Casting Lisbeth Salander was our first focus
by Annika Pham
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo [+see also:
interview: Niels Arden Oplev
interview: Søren Stærmose
film profile], the first adaptation of the bestselling Millennium novels, is making history as the biggest success ever for a Swedish-language film. Producer Søren Stærmose (of Yellow Bird) spoke to Cineuropa.
Cineuropa: What are the latest figures for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo?
Søren Stærmose: As for March 31, the film had two million admissions across Scandinavia. It’s the biggest hit in the region from Scandinavia. Normally, we can’t cross borders with our films. So this is an absolute exception thanks to Stieg Larsson’s books. We were very careful at Yellow Bird to provide the same quality in the film that is in the book, and we’re happy that audiences responded so positively. People felt they read the book once more when seeing the film!
Tell us a little bit about your company, and when you acquired the Millennium trilogy.
Our focus at Yellow Bird is on high quality crime films and TV series based on well-written books, not only police investigations, but crime stories in general. We want to explore all the different aspects of the genre. We acquired the rights to the Millennium trilogy as early as 2005, long before they became international bestsellers. Our biggest challenge was to fulfil readers’ expectations and to find the right actors. We knew that if we failed in casting Lisbeth Salander we would fail with the whole adventure, as she is an extremely important character in the trilogy. So our first focus was on her, and Noomi Rapace is absolutely brilliant in the role.
Why did you hire Niels Arden Oplev for the first film?
It was important for us to pick the right person who was good at the genre and knew how to handle the tough themes explored by Stieg Larsson, who fought for freedom of expression and who hated men who hated women. The Millennium trilogy is really about the oppression of women – within the family in the first book, within the trafficking milieu in the second, and within politics in the third book. In his previous film, We Shall Overcome [+see also:
film profile], Oplev also described a fight, one of a little boy against the system in Denmark in the 1960s. He also directed several successful TV series and knew how to direct crime films.
The two other Millennium films – The Girl Who Played with Fire [+see also:
film profile] and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest [+see also:
film profile], both directed by Swedish filmmaker Daniel Alfredson but with the same lead actors – were originally planned to air only on TV. Now they will first be released theatrically. You must be pleased.
We had always hoped that this might happen and had planned from the beginning to give the two other films a true cinematic feel. Daniel Alfredson is an established and award-winning filmmaker (his latest film Wolf, with Peter Stormare, won two awards in Montreal in 2008) and the cinematographer on both films, Peter Mokrosinski, has worked with him several times in the past. Both films were shot back to back. We are now working hard on the editing, sound design and music, to make sure the film version of the second book will be ready for a September release in Sweden and the third film for November 2009. Both films will be shorter, but are still very loyal to the books.
Have you closed a deal with the US for a remake of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo?
There is great interest from US companies, but no deal has been closed yet. We will not make a remake of the first film. It will be a totally new film in the English language, with a new director who will have his own vision.
What other crime novels do you intend to adapt?
We have close relationships with the biggest crime novelists in Scandinavia, such as Henning Mankell and Helene Tursten in Sweden, and Anne Holst from Norway. We also try to find new talent, like Stieg Larsson. We need the novelists to build a profile in Europe before making a film or TV version. We are now working on a new adaptation of Anne Holst’s Vik-Stubø series with Norway’s Monster Film.