He’s European … he’s charming … he’s in shape … he’s 42 … he’s single … his schedule is a bit clearer … and, even better, he’s blond. The stoic, chiseled Daniel Craig, best known as a charming James Bond (the sixth), has won the role of Swedish journalist, Mikael Blomkvist, in the U.S. version of the film noir thriller, “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.”
Who else wanted this role?
The Guardian (UK) reported earlier this summer that George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Johnny Depp were in serious contention for the role of Blomkvist. By July 13, Explore Talent, advertized as the world’s largest casting resource, had already listed the movie as a David Fincher film starring Clooney.
At the same time, rumors in the U.S. swirled that Tom Cruise coveted the role.
However, it was the persevering Daniel Craig who succeeded, working the hardest with prior production contracts to accommodate a rushed schedule for the re-make of the Swedish blockbuster that begins shooting this fall. Riding the momentum of this film’s world-wide frenzied popularity, Sony has announced the film will premiere Dec. 21, 2011.
Stieg Larsson was the chain-smoking, hard-living Swedish author of a three-book series. He died in November 2004 before he could finish his planned 10-book compendium that starts with “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.” Larsson’s real life career at Expo Magazine, kind of a Swedish whistle-blower publication, paralleled the life of his fictional character, Mikael Blomkvist. His risky obsession, pursuing story leads related to corruption and supremacist beliefs of influential Swedes in high places, put him in harm’s way and compromised his anonymity.
Larsson’s books, which he frankly hoped to make enough to retire on, are infused with themes of moral degeneracy and detached inhumanity. An abused, disenfranchised, skinny, 97-pound punk-type with piercings and tattoos, Lisbeth Salander, grabs the center of the film version as Blomkvist’s brilliant hacker-chick who mesmerizes viewers with her audacious behavior and gutsy genius. Sales of Larsson’s books, now called the Millennium Trilogy named after Blomkvist’s magazine, have now eclipsed all fiction publications in the history of the publishing industry.
By last summer, all three best-selling books had been transformed into successful films made by YellowBird, a Swedish production company. With a production cost of $30 million, “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” had grossed well over $100 million world-wide before U.S. summer distribution. Also, since its release it has won awards for best director, best film and best actress in both Sweden and Europe as well as film festivals in the U.S.
Why was the Blomkvist role coveted?
What does Blomkvist bring to the table that makes him such a desirable character to play? He is not even the hero or ultimate star of the trilogy – that’s his counterpart, the searing vengeful vigilante, Lisbeth Salander, who knows how to immobilize the deserving.
Blomkvist is first of all an investigative reporter. There is little mention of his aging looks, but all the women he meets notice something about him. They offer themselves to him, a seemingly innocent, normal, unpretentious man, without any apparent effort on his part. A Walter Mitty-like daydream.
As a matter of fact, Larsson’s editor at Norstedt, Eva Gedin, has recounted that Larsson worked purposely to create Blomkvist as “a male slut” who nonchalantly acquiesced, with polite respect, to the romantic needs of the ladies, married, widowed, divorced or single, who propositioned him.
The real draw of portraying such a seemingly one-dimensional character, demanding little acting skill, is being part of a historic blockbuster. The Blomkvist character doesn’t appear complicated enough to warrant an Academy Award nomination, but with the historic success of the book and European film series, it presages a successful and lucrative run for an American production crew and cast.
On the other hand, participating in this film will also mean working with director David Fincher of “Fight Club” and “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” as well as screenplay writer Steve Zaillian who won the Academy Award for “Schindler’s List.” Depending on a lot of factors, including the remaining casting, this movie has the potential to dominate Oscar nominations.
Everyone is wondering who will play the tortured bi-sexual, Lisbeth Salander. This is the role that has the potential to catapult an unknown actress over the moat, over the wall and into the arms of immortal notoriety —or a gifted talent to the Academy Awards.
While many, especially Europeans, are mortified that U.S. film-makers are re-making so quickly a great set of films, they have voiced their choice that the leads be European. They have also made it clear that Noomi Rapace should keep the lead.
However, Rapace has announced that she “has no interest to revisit the dark alleys she had to uncover in order to play the role again” (Starplus.com). In response, a National Swedish Poll has voted Natalie Portman as their favorite replacement.
Internet reports bandied about mention that Kristen Stewart of “Twilight,” Ellen Page of “Juno,” Carey Mulligan of “An Education” and Mia Wasikowska of “Alice in Wonderland” have expressed interest to play Lisbeth Salander.
Is there any time in film history that a star has been cast in three coinciding franchises? Craig has “James Bond” (he completed two and is scheduled for another at some point), “Cowboys and Aliens” (a new Jon Favreau movie with Harrison Ford has preparations for a sequel if film does well at box office), and now a potential three-peat with the Millennium Trilogy.
Reaction to the announcement that Craig will be the new Blomkvist is positive. Rumors on how Craig celebrated this news included his request, “Just a drink, a Martini, shaken not stirred.”
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