Swedish actress Noomi Rapace became an overnight sensation with her role in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. In her new movie, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows she portrays Sim, a mysterious Gypsy fortune teller, who becomes unwillingly involved with Holmes (Robert Downey Jr) and Dr Watson (Jude Law) in the search for Professor James Moriarty (Jared Harris), who is causing worldwide bedlam in an attempt to change the course of history.
Noomie spoke with us about how nervous she was doing her first English speaking role.
How did you become involved with this project?
With most movies I had done before, I’ve done a lot of preparation. And I’ve known about them long before and I’ve changed my body and I’ve done research, all the things you can imagine before. But on this one I met Robert and Susan (Downey, the film’s producer) maybe six, seven weeks before we started to shoot. It was really a quick meeting in LA.
We didn’t really talk about Sherlock Holmes, we talked about movies and dreams, and I remember Robert asking me, ‘What movies do you want to make?’ It was really super intense. And I walked out of that meeting and called my manager and was like, ‘Wow. Those two are amazing people. I would love to work with them.’
Then Warner Brothers wanted to send me over to London to meet Guy Ritchie. And I was there for an hour and we talked. And it was also very intense. I came out of that meeting and was like, ‘Whoa, I would love to work with [him].’ But I didn’t expect anything.
I think it was two weeks later that they told me they wanted me to do this role. Then we started to shoot it three weeks later. So I just kind of jumped into it. It was super intense, and so much fun.
I was really nervous before. And it was my first English-speaking movie. I didn’t speak English three years ago. So I didn’t really know how to deal with it and how it would be for me.
What was Guy and the cast like to work with?
They were all very open, and it was very playful and easy and creative. It felt like they embraced my ideas. And it felt like we created this character together, in a way. I was surprised the way they just opened their family for m, and I became one of their boys, pretty much.
And the way Guy works, I don’t remember a single situation when I came out on set and Guy said, ‘Okay, this is what I want you to do exactly.’ He always asked me, ‘How do you want to do this Noomi?’ Or, ‘How do you see this?’ And, ‘What do you think Sim would have done?’ That’s pretty much the way I love to work. In a very searching, creative, open way. So it was fantastic.
Which are more difficult for you to do, the physical action or the emotional scenes?
I like doing fight scenes. I always enjoy that and I try to do as much as they allow me to do of the stunt work. So I think that’s always quite easy. You just have to crack on and do it. And, of course you’re bruised and your body is aching and you hurt yourself a lot sometimes, but that’s a part of it.
I think that it’s always the emotional scenes. In the end of this movie, I lose a person that I really love and I feel kind of guilty for letting him down. That was quite complicated, because it’s like you need to really get into that situation, and there were a lot of people around me.
It was a room full of people, and everybody was watching. And you just want to hide and do it really privately but you need to do what’s real in the situation.
The emotional situations are more tricky to nail and to get into, because I don’t want to pretend. I try to use things in me and translate them into the situation and the character. So it always needs to run through my own veins in a way. So the emotional scenes were more difficult to [get] into. I’m really self critical as well.
This is a great start to your Hollywood career, you’re also in Ridley Scott’s Prometheus. Is this a dream come true for you?
I think I’m really spoiled now. This was my first English speaking movie. I didn’t know what to expect before. But the way we worked together was just amazing. And the journey we went on together felt like we actually were in different places, even though we just worked in London. It felt like we went through things together.
It felt like Robert, Jude and I became closer and closer. And it was really fantastic. I’d heard that you wait around and you sit in your trailer, and then you go in and do something, and then you go back to your trailer and wait. And I don’t remember waiting at all. I was extremely happy.
And then, amazingly enough, I started to prep Prometheus straight after. And I was in that movie for five, six months. So it was a really intense year. And now I’m here. And I’m really grateful for those people that they believed in me and gave me the chance and invited me on this journey.
I’m extremely grateful and proud.