From acclaimed Danish filmmaker Niels Arden Oplev (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) and screenwriter J.H. Wyman (Fringe), the crime drama Dead Man Down tells the story of two strangers who are bound together by their mutual obsession with revenge. Victor (Colin Farrell) is a mysterious man who has infiltrated the crime empire run by ruthless kingpin Alphonse (Terrence Howard) for his own very definite reasons, while his neighbor Beatrice (Noomi Rapace) wants Victor’s help to carry out her own plans for retribution.
At the film’s press day, actress Noomi Rapace talked about talked about reuniting with her The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo director Niels Arden Oplev for this film, what it was like to add Colin Farrell to that mix, sharing her acting roles with her son so that he knows what she’s doing now, what it was like to see herself with all of her character’s scars, establishing the mother-daughter dynamic with co-star Isabelle Huppert, and how comfortable she is with English now. Check out what she had to say after the jump.
NOOMI RAPACE: I think I was quite different. When I did The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Lisbeth was living in me, I was much angrier and more aggressive. I didn’t have any patience. I would go into the studio and be like, “Why are we not rolling? What are we waiting for?! Can we roll?” On this, I was much calmer. I think Niels was waiting for the big explosion. There was one day when I was just quiet and he was like, “Oh, no! We have to roll!” But, he is very passionate, and I’m that way, too. There’s always a lot of emotions involved. Depending on the scene and what we’re doing that day, you can always feel that in the room. The way he is and the environment that he creates, when I look back, I can clearly see why I felt a certain way.
What was it like to add Colin Farrell to the mix?
RAPACE: Colin and I became quite close to each other. Niels was like, “So, what’s so fun over there?!” We shot most of the movie in Philadelphia and the set they built was out in the harbor, so it was quite far away. It was a 40-minute drive from the city, so it was almost like we created our own world there. We had the trailers set up out side, and there was a fire, so it was almost like a gypsy camp with our kids running around and a dog running around. We were always playing music. Sometimes Niels came out from the studio and was like, “What’s so fun over here? What are you laughing about? Nothing is fun!”
Do you share your work with your son, so that he knows what’s going on?
RAPACE: Well, I’m trying to be honest with him because he knows. I did this movie in Copenhagen, called Daisy Diamond, when he was maybe three years old, and I didn’t tell him anything. He was in Copenhagen with me for a week, with his daddy, and I had cut my hair in one scene, so it was super short. He looked at me and said, “You look like a monkey!,” and I was like, “Oh, thank you.” And he asked me, “Do you have a baby in the movie?,” and I had a baby in the movie, but I didn’t tell him that. So, I said, “Yeah,” and he said, “Do you hurt the baby?” In the movie, I actually kill the baby. It’s like he has this intuition. He knows without me telling him so much. So, from that point, I decided to talk to him a little bit about the character, before I start up a movie. Then, maybe it will be easier for him to understand why I’m a bit weird sometimes. With this, he came to the set with my mom and my sister. We were shooting something that day and I was quite messed up. I was bloody and wet with scratches and cuts, and I warned him. I texted my sister to tell him that I was bloody and looked like shit. When he got there, he was like, “I know it’s just make-up.”
RAPACE: I started to reflect on beauty a lot. For women, all over the world, it’s so important to be beautiful and look good. People pay more attention to you, if you look a certain way, and people listen to you more. You can gain a lot of things and win a lot of things, if you have a face that is beautiful. It was quite weird because I was walking around in Philadelphia one day with the scars. I was out buying coffee and people were staring at me, and I was like, “Wow, this is actually what it feels like.” It was the same with Lisbeth, when I shaved one side of my hair, dyed it black and had all those piercings. I had to go to the bank, and I remember that they were so rude to me. I was like, “Why are they ignoring me? What’s going on?!,” because I was this punk girl. People are so judgmental. A person like Beatrice has built her life so much on beauty. She’s working in the beauty industry, and then this accident happens and ruins her whole life. When we see her in the movie, she doesn’t look that awful. Yeah, she has scars, but in my opinion, she doesn’t look like a freak. From her perspective, it was a year ago and she’s got through all those plastic surgery sessions, but she’s not able to see that it’s actually changed. She can only see what she lost. She can only see that she still looks the way she looked when she woke up in the hospital and realized that her face was destroyed. It’s almost like her life froze, in that moment. She can’t find any way out from that bubble.
What was it like to work with Isabelle Huppert on this, and to establish that mother-daughter dynamic with her?
RAPACE: I loved working with her. She’s very strong-minded. She’s one of the best actresses. I respect and adore her. She’s very petite and very old school beautiful. She knows how to be a woman, and I think she brought that into the character. Those two women live together. The father is American and he left quite early, so they’re almost like girlfriends. I do think that the mother was probably as devastated as Beatrice, when this happened, because she’s thinking, “Nobody will love you now.” I think the mother is the key to understanding why this ruined her life so much. She’s hiding the scars and she’s trying to sell to Victor that Beatrice is a really good person and was so beautiful before. She loves her daughter and she’s trying to do good. I don’t think she understands the harm she actually does to her daughter. She doesn’t say, “No, you’re beautiful anyway. The scars don’t matter. People will see you as you. This doesn’t change that much.” But, it’s almost like they’re living in this limbo world. The mother is not working, and they’re living in this weird symbiotic thing together. Even though they both love each other, they’re holding each other back.
RAPACE: No. You know, every time I hear that someone is difficult, I want to work with that person. For me, artists and people that are passionate are fighting for what they believe in and what they want, and that’s always appealing. I find that really interesting. I’d much rather work with people that are tricky and difficult than people that just say yes to everything. Before I did Sherlock Holmes, people said to me that Robert Downey Jr. could be quite difficult because he wants to do it his way and it’s so much about him and he wants to be the creator of it, but I didn’t see that. We had a big read-through and started to talk about the characters and scenes, and he was saying something, and I said, “Yeah, I agree!” He was like, “Did you just interrupt me?,” and I was like, “Yeah, I think I did, because I agree with you.” And he was just like, “Oh, I love you!” Because I’m not afraid of strong people, it takes the drama out of it, a little bit.
So, what’s going on with your career now? Are you planning on living in Hollywood?
RAPACE: I live in London. But, when you’re working a lot, you don’t really have a proper home. Now, I’m going to be in New York for two months, for a movie. And then, when I finish that movie, I’m going to be in Prague for a month. And then, I’m going back to London. I go to L.A. when I have work to do, so I’m coming in and out.
RAPACE: Yeah. And I also think the whole industry is becoming more and more mixed up. People from Europe are working in Hollywood, and we shot Sherlock Holmes and Prometheus in London. The whole industry is becoming, more and more, one organism.
Are you comfortable with English now?
RAPACE: Yeah. I was never really in school. I was quite wild when I was a teenager. I went to a school where there was no homework, and I couldn’t really write and spell when I was 14 and 15. So, when this whole Millennium thing started and I was doing press conferences, I couldn’t express myself and I didn’t understand the questions. It was so horrible. I felt like a retarded monkey. And then, I decided that I had to find a way to make this language mine and be free in it, and not translate from Swedish or Icelandic. I was in the gym this morning, doing sit-ups, and I was like, “Fuck, I’m actually counting in English now!” And I’m dreaming in English. I’ve switched.
Dead Man Down opens in theaters on March 8th.