Ola Rapace Talks SKYFALL, Playing a Villain, Working with Javier Bardem, and More

     May 4, 2012


It’s hard to believe just a few days ago I was on the set of the upcoming James Bond film, Skyfall, in Istanbul, Turkey.  As a lifelong Bond fan, getting to see Daniel Craig film part of a huge action scene near the famous Istanbul Spice Market was something I’ll always remember.  For more on the set visit – including a video blog recap – click here.  You can also read or listen to my interviews with director Sam Mendes, Daniel Craig, producer Barbara Broccoli, Berenice Marlohe, and Naomie Harris by clicking the links.

While in Istanbul, I was also able to participate in a roundtable interview with Ola Rapace.  Even though he was very guarded with his answers, we were able to find out that he’s the person that Bond is after at the beginning of the movie, and he may or may not be in business with Javier Bardem.  During the interview, Rapace talked about whether the script changed once he was cast, his training for the role, what it’s like to work with Bardem, filming around the world, and a lot more.  Hit the jump to read or listen to the interview.

As usual, I’m offering you two ways to get this interview: you can either click here for the audio, or the full transcript is below.  Skyfall opens October 26 in the UK and November 9 in the US.

ola-rapace-imageQuestion:  I’ve been asking this of everybody.  I’m curious if you could talk about, from when you first got involved with the project and you got the script to where it is today, in terms of what you’re filming, has a lot changed?  Is it pretty much the same, in terms of the script and for your character?

Ola Rapace: For my character, it’s almost identically the same as when I first saw the script.  For the film, I’m not really sure because they work a lot on it but I wouldn’t dare to try to judge what they change or not.  The sequences I’m in, they had to stay pretty much the same because it’s really complicated, there’s a lot of action, so they tried to make it.

Within the bounds of what you’re allowed to say and not say, can you talk about the character you’re playing?

Rapace: Yeah, he’s lethal. [laughs] He’s one of those characters that he’s not afraid of anything. He would go wherever and do whatever and he loves it.

We talked to Naomie [Harris] about the training she had to undergo and it sounds like you’re playing a lethal guy, you had to undergo even more.  What kind of training did you have to really specify in for this part?

Rapace: Yeah, it’s really physical so of course there’s been a lot of fight training, driving, riding bikes.  Stuff like that.

Bikes like motorcycles?

Rapace: Yeah.

It would be interesting if it was a chase on a bike.

Rapace: Yeah, I’ll be on a bike, I can tell you that much.

skyfall-movie-image-daniel-craigHave you signed specifically what you can and cannot say? Is there like a new contract where you can say your character’s name but you cannot say personality or is that a specific one?

Rapace: I don’t think it’s in my contract, but obviously there’s so much…they’re really careful about what we say or what we don’t say, so I don’t want to say too much.

You’re just being cautious.

Rapace: Yeah. [laughs] I would have to be.

What makes Daniel Craig special for you?

Rapace: I think he’s an interesting actor because he’s got a bit of a contradiction, I think. He’s really tough but he’s still really like got this deepness to him as an actor, too. I like that. For Bond, it takes some drama from the actor to make it interesting.

Can you talk about being a Bond villain as being a kid’s dream? Getting to ride bikes and everything.

naomie-harris-skyfall-imageRapace: Yeah, of course it is. Yeah, you’re right, it is a kid’s dream because you get to use big guns and ride fast bikes and drive fast cars.  You play, you know? It’s like a huge playground.

Is it safe to assume this is the biggest movie you’ve worked on?

Rapace: Yeah. [laughs]

There’s nothing bigger than Bond movies. What has working on a movie this size taught you about how movies work or about yourself as an actor?

Rapace: It taught me as an actor that your work stays the same. It’s not that different, it’s just the size of it can be intimidating the first couple of days. You realize that it’s the same rules, really.  Your work is exactly the same. You need to ask the same questions and you need to own it. It can be a bit difficult on it though when the machine is so big and you feel it. You can feel small. I did the first couple of days. I felt really like, “Oh. This is big man.” But then you stick to what you know and that will carry you through.

Can you talk a little bit about working with Javier [Bardem] and what he’s bringing to the table?

skyfall-ralph-fiennes-imageRapace: You know, I love his energy.  Sitting beside him in make-up is intriguing.  You never know what goes on in that mind and I love that kind of quality in an actor. I want to know what goes on in his mind.  That’s cool for the kind of character he plays in this film. You’re going to wonder, “Why does he do this and what is he thinking?”

I like the politician answers.

Rapace: Yeah.

So are you doing most of your scene work with Javier?

Rapace: No, most of it’s with Danny.

We’ll be visiting the set tomorrow, I don’t know what we’re going to see, but, of all the sets we’re talking about, what have you been up to shooting in Istanbul?

