BARCELONA – The Girl In The Spider’s Web director Fede Alvarez knew that movie fans would be surprised when he decided to cast British actress Claire Foy of The Crown fame as his version of Lisbeth Salander.
After all, Foy’s Queen Elizabeth II in the acclaimed Netflix series The Crown (2016 – present) is probably the furthest thing from the goth-punk heroine introduced in Stieg Larsson’s bestselling Millennium novels.
But Alvarez said that it was in fact a deliberate choice not to go with someone whom fans would normally expect.
“I wanted to go with a different approach in casting Lisbeth. People usually look for an actor who looks just like the character, but I didn’t want that.
“For me, it’s about who is the best actor for the role, and Claire was it. She is one of the best actors out there, and I knew she would be incredible,” he told The Straits Times and other journalists at a roundtable interview held in Barcelona.
Foy is the third actress to play the damaged hacker vigilante character on the silver screen, following Noomi Rapace in the 2009 Swedish flm trilogy and Rooney Mara in David Fincher’s 2011 adaptation of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.
Foy, 34, said in a separate interview that it was a no-brainer for her to take on the role of Salander, no matter what people may think.
“It’s important for me to do things wildly different and to keep learning, and the only way I can do that is by changing what I do. When you take on more risk and more responsibilities, that propels you forward to be freer,” she said.
The actress also avoided rewatching any of the older films before she started filming.
“I didn’t revisit Noomi or Rooney’s work but the memory of their work was certainly present.
“I think the best and simplest approach for something like this was to start bareboned, then build on that. I’ve had experience playing Anne Boleyn in Wolf Hall (2015), and Lady Macbeth on stage, and they have been played by so many other people before. You just try and do the best you can,” she said.
She did, however, rely heavily on the novels. “The books were my bible,” she said.
All inevitable comparisons to the other film adaptations aside, Foy points out that her movie will still feel fresh because it is not based on any of the first three novels in the series – The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2005), The Girl Who Played With Fire (2006) and The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets’ Nest (2007). Larsson’s trilogy, which has been translated and published in more than 50 countries, has sold over 80 million copies.
Instead, the new film is adapted from the fourth book of the same name, which was written by David Lagercrantz following Larsson’s death in 2004.
Here, Salander is older and more weary as her dark family past comes back to haunt her in the form of a veangeful twin sister (played by Dutch actress Sylvia Hoeks), whom she thought was long dead.
Meanwhile, Salander also continues on her mission to take down powerful men who have physically or mentally abused women.
Foy said: “She does all of this, but I would not call her a superhero. She doesn’t have any special powers. The only power that she has is that she never gives up and that she’ll fight to the bitter end.
“She’s a very closed off person but I do think she grows up a bit in this film, too.”
According to the actress, Salander has quite a lot in common with the British Queen as well.
“I think both of them have to appear to have a lack of feeling, or appear to have no emotions, for different reasons. There are entire universes going on inside of them, which they have to keep inside.
“At first, I thought I could be explosive with Lisbeth, but she’s actually terrified of the world and that’s why she keeps up her defenses. I found that to be quite touching.”
The Girl In The Spider’s Web opens in cinemas on Nov 8.
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