The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Cast
: David Fincher Director
: Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara, Christopher Plummer Genre
: Crime, Drama, MysteryRated
: MA 15+Running Time
: 158 minutesSynopsis
: In The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Academy Award®-nominated director David Fincher (The Social Network) uncoils the world of Stieg Larsson's global blockbuster thriller on the screen.
Within the story's labyrinth lie murder, corruption, family secrets and the inner demons of the two unexpected partners chasing the truth of a 40-year-old mystery. Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) is a financial reporter determined to restore his honor after being convicted of libel. Engaged by one of Sweden's wealthiest industrialists, Henrik Vanger (Academy Award® nominee Christopher Plummer), to get to the bottom of the long-ago disappearance of his beloved niece, Harriet - murdered, Vanger believes, by a member of his large family - the journalist heads to a remote island on the frozen Swedish coast, unaware of what awaits him.
At the same time, Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara), an unusual but ingenious investigator with Milton Security, is hired to do a background check on Blomkvist, a job that ultimately leads to her joining Mikael in his investigation of who killed Harriet Vanger. Though Lisbeth shields herself from a world that has repeatedly betrayed her, her hacking skills and single-minded focus become invaluable. While Mikael goes face-to-face with the tight-lipped Vangers, Lisbeth plies the wired shadows. They begin to trace a chain of homicides from the past into the present, forging a fragile strand of trust even as they are pulled into the most savage currents of modern crime. Release Date
: January 12, 2012About the Production
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo kicks off the screen adaptation of Stieg Larsson's blockbuster Millennium Trilogy, the epic series of thrillers that have sold 65,000,000 copies in 46 countries. First published in 2005, shortly after Larsson's own death, the first novel in the series, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo introduced readers to financial journalist Mikael Blomkvist and avenging hacker Lisbeth Salander.
With Lisbeth Salander, Stieg Larsson forged a heroine unlike any who had come before in the wide-ranging world of crime thrillers - a punk prodigy whose appearance warns people to stay away, who doesn't interact "normally" with others, yet whose personal link to those who have been violated lures her into helping Mikael Blomkvist solve the disappearance of Harriet Vanger. Her pursuit of retribution and her tenuous partnership with Mikael Blomkvist would become the core of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and the two books that followed - The Girl Who Played With Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest.
Director David Fincher and screenwriter Steven Zaillian aimed at staying true to Stieg Larsson's unflinching focus on the corporate, societal and personal corrosion Mikael Blomkvist and Lisbeth Saladner confront as they descend deeper into the question of Harriet Vanger's vanishing. Steven Zaillian took his inspiration directly from Stieg Larsson's words. "The script was cut whole cloth from the novel," says David Fincher. Faced with the necessity of compacting the first book's intricate plot, they also honed in on what has made the Millennium novels so alluring to people around the world. "The thing we were interested in most were these two characters, Mikael Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salander, who powered the books to be the cultural phenomenon they are," David Fincher says. "There was a lot of juice there, a lot of friction and a lot of dramatic possibility."
Adds Steve Zaillian: "Lisbeth Saladner is a great, unusual character, but I think it if the books were only about her, they wouldn't work as well as they do. It's the way her story and Mikael Blomkvist's come together, and what they each are going through, that makes the books so resonant."
David Fincher and Steven Zaillian had no interest in withholding any grit from the book's scenes of brutality and revenge. "We were committed to the tack that this is a movie about violence against women, about specific kinds of degradation, and you can't shy away from that," David Fincher says. "But at the same time you have to walk a razor thin line so that the audience can viscerally feel the need for revenge but also see the power of the ideas being expressed."
