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Home Features Features Brief Encounters: Noomi Rapace
Brief Encounters: Noomi Rapace Print E-mail
Written by Ivan Radford   
Friday, 20 August 2010 10:41

As The Girl who Played with Fire blazes into cinemas - following the wonderfully excellent The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - things are heating up in Stieg Larrson's Millenium Trilogy. Not only is Lisbeth Salander now accused of murder and on the run from the police, but David Fincher is planning to remake the first film. In English. With Daniel Craig. And some girl from Nightmare on Elm Street (Rooney Mara).

But what about Noomi Rapace? As she negotiates a wave of Hollywood success, here's your chance to learn a little more about the enigmatic actress. Including the piercings and motorbike skills - all of which are real. A self-taught talent, she cut her hair and took boxing lessons for the part. She's the real deal, the actual Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Except for one thing: the tattoo itself. That's the only fake bit.

What was it about the script that made you want to do it?

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.

When you read the books, did you ever 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] now admits that he had seen some pictures of me before we met and he had said no. But when we met I said: "Believe me, I will become Lisbeth. I will transform myself into her."

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 him 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: mostly Thai boxing and kickboxing. Luckily, the Director could see that I was serious.

She’s 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.

Lisbeth has a very distinctive look too. Were those real piercings?

Yes, but not real tattoos luckily! It was transfers that you put on with water. Like the ones you get when you’re a child - although much more expensive. They were around 2000-3000 Swedish crowns for each tattoo and we had to put them on every day.

There are some very traumatic scenes in the film. How difficult were they to film?

Of course it was hard. But it’s extremely important to trust the director and the situation, and you must be really convinced that the scene is necessary.

People think of Sweden as being very tolerant and laid back. Even with stuff like Wallander, this film is still particularly shocking. 

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.

You're not doing the Hollywood remake, obviously. How do you feel about that?

It wouldn’t be right for me to play her again. I’ve done my Lisbeth, so it’s up to somebody else to try now. Having said that, I’ve heard rumours that Stieg Larsson started to write another book in the series. It’s not finished but his girlfriend has it on his computer. So, who knows?

What’s the next project your're working on?

I’m doing a film in Norway called Babycall. It’s a psychological thriller and I play a mother to an eight-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 Pål Sletaune/

Doors are opening up to you now - what would be your dream acting job?

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; even a little rabbit!


The Girl who Played with Fire is out in cinemas on Friday 27th August. You can check out the trailer over here.

  • brief encounters
  • lisbeth salander
  • millenium trilogy
  • stieg larsson
  • the girl who played with fire
  • the girl with the dragon tattoo

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