24 Frames

Movies: Past, present and future

Category: Noomi Rapace

Noomi Rapace vs. Sigourney Weaver: Ridley Scott's screen tests

June 8, 2012 |  6:30 am

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.


'Dragon Tattoo' girl is at the heart of Ridley Scott's 'Prometheus'

'Prometheus' review: It's no 'Alien,' but 'Prometheus' still delivers thrills

--Nicole Sperling

'Dragon Tattoo' girl is at heart of Ridley Scott's ‘Prometheus’

June 7, 2012 |  5:00 am

Noomi rapace prometheus
In Noomi Rapace’s screen test for the lead role in “Prometheus,” the actress had to portray a young scientist trying to persuade a giant corporation to invest billions of dollars to take her on a journey to another planet in hopes of unraveling the origins and meaning of human life. The company has little more than her passion and intensity as its guide in determining whether to fund the venture.

The situation was strikingly similar to what director Ridley Scott was asking 20th Century Fox to do with Rapace: take a flier on an unknown.

The 32-year-old Swedish actress had achieved fame beyond her national borders thanks to her portrayal of the punk, damaged cyber-sleuth Lisbeth Salander in the three original “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” films. Still, her English was shaky and her first studio film, “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows,” was not set to hit theaters for another year, so she was still largely unfamiliar to mainstream American audiences. Casting her as the lead character Elizabeth Shaw alongside Michael Fassbender and Charlize Theron in a big-budget potential summer blockbuster wasn’t a slam-dunk.

Except to Scott, who was smitten with the actress from the first time he met her and worked closely with her on mastering the test. “Ridley worked with me as if it was a real scene,” Rapace said. “He kept saying to me, ‘You don’t have to prove anything, this is not a test for me. You’re my girl. We’re just doing this together so they can see that you can act in English.’”

The duo’s collaboration quickly convinced the studio she was the right choice.

“The film itself is about a lot of big, compelling ideas, so you can be a little risky in terms of the casting and take some chances,” said Emma Watts, Fox’s president of production. “The character of Shaw is an interesting mix. She’s a powerful character and she has a real inner strength, but she also has a vulnerability. I think it’s a hard role to fill, but Ridley was confident in Noomi from the get-go and he has a pretty good track record with casting.”

Continue reading »

'Prometheus' offers oozing sci-fi spectacle, early reviews say

May 31, 2012 |  5:30 am

Noomi Rapace in Prometheus

Stateside sci-fi fans will have to wait till June 8 to see "Prometheus," Ridley's Scott's long-awaited oblique prequel to the "Alien" franchise, but some early and international reviews are already in. The story, which involves a space mission investigating the origins of human life going predictably awry, has met with mixed reviews, but critics agree that Scott's film is visually stunning and that Michael Fassbender delivers a scene-stealing performance.

In the Hollywood Reporter, Todd McCarthy writes that "Prometheus" "won't become a genre benchmark" like classics "Alien" and "Blade Runner" "despite its equivalent seriousness and ambition, but it does supply enough visual spectacle, tense action and sticky, slithery monster attacks to hit the spot with thrill-seeking audiences worldwide." Stars Noomi Rapace (of the Swedish version of "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo") and Charlize Theron perform admirably, and Fassbender, playing a genteel android, "excels as he's allowed to begin injecting droll comedy into his performance."

Variety's Justin Chang says the film "remains earthbound in narrative terms, forever hinting at the existence of a higher intelligence without evincing much of its own." Chang also takes exception to the "stock wise-guy types who spout tired one-liners" and the "orchestral surge of a score," which undermines the film's tension. On the other hand, "Scott and his production crew compensate to some degree with an intricate, immersive visual design that doesn't skimp on futuristic eye-candy or prosthetic splatter."

Like McCarthy, the Guardian's Peter Bradshaw also invokes "Alien" and calls "Prometheus" "something more grandiose, more elaborate — but less interesting." It's also, he suggests, less frightening. On the bright side, it does have Fassbender, who turns in a "terrifically creepy performance" and "steals the film." Ultimately, Bradshaw says, "Prometheus" is "a muddled, intricate, spectacular film, but more or less in control of all its craziness and is very watchable."

