Source: Latino Review - December 21, 2011

Did you see the Swedish versions of "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo"?

Stellan: The first film I saw and the book I read.

What was it that you wanted to bring to this character that wasn't brought in the original?

Stellan: I don't remember in detail how much this character was in the Swedish version but I think it was a smaller role there. I think they spent more time with all of the Vangers. I didn't have any big ambitions at all, I had ambitions to work with David Fincher. I wanted to work with him with whatever he came up with. Then when I saw the script and the beautiful writing, then it started to become a role. The way he treated the five minute monologue down in the basement that we worked on and fine tuned it, then it became a very good role.

Speaking about that five minute scene, how was it with Craig and