In a sleek floral-print dress, brown hair in curving waves, smiling in the sunlit spaces of a West Hollywood hotel, Noomi Rapace is completely removed in style, mood and location from her work as Lisbeth Salander in the film adaptation of Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy. For those of you who haven’t been near a bookstore, airport or mode of public transit in the past two years, Larsson’s novels — “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” “The Girl Who Played With Fire” and “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest” — have become a worldwide phenomenon. All three books have been filmed in their native Sweden — and played in America — with Rapace playing the series’ stylized, brittle heroine Salander.
The film version of the series-ending novel has just come to America, and Rapace is eagerly doing press while planning future possibilities. Will she feel any sadness at leaving Salander behind? “No, I’m not so sentimental,” she says. “I say it’s always nice to let things go and to move on and leave things behind and accept that this was it, and now it’s time to go on. I did all I could for one-and-a-half years, and I’m done. I’m doing new movies now, and it’s like it’s over for me.”
And Rapace can also rest knowing that it’s not many fans who’ll make a link between her and the pierced, punk-rock and prickly Salander. At the same time, taking care of business while playing Salander was an eye-opener. “It was pretty interesting, because when I shaved my head and all that, people were so rude to me before the movies came out,” she says. “I did all those piercings, and I looked like a teenager. I remember I went into a bank; I was supposed to pay some kind of bill. They were so rude to me. It’s just, ‘F— you.’ If I’m having long, curly hair, if I’m having high heels, then people are so nice. But if you look like a punk rocker with black hair and makeup and piercings, then it’s pretty in a different way. So it was quite interesting to see how much people judge you from the way you look.”
Rapace’s work has gotten her a flurry of attention — and a role in the upcoming “Sherlock Holmes” sequel, joining director Guy Ritchie as Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law reprise their work as the world’s greatest detective and his stalwart medical cohort. “We’re having a great time, and it’s really fun,” she says. “I love them. I think Robert Downey Jr. is just amazing. He’s really good, and he’s such a hard-working actor. We’re working together, and it doesn’t feel like a big studio production. It feels like everybody’s working really close to each other, and everybody wants to do a great film together. So it’s really fun.”
But, I ask, doesn’t she feel she’s come into the middle of a bit of a boys club? “No, the funny thing is I see myself more as a boy,” she says. “I always felt I’m more secure with boys, within the man’s group. I’m the one who’s probably more guy than sometimes the guys. I’m pretty used to being around with guys and with boys. When I was a kid, I always preferred to play around with the boys instead of the girls.” “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest” is now playing in select theaters.