The Telegraph's Tim Robey writes that "thanks to richly-designed planetary environments with plenty of H.R. Giger's original art in their DNA, the build-up to inevitable horrors is the most smoothly compelling part of Scott's movie." The movie isn't free of cliches, but Fassbender is "amusingly creepy and constantly interesting," and Rapace "gets better as she goes along."

Total Film's Jonathan Crocker also praises Fassbender's character as "brilliantly constructed" (pun presumably intended). Scott once again proves to have an impeccable eye for sci-fi surfaces ("the movie is "flawlessly designed"), although he's more adept "with Big Spectacle than Big Ideas." All told, "Prometheus" is "exciting, tense and fully impregnated for sequels."

As a touchstone for the "Alien" mythos and a potential new film franchise all its own, it looks as though "Prometheus" could be just the beginning.


'Prometheus': Damon Lindelof promises an epic

R rating for 'Prometheus': Will it hurt the film commercially?

Meet David the android from Ridley Scott's upcoming 'Prometheus'

— Oliver Gettell

Photo: Noomi Rapace in "Prometheus." Credit: Kerry Brown / 20th Century Fox

Golden Globes: 'Dragon Tattoo's' Rooney Mara on her nom, fan expectations

December 15, 2011 |  9:18 am

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

David Fincher's "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" doesn't hit theaters until Dec. 20, but the film received two Golden Globe nominations Thursday -- one for its score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross and one for its star, Rooney Mara, who plays the computer hacker Lisbeth Salander originally brought to the screen by actress Noomi Rapace in the Swedish movie version of the bestselling thriller. Mara spoke by phone to 24 Frames' Amy Kaufman about how she feels about the nomination and the "Dragon Tattoo" whirlwind.

A.K.: Where are you?

R.M.: I’m in New York. I’ve kind of just been all busy. It’s been crazy. We had three premieres in three different countries in three nights.

A.K.: So you’re jet lagged?

R.M.: I was like half asleep getting my hair and makeup done to go to something when I heard about the nomination. It was a very pleasant surprise. I had totally forgotten that was even happening, because I’ve been travelling for three days. I was really excited.

A.K.: Is it weird to be nominated when the film hasn’t even come out yet?

R.M.: I’ve never had any other experience with anything like this, so I’m just looking forward to the movie finally coming out. We all put so much hard work into it.

A.K.: You’ve said it’s been hard to transition out of playing Lisbeth. Are you still in the Lisbeth mindset?

Continue reading »

Noomi Rapace swings for a boxing movie

October 29, 2010 |  2:48 pm


EXCLUSIVE: Noomi Rapace, the white-hot Swedish actress who reprises her role as Lisbeth Salander one last time in this weekend's "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest," is taking a lead part in a new boxing movie -- opposite her ex-husband.

Rapace, who is on the verge of English-language stardom with a role in "Sherlock Holmes 2," is set to star in a biopic about the colorful Swedish boxer Boss Hogberg, in which she'll play real-life cabaret singer Anita Lindblom, who was married to the prizefighter.

Rapace will star in the English-language movie with Ola Rapace, to whom she was married for seven years. They recently divorced but remain on good terms.

Hogberg's life and career was the stuff of "Raging Bull"-esque legend: The product of a working-class Gothenburg neighborhood, Hogberg captured the light-middleweight title (and lost it three weeks later), boxed through pain (he once fought 14 rounds with a broken jaw), romanced starlets, dealt with alcoholism and ran into legal troubles like Jack Thompson used to run into right hooks. His life changed -- somewhat -- when he met and married Lindblom.

Even with Noomi Rapace's schedule filling up, producers say they're not concerned about timing, with the idea to shoot the as-yet-untitled film as early as this summer in Sweden and France.

The movie will reunite the Rapaces with producer Helena Danielsson (who will produce with Malte Forssell and L.A.-based Paradox Entertainment). They previously collaborated on the addiction drama "Beyond," which is set to be released in various countries over the coming months.

Before breaking out in "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo," Rapace starred in a number of movies in Scandinavia, including the Danish movie "Daisy Diamond," in which she played the role of a teen mom. It's a path she's apparently not abandoning: Even as she continues to book Hollywood roles (besides "Sherlock," she's also set for the vampire movie "The Last Voyage of Demeter"), she's continuing to take parts in European art-house productions.

