Stieg Larsson’s in-every-airport-bookstore-on-earth Millennium trilogy has made a global star of Noomi Rapace, thanks to two Swedish-language film adaptations, in which the actress has played bisexual computer hacker Lisbeth Salander with prickly toughness and soulful gravity. And now that's coming to a close, as her third and final Millennium movie, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, opens in theaters October 29, accompanied by the simultaneous video release of the franchise's second chapter, The Girl Who Played With Fire. What's next? The 30-year-old actress tells Vulture she never wanted to play Salander in David Fincher's English-language adaptation of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. But she says she's preparing for a part in Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes sequel, and confirms that she has also talked to Ridley Scott about his planned Alien prequel, for which she's reportedly being considered to play a younger iteration of Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley.
You’re now synonymous with a character who’s become a phenomenon. How strange has that been?
I can’t really believe it. Since we started shooting until now, it feels like it’s been ten years. It’s totally unexpected and overwhelming the way people in the U.S. and all over the world have embraced the movies and my performance. When the [producers] told me they wanted me to do Lisbeth, I thought it was a suicide mission. It’s not possible to satisfy everybody because everybody has such a strong relationship to Lisbeth. I just forced myself to create some kind of bubble and ignore everybody else and just listen to myself and go into me.
In the book, Salander is tough and hard to read, and another actress might have softened her, or warmed her up, but you don't seem to make any concessions to strike up more emotional identification with the audience.
That was my intention. I was on the edge all the time. Lisbeth doesn’t live her life to satisfy people. She doesn’t live her life to be beautiful, sexy, or charming. She is just herself. She doesn’t accept what the people expect her to be. She doesn’t accept the destiny most people have forced around her. For me, I had to be on her side. I try to ignore if they like me or not, if they understand me or not. I have to trust people will know enough to be able to follow, through my eyes and my body, even though I don’t give away anything more than is absolutely necessary.
Do you think your take on the character is different than Stieg Larsson’s?
I don’t know. I think sometimes in the books she’s almost unreal. She does things that are kind of over-the-top [physically]. That’s why I wanted to do the action scenes or the fighting scenes because if I could do it, then I figured it’s possible. I wanted to give her life, and give her everything that Stieg Larsson has created. It’s his world, his universe. I wanted to make her mine and make her more human.
The sexual politics are the most controversial aspect of the novels and films. Lisbeth metes out her own brand of justice, but she’s often violated severely in the process.
Absolutely. I don’t think that Lisbeth is a role model for young women. She’s very broken inside. She’s wounded. She’s gone through a war in a way. The way she deals with things and the way she reacts — it’s a consequence of all he things she’s gone through and all the things people have done to her. I think that’s good that people have that reaction, that people have to question themselves: Do we like her? Or has she crossed the line?
In Hornet’s Nest, you make a great entrance into the courtroom, decked out with a Mohawk, multiple piercings, and an almost ritualistic outfit. Was that your creation?
That was me. It’s not in the novel. It doesn’t really describe so specifically how she looks. I wanted to shave. I wanted to do a Mohawk. I picked the clothes and her whole outfit, together with the makeup artist and the costumer. I had a very queer vision of how she would enter the court and what kind of message she wanted to send to everybody.
How hard has it been to disassociate yourself from the part?
It’s not been hard at all. It felt quite good to let it go. When we shot the last scene of the third movie, my whole body let her go. I’ve done a couple of movies after Hornet’s Nest and I jumped into another character very quickly. I’m not sentimental. I think it’s good to leave things when it’s done and know when you should move on. It’s always good to move on and be a bit brutal to yourself and push yourself to go further.
How do you feel about the English-language version of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo that David Fincher is filming?
I respect him a lot. I think he’s a great filmmaker. I think it’s quite interesting to see what he would do. I don’t think about it so much. I’m not a big fan of remakes.
Did Fincher or producer Scott Rudin ever contact you about possibly reprising the part for their version?
No. But I think everybody knew that I was not into it. Immediately after we were done with Hornet‘s Nest, people started wondering if we’d do a fourth one. I said, "No, I’m done with her." When the remake came up, people came up to me and said, "Would you consider doing her again?" I said, "No, I’m done with her." Then when it was David Fincher, everybody came back to me and said, "It’s David Fincher. Have you changed your mind?" I don’t think they wanted me to do it, but I don’t think they would have asked me either because I was very clear on that point.
What can you reveal about your part in Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes sequel?
I’m playing a gypsy. I’m doing a lot of research on the culture, the music. I’m going to Paris to study the communities there. I’m going to Transylvania to spend some time with gypsies. I’m learning to speak some Romany.
How accurate are the reports that Ridley Scott is considering you to play Ripley in the Alien prequel?
It’s true I’ve met with Ridley Scott a couple of times. I would love to work with him. It’s nothing more than that. I think they have a lot of actresses on their list. He told me that he’s a fan of my work and that’s enough for me. It’s not like they’ve offered me the part.