Noomi Rapace, who gained global recognition for her portrayal of the intriguing literary character Lisbeth Salander in the Swedish adaptation of Stieg Larsson’s The Millennium Trilogy, plays an evil elf in her latest cinematic outing, Bright. “I have been avoiding doing the pretty, cute and s**y girl roles. In Bright, I’m chasing the boys,” says the 37-year-old, who essays the character of Leilah in the futuristic action-thriller that Netflix started streaming recently.
Playing the elf, who is after two Los Angeles-based cops (Will Smith and Joel Edgerton) to get her magic wand back and restore the reign of the Dark Lord, meant she had to rehearse a lot and “find a flow in the fight scenes”. The Swedish actor, who was in Mumbai recently to promote Bright, says: “I was sleeping with knives and playing with them to get used to them. Since the film uses elvish language, I had to learn that too. I used to run on the beach saying elvish prayer.” The London-based actor is known for her performances in Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011), Prometheus (2012) and What Happened to Monday (2017).
As someone who has worked in film industries in different countries, Rapace says: “Sadly enough, it (harassment of women) is there in most industries. When someone sits on too much power, they start to use the position. You can see it among politicians. Fashion and music industries are also full of it. It is a very old structure. If you look back, the stories about (Alfred) Hitchcock are horrendous. I am glad that it is starting to change. There is a new wave.” The actor expresses her happiness over the fact that woman producers, writers and actors are now questioning “why should we not live like equals”. She adds, “Time up. It is time for an equal film industry.”
When asked about the decision to wear black on the Golden Globe red carpet to protest against the disparity, Rapace makes her stand clear: “The voice is very important. If you see something that isn’t right, step in and speak up. The Swedes tend to look away. You need to confront. Don’t wait.”
Rapace is used to physical training from the age of 11, when she started studying martial arts. “That was my way of dealing with being a woman and my body. I was expressing my rage — teenage rebellion — through that and getting it out of my system,” says the actor who watched Dangal recently and related with the characters of Geeta and Babita in it. According to her, it’s stupid to say that women don’t have the same aggression that men do. “We just deal with it differently,” she added.
Even though Rapace has been acting since the age of seven, she shot to fame when The Millennium Trilogy (The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played With Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest) released in 2009. “I shot it for a year and a half after six months of preparation. I had to change my body and slowly grow into the character. I got my motorcycle licence, pierced my body and had a Mohawk. After the filming was over, I was lost for three weeks,” says the actor, who confesses to being affected by her roles. After playing seven sisters in What Happened to Monday, she was disconnected with the world for a while. “I was carrying those seven sisters in my body and lending my heart to them. When I am done with a film, it is always very strange for the first two-three weeks,” she says.
Since this trip to India was too short, the actor intends to come back. “I would love to shoot a film in India. It is very cinematic and has extreme contrasts,” she adds. That apart, Rapace is closely associated with fashion and is likely to revisit India to launch her perfume next year.