In a recent interview, Rooney Mara was asked about the chemistry in Carol between herself and Cate Blanchett.

Carol is based on Patricia Highsmith's (under the pseudonym Claire Morgan) 1952 novel The Price of Salt. In 1950s New York, department-store clerk Therese (played by Mara) falls for Carol, an older, married woman (Blanchett).

I thought you and Cate were so connected from the first time you see each other in this film,” Steve Carell said in the interview for Variety's Actors on Actors, “and it's effortless and it's very, very subtle too.”

Yeah, chemistry is a weird thing,” Mara responded. “Obviously, the movie sort of lives and dies by – if we didn't have chemistry, the movie wouldn't have worked.”

(Related: Carol featurette includes Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, Sarah Paulson interviews.)

“I think one of the reasons me and Cate ended up having really good chemistry on camera is because a lot of the relationship between Carol and Therese was sort of mirroring real life in that I was in awe of her and she is this magnetic creature. And so, when I was looking at her as Therese, I really felt that way in real life as well.”

“I was watching her every move and sort of clocking everything. I think that was part of why it ended up working,” Mara added.