Swedish actress Noomi Rapace first dazzled American audiences with her riveting portrayal of punk hacker Lisbeth Salander in the original film adaptations of Stieg Larsson’s best-selling Millennium Trilogy (including "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo"). All cheekbones and attitude, the black-lipsticked Salander -- and the woman who played her -- caught Hollywood’s jaded eye. Starting Dec. 16, Rapace stars alongside Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law in "Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows." Not bad for an actress who only learned English three years ago.
Hometown: Hudiksvall, Sweden
What She's Done: Long before David Fincher’s planned adaptation, Rapace filmed all three movies in the Millennium Trilogy back to back. It took a full year, and during that time the actress was Salander more often than she was Rapace. Salander is an inspiring survivor who, through the course of the trilogy, is beaten, raped, shot in the head, falsely accused of murder, and institutionalized. Twice. "I think that I've always been fascinated by people who can turn anger into strength," Rapace told NPR.
What She's Doing Now: In "Sherlock," she plays a scrappy gypsy fortune teller named Sim who serves as a linchpin for unraveling Holmes’ Moriarty case. Sim is fast with a blade and quick on her feet in the boys' club otherwise known as a Guy Ritchie film -- a rare place for any woman.
Shout Out: "We were all big fans of hers, and when we met her, she was already full of ideas about the character," Ritchie says in the press notes. "I loved working with Noomi because she’s ballsy and smart and totally committed -- all the qualities we were looking for in Sim."
Reminds Us of: Rooney Mara in "The Girl With the" ... oh wait, strike that. Reverse it. Rapace is far more concerned with altering her appearance than resembling anyone else. She told Buzzine, "Many times, people expect me to be like Lisbeth and to come in as this aggressive, black-dressed, hard-rock girl! But I’m an actress. I can be fat and blonde, or skinny with black hair. I can transform myself for whatever it takes."
Working with Ridley Scott: After Scott saw "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" three times, Rapace became his first choice for the lead in his quasi-"Alien"-prequel "Prometheus." Rapace beat out Gemma Arterton, Carey Mulligan, Olivia Wilde, Anne Hathaway, Abbie Cornish and Natalie Portman for the role of Elizabeth Shaw in the highly anticipated film, out June 2012.
"I feel like my character is the heart in the movie,” Rapace revealed to Collider. “You follow her, and she changes. In the beginning, she’s a believer. She believes in God and she has a very strong faith. She is a scientist and an archaeologist. She’s on this mission, and she’s full of hope. In the middle of the movie, things happen and she changes into more of a warrior. And in the end, she’s such a survivor."
What's Next: Aside from "Prometheus," Rapace will be starring in the thriller "Dead Man Down" with Colin Farrell, and she might do a movie called "Passion" with director Brian De Palma before that.