Noomi Rapace vs. Sigourney Weaver: Ridley Scott's screen tests
Noomi Rapace, star of the new film "Prometheus," hates auditioning. The 32-year-old Swedish actress best known for her role as Lisbeth Salander in the original "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" series finds the whole process of trying to please others insulting.
"I hate the part in the business where you are trying to convince people you are good enough," she said in an interview. "I want people to work with me because I'm me and because of what I can do. I don't think actors and actresses are replaceable."
So it was with great hesitation that Rapace agreed to screen-test for Ridley Scott, the famed veteran director who wanted to cast her as the lead in his return to the sci-fi genre but still needed the studio's approval.The brass at 20th Century Fox needed convincing that this Swedish chameleon could act in English before they hired her for their potential summer blockbuster.
It was helpful, said Rapace, that Scott appeared embarrassed by the request, and kept telling Rapace that this was a studio request, not his own.
"He said to me, 'We're just doing this together so they can see that you can act in English. He really came and asked me if I was OK doing a couple of scenes. He called in his DP and said we are going to do it as a real scene with real sets."
Noomi spent a few weeks gearing up for the day of filming, connecting to the character of Elizabeth Shaw, a woman with strong religious beliefs that fuel her life's work as an anthropologist.
Rapace landed the part with a performance that showcased strength and vulnerability. She was the first actor to come aboard the "Prometheus" ensemble that also features Charlize Theron, Michael Fassbender and Idris Elba. And though her character is far different then Sigourney Weaver's Ellen Ripley in "Alien" -- Scott's 1979 film that is loosely related to "Prometheus" -- Rapace does serve, in similar fashion, as the heart of Scott's mission.
The marketing executives at Fox liked her audition so much -- it involves her pitching her scientific mission to the private Weyland Corp. with hopes that it will fund her faraway exploration -- that they've used it as one of their promotional tools for the film, which opens Friday.
Rapace's performance is the heart of the piece and the marketing gurus added what looks like a face-mapping overlay to suggest that Weyland Corp. is doing an analysis of her sincerity and dedication to the project.
Check out her test at the top of the page.
Some 30 years ago, Scott tested his first leading lady before casting her in 1979's "Alien." But rather than being the first to sign on, Weaver was practically the last. Scott was in the throes of pre-production when he finally found his Ripley. In this case, she was actually tested on a set being built for the film -- a process that never seems to happen in today's risk-averse movie landscape.
Scott's interest in casting women in strong leading roles dates back to his mother -- whom he calls "the first strong woman in his life." "I’ve always preferred strong women," he said. "To me when they said how do you feel about Ripley being a woman, I said sure, why not? It was like the superlative, ultimate sense of cool. I thought why not, because by saying oh, how extraordinary, it automatically makes me sound a bit mysogynistic, doesn't it? It’s like saying no woman could do this job."
Weaver's screen test (which contains a few bits of adult language) can be found here. Notice the copious amount of smoking in the brief scene.