Noomi Rapace often stuns people when she enters a room. Known to American audiences as the sullen cyberpunk of the film adaptations to Steig Larsson’s Millenium Series, people tend to think of Rapace and her character, Lisbeth Salander, as one and the same. When Rapace shows up to an interview with long flowing hair, a smart and girlish outfit and a glowing smile, many journalists are plainly bowled over.

“It surprises me over and over that people say, ‘Oh, you’re nothing like her at all,’” Rapace says with a laugh. She’s decidedly more lighthearted than her onscreen character, but in a way, she’s pleased that her portrayal of Salander was so believable that people can’t seem to separate the two.

“It’s extremely dangerous if you become too famous in a way,” she explains. “People know too much about you, then they won’t really see your work.”

As for leaving the Larsson trilogy behind, which she worked on for almost two years, Rapace had no desire to recreate the experience for the forthcoming American remake, for which Rooney Mara has been cast as Salander.

“I was very done with her,” she says of the character, adding that shooting traumatic scenes left her with recurring nightmares.

American audiences can expect to see Rapace in the Sherlock Holmes sequel, but she’s no damsel in distress. Having played such a tough character has opened the door to challenging, quality roles.

“I think it’s much easier to come into the room when you’ve done something you’re proud of,” she muses. “I’ve done something and I did it all the way, so when I enter a room with producers, I think they know I want to play a character with many layers. I don’t want to be cute.”

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