shadows features Changing everything
Noomi Rapace talks about tattoos, piercings and Millennium...
noomi rapace as lisbeth salander
As Lisbeth Salander in the Millennium trilogy; below with Michael Nyqvist
noomi rapace

noomi and ola
Noomi Rapace; below with her husband, actor Ola Rapace
with lohan

28 Dec 1979
Hudiksvall, Gävleborgs län, Sweden

the girl with the dragon tattoo
the girl who played with firethe girl who kicked the hornets' nest
B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
the girl with the dragon tattoo The late Stieg Larsson's bestselling Millennium trilogy has been turned into a series of hit movies in Sweden, and now David Fincher is adapting them for subtitle-phobic English-speakers. But as Rooney Mara takes over the iconic role of Lisbeth Salander in the remakes, she'll struggle to overcome impressions of the indelible performances of Noomi Rapace in the three Swedish thrillers The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played With Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest.
    Like Mara before her, Rapace won the role after an extensive casting search. And it was her leading role in the feature
Daisy Diamond that caught the producers' eyes — another a brave role that required both physicality and mental strength.
    Rapace, who never went to drama school, radically changed her appearance for the role, cutting her hair, building up muscles and piercing her eyebrow, lip, ears and nose. She even got her motorbike licence. The only thing that wasn't real was the tattoo...

What was it about the script that caught your attention?
Actually, I said yes before there was any script. I read the books a couple of years before they even decided to do a film of it. So when they asked me, I said yes right away.

I was convinced they would consider me too girly or too cute.

When you read the books, did you imagine that you'd be Lisbeth?
Never. It was totally the opposite. I read in the paper that they were going to do a film of the first book and I was so upset because I was sure that they wouldn't even think of me. I was convinced they would consider me too girly or too cute. Even when they phoned to ask me to audition, I prepared myself for rejection. And I was almost right because the director of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Niels Arden Oplev, now admits that he had seen some pictures of me before we met and he had said no.

Did you change anything about your appearance for the audition?
I borrowed some of my husband's clothes, but that was it. So I had to work hard to convince Niels I could change. I told him I wanted to do all my own stunts. I don't want anyone else to come and drive a motorcycle instead of me, and I didn't want a stuntwoman to do the fighting scenes instead of me. I really wanted to change everything about my look, including my body, so I exercised a lot &emd; mostly Thai boxing and kickboxing. Luckily, Niels could see that I was serious and he believed I could find Lisbeth inside me, so the character could grow up from me.

Were those real piercings?
Yes, but not real tattoos luckily. They were transfers that you put on with water. Like the ones you get when you're a child, although much more expensive. They were around 2,000-3,000 Swedish crowns (£175-£260) for each tattoo and we had to put them on every day.

Lisbeth is a very strong character.
Yes, but not in every way. She can survive almost anything, but when it comes to love she doesn't know how to protect herself. She's been so lonely for such a long time, she doesn't have any experience of love, and so it becomes the most dangerous thing in the world for her.

Sweden is calm ... but eventually someone will always burst out.

People think of Sweden as being very tolerant and laidback. Is this film more accurate?
Everybody says that. This picture of Sweden surprises them. Sweden is a fair country in many ways; it's equal, free and calm. But it's often just surface. People are determined to keep up this nice attitude, even though everything might chaotic at home or you might have had a big argument with your boyfriend. Everybody stays in line but eventually someone will always burst out.

What's next for you?
I'm doing a film in Norway called Babycall. It's a psychological thriller and I play a mother to an 8-year-old son. She's on the run from her ex-husband and she's trying to start a new life. The script messes with reality because after a while you don't know what is real and what is in her head. It's a complicated story, but it'll be a really good film. It's a Norwegian director called Pal Sletaune.

And you're a mother in real life.
Yes, I have a 6-year-old son. Of course that helps when I play a mother. I always use everything I've gone through for my work.

What would be your dream role?
There are people that I have been dreaming of working with for many, many years. Tilda Swinton is amazing and I really adore Gary Oldman. I love Nil By Mouth so, if he ever wants to direct again, I would love to work with him in any capacity. The same with Ken Loach. I have the deepest respect for him. I would play anything in a film for him; I would play a little rabbit.



© 2010 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall