Interview: Noomi Rapace
Noomi Rapace deserves all the buzz she’s getting as The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo’s punk hacker
In the intense thriller The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, you’ll be riveted by the title character. She’s a spiky-?haired, pierced and perpetually angry computer hacker. Then take a long look at publicity photos of the actor who plays her. Noomi Rapace has long, flowing hair, an open smile and is totally friendly. Obviously, she did a ton of work to transform herself into the charismatic Lisbeth Salander.
“I decided to make myself look like a boy,” she says from a cab racing to Heathrow Airport. “I cut my hair, I lost some weight, anything to make myself look more masculine.” Dragon Tattoo is the first book of Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy, a series that’s been a blockbuster hit in Sweden and has spawned one of the first foreign-language thrillers to get über-?buzz in North America. An American remake is already in the works for 2012. The story looks as if it’s going to be about journalist Mikael Blomkvist, who’s been convicted of libel (set up, actually) after attempting to bring down a huge corporation. But then he’s hired by industrialist Henrik Vanger, who’s trying to find his favourite niece, Harriet, who vanished decades ago. Harriet was obsessed with a series of numbers that Blomkvist is trying to understand.
Salander, who hacked Blomkvist’s computer while vetting him for Vanger, thinks she knows the answer and contacts him. Together, the unlikely duo pursue the investigation. Watching Salander doing her hacking thing, you can’t help but notice her gnawed-?down fingernails. “That happened while I was shooting. I got myself so immersed in the character that I started to bite my nails.” Some scenes in the film are so intense, you wonder how an actor so engrossed in a role could actually pull them off without having emotional difficulties. In one sequence, she’s brutally raped by the guardian who, because of her troubled childhood, controls her bank account.
“I completely trusted my director and my crew. [Director] Neils [Arden Oplev] is so amazing. And Peter [Andersson, who plays the rapist] is the nicest guy. He’s actually quite shy.” She says they did no rehearsals, but had to do major planning of another kind.
“We had to have a code, because there was so much screaming all the time that you couldn’t really tell whether I was doing the scene or there was a problem. So we decided that if I called out my own name we would stop,” she explains. Early reports guarantee that this is going be to a breakout performance for Rapace, whose next film is about a woman who escapes with her child from an abusive husband.
Is she worried about being typecast as an abuse survivor? “Oh no,” she shoots back. “She’s not like Lisbeth. This woman is much weaker. She doesn’t know how to fight back. “Lisbeth is a survivor, but she’s also a fighter. I love Lisbeth because she’s strong. She hates being a victim and doesn’t want to be treated like one.”