 -- Steven Zeitchik

Photo: Noomi Rapace in 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.' Credit: Music Box.


The girl with the dragon tattoo will have a vampire bite

Noomi Rapace: I'm glad Rooney Mara is a relative unknown

Movie Review: 'The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest'





Noomi Rapace: I'm glad Rooney Mara is a relative unknown

October 27, 2010 | 12:04 pm

Noomi2 Noomi Rapace had never heard of Rooney Mara, the young actress who was recently tapped to play Lisbeth Salander in the English-language version of of "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo," before she was cast in the part.

But Rapace, who, of course, originated the Salander role in the three Swedish films adapted from author Stieg Larsson's Millennium series, says she now endorses the choice.

“I don’t know her. I haven’t seen her,” said the 30-year-old, who was in Hollywood to promote the Friday U.S. release of the final film in the trilogy, “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest.” But, she added, "I think that David Fincher is a great filmmaker, and he probably made a good choice.... I don’t think that people should ever know so much about an actor that they go into the theater and can't see the character."

Since she was cast in the Salander role several months ago, Mara has faced criticism (perhaps inevitable, given the affection for Rapace) about whether she could walk in the actress' footsteps. Mara has sought to answer those critics by throwing herself into the role. It’s been reported that Mara, who has been in production on the remake in Sweden since September, recently pierced her nipples and dyed her hair to get into character.

Rapace herself famously went to similar lengths to play Salander, cutting off her hair, buffing up and getting seven body piercings. "I’m overwhelmed by how people have embraced my performance in the films," Rapace said. "I didn’t expect that at all."

 Rapace, on a brief respite from production of Guy Ritchie’s “Sherlock Holmes” sequel in London, said, despite the acclaim it brought her, she was not eager to reprise the Salander role.  "I was done with it, and I was very clear that I didn’t want to do it again. And when people knew that it was David Fincher, everybody came back to me and said, ‘Have you changed your mind?’ No. Why should I?”

The actress says she has not been asked by the filmmaker or Mara for advice on how to approach Salander. "I don't think I could help her, because she has to find her own [version]. I don't know more about this book than she does, because she's probably read the books, and she has to find her own truth and give something from her to it. She will probably do something completely different."

— Amy Kaufman


Photo: Rapace in West Hollywood earlier this week. Credit: Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times.


Noomi Rapace is not Lisbeth Salander

Noomi Rapace, the girl with the dragon tattoo, will have a vampire bite

Rooney Mara's shoulder, transfixing Sweden more than ABBA

Will Rooney Mara make a good Lisbeth Salander?

Rooney Mara will be 'The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo'

Noomi Rapace, the girl with the dragon tattoo, will have a vampire bite

October 13, 2010 |  3:23 pm


EXCLUSIVE: Swedish actress Noomi Rapace has been on a hot streak since her Swedish-language "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" became an art-house hit in the U.S. Now she's signing for a new role in an intriguing genre.

Rapace is set to come aboard the "The Last Voyage of Demeter," about the ill-fated journey of Dracula's coffin from Transylvania to England, according to sources familiar with the project. 

Rapace is expected to play a stowaway on the boat, which according to legend arrived at its port with no survivors, prompting speculation that the vampire corpse made a little mayhem. Ben Kingsley is also coming aboard the ship, the sources said, while a lead actor is in the process of being cast.

The film has heat behind it: it's being directed by Oscar-winner Stefan Ruzowitzky ("The Counterfeiters") and produced by the team behind "Shutter Island" at Phoenix Pictures; the movie is expected to contain some of the literary genre qualities that characterized "Shutter."

With a new role in "Sherlock Holmes 2" and discussions on "Mission: Impossible 4" and the "Alien" prequel, Rapace has already capitalized on her popularity from "Dragon Tattoo" and the two films that followed in the adaptation of Stieg Larsson's Millennium trilogy.

"Demeter," however, would mark Rapace's first English-language genre movie, and also put her back in something of the scrappy loner role that she popularized as Lisbeth Salander. And if she decided to really go tough, she probably wouldn't even need to change her outfit.

-- Steven Zeitchik


Photo: Noomi Rapace in 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.' Credit: Music Box Films



Recommended on Facebook


In Case You Missed It...




Get Alerts on Your Mobile Phone

Sign me up for the following lists: