Noomi Rapace Interview: Black Crab
Black Crab star Noomi Rapace chats about her intense experience filming the new Netflix thriller, and how she helped shape her character.
Netflix has been putting out plenty of high-quality international content as of late, and Black Crab – which lands on March 18 – is no exception. The Swedish action thriller takes place in a post-apocalyptic world at war, where six soldiers have been sent on a top secret mission meant to end the conflict. Based on the novel by Jerker Virdborg, the film explores how far people will go for both duty and love.
Black Crab stars the magnificent Noomi Rapace, who has been having a busy year with You Won’t Be Alone also coming out soon, as speed skater-turned-soldier Caroline Edh. While her fellow soldiers may be motivated by the mission itself, Edh has something else on her mind entirely: her daughter. She and her child were separated years back, and the promise of reuniting with her helps her push forward despite the life-threatening task she’s been assigned.
Rapace spoke to Screen Rant about the preparation required for such a physically intensive role, as well as the hand she had in shaping her character from the ground up.
Screen Rant: The opening scene is terrifying and heartbreaking, setting the tone for the whole film. Can you talk about your character Caroline Edh, and how her connection to her daughter Vanja drives her?
Noomi Rapace: Basically, I play Caroline Edh, who has forced to become a soldier. It’s post-apocalyptic Sweden – or Scandinavia, we don’t really know. She’s been separated from her daughter; she hasn’t seen her daughter in maybe seven years. She’s out on this mission, and her dream and the drive in her [is that] she’s convinced that she will be reunited with her daughter if she just completes this mission. That is the drive, and that’s where she finds the strength and the power to keep on pushing. At the end of the day, it’s a film about motherhood, and a woman who has been forced out into war.
When you first read the script, did you have knowledge of the novel it was based on? What was it that spoke to you about the role and made you want to be part of the project?
I read the book, and there was no script first. My character is a man in the book, so we had to change him into a woman. I was very much a part of the process of finding Edh; her motives and who she is and what she comes from; of creating a backstory and also adding Vanja, the daughter. I wanted to put myself in a situation where I could investigate, “Who are you when everything falls apart?” When the world as you know it is not the same? You can’t rely on it. There’s no technology, there’s no electricity, there’s been winter for seven years, and you’re just in survival mode. Who are you? Who are you, really, when it’s your life versus… If you can choose to save a lot of people, or you can try to survive yourself. I find those questions really interesting and quite important to ask yourself, so that was something I wanted to dig into.
It’s a very physically intensive, demanding role and setting for you. How did you personally prepare for that aspect of it?
Well, it was a lot of ice skating. And when we started, I was so bad. I basically grew up in the south of Sweden, and there’s no ice, so I never ice skate. There was a lot of ice skating, and then as soon as I started to get a little bit better with that, it was like, “Then you need to handle a gun on the ice.” And then they add a lot of equipment to you, and your balance totally changes. It was, I think, a couple of months of hardcore training to just get in shape and learn how they ice skate with all the equipment. It was a really physical role, and also it was really cold. I mean, it is really cold. We shot it around Stockholm and up in the north of Sweden. Equipment just freezes; it was real. I remember when I saw The Revenant with Leo and Tom Hardy, and I just felt the cold. I just felt like I was living in a mix of Children of Men and The Revenant. I was out on the ice, and I was like, “I just want to do like a beach movie. I don’t want to be here!” [laughs]
How much did you discuss with the director Adam Berg about Edh’s backstory? I know you said we’re not really sure where it takes place, but how much did you talk about Caroline’s life before this war and how much has changed for her?
Oh, we talked a lot. I always build really solid backstory. I kind of create memories in me. When did she see her husband last time, and how did he leave her? I came up with this story that it was not the war. They were not separated; he was cheating on her. He had a sidechick, and then on Christmas Eve, he just walked out and never came back. And she’s been lying to her daughter about why he never came back. The more you know about the character’s backstory, the more meat you have on the day if you improvise. That’s something I always do, even if the director wouldn’t require it. I tried to build a whole life that I have behind me.
Your character is now a woman, but you are also a woman in the midst of all these male soldiers. What is that dynamic like for you, and how did you build that camaraderie?
I feel like that’s been the story of my life. It’s always me and a bunch of dudes. I remember when I was sitting at a press conference for Sherlock Holmes with Jude Law, Robert Downey Jr. and Guy Ritchie. I was sitting there with all these men, and a journalist asked me, “You work a lot and you have a son? How do you make that work?” And I was like, “Well, Jude, how many kids do you have? And Rob, you have a couple of kids. And Guy, you have a couple of kids too. Why do you ask me?” It just feel like it’s always one woman and a lot of men. But I grew up doing martial arts and always training with boys. It’s quite straightforward; it’s really down to the power work straightaway. It was a very tight group; I loved my co stars. It was fun. It was hard, with long days, and it was cold.
I had an accident; I broke my nose on the second week of filming. I got the camera in my face and had a double fracture and concussion. It was really intense, and we had to pause production. Then I had to use all that fragility and coming back from an injury and how that made me feel – [I was] overcoming my own fears, and then I felt like I had to use it all and put it into the character. This journey became even deeper and even more important, because I had to overcome all these things and really cannibalize them to focus all the desperation and the anger and the rage into the character. The movie really lived in me, in so many ways.