Rapace: We’re shooting this sequence in Istanbul that…I love this sequence; it’s going to be amazing, it’s going to be fantastic.  There are so many different elements in it, in terms of action, that are going to be spectacular.  The most spectacular, to me anyway, sequence in the whole thing is in Istanbul.  That’s what I think.

skyfall-sam-mendes-movie-image-set-photoWell, you’re in it so you’re biased.

Rapace: Yeah. [laughs]

In this history of Bond movies, there are lots of henchmen, killers, lethal guys, as you said. Do you have a favorite?

Rapace: Yeah, I’d have to say Mads [Mikkelsen] because he’s Scandinavian. [laughs]

So were you in the other locations as well or were you just shooting in Istanbul?

Rapace: Yeah, I was in Adana [Turkey] and in London, of course. We shot some parts of it in London, down in Adana and here in Istanbul.

So is it the complexity of this sequence or the backdrop that makes it so spectacular?

Rapace: No, I think it’s really the whole sequence is really dynamic and the backdrop is amazing, of course, but I like the action of it.

Talk a little bit about the look of your character in the film and how involved were you in that, or is it like the costume department comes to you and you say, “Looks good.”

james-bond-skyfall-movie-image-daniel-craig-01Rapace: No, you know, they come to me and they’re pretty bossy. [laughs] But then I’d meet Sam [Mendes] and he’d ask me for my instinct and my feel of the character and then we start working. I really love that with Sam’s approach. Even though my character is mostly action, he still wanted my thoughts and my instincts.  We worked together with the look.

Maybe, perhaps, you can actually tell us what the look is of your character. I’m sure this is not a huge spoiler.

Rapace: No, it’s like…it’s not that spectacular. It’s like a nice suit and a cocky smile. [laughs]

I think I see some scar on your right arm.

Rapace: It’s my left arm, but you see it. [laughs]

I’m dyslexic. Do you have any battle scars from shooting this film?

Rapace: Yeah, I have…not really scars. You get some blisters, maybe a black eye.

Emotional scars?

james-bond-skyfall-movie-image-daniel-craig-01Rapace: Emotional scars? Not from shooting this film, no.

Talking about acting: a part like this, does it mean something to you as an actor or is it just for fun?

Rapace: No, it means a lot to me as an actor. It means a lot because like I said, from the start I found it really difficult to own the acting when the machine was so big.  It’s like this genre is challenging in terms of acting because you need to make your…it’s even more important that you approach it as an actor, because if you don’t, they will run you over.  The team around you, the crew is so focused on other things so you really need to stand your ground. So, it’s challenging but it’s taught me a lot about acting.

Is it about making yourself stand out to some extent, so you’re not just “Bad Guy #2,” you’re actually a character with a direction? Did you discuss that with Sam?

Rapace: Yeah, but I don’t believe in trying to stand out.  I believe in finding your own truth about it. Ask an actor’s question and stick to the answer.  Hopefully it stands out in some way.  But if you want to stand out, you’re not an actor. An actor wants the truth.

skyfall-james-bond-imageTalking about black eyes and motorcycles, were there any critiques from your wife [Noomi Rapace] because she’s quite experienced in that field?

Rapace: Yeah, I know, yeah. We always talk a lot about acting, every aspect of acting, when we were married and we still do.  But I think, in terms of action, it’s normally [her] asking the questions. In terms of riding bikes and stuff like that, I was always more experienced in that area of the acting.

I didn’t have a chance to ask Sam or the producers, so I’m going to ask you and maybe you can answer: I know Roger Deakins is shooting the film and I believe is using the Arri Alexa as a camera. Do you know if at any point you guys have used any IMAX cameras to capture anything?

Rapace: Not that I know of, but I’m not the right one to ask.

My other thing was, 3D seems to be the rage right now with every movie going 3D.  Was there ever any discussion that you guys might do this thing in 3D?

Rapace: Not that I know of, no.

skyfall-daniel-craig-imageWas it something that you asked about?

Rapace: Nope.

What are your thoughts on 3D?

Rapace: I think it’s exciting, you know, but it’s still really new to me and I don’t think about it like “3D or not,” I still like old school. But it’s probably the future though, that’s what I think.

Talk a little bit about, obviously you’re working with Roger Deakins, who’s one of the luminaries of his field. Could you talk about working with him and what he brings to the table?

Rapace: He’s got that kind of concentration like Sam does, too, like you can really feel his presence there.  But I don’t talk much to him, he doesn’t talk much to me. Sam is always the link between us. He’s just there as a power, I see him as a power behind the camera.  Of course it’s great to work with that kind of knowledge because you trust it and you’re safe with it.

We don’t know if you’re a baddie or a goodie or whatever…

Rapace: I’m a baddie, I can tell you that. [laughs]

Is it good not to become too friendly with the good guy in order to…

Rapace: No, I think that’s bullshit. [laughs]

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