This is precisely what Stieg Larsson had achieved with the novels, drawing readers into themes of corrupted power, misogyny, intolerance, fanaticism, globalisation, social welfare, justice and judgment through the twists and turns of Mikael Blomkvist and Lisbeth Saladner's renegade investigation. Says Rooney Mara, who won the role of Lisbeth Salander: "I think people are more intrigued by the under-workings of society than they're willing to admit. They're interested in the dark secrets people and societies hold. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo has that component combined with these two outsider characters people really, really love." Avengers and Avenged: Cast and Characters
Much like author Stieg Larsson was before his death, the character of Mikael Blomkvist
is an investigative journalist dedicated to rooting out corruption in finance and government. As co-owner of the upscale magazine, Millennium, he is hardly an activist, but he has been known to go too far - getting into legal, and even mortal, peril due to his merciless investigations of the powerful and wealthy. To play Mikael Blomkvist, David Fincher chose Daniel Craig, the British actor whose balance of depth and charm won him the role of James Bond in Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace.
"It's really Mikael Blomkvist's movie, because he's the way in," says David Fincher. "He's the more conventional character and Lisbeth Salander is the satellite who orbits him. We needed someone like Daniel Craig, someone who not only has tremendous movie appeal but God-given acting chops. He is so good, you can mine his nuances."
Like many people, Daniel Craig had read The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo shortly after its publication, in the midst of the initial craze. "Someone gave me a copy of it on holiday and I read it in two days," he recalls. "It's one of those books you just don't put down. There's just this immediate feeling that bad things are going to happen and I think that's part of why they've been so readable for people."
Even then, he found himself inexorably drawn to Lisbeth Salander. "I think what is interesting about her is that even though she is a victim of sexual violence, she never psychologically becomes a victim," Daniel Craig observes. "Her strength and the way she can take a knock, get up and carry on is something I think people really hook into."
The book simmered in his consciousness, but it was the creative team who came together to bring it to the screen that made the role of Mikael Blomkvist a done deal for Daniel Craig. "It was already a good story, but the combination of David Fincher as director and Steven Zaillian's script made it incredibly exciting for me," he says. "I had confidence in the material, and confidence in their visual ideas."
From the start, he also had an affinity for Mikael Blomkvist. "I like his attitude, I like his politics, I like the way he's all mixed up but in interesting ways," Daniel Craig comments. "He's fighting the good fight, trying to uncover corruption and to be an influential journalist, if that's still possible."
Steven Zaillian was impressed with the way Daniel Craig slipped into the role. "Mikael Blomkvist is a guy who's not quite as tough as he'd like to be, but who is a really good, decent guy. Daniel Craig was great playing that," he observes. "His role is every bit as complicated as Lisbeth Salander's."
Daniel Craig made the decision early on not to adopt any extreme accent for the role, but to keep Mikael Blomkvist's manner of speaking more natural, as befits the cosmopolitan culture of Stockholm. "I went for something very plain," he explains. "David Fincher and I talked about it and we both didn't want an accent to get in the way of the character. Really, many Swedes speak incredibly good English, both with and without accents. I just felt that was the way to go. Mikael Blomkvist is well traveled, he's been all over the world, he's been listening to the BBC since he was six and I think this is the person he is."
After having wanted to do so for a long time, working with David Fincher was exhilarating for Daniel Craig - despite the challenges. "David Fincher is known for doing a lot of takes and we did our fair share, but that never bothered me," Daniel Craig says. "We can do takes all day long as far as I'm concerned if something good is coming out if it, as long as we are still creating every time we do. David Fincher is also very specific and - what's the nicest way to say it? - particular. But once you see the way he builds a scene brick by brick, it's an easy process to relax into. You give yourself over to it, knowing he's got his eye on all the important details."
Daniel Craig notes he was in the best shape of his life when he was cast, which was not quite right for a journalist who spends much of his time hovering over a desk or interviewing sources. "David Fincher told me to get fatter, and it was a struggle, but I managed," he laughs.
Physical challenges did come, especially in the climactic scenes of the film, but Daniel Craig notes that even in those scenes, his focus was more inward. "Those final scenes are at a high level of emotion for Mikael Blomkvist," he summarises.
