Contact theSOPAbout theSOPSupport theSOPWritersEditorsManaging Editors
theSOP logo
Published:December 14th, 2011 22:27 EST

Sherlock Holmes' New Mystery Woman: Noomi Rapace

By Paulette Cohn

When Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows opens in theaters on Friday, Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law, who respectively play Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, will be joined by a new woman of mystery: Swedish actress Noomi Rapace as the beautiful Gypsy woman named Madam Simza, or Sim as she is called.

Sim will help Homes and Watson in their quest to stop criminal mastermind Professor James Moriarty (Jared Harris), who is not only Holmes` intellectual equal, but whose capacity for evil, coupled with a complete lack of conscience, may give him an advantage over the renowned detective in his bid to cause a world war and become a very wealthy industrialist.

Fans of foreign-language films may be familiar with Rapace, who gained international attention for her portrayal of Lisbeth Salander in the three Swedish films based on the novels Steig Larsson: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet`s Nest.

In this interview, the Swedish-born actress, who was raised in Iceland, talks about working in her first English-speaking film, how she was spoiled and her upcoming project Prometheus.

As a newcomer to Sherlock Holmes, what was it like? Was it easy to get used to director Guy Ritchie`s style of directing?

Most of the movies I have done before I have done a lot of preparation. I knew long before and I prepped. I changed my body, I did research and all kinds of things you can imagine. I met Robert and Susan Downey about six or seven weeks before we started shooting. It was a good quick meeting in L.A. We didn`t talk much about Sherlock Holmes, but we talked about movies and dreams. I remember Robert asking me what movies I wanted to make and how I wanted to work. It was super intense and I walked out of the meeting and called my manager and was, "Wow, those two are amazing. I would love to work with them." Then, they sent me over to London to meet with Guy Ritchie. We met for an hour and we talked and it, too, was very intense. I came out of that meeting and I was, "Whoa. I would love to work with these people." But I didn`t expect anything and like a week or two weeks later, I heard they wanted me to do this role. We started shooting three weeks later, so I jumped into it.

It was intense and so much fun. I was really nervous before. It was my first English-speaking movie. I didn`t speak English three years ago. I didn`t really know how to deal with it and how it would be for me, but the way Guy works is very easy. They were all very open and it was playful and creative. So it felt like he embraced my ideas. It felt like we created this character together.  I was surprised at the way they opened their family to me and I became like one of the boys. I don`t remember a single situation where Guy said, "I want you to do this exactly." He always said, "How do you want to do this? How do you see this?" That is pretty much the way I like to work.


This is a great start to your Hollywood career. Now you have Prometheus. How is the experience? Is it a dream come true?

I think I am spoiled now. This is the first American movie I did. I didn`t know what to expect before, but the way we worked together was just amazing and the journey we went on together felt like " we were in London all the time, I kind of forgot that. It felt like we were in different place, but it felt like we went through things together and it felt like you (Robert) and me and Jude became closer and closer in this group. It was really fantastic. I have heard you are waiting around and you sit in your trailer and then you go in and you do something and then you go back to your trailer and wait, but I don`t remember waiting at all. So I was extremely happy. Then I went, amazingly enough, straight into Ridley`s. I started to prep Prometheus straight after. I was in that movie for five or six months. It was a really intense year. I am really grateful for those people who believe in me.

What was the most emotionally or physically difficult scene you had to do?

I like doing fight scenes and more physical scenes. I always enjoy that and I try to do as much as they allow me to do of the stunt stuff and the more complicated things. And so, I think, that`s always quite easy. You just have to kind of crack on and do it. And, of course, you`re bruised and your body is aching and you hurt yourself a lot sometimes. But that`s kind of a part of it. And I`ve done fight scenes and stuff like that before. And I always find it quite amusing.

So, I think that it`s always the emotional scenes " when I lose, you know, a person that I really love and that I feel kind of guilty for letting down. That was quite complicated, because it`s like you need to really get into that situation. And there were a lot of people around me. It was a room full of people and everybody was kind of watching. And you feel like, in a way, you just want to hide and do it really private but, of course, you need to do what`s real in the situation.

So I think it`s always the emotional situations that are more tricky to nail and to get into because I don`t want to pretend. I don`t like to pretend. I try to use things in me and translate them into the situation and the character. So it always needs to run through my own veins in a way.

Don`t miss Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows when it opens in theaters on Friday, Dec. 16.

Follow Paulette Cohn at or on  twitter: