With director Fede Alvarez’s The Girl in the Spider’s Web now playing in theaters, I recently got to talk with Sylvia Hoeks about making the film. During the interview, she talked about her first meetings with Alvarez, how much she knew about Stieg Larsson’s iconic vigilante, how she likes to work on set, how Fede Alvarez operates on set, if she can watch her work on screen, what it was like working with Claire Foy, and more. In addition, she talked about making Blade Runner 2049 and director Francis Lawrence’s upcoming Apple show, See (which is why she has such a short haircut).
The Girl in the Spider’s Web picks up with Lisbeth Salander (Claire Foy) and Mikael Blomkvist (Sverrir Gudnason) years after the events of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo when a new mystery involving Salander’s long-lost sister (Sylvia Hoeks) attracts the attention of the intrepid vigilante and esteemed journalist. As you can probably guess, nothing is what it seems and the story is a race to figure out what is going on. The Girl in the Spider’s Web also stars Lakeith Stanfield, Stephen Merchant, Claes Bang, Christopher Convery, Synnøve Macody Lund, and Vicky Krieps.
Check out what she had to say below.
Collider: You’ve been doing press now for a few days. Do you enjoy the process, or is it sort of like the price you pay when you’re in a movie like this?
SYLVIA HOEKS: It’s what comes with the territory for me. My love is meeting the character and representing the character on set.
Talk a little bit about getting involved in the project. How familiar were you with the Dragon Tattoo?
HOEKS: I was very familiar. To me, Lisbeth Salander always has been someone to look up to and to have the possibility to see myself as maybe becoming a stronger woman like her when I was younger, someone to look up to. And in a world of male heroes, finding a strong woman that doesn’t have to be the girlfriend or the mother or sexy, but complex, with different sides to her, that for me was a revelation and something I held on to as a younger woman.
Describe your initial meetings with Fede, and how he talked to you about the character.
HOEKS: So it was interesting because he was talking about doing a loose adaptation of the book. It was very much his own film that he wanted to make. I tried to understand the universe and I understood that Camilla was a tool to show Lisbeth’s past and Lisbeth’s pain. So, for me, it was just very important to immediately step into the film with the look of a damaged person. To me, it was very important to have the bleached eyebrows and the scars. Because I don’t have a lot of time to tell her story. So, I wanted to step into the film very clear that this was damaged woman. Then, kind of take the audience on a journey back into Lisbeth’s past to show why she’s the woman that she’s become.
How do you like to work when you step on set?
HOEKS: I like to have done a lot of research before and kind of put that in an imaginable backpack, and be as open as I possibly can on set for being in the moment, and not anticipating anything or having thought up, “I’m going to do this. Then I’m going to do that.” I’m not an actor that works in front of a mirror, who tries to repeat her actions, or whatever. But I try to understand the character and then be as open as I possibly can on set.
Fede told me that he doesn’t like to figure everything out before he gets on set. He likes to figure it out when he’s standing in the moment. Talk a little bit about what it’s like collaborating with someone in that kind of environment.
HOEKS: I think it works best to be open, again, and to be like clay, in a sense. You have to be molded and shaped and go along with the universe that he’s trying to paint. I think understanding his language is the most important thing that you have to do then. Especially with Camilla, only having a couple of scenes to show the complexity of their past. I decided that was the way to go, the way to show the villain as well as the victim, was trying out different things. Shooting more emotional sides of the character. On one hand, we shot more anger. We shot vulnerability. We did different things for him to be free in the edit to make Camilla the negative and Lisbeth the positive come out at the end.
Can you sit in the theater and watch yourself, or do you like to say hi to everyone at a screening and then just walk to the bar or some other place?
HOEKS: I think you can always learn something from looking at the end product. You can go back and think, “How did I go about it? How did I understand this universe? Does it connect with what I’m seeing right now? And how’s that work?” In the end, your body’s an instrument. You use it to tell the story in the best way you possibly can. And it’s always interesting what comes out in the end with the edit. It’s out of your hands. So, it’s interesting to see what ends up as an end product.
Talk a little bit about working with Claire. Is it one of these things where you guys are doing stuff prior to stepping on set? Or were you guys meeting each other for the first time when you’re getting ready to film?
HOEKS: We met each other briefly, but Fede wanted to keep us apart as much as he could. To have us not giggle too much on set. It would be kind of distracted by how much we like each other. And we do. We like each other a lot. So, he’s probably right. We come from the same generation. She’s from England, I’m from Holland. We kind of come from the same background. We connected in so many various different ways emotionally as young women. So, yeah, I had a really nice time working with her. It felt very respectful and very strong. It was really wonderful playing opposite each other. So, I think with Fede, it was a good choice to not have us interact too much.