As soon as production was in motion for The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, the search was on for Lisbeth Salander
. The danger was that everyone who had read the book had already formed a personal picture of her in their minds. Michiko Kakutani of The New York Times described Lisbeth Salander thus in her review:
"Lisbeth Salander, Stieg Larsson's fierce pixie of a heroine, is one of the most original characters to come along in a while: a gamin, Audrey Hepburn look-alike with tattoos and piercings, the take-no-prisoners attitude of Lara Croft and the cool, unsentimental intellect of Mr. Spock. She is the vulnerable victim turned vigilante; a willfully antisocial girl, once labeled mentally incompetent by the state's social services, who has proved herself as incandescently proficient as any video game warrior."
In adapting the character, Steven Zaillian aimed to capture all those contrasting shades of Lisbeth Salander's persona, one that is heavily armored, yet vulnerable if any one dares to get that close. "She's the kind of character who is the most fun to write," Steve Zaillian says. "There's a kind of wish fulfillment to her in the way that she takes care of things, the way she will only put up with so much, but there are other sides to her as well. A big part of the power of the movie is Lisbeth Salander."
David Fincher now wanted to find all that in an actress, but more than anything he wanted someone who would be willing to walk to the edge of an already risky character and take a leap. That's what he found in Rooney Mara, but it wasn't straightforward.
The filmmakers conducted an exhaustive search for the role of Lisbeth Salander. That lengthy roster included Rooney Mara, who had a small but memorable role in David Fincher's The Social Network as Mark Zuckerberg's girlfriend, Erica Albright. David Fincher put her through a seemingly unending series of intensive auditions - in which he asked her to do everything from recite Swedish poetry to pose with motorcycles - to prove what she could do in the role.
"What endeared me to her during the audition process was exactly what I wanted from Lisbeth Salander: she doesn't quit. I wanted that person who was indomitable," he says. "By the end of our casting process, I knew this was someone worth falling on the grenade for."
He continues: "She started with so much of what we were looking for, what we needed. She's a bit of a fringe-dweller in her real life. But more than that she was willing to do the work to understand this character. I said, 'I don't know if she can do it, but I know she will try like hell if we can just inspire her and support her and then cut her loose.' And that's what happened. She chopped her hair off, she learned to ride a motorcycle, she went to Sweden on her own and disappeared off the grid. And if you have someone willing to do all that, that's everything. Piercings are piercings, but anyone could pull that part off."
For Rooney Mara, the chain of auditions kept her on edge, helping to fuel the character even more. "I was ready and willing to do and show them anything to get the part," she states. "But as it got closer, I was like, 'What else do I have to show you guys? I've shown you everything. I need to either move on with my life, or let's do this. I'm ready to just throw down, but make up your minds.'"
The months of performing and waiting culminated in an ultimatum. "David Fincher brought me into his office and started rambling about the part, going on and on about all the reasons someone shouldn't want it - how it might change my life, and not necessarily for the better. Then he hands me his iPad and it has a press release on it saying I've been cast in the part. He told me that they planned to send it out that day and I had a half an hour to decide if I wanted them to or not."
Rooney Mara didn't hesitate. The character was already under her skin. "There's never been a female character like Lisbeth, this sort of tiny, androgynous person who has so many different facets to her," she says. "You're so with her - and yet, at the same time, you question her because she's not someone who always does things you agree with. To me, that was really interesting."
She adds: "I think a lot of people relate to her, even if she is also strange to them, because most people at some point have felt like an outsider or like they are being held back by the powers that be."
As soon as she accepted the role, Rooney Mara was in the gauntlet. "An hour after I told David Fincher yes, I was disassembling a computer, getting on a motorcycle and starting skateboard lessons. And literally five days later, I was in Stockholm," she recalls. "There wasn't really time to think about what it meant that I got the part, or how I felt about it. I just literally went into laser-focus mode."
