#MeToo shaped Foy’s ‘Spi­der’s Web’

USA TODAY International Edition - - LIFE - Pa­trick Ryan USA TO­DAY

She em­pow­ered a new take on Lis­beth Sa­lan­der

NEW YORK – In “The Girl in the Spi­der’s Web,” Claire Foy trades the up­per crust for up­per­cuts as the fistthrow­ing, com­puter-hack­ing, dragon-tat­tooed vig­i­lante Lis­beth Sa­lan­der. Rid­ing a mo­tor­cy­cle and shoot­ing fight scenes for the crime thriller (in the­aters Fri­day), “I ended up do­ing a lot of the (stunts) my­self,” says the ac­tress, who won an Emmy Award in Septem­ber for play­ing Queen El­iz­a­beth II on Netflix’s “The Crown.”

“I am the new Tom Cruise,” she says. “Just kid­ding. Please don’t take that out of con­text.”

“Spi­der’s Web” is adapted from the 2015 novel by David Lager­crantz, which it­self is a con­tin­u­a­tion of the late Stieg Lars­son’s best-sell­ing “Mil­len­nium” tril­ogy. The lat­ter books were adapted as a Swedish-lan­guage film se­ries star­ring Noomi Ra­pace and later into 2011’s “The Girl With the Dragon Tat­too” with Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara. Al­though the Amer­i­can re­make net­ted strong re­views and a best-ac­tress Os­car nom­i­na­tion for Mara, it un­der­whelmed at the box office, and two planned se­quels were scrapped.

Now the movie fran­chise has been re­booted with fourth book “Spi­der’s Web,” which picks up with a more monas­tic Lis­beth than view­ers might re­mem­ber. Far re­moved from her in­cen­di­ary de­tec­tive work with jour­nal­ist Mikael Blomkvist (Sver­rir Gud­na­son) in “Dragon Tat­too,” Lis­beth has largely re­treated to her cav­ernous ware­house apart­ment in Stock­holm, save for the oc­ca­sional lover and venge­ful act against so-called “men who hate women.” But she’s brought out of semi-re­tire­ment to hack into a de­fense pro­gram con­tain­ing nu­clear codes, which are cov­eted by ruth­less Rus­sian mob­sters and her long-lost evil sis­ter, Camilla (Sylvia Hoeks).

As a fan of the pre­vi­ous big-screen in­stall­ments, Foy, 34, ini­tially was skep­ti­cal of re­viv­ing the se­ries.

“I was like, what else is there to do? It’s been done, and I thought Rooney’s and Noomi’s per­for­mances couldn’t get bet­ter.” But af­ter meet­ing with di­rec­tor Fede Al­varez (2016’s hor­ror hit “Don’t Breathe”), “I reread the books and started to think about things I had never re­ally thought about the char­ac­ter.”

By the time she walked onto the set just two weeks af­ter wrap­ping Neil Arm­strong biopic “First Man” (in the­aters now), “I felt sort of like the cus­to­dian of Lis­beth, like if I didn’t stand up for her, no one else was go­ing to.”

Pro­duc­tion on “Spi­der’s Web” started in Jan­uary, just three months af­ter the #MeToo move­ment up­ended Hol­ly­wood. As a re­sult, the di­rec­tor says, “I felt a big re­spon­si­bil­ity, more than ever, to re­ally lis­ten to (Foy) and not cre­ate a fe­male char­ac­ter out of my own male imag­i­na­tion and fan­tasy.”

The Bri­tish na­tive took her role se­ri­ously, for­go­ing the punk-rock chic wardrobe of past Lis­beth in­car­na­tions for more prac­ti­cal, grown-up clothes, which she paired with a mop­pish hair­cut and min­i­mal tat­toos and pierc­ings. And while the char­ac­ter does ap­pear naked, Foy ques­tioned the ne­ces­sity of sex scenes in the script, which Al­varez cut.

“I prob­a­bly made ev­ery­one’s life quite difficult be­cause I some­times just re­fused to do things that felt wrong for Lis­beth,” Foy says.

Foy bris­tles at sug­ges­tions that Lis­beth’s anti-misog­y­nis­tic mes­sage is made for this cul­tural mo­ment. (“It’s re­duc­tive,” she says. “#MeToo is the cul­mi­na­tion and con­tin­u­a­tion of some­thing that’s been go­ing on for hun­dreds of years.”) But she does ac­knowl­edge the move­ment and the char­ac­ter have helped give her confidence in her own voice.

In this past year, “I have no­ticed a huge differ­ence in my own faith that I am al­lowed to speak up,” Foy says.

“And I never felt like that be­fore. I kept my mouth shut: ‘Don’t say any­thing, smile, be nice to ev­ery­one and don’t cause trou­ble.’ And I hope that now, other peo­ple feel (em­pow­ered).”

Now in the thick of pro­mot­ing “Spi­der’s Web” and “First Man” – for which she’s widely pre­dicted to earn a sup­port­ing-ac­tress Os­car nom­i­na­tion for her per­for­mance as ag­grieved housewife Janet Arm­strong – Foy has no fu­ture projects lined up. She’s fo­cused on par­ent­ing her 3-year-old daugh­ter, Ivy Rose, whose fa­ther is her ex-hus­band, ac­tor Stephen Camp­bell Moore.

Hav­ing worked con­tin­u­ously for the past sev­eral years, “if I walked onto set right now, I’d be use­less,” Foy says. “I just need to get back to re­al­ity for a bit and be my­self.

“There’s noth­ing on the ta­ble at the mo­ment, but I’m also will­ing to fall back in love with (act­ing) as soon as I need to.”

ROBERT DEUTSCH/USA TO­DAY

Claire Foy, 34, is a fan of the “Girl” fran­chise.

REINER BAJO/AP

Foy did many of her own stunts for The Girl in the Spi­der’s Web.”

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