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Lisbeth Salander is back like never before.
Sony’s new The Girl in the Spider’s Web has its world premiere at the Rome Film Fest on Wednesday. The reboot jumps feet-forward into Stieg Larsson’s best-selling Millennium world, with Spider the adaptation of the latest book in the series, written by David Lagercrantz following Larsson’s death.
Claire Foy takes on the role of Salander in the new film, from Uruguayan director Fede Alvarez. The Millennium books had huge global success with a Sony Pictures film and three Swedish-language films starring Noomi Rapace.
Comparing his new chapter with the previous film adaptations, Alvarez said: “It’s just a little bit crazier and bigger. Whereas the first one was kind of an Agatha Christie murder mystery, this one is a crazy spy thriller. It ended up more like a James Bond movie.”
“The common denominator, of course, is Lisbeth Salander,” he said. “It’s still a very, very personal story where the stakes are just bigger. There’s just more flair.”
Foy believes there’s no end to exploring Salander as a role. “You could only ever approach a character like that entirely on her terms,” said Foy.
“And I think the other actresses who have played her would attest to this: you could never ever reach the depths of this character,” she continued. “There’s so much there that you could learn from and understand and try to communicate to an audience. It’s sort of infinite, really.”
Synnove Macody Lund, who plays Gabriella Grane, also spoke of the film taking on a different scale than its predecessors. “I like entering this world where things are larger than life. It’s not trying to be this Scandi-noir, it’s more operatic,” she said. “I love that this Millennium universe has been blown up to grander proportions.”
And like James Bond, Alvarez also spoke of wanting to create an anti-hero character.
“All the Hollywood superhero movies, they’re supposed to inspire you. You see Captain America and think it’s supposed to inspire me,” he said. “But it just oppressive. I feel like I’m never going to be that. Hollywood is a very powerful machine that reaches the entire planet and really changes the agenda, the way we feel.”
Alvarez believes it’s more interesting to show a character’s flaws, the aspects he can relate to: “I take the character and I try to destroy it throughout the movie. I try to throw everything at it to bring them to their knees and reveal they’re not who they say they are.”
Foy agreed that she never saw Salander as a superhero character. “What I admired is that she has a will to survive, which is so strong that she will take on a six-foot man, knowing that she’ll lose, but knowing she may find his weakness,” she said. “She is definitely smarter than most people she comes across. That gives her the confidence to be foolhardy.”
“In any of the fight sequences, you don’t see anyone who is all-powerful, anyone with a shield,” said Foy, contrasting the film to superhero tropes. “You see her in a position clawing and scratching and doing anything she can to keep going. That’s her soul. You can’t keep a good woman down.”
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