But she definitely wasn't scared away by David Fincher's warnings. "He told me, 'You're going to have to go to Sweden and be alone and experience this girl's life.' He told me, 'The movie is going to consume you. You'll have to say goodbye for a time to your family and friends.' But he didn't really know me yet, then," she explains. "He didn't know that I'm actually a loner and that what he wanted didn't scare me. It might have scared someone else, but not me."
Eventually, she also radically transformed her entire appearance, cutting her long hair, undertaking numerous body piercings, and bleaching her eyebrows, which she says was the most shocking. Not only was it a hauntingly transgressive look, but also it opened up Lisbeth's face, allowing the character's mix of unsentimental intelligence and buried rage room to play out.
"Right before we did the bleaching, I was really together, I was ready for it, I was excited," Rooney Mara recalls. "Then I looked in the mirror and I really freaked out. But I think the bleaching was one of the best things we did for the look of the character. It really put our own stamp on it."
Another part of Rooney Mara's stamp on Lisbeth was finding just the right way to reveal all her self-imposed emotional blockades. "David Fincher and I talked about the idea that there is no open wound with Lisbeth. She's all scar tissue. She doesn't cry, she rarely allows herself to really feel, but beneath the scars, the audience has to know the wounds are there," she describes.
The more Rooney Mara got into Lisbeth's locked-off inner world, the more she began to understand why Stieg Larsson considered the legendary storybook heroine Pippi Longstocking an influence on the character. "Lisbeth is like what Pippi Longstocking would be 25 years later. She's traded in the horse for a motorcycle. She has a computer now, but she still has her own moral code, taking things from the bad guys," she observes.
The full complexity of Lisbeth comes to the fore in some of the story's most unsettling scenes - a bookend pair of violent assaults in the office of Lisbeth's legal guardian, Nils Bjurman. The scenes were intensely challenging - both physically and psychologically - but also key to understanding Lisbeth's impetus to help Mikael Blomkvist ferret out a murderer of women. "The scenes with Nils Bjurman tell you the most about Lisbeth," says Rooney Mara. "The abuse drives her, and the rest of the story to follow, in so many ways. Those were the scenes I was always thinking about."
When they played out on the set, the emotional stakes were palpable. "I always knew those scenes would be hard, but they were even harder than I thought they would be," she recalls.
To keep the intensity high, Rooney Mara avoided the actor who plays Nils Bjurman, Yorick van Wageningen. "Yorick van Wageningen is like the sweetest guy ever, but I stayed away from him because I didn't want to be thinking about how sweet he is," she comments. "It was better for us not to talk too much, but to just go into the room and see how things unraveled."
Things do unravel for Lisbeth but they also come together as she grows closer to Mikael Blomkvist. It's not the sexual attraction that surprises her - it's an unexplored instinct to trust. "Lisbeth spends a lot of the movie pushing people away. She's constantly trying to suppress and push away. She doesn't have relationships where she connects with people," Rooney Mara observes. "But with Mikael Blomkvist, she begins to think maybe this is finally someone that I can believe in, but then she also is given good reasons to wonder if she is stupid to trust anyone."
In the end, Rooney Mara says the experience of playing Lisbeth was everything she fought for in those months of trying to nab the role. "It's the kind of part that comes around once in a lifetime," she concludes. "But apart from that, the thing I'm most excited to take from the experience is that I feel more capable. I've learned so much and done so many things I never thought I could do."
She concludes: "That's my favorite thing about David Fincher, that he challenges everyone. That's why his movies are so great. Because they challenge you and make you think about things you wouldn't have - and I think people like to be challenged." Supporting Cast
Joining Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is an accomplished cast including Christopher Plummer as Henrik Vanger, the retired tycoon who launches the investigation into his family's hidden past; Steven Berkoff as Dirch Frode, Vanger's lawyer, who first commissions Lisbeth Salander to spy on Mikael Blomkvist; Robin Wright as Blomkvist's partner in Millennium Magazine and sometime lover Erika Berger; Stellan Skarsgård as Martin Vanger, Harriet's brother; Yorick van Wageningen as Nils Bjurman, Lisbeth's new legal guardian; Joely Richardson as Anita Vanger, who knew the missing Harriet best of all; and Geraldine James as the tight-lipped Cecilia Vanger.
At the center of the Vanger family's power is Martin Vanger, now CEO of the troubled family enterprise, who welcomes Mikael Blomkvist to the family estate on Hedeby Island to investigate Harriet's disappearance. Playing Martin is Stellan Skarsgård, the Swedish actor known for his international film roles. "I'm interested in human beings who are very complex and complicated and that is true of Martin," he says. "He can be extremely charming but he also can seem to be a completely different person at different points in the film."
Like the rest of the cast, Stellan Skarsgård trusted in David Fincher's sensibilities. "David Fincher is particular about every single detail," he comments. "He's very technically skilled but he also has this idea that, no matter what the genre is, what carries any film is character, and so within all the technically brilliant things he does, he cares most about character - and that leads to very good performances."
Another Vanger family member who plays a key role in the investigation is Anita Vanger, portrayed by Joely Richardson. Like other cast members, she was compelled by David Fincher's approach, especially to her tricky character. "He kept saying 'darker, edgier, nothing sugar-coated, nothing resolved or healed,'" she says. "Even if you were starting to move towards the direction of resolved or healed, he still wanted it edgy and dark. There are no straightforward emotions in the world of this film."
The character who pushes Lisbeth Salander over the edge is Bjurman, her newly assigned legal guardian who, after studying her grim record of foster homes, arrests, addictions and psychiatric confinements, believes he can control her. He commandeers her bank account. He requires sexual favors. When she can no longer abide by his abuse, she determines she will take him down, and forever mark him as a sociopath in the process.
Playing Bjurman is Dutch actor Yorick van Wageningen. David Fincher picked him for a very specific reason. "I felt the character shouldn't be villainous, he needed to be worse than that," says the director. "He needed to be someone who isn't so much a rapist as a man who sees a girl who is spiky and sullen and doesn't make eye contact, and decides she's worthless. It becomes like quicksand for his own need to dominate someone. I didn't want a mustache-twirling pervert at all. So when I saw Yorick van Wageningen, I saw someone who was a full-fledged human being and also a brilliant actor who could give him all of these things. He was able to bring his performance from a logical place in Bjurman's mind and find the seething morass of darkness inside that."
For Yorick van Wageningen, that complexity was the main reason he agreed to take on the graphic role. "This character goes through a lot and I wasn't quite sure I wanted to go through all that," Yorick van Wageningen admits. "I started out half way between the elation of getting to work with David Fincher and the dread of this character, but I was able to use both of those things. We both thought the most interesting route would be for Bjurman to seem half affable. The challenge was not in finding the freak violence in the guy but finding the humanity of him."
Still, it was never anything resembling easy. "I often spent a good 15 minutes crying in my trailer between takes," remembers Yorick van Wageningen. "I think a scene like the rape scene with Lisbeth only works if it becomes real for both parties. So the emotions had to be real in that scene, the thrusts had to be real. It was quite horrendous for me and then the big final scene between them . . . I don't think I've yet recovered from that. It took me to a place that people don't normally go and that no one is keen to go to."
Yorick Van Wageningen and Rooney Mara agreed to have no contact outside of their scenes. "It was a daring thing to do when you have big scenes together, because the tendency is to want to talk your scenes to bits," he says. "But I think we both already understood what David Fincher wanted, and we knew what we wanted from our characters, and then we just let everything go in the scene. I think that gives it that reality you can feel."
It was David Fincher's way of working with the cast that allowed that to happen, says Yorick van Wageningen. "David Fincher creates a space where you can dare to do that one thing you've never tried before in a take," he summarises. The Setting
From the beginning, David Fincher and Steven Zaillian made the decision to maintain Stieg Larsson's Swedish setting for The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, and not presume to drop the story wholesale into America. "There was no way to transpose it," David Fincher comments. "You couldn't make this movie in Seattle, or even in Montreal. It had to take place in Sweden because the story's roots are wholly Swedish."
