Director Fincher brings stylish sheen to stark ‘Dragon Tattoo’ remake
BY DENNIS KING
NEW YORK – Director David Fincher casually admits it was a daunting job – casting his American remake of the internationally popular Stieg Larsson mystery “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.”
After all, millions of avid readers had consumed Larsson’s gritty, pulpy detective novel – and the two follow-ups, “The Girl Who Played With Fire” and “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest.” And millions of fans had likely formed vivid images in their minds of the books’ scarred and world-weary protagonists – the disgraced journalist Mikael Blomkvist, a dogged investigator, crusading idealist and unrepentant womanizer; and the anti-social computer hacker Lisbeth Salander, a pierced, punk genius with lots of abusive skeletons rattling around in her psychic closet.
And, to top it off, all three books had already been adapted to the screen in successful Swedish-language versions that featured memorable performances by Scandinavian actors Michael Nyqvist as the handsomely scruffy scribe Blomkvist and the startlingly convincing Noomi Rapace as the dangerously brilliant Salander.
So, during press interviews hosted by Columbia Pictures at Soho’s boutique Crosby Street Hotel, Fincher patiently fielded questions about his method of finding the right actors to inhabit those coveted, high-profile roles and his take on Larsson’s hugely popular novels.
“The mystery of these books wasn’t that interesting to me,” said the notoriously frank director of “Se7en,” “Fight Club” and “Zodiac.” “You know, Nazis and serial killers and the evil that people do in their basements with power tools wasn’t that unique. The thing that was first and foremost to me was this partnership (between Mikael and Lisbeth). I hadn’t seen these two people working together. So I liked the thriller, I liked the vessel of that, but I was more interested in the people front and center.
“Obviously, there are many parallels to ‘Chinatown’ in this story of the Vanger clan and their secrets,” Fincher continued. “But I don’t think Larsson invented anything new except Blomkvist and Salander, this odd pairing, that’s the invention.”
So, much attention and speculation attached itself to the long process of casting Daniel Craig, best known for his two outings at the head of the “James Bond” franchise and last summer’s sci-fi hit “Cowboys & Aliens,” as Blomkvist, and smart actress Rooney Mara, the daughter of pro football royalty (namesake kin to founders of the Pittsburgh Steelers and New York Giants franchises) and standout in a small role in “The Social Network,” as the prickly Salander.
“The casting process began with Daniel,” Fincher said, “and if you build your universe, it’s like a good basketball team, you start with the anchor. And I knew him to be self-effacing and witty, and I knew that I needed that for Mikael. I wanted a very masculine center to the film. The androgynous side of the movie would be carried by Rooney, that was her job. So I knew that I needed a sort of Robert Mitchum center. And so when we had Daniel that was a fait accompli.
“And because there is this sort of magnetic element – (Mikael and Lisbeth) sort of push against each other – I started to look for the things I wanted to see in Lisbeth, and I didn’t see them in anyone we’d been looking at,” Fincher said. “And Rooney was right under our noses, in that I’d already spent four or five days with her on ‘Social Network.’
“But again, when you cast someone you look for an inherent quality that, you know, you’re going to be shooting 14-hour days, you’re going to be tired, you’re not necessarily going to be able to conjure an armor or a façade every single moment,” the director said. “I liken it to a quality that you can’t beat out of them with a tire iron. You’re looking for an innate quality that they have. Rooney was somebody that we brought back time and time again. Not because we didn’t see what we were looking for initially.
Message Sent Successfully
Be Sure to Check Out Our Top Headlines
Back to share with a friend form.
Add More Recipients