Spinning a taut tale
> Director Fede Alvarez finds the perfect Lisbeth Salander in Claire Foy for a darker picture of The Girl in the Spider’s Web
WITHIN minutes of meeting Claire Foy for the first time, director Fede Alvarez knew that he had found his Lisbeth Salander for The Girl in the Spider’s Web – the new cinematic chapter of a story that has gripped audiences all over the world.
For Foy, fresh from her awardwinning triumph of playing Queen Elizabeth II in hit series The Crown, that meeting was pivotal, too. She admits that before her encounter with the Uruguayan filmmaker, she was a little hesitant about taking on such an iconic role.
And what a role it is: Lisbeth is an outsider driven by a fierce desire to protect women. A bisexual punk-Goth with cropped hair and a slender frame, yet as strong as Swedish steel, she is also a brilliant hacker and surveillance expert.
Alongside investigative journalist Mikael Blomkvist, Lisbeth features in all three crime novels of the late Swedish author Stieg Larsson’s best-selling Millennium series, including the fourth book, The Girl in the Spider’s Web, written by David Lagercrantz, which forms the basis for Alvarez’s film.
In the film The Girl in the Spider’s Web, Lisbeth’s past comes back to haunt her while working a case, and that alerts a shadowy criminal organisation known as the Spider’s Web to try and kill her.
Alvarez ( Evil Dead, Don’t Breathe) promises audiences a dark, psychological thriller set in contemporary Stockholm.
He says: “There is quite a lot of action in our film. It’s a mix of many things, like the books are, and there are a lot of thrills, a lot of film noir, and lots of suspense.”
The director met with several actors for the role of Lisbeth but once he sat down with Foy, his search was over.
“Claire and I agreed right away on who Lisbeth is and what things are important to us and we were eye-toeye when we were deciding on those elements.”
Foy was, at first, a little wary of stepping into Lisbeth’s shoes or, to be precise, her biker boots.
“Until I met Fede, I was like: ‘I wouldn’t touch it with a barge pole, absolutely not, because you are asking for trouble’,” she recalls.
“But when I met Fede, he had such a clear idea of what his story was and what the film was – this film has a story of its own – and so then, I went: ‘Oh, I can do that. If you are asking me to do that, I can do it’.”
Foy is, like millions of others, a big fan of the books. “I first read the books when I was in my 20s and I’d never read anything like that before,” she said.
“And I’d never come across a character like Lisbeth – somebody who wasn’t trying to be likable and wasn’t trying to be really good and do all the right things all of the time.
“What I loved was that Lisbeth appears one way to the outside world – a victim who is small and vulnerable, skinny and weak, easy prey – but in reality, she is completely the opposite because she’s tough and intelligent.
“And I think a lot of people can relate to that – that they are viewed by the world as something other than what they really are.”
Lisbeth’s partnership with Blomkvist (Sverrir Gudnason) is at the heart of the Millennium series.
“Our story is much more Lisbethcentric,” says Elizabeth Cantillon, one of the producers. “The first three novels were really about Blomkvist and Lisbeth was there to help him figure out stuff.
“Now she’s a little more grown up and she is a little more settled into her role as an avenger of women who can’t defend themselves.
“We pick her up in the middle of her life as Stockholm’s ‘avenging angel’ who fights for women. And in our story, her past comes back to find her and she teams up with Blomkvist once again.
“If you’ve seen Fede’s movies, you know that he tends to make things a little scary and this movie is no exception. It will be a little bit scarier and more action. I would say it’s suspenseful and cool.”
Alvarez admits that he has made some changes from the novel. “It’s based on the main storylines of the novel for sure and all the main characters are here. But it is a departure in many other elements because they are different formats, a novel and a film.”
For Foy, playing Lisbeth has presented a physical challenge, which she has clearly enjoyed.
“There are definitely more stunts than in The Crown, and no corgis!” she laughs. – Sony Pictures Entertainment Malaysia
The Girl in the Spider’s Web is now showing in cinemas here. Aliens Love Underpants,