Noomi Rapace on working with Tom Hardy, smelling right for the role and causing havoc with Meat Loaf | The Fan Carpet Ltd • The Fan Carpet: The RED Carpet for FANS • The Fan Carpet: Fansites Network • The Fan Carpet: Slate • The Fan Carpet: Theatre Spotlight • The Fan Carpet: Arena • The Fan Carpet: International

Noomi Rapace on working with Tom Hardy, smelling right for the role and causing havoc with Meat Loaf

The Drop
23 March 2015

Actress Noomi Rapace sits down to discuss THE DROP, a thrilling drama that also stars Tom Hardy and Matthias Schoenaerts. Written by Dennis Lehane, based on a short story he penned in 2009, the movie follows Bob Saginowski, a lonely bartender who one day finds a pit bull puppy in a trash can. Soon Bob will cross paths with the equally damaged Nadia (Rapace), her ex-boyfriend Eric (Schoenaerts) and a gang of hardened Chechen gangsters. There will be violence, but also the possibility of redemption for Bob.

Also starring the late James Gandolfini (in his final film performance) and John Ortiz, THE DROP is directed by Michaël R. Roskam, whose debut picture Bullhead was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

Noomi Rapace has forged a place for herself in the movie industry as a fearless and fascinating actress, unafraid to take on the most daunting of roles. After winning acclaim in Sweden, her native country, for her performance in Daisy Diamond, she gripped audiences worldwide as brilliant but headstrong hacker Lisbeth Salander in 2009’s The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and its two sequels. Since then she’s boldly expanded her range, appearing in Sherlock Holmes: Game Of Shadows, starring in a Rolling Stones music video (Doom And Gloom) and trekking into outer space for Sir Ridley Scott in sci-fi hit Prometheus.

The Drop sees her come back down to Earth, but she’s no less mesmerising. As Nadia, the woman with a painful past who makes a connection with Bob (Tom Hardy), she’s simultaneously vulnerable and tough. As we learn about Nadia’s relationship with abusive ex-boyfriend Eric (Matthias Schoenaerts), who just won’t leave her alone, the role becomes more and more complex. In a film packed with acting titans, Rapace is at the top of her game.

The 34 year-old sat down on the movie’s Brooklyn set for the following interview.



You are doing two movies back-to-back with Tom Hardy: The Drop and Child 44. Presumably you get on well?

“We were actually trying to find something to do together for two years or something. We met on another movie that neither of us ended up doing because we were trapped in other projects. So we met four times to talk about that script, got to know each other and realised we have great chemistry and energy together. I love Tom. He has something really unusual. He’s extremely intelligent – his brain works with high-speed intensity. But we have a lot of fun at the same time. It’s a great combination of being very playful and easy, and then being able to go to war too.”


How about Michaël? What convinced you that he could tell this story?

I’ve seen his debut, Bullhead, three times. It’s a great movie. It’s very emotional but never sentimental. It feels real, and that’s what I’m always looking for when I see movies. I want it to feel authentic. It’s very unusual that I lose myself, but I did on that one. I was just trapped in that world. Michaël got me to tears with that one, and I’m not a crying person. I don’t cry easily! So I said to my agent and my manager that I wanted to meet with this guy long before The Drop came along.”


What is Michaël like on set?

“He’s fantastic. Like Tom, he has a great sense of humour but can get super-serious in a heartbeat. In a very tender way he guides me and pushes me a little bit further out if needed, or asks me to hold back a little bit. I really love working with him. I went to Brussels to meet him for the first time, and we sat down and talked for about ten hours, non-stop! We can still get into that mode: we sit down for dinner to talk about scenes, and then drift away. He’s like an odd combination of a painter and a therapist. He’s very much into the psychological landscapes of the characters, but also capable of building images which look fantastic and beautiful. It feels very playful and open and creative, the whole process on this one. I love it.”


This is Dennis Lehane’s first screenplay. What drew you to the story?

“I was gripped by it from the first time I read it. It’s brave, edgy and has so much heart. It’s very rare that you read a script that you don’t feel you need to do a lot of work on. Most have too many words and everything is over-explained; you feel, ‘Can’t we leave something for the audience to figure out or fill in?’ But Dennis leaves things open, so that everybody can bring their own experiences to it. It feels like he has his own world that you step into. For me it’s a great honour to be invited into his world.”


How have you prepared to play Nadia?

“I always get quite affected and melt into the person that I’m playing. I like to hang out in their space, so in this case I decided not to leave Brooklyn. That’s Nadia’s safe place. I built this whole backstory that you never see in the movie, that she wanted to be in musicals on Broadway, but ended up as a stripper instead. She wanted to be a dancer, she didn’t succeed, she ended up in bad company and bad things happened to her. Nadia lives a lonely, very protected life now and she doesn’t want to draw attention to herself as a sexual human being. She mostly wears trainers, not high heels. In terms of research, I visited strip clubs in Manhattan. A friend of mine makes perfume, so she made me a scent to wear as the character. It’s sweet, sticky and cheap, like a stripper smells. And Matthias and I made a playlist of music to share with each other.”



How come?

“If there are characters that have a history, you need to develop a story. Matthias and I have been talking a lot to figure out what kind of relationship Eric and Nadia had. If you see two actors on-screen that don’t know each other at all, you can always sense that. It’s polite, it’s dead. So we’ve both been adding songs to our Spotify playlist. I listen to Meatloaf – I Would Do Anything For Love every morning in the make-up trailer. It’s driving them crazy! But Matthias added Celine Dion – My Heart Will Go On, which is worse. It’s so tacky!”


Did you share any music with Tom?

“No, we meet for the first time in the movie, so there was no need to do that. In the next movie we do together, Child 44, we’ve been married for eight years, so that’s a different story. I’m not sure Tom shares my taste in music, though. When I put on Meat Loaf, he goes, ‘Really?'” (Laughs)


What’s it like shooting in Brooklyn?

“The first draft I read was set in Boston. But when I met Michaël, he said, ‘I want to shoot it in Brooklyn.’ I was happy because I have a weak spot for all those old New York-y movies: Dog Day Afternoon, Serpico, all of those. And we’re not in a studio: almost everything is out in different locations and real places.”


One of the central characters is a puppy. Would you say you’re a dog person?

“Definitely. I grew up on a farm out in the countryside, far from everybody, and my best friend for many years was a dog. He was called Raven and he was always with me. I don’t have a pet at the moment, as I work so much and am travelling constantly. But it’s great doing a film with one. It’s almost like working with kids – you never know what the puppy is going to do. You have to stay open and just be ready for anything. Every take is different. I like that. It keeps you on your toes and you can’t control it. You have to be in the moment more than ever. And I also think that the dog in this film is like a trembling heart. It’s Nadia’s heart, it’s Bob’s heart, it’s Eric’s heart. The dog is a link between us. If you can open up for an animal, maybe you can build a bridge and let a person into your life again.”


What, from your point of view, is The Drop about?

“It’s a very beautiful story about daring to take a risk with your emotions. To let someone in, even though you have a smashed heart. Someone who has been beaten up really badly still finds a way to believe and to hope again. Through a dog!”

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