Indeed, Stieg Larsson had invited international readers into a Sweden most had never encountered. While elements of Sweden's social democracy, rustic landscape and cultural emphasis on functionality were very much in evidence, the Millennium trilogy also readily exposed the often-unseen cracks in the nation's polished veneer.
To capture Stieg Larsson's interplay of light and noir against the Swedish landscape, David Fincher worked closely with an artistic crew that includes Oscar®-nominated cinematographer Jeff Cronenweth (The Social Network) and Oscar®-winning production designer Donald Graham Burt (The Social Network, The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button).
The cast also immersed themselves in Swedish life. "Being in Sweden was more helpful to me in many ways than any of the training I did, " says Rooney Mara, "because you can't really understand Stieg Larsson or Lisbeth until you've gotten to know the Swedish people and felt the energy of Stockholm as a city."
From the icy Norrland coast to the modernist minimalism of Stockholm, the Swedish environment was a constant inspiration to Jeff Cronenweth, ASC, who worked with the digital RED One camera (which he also used on The Social Network) as well the newest RED camera, the Epic, taking full advantage of their versatility and resolution. The decision was made early on that the look of the film should have a roughness around its atmospheric edges that mirrors Stieg Larsson's tone in the books.
"The idea was to use unorthodox light sources and keep it all very real," Jeff Cronenweth explains. "So there may be shadows, there may be flaws, but it's reality. You allow silhouettes and darkness, but at the same time we also wanted shots to counter that, so it would not all be one continuous dramatic image."
Shooting exteriors on location, Jeff Cronenweth worked in synch with the mercurial shifts of the Swedish seasons to enhance the film's moods. "The Swedish weather was a huge part of this movie," he comments. "It's always an element in the background and it was very important that you feel it as an audience member. The winter becomes like a silent character in the film giving everything a low, cool-colored light that is super soft and non-direct."
Jeff Cronenweth was impressed with how the Epic camera handled the austere conditions. "It was really interesting shooting all these black trees against white snowfields with shiny cars driving through under falling snowflakes - elements that are hard for any camera to capture, let alone a digital camera," he says. "David Fincher and I were both really, really happy with the images."
By now, Jeff Cronenweth has developed more than a shorthand with David Fincher; they share many visual instincts. "I like to think we see eye-to-eye on aesthetic choices," the cinematographer says. "We've had such a long, long relationship that I feel like I can get as close to the way David Fincher sees things as anyone can. David Fincher is really amazing at conceptualising all kinds of emotional shots."
Jeff Cronenweth says many of those shots involved Rooney Mara's face in situations ranging from terrifying to tender. "Her skin as Salander is so fair that light bounces off it magically," he muses. "So we were able to use really low light situations and she always comes out looking phenomenal."
A favorite sequence for Jeff Cronenweth is when Lisbeth chases a computer thief through the frenetic Stockholm subway. "David Fincher staged that scene on these long escalators in an actual Swedish subway station," he explains. "You see Lisbeth provoked into an almost animal persona and the trick was to capture the energy of that. It was one of the situations where we utilised the Epic cameras the most because you can make them so small. Sometimes we balanced them on a baseball as a tripod. We also created rigs that the escalator railings could pass through. The idea was to really get in there and be participants in this battle. We shot it so things suddenly come into view and other things are obscured and the tension builds because the audience can't see everything. Whether it's a fight scene, rape scene or love-making scene, that's something David Fincher does very well."
Adding further layers to the film's imagery is the work of production designer Donald Graham Burt, who also has a long history with David Fincher, garnering an Oscar® for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (along with set decorator Victor J. Zolfo). On The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Burt was drawn by the chance to completely immerse himself in a culture with which he was largely unfamiliar.
