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'Girl With the Dragon Tattoo' star says there's plenty of room to improve on Swedish original

July 13, 2011 | 10:00 am

   Rapa
Few Hollywood films come with the expectations that saddle David Fincher's "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo." Each book in Stieg Larsson's original trio of mysteries is a beloved international bestseller, and the Swedish-language films based on those books were art-house hits that introduced the world to the highly regarded Noomi Rapace.

But at least one star in Fincher's December thriller says the director's Hollywood adaptation of "Dragon Tattoo" may not be as fraught as it would appear. "I thought the Swedish movies were nothing great, just sort of average," Joel Kinnaman, who plays the character of Christer Malm in Fincher's movie, told 24 Frames.

Malm is the flamboyant art director and co-owner of Millennium magazine; he takes over for Mikael Blomkvist when the protagonist exits the magazine as a result of the story's chief scandal.

Played by Jacob Ericksson in the original Swedish films, Malm was initially intended to appear only in Fincher's second and third movies, adaptations of "The Girl Who Played with Fire" and "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest," Kinnaman said. But Fincher decided he wanted to include the character in "Dragon Tattoo." So he had Kinnaman shoot a few days for this film too.

As contrarian as his opinion might seem, Kinnaman -- who was speaking on the New York set of "Lola Vs.," a romantic dramedy he's shooting with Greta Gerwig -- has a number of allies: The three films averaged a decent but hardly overwhelming 69% score on Rotten Tomatoes. (The first film, directed by Niels Arden Oplev, was the best regarded of the bunch, notching an 86% score on the site.)

While the broad popularity of Larsson's novels is what prompted Sony to make a "Dragon Tattoo"  film in the first place, Kinnaman had a surprising admission. "The truth is I haven't read the books," he said. "I tried with the first, but I just couldn't get into it."

-- Steven Zeitchik

twitter.com/ZeitchikLAT

 Photo: Noomi Rapace in "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo." Credit: Music Box Films

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