A Swedish mystery novel that became an international best-seller was made into a movie in Scandinavia two years ago and now Hollywood takes its turn. Alan Silverman has this look at American director David Fincher's version of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.
"She is one of the best investigators I have."
"She is different."
"In what way?"
"In every way."
Lisbeth Salander is a brooding, almost feral young woman with jet black spiked hair, her pale, slender body decorated with elaborate tattoos and numerous piercings. The main character in novelist Stieg Larson's "Millennium" trilogy, she lurks in the shadows and by the glow of computer screens to gather information.
The subject of her latest investigation is Mikael Blomqvist, a Stockholm journalist disgraced by accusations of libel. Trying to stay out of the spotlight, he takes a job in a remote town, investigating a decades-old unsolved murder in one of Sweden's richest families. As the sordid details surface, he realizes he can use help from the woman who investigated him.
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo features English actor Daniel Craig as Mikael.
"It's a movie about violence toward women, first and foremost …and two people who find that a great injustice," explains Craig. "They decide that they are going to do something about it; and you have woven into it this great 'who done it' [mystery]."
An international star as the latest to play danger-loving secret agent James Bond, Craig says he jumped at the chance to take on the much more ordinary Mikael.
"The most important thing about this character for me was to make him as real and as believable as possible," Craig says. "Obviously, there is another person I play who would deal with it in a different way. It's not that I was ever thinking about that, but I wanted to put the reality into this. He gets shot at and he runs away, screaming, like anybody else would. It's what I love about this character and this relationship that he has with Salander. He doesn't have to prove he's a man. He doesn't have to go around beating his chest and he's very happy to fall into this relationship where she is literally wearing the trousers."
Lisbeth Salander, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, was created in the original Swedish film (and its two sequels) by Noomi Rapace. This time Lisbeth is played by American actress Rooney Mara who says she tried to keep her portrayal from being influenced by either that version or the image readers of the books may have.
"To be honest, I didn't really think much about what other people imagined it to be. I just used what I imagined it to be," Mara explains. " I had read all three books and had a really clear picture of who this girl was. I didn't really think much about what other people thought of her."
Director David Fincher first worked with Mara in his Oscar-nominated film from last year, The Social Network (she was the girlfriend who breaks up with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg at the beginning of the film). Returning to a genre that won him acclaim with thrillers like Seven, The Fight Club and Zodiac, Fincher says he was more interested in the people.
"The mystery of this movie wasn't that interesting to me. You know, Nazis, serial killers and the evil that people do in their basements with power tools. First and foremost, I was more interested in the people, front and center," Fincher says.
If audiences are as intrigued by the Dragon Tattoo characters as he is, Fincher hopes to translate the other two books in the "Millennium Trilogy" into new films.