certainly for me, most of the Calvin Klein campaigns that were most inspirational were in black and white. David Fincher had this idea in his head of what he wanted to do and it grew from there. We all talked about it and sent each other old black and white photographs that inspired us.”

Mara admits she’s not much of a fragrance fan in her everyday life, which is why she was happy to sign on as the face of Downtown Calvin Klein — it met her criteria of being “confident and feminine, but also not too girly. It’s quite sophisticated. It’s a subtle smell … It’s a great combination of everything you would want.” We could say the same about Mara’s style.

Want to try the perfume? Check it out at Macy’s, then tell us: What do you think of her style and beauty philosophy? Is yours the same?

–Alex Apatoff