Collider (2013)
Noomi Rapace talks Dead Man Down
March 07, 2013 | Written by Christina Radish
From acclaimed Danish filmmaker Niels Arden Oplev (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) and screenwriter J.H. Wyman (Fringe), the crime drama Dead Man Down tells the story of two strangers who are bound together by their mutual obsession with revenge. Victor (Colin Farrell) is a mysterious man who has infiltrated the crime empire run by ruthless kingpin Alphonse (Terrence Howard) for his own very definite reasons, while his neighbor Beatrice (Noomi Rapace) wants Victorís help to carry out her own plans for retribution. At the filmís press day, actress Noomi Rapace talked about talked about reuniting with her The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo director Niels Arden Oplev for this film, what it was like to add Colin Farrell to that mix, sharing her acting roles with her son so that he knows what sheís doing now, what it was like to see herself with all of her characterís scars, establishing the mother-daughter dynamic with co-star Isabelle Huppert, and how comfortable she is with English now. Check out what she had to say after the jump.
What was it like to reunite with Niels Arden Oplev for this film?
I think I was quite different. When I did The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Lisbeth was living in me, I was much angrier and more aggressive. I didnít have any patience. I would go into the studio and be like, "Why are we not rolling? What are we waiting for?! Can we roll?" On this, I was much calmer. I think Niels was waiting for the big explosion. There was one day when I was just quiet and he was like, "Oh, no! We have to roll!" But, he is very passionate, and Iím that way, too. Thereís always a lot of emotions involved. Depending on the scene and what weíre doing that day, you can always feel that in the room. The way he is and the environment that he creates, when I look back, I can clearly see why I felt a certain way.
What was it like to add Colin Farrell to the mix?
Colin and I became quite close to each other. Niels was like, "So, whatís so fun over there?!" We shot most of the movie in Philadelphia and the set they built was out in the harbor, so it was quite far away. It was a 40-minute drive from the city, so it was almost like we created our own world there. We had the trailers set up out side, and there was a fire, so it was almost like a gypsy camp with our kids running around and a dog running around. We were always playing music. Sometimes Niels came out from the studio and was like, "Whatís so fun over here? What are you laughing about? Nothing is fun!"
Do you share your work with your son, so that he knows whatís going on?
Well, Iím trying to be honest with him because he knows. I did this movie in Copenhagen, called Daisy Diamond, when he was maybe three years old, and I didnít tell him anything. He was in Copenhagen with me for a week, with his daddy, and I had cut my hair in one scene, so it was super short. He looked at me and said, "You look like a monkey!," and I was like, "Oh, thank you." And he asked me, "Do you have a baby in the movie?," and I had a baby in the movie, but I didnít tell him that. So, I said, "Yeah," and he said, "Do you hurt the baby?" In the movie, I actually kill the baby. Itís like he has this intuition. He knows without me telling him so much. So, from that point, I decided to talk to him a little bit about the character, before I start up a movie. Then, maybe it will be easier for him to understand why Iím a bit weird sometimes. With this, he came to the set with my mom and my sister. We were shooting something that day and I was quite messed up. I was bloody and wet with scratches and cuts, and I warned him. I texted my sister to tell him that I was bloody and looked like shit. When he got there, he was like, "I know itís just make-up."
What was it like to see yourself with all of the scars? How did it change your perception of yourself?
I started to reflect on beauty a lot. For women, all over the world, itís so important to be beautiful and look good. People pay more attention to you, if you look a certain way, and people listen to you more. You can gain a lot of things and win a lot of things, if you have a face that is beautiful. It was quite weird because I was walking around in Philadelphia one day with the scars. I was out buying coffee and people were staring at me, and I was like, "Wow, this is actually what it feels like." It was the same with Lisbeth, when I shaved one side of my hair, dyed it black and had all those piercings. I had to go to the bank, and I remember that they were so rude to me. I was like, "Why are they ignoring me? Whatís going on?!," because I was this punk girl. People are so judgmental. A person like Beatrice has built her life so much on beauty. Sheís working in the beauty industry, and then this accident happens and ruins her whole life. When we see her in the movie, she doesnít look that awful. Yeah, she has scars, but in my opinion, she doesnít look like a freak. From her perspective, it was a year ago and sheís got through all those plastic surgery sessions, but sheís not able to see that itís actually changed. She can only see what she lost. She can only see that she still looks the way she looked when she woke up in the hospital and realized that her face was destroyed. Itís almost like her life froze, in that moment. She canít find any way out from that bubble.
What was it like to work with Isabelle Huppert on this, and to establish that mother-daughter dynamic with her?
I loved working with her. Sheís very strong-minded. Sheís one of the best actresses. I respect and adore her. Sheís very petite and very old school beautiful. She knows how to be a woman, and I think she brought that into the character. Those two women live together. The father is American and he left quite early, so theyíre almost like girlfriends. I do think that the mother was probably as devastated as Beatrice, when this happened, because sheís thinking, "Nobody will love you now." I think the mother is the key to understanding why this ruined her life so much. Sheís hiding the scars and sheís trying to sell to Victor that Beatrice is a really good person and was so beautiful before. She loves her daughter and sheís trying to do good. I donít think she understands the harm she actually does to her daughter. She doesnít say, "No, youíre beautiful anyway. The scars donít matter. People will see you as you. This doesnít change that much." But, itís almost like theyíre living in this limbo world. The mother is not working, and theyíre living in this weird symbiotic thing together. Even though they both love each other, theyíre holding each other back.
Were you nervous about working with someone as renowned as Isabelle Huppert?
No. You know, every time I hear that someone is difficult, I want to work with that person. For me, artists and people that are passionate are fighting for what they believe in and what they want, and thatís always appealing. I find that really interesting. Iíd much rather work with people that are tricky and difficult than people that just say yes to everything. Before I did Sherlock Holmes, people said to me that Robert Downey Jr. could be quite difficult because he wants to do it his way and itís so much about him and he wants to be the creator of it, but I didnít see that. We had a big read-through and started to talk about the characters and scenes, and he was saying something, and I said, "Yeah, I agree!" He was like, "Did you just interrupt me?," and I was like, "Yeah, I think I did, because I agree with you." And he was just like, "Oh, I love you!" Because Iím not afraid of strong people, it takes the drama out of it, a little bit.
So, whatís going on with your career now? Are you planning on living in Hollywood?
I live in London. But, when youíre working a lot, you donít really have a proper home. Now, Iím going to be in New York for two months, for a movie. And then, when I finish that movie, Iím going to be in Prague for a month. And then, Iím going back to London. I go to L.A. when I have work to do, so Iím coming in and out.
You want to mix Hollywood with movies with European movies?
Yeah. And I also think the whole industry is becoming more and more mixed up. People from Europe are working in Hollywood, and we shot Sherlock Holmes and Prometheus in London. The whole industry is becoming, more and more, one organism.
Are you comfortable with English now?
Yeah. I was never really in school. I was quite wild when I was a teenager. I went to a school where there was no homework, and I couldnít really write and spell when I was 14 and 15. So, when this whole Millennium thing started and I was doing press conferences, I couldnít express myself and I didnít understand the questions. It was so horrible. I felt like a retarded monkey. And then, I decided that I had to find a way to make this language mine and be free in it, and not translate from Swedish or Icelandic. I was in the gym this morning, doing sit-ups, and I was like, "Fuck, Iím actually counting in English now!" And Iím dreaming in English. Iíve switched.

Dead Man Down opens in theaters on March 8th.

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