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Actress KATE MARA is no stranger to the big or small screen. And with her latest undertaking, Transcendence, she’s validating her acting career more than ever. 

Despite more than 15 years in the entertainment industry, ­including critically heralded turns in projects like Brokeback Mountain, 127 Hours and House of Cards, it almost feels like audiences are getting to meet actress Kate Mara for the first time again. Whether portraying an eerily undead ­mistress on American Horror Story, a preternaturally gifted investigative journalist on House of Cards or an anti-tech crusader in this month’s psychedelic Johnny Depp thriller­ Transcendence, the 31-year-old Mara emanates heart and nerve, and she’s thrilled at the wide range of jobs coming her way these days. “I’ve been acting over half my life, but I feel like this is really the start of a new chapter, where I’m able to show more of who I am and what I can do,” she tells American Way.

American Way: Transcendence is a science-fiction film that has been shrouded in secrecy. What can you reveal about it?
Kate Mara: It’s kind of like House of Cards, in that people ask me about it and I can’t say anything. People think I’m just being a bore, but I really can’t say anything. I’m afraid I’ll spoil it.

AW: You must be able to say something.
KM: (Laughs) I play Bree, who is the head of an organization that’s against the technology that’s overtaking our world — the artificial intelligence and everything.

AW: Is this a position you can relate to in real life?
KM: Not really. I think technology can be very, very beneficial to our world, but I’m also not tech-savvy at all. I refuse to update my iPhone because I don’t want to learn how to handle the new stuff. … So I guess I’m somewhere in the middle.

AW: You’ve wanted to be an actor since the age of 9. What was the appeal?
KM: As soon as I found out acting was a job someone could have, there was never any question in my mind. I just knew. My mom raised us on old movies and musicals, so that’s how I was introduced to the world. I was always really passionate about it.

AW: And yet, you’ve previously said you were “painfully shy” as a child. How does that square with being an actress?
KM: I think acting is what got me out of my shell. I was so shy as a child, but being onstage and pretending to be someone else was very comfortable to me. Doing certain jobs really helped me to be comfortable in my own skin. I wouldn’t say I’m shy at all today.