Change of Ra­pace

Noomi Ra­pace was more than ready to make the big move from her na­tive Swe­den all the way to Hol­ly­wood, writes David Ger­main

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Front Page -

MAYBE it was in­evitable that who­ever landed the lead in the orig­i­nal The Girl with

the Dragon Tat­too would be­come Swe­den’s next big ex­port.

Yet with or with­out a block­buster role, Noomi Ra­pace al­ways felt she would break out be­yond the bor­ders of her home­land. Two- and- a- half years af­ter the de­but of

Dragon Tat­too, the first of her three eye­pop­ping turns as late author Stieg Lars­son’s un­tamed hero­ine, Ra­pace has stormed into Hol­ly­wood in Robert Downey Jr’s lat­est Sherlock Holmes ad­ven­ture and Ri­d­ley Scott’s Prometheus, a ‘‘ cousin’’ to his sci- fi hit Alien.

Ra­pace felt right at home among Downey’s en­sem­ble for Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shad­ows, and she had grown up

on Alien, Thelma & Louise and other films from di­rec­tor Scott.

‘‘ Ri­d­ley Scott is one of my he­roes since as long as I can re­mem­ber,’’ Ra­pace said.

‘‘ I kind of ac­tu­ally think that he saved me some­times, be­cause I al­ways felt like an out­sider in Swe­den.

‘‘ I didn’t feel Swedish. I al­ways felt like some­thing is dif­fer­ent with me.

‘‘ The Swedish peo­ple are quite re­pressed, and they hold back a lot of things. It’s like peo­ple are re­ally afraid of con­flicts and emo­tions, and no­body re­ally says any­thing straight to you . . .

‘‘ So in a weird way, I al­ways felt that I was go­ing to leave kind of what I came from. But I could never imag­ine I was go­ing to end up with these peo­ple and do­ing movies with the best peo­ple in the world.’’

Ra­pace, 31, ap­peared in her first movie at the age of seven while liv­ing in Ice­land be­fore her fam­ily moved back to Swe­den, and she has been act­ing steadily for the past decade. But it was her per­for­mance as bril­liant, trau­ma­tised, fe­ro­cious and feral com­puter hacker Lis­beth Sa­lan­der in

The Girl with the Dragon Tat­too that was her exit visa from Swe­den.

All three films adapted from Lars­son’s best­sellers be­came world­wide hits, with Hol­ly­wood quickly jump­ing in for David Fincher’s English- lan­guage re­make of

Dragon Tat­too, open­ing just days af­ter Sherlock Holmes.

The world of Lis­beth, with her tat­toos, body pierc­ings and an­ar­chic spirit, was not un­known to Ra­pace, who went on her own re­bel­lious, punk- rocker path in her early teens.

‘‘ There was a gap there when I was not into act­ing and I was against every­thing. First, I was into do­ing judo and kung fu. Then I was drink­ing a lot,’’ Ra­pace said.

‘‘ So I kind of lost track for a while, then I came back, pulled my­self to­gether and I de­cided when I was 15 that I’m go­ing to get sober and I’m go­ing to be­come an ac­tress.’’

She en­rolled in a drama high school in Stock­holm and built an im­pres­sive list of cred­its in Swedish film and tele­vi­sion in her 20s. When the part of Lis­beth came her way, she even wore some of her old punk clothes and shoes.

Ra­pace even came to the film preper­fo­rated, re­open­ing an old stud hole of her own for one of Lis­beth’s pierc­ings.

To cap­ture Lis­beth’s in­ten­sity, Ra­pace also had to re­vive the wild spirit of her teen years.

‘‘ I had to just wake up that sleep­ing de­mon and say, ‘ It’s time to come back now’,’’ Ra­pace said.

In the Sherlock Holmes se­quel, Ra­pace plays a gypsy for­tune- teller who teams with Downey’s great de­tec­tive and his side­kick Wat­son ( Jude Law) against their arch- ri­val, Mo­ri­arty ( Jared Har­ris).

Downey was sold on Ra­pace for the role even be­fore he saw her in Dragon Tat­too.

‘‘ Then I saw the movie and thought, ‘ My God, how are we go­ing to take all that she’s ca­pa­ble of and make this role worth her while and show a dif­fer­ent side of her’,’’ Downey said.

‘‘ She can kick ass, that girl,’’ said Sherlock Holmes di­rec­tor Guy Ritchie.

He said Ra­pace’s Lis­beth was ‘‘ scary . . . there’s a very strong el­e­ment of dan­ger about her that she main­tains like a wild an­i­mal, in a way’’.

Do­ing in­ter­views for the Dragon Tat­too films, Ra­pace re­alised her English was weak, so she set out to teach her­self the lan­guage.

Barely a year later, she was flu­ent in English when she turned up on set for

Sherlock Holmes and Scott’s Prometheus. Prometheus is the film­maker’s re­turn to sci­ence fic­tion, though Scott and his

‘‘ I never want to re­peat my­self. I al­ways want to move on and do new things’’

col­lab­o­ra­tors are cagey about whether it’s a pre­quel to 1979’ s Alien, in which Sigour­ney Weaver’s Ellen Ri­p­ley first en­coun­tered the un­stop­pable space mon­ster.

Co- star­ring with Char­l­ize Theron and Michael Fass­ben­der, Ra­pace plays an ar­chae­ol­o­gist on an ex­ploratory mis­sion that runs into trou­ble in deep space.

‘‘ It’s not a clean pre­quel [ to Alien],’’ Ra­pace said.

‘‘ It’s def­i­nitely re­lated. I think you will see con­nec­tions,’’ in­clud­ing some be­tween her char­ac­ter and Weaver’s Ri­p­ley.

‘‘ They are kind of in the same fam­ily, even though I think that my char­ac­ter is kind of more fem­i­nine. She’s more naive in the be­gin­ning and a believer and full of hope, and then in the mid­dle of the movie she kind of changes into more of a war­rior and a sur­vivor.’’

Early this year, Ra­pace will shoot the crime story Dead Man Down with Colin Far­rell, re­unit­ing her with Dragon Tat­too di­rec­tor Niels Ar­den Oplev.

Hol­ly­wood’s ver­sion of Dragon Tat­too stars Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara, who de­liv­ers her own fierce take on Lis­beth. Ra­pace said she was never in­ter­ested in play­ing Lis­beth again, even though the film has the po­ten­tial to launch a block­buster tril­ogy whose com­mer­cial suc­cess would far eclipse the Swedish adap­ta­tions.

‘‘ I was done with her and I felt like I left her when I was fin­ished with the third movie,’’ Ra­pace said.

‘‘ I couldn’t see any rea­son for do­ing it again. I never want to re­peat my­self. I al­ways want to move on and do new things. So no, it was not for me.’’

DARK MOVES: Noomi Ra­pace joins Robert Downey Jr ( left) and Jude Law in the new Sherlock Holmes.

ON THE HUNT: Noomi Ra­pace plays a for­tune- teller who teams with Jude Law’s Dr Wat­son and Robert Downey Jr’s Holmes.

SPIR­ITED: Noomi Ra­pace as Lis­beth in The Girl with the Dragon Tat­too.

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