"I thought it would be a really interesting challenge to make the first major Hollywood movie inside Sweden," he says. "It's a culture that really hasn't been tapped into and it was something new and different that intrigued me."
He set out on a month-long trek across Sweden, not so much to scout locations as to soak in the atmosphere. "It takes time to start really taking in the nuances of a culture, to start seeing the themes that recur in the architecture, the landscape, the layouts of the cities and the habits of the people," he observes. "I felt I had to really integrate myself into this world to develop a true sense of place for the film. It was not just about understanding the physicality of the locations, but the metaphysics of them, and how the way people live comes out through design."
Later, David Fincher joined Burt in Sweden, and the two began to talk about the film's overall design structure. "The approach was to keep everything very true to Swedish reality, but without being picture postcard, without going to the typical places. We wanted to use locations that are in the margins, more offbeat, more unknown," Donald Graham Burt describes.
While Donald Graham Burt built some sets on location in Sweden, working with local Swedish crews, the majority of stage work was done in the U.S. to afford Donald Graham Burt and his team more creative flexibility. These sets included two of the story's most essential locales: Mikael Blomkvist and Salander's diametrically opposed apartments. "Salander's apartment is mostly about her computer and her hacking and everything else is sort of secondary," Burt notes. "When she is on her computer, she's completely absorbed and it's her whole world, so there is a sense that all the other objects in her life are somewhat neglected or ignored. She also lives in a large, anonymous apartment building that is very basic which adds to the sense that she is a loner, that she is hidden. Mikael Blomkvist's apartment, on the other hand is more stylish and outward. He works for an upscale magazine, and yet he is an investigator and there's still a bit of an outsider quality to him."
One of Donald Graham Burt's most fascinating challenges was creating the Vanger estate, shot in a mansion located southwest of Stockholm that the team turned into a family enclave rife with secrets. According to Donald Graham Burt, the estate is considered to be in a typical style of a "manor from Småland" - based upon 18th Century French architecture. "We wanted something that would be very austere, very organised, very formal and very Old Money," he sums up. "The Swedish are very good at the modern and the minimal but they also have these wonderful country homes that can be juxtaposed against the modern city - yet both speak to money."
Contrasting to the sprawling country manor is the banality of Bjurman's office. "We situated his office a Mid-Century building where everything is very clean and rectilinear," says Donald Graham Burt. "There's nothing high end about it. It's very simple, in contrast to what goes on inside it."
In all of his design work, Donald Graham Burt aimed squarely at reflecting Larsson's Swedishness, as well as his fascination with the treachery running underneath everyday life. "Everything we did was inherent to Swedish culture, right down to the pitchers of Lingonberry juice you find in every kitchen," Donald Graham Burt says. "There is an aesthetic that goes through every level of Swedish society, from the wealthy to the poorest margins, that is about simplicity, about functionality, about stewardship of what you have. The only thing we avoided was the pink and orange palette of older Swedish architecture that you see in the more historic districts, because this story demands darker, muted tones." The Costumes, Hair and Makeup
The task of dressing Stieg Larsson's wide-ranging characters, who run the gamut of Swedish society, fell to costume designer Trish Summerville. Summerville joined with hair stylist Danilo and makeup artist Pat McGrath to forge the elements of Lisbeth Salander's intentionally off-putting style, replete with chopped hair, dark makeup, studded eyebrows and cloaked outfits consisting of hoods, leather armoring and shredded denim.
The key to it all was allowing Lisbeth to be transgressive but also real - someone who might stand out in the corporate security world in which she works, but could also easily disappear at the margins of society. "We didn't want to make her flashy and loud, but really, really authentic," states Trish Summerville. "We didn't want her to look like she's in a punk or Goth band, but to make her look really cool in a way that is kind of worn-in and used. We saw Lisbeth as someone who can just fade into the shadows if she chooses to do so."
Her wardrobe of dark hues includes moto jackets, combat boots, high-tops, pronged belts, leather bracelets, thick "spacer" earrings, and t-shirts with provocative declarations (often in Swedish) - with every item washed, sanded, bleached and abraded to give them the essence of heavy use. "And then there are the hoodies," notes Summerville of one of Lisbeth's most metaphorically rich fashion choices. "She always has a hoodie and she also wears this over-sized snood - which David called the 'Jedi Knight' - when she's hacking."
For the initial design of Lisbeth's hair, Trish Summerville brought in her friend Danilo, who has worked with such artists as Lady Gaga and Gwen Stefani, because she thought he had the right aesthetic. "He's an authentic punk from back in the day who has lived all over the world, so I was like, 'If this guy can't get it, no one's gonna get it.'"
David Fincher wanted Lisbeth's hair not only to be expressive but fluid and changing. "David Fincher's big thing was that this story takes place over a year, so it can't be the same hair style the whole time," Trish Summerville explains. "Danilo gave Rooney Mara, who then had hair to the middle of her back, an extreme cut. It has micro-bangs, the underneath is shaved, the back is chopped off and there are long pieces in the front - but there are so many ways to wear it. You can pin it up, let it down or Mohawk it out."
It was also Danilo who bleached Rooney Mara's eyebrows. Trish Summerville recalls watching the metamorphosis. "It just made her face so amazing and changed her look completely," she says. "Rooney Mara was so affected that she asked if she could have a few minutes alone. Then we went over to a tattoo-and-piercing salon and she got her eyebrow pierced that same day. It was like this instant transformation, and in one day, she suddenly emerged into the character of Lisbeth."
Trish Summerville worked with David Fincher on the design and specific bodily locations of each of Lisbeth's tattoos, including the definitive image of the story's title, which adorns Salander's shoulder. "The dragon was definitely the hardest," she comments.
On the set, the scene-to-scene shifts of Rooney Mara's hair, makeup and tattoos were overseen by hair & makeup designer Torsten Witte, a long-time collaborator with Trish Summerville, who had earlier worked with David Fincher during the screen tests to find the film's Salander. "Even then I knew that David Fincher had Rooney Mara in mind," he recalls. "For me, she was the perfect palette to paint on."
She also endured a lot in Witte's chair. "I would often feel so bad meeting Rooney Mara at 4:30 in the morning to cut, shave, bleach and tattoo her," he says. "There was a huge amount of maintenance involved for each of her looks. David Fincher and Trish Summerville were very specific about what they wanted to see in each scene. In general, David Fincher wanted there to be a back and forth between Lisbeth being attractive and pushing people away - so that you think, 'Oh, she looks interesting' but at the same time you wonder, 'What is that?' But the look was never static. If Lisbeth had been up for 36 hours on the computer, smoking cigarettes and not eating, she'd have bags under her eyes and her hair was a mess. Her look could change from very strong to more innocent and simple, depending on the situation."
Her haircut helped create that flexibility. "The dark, chopped hair really made a great frame for this pale, fragile face that never sees sunlight," Witte observes. "We could do a lot with it. I loved the braided look, a Mohawk looked really strong on Rooney Mara and I also loved it just simply slicked back or in a beanie. The one bottom line was that David Fincher had to be able to see her face at all times."
For Rooney Mara's makeup design, producer Ceán Chaffin suggested bringing in British makeup artist Pat McGrath, named by Vogue magazine as the most influential makeup artist in fashion, to do a brainstorming session. "Ceán Chaffin really admired her work and so she came out to Sweden and for two days tried out a great variety of looks," recalls Trish Summerville. "She did beautiful work. And then she conceptualised the makeup for the entire film, with more than 30 different character looks. She and Danilo and the rest of the crew were a dream team. David Fincher was able to throw us any idea - crazy, crazy stuff - and get so much creativity."
Witte's day-to-day makeup for Lisbeth was based on her likely disdain for a complicated beauty routine. "Trish Summerville and I talked about ways to make her very real, and one thing we talked about is that she probably would have only have a few makeup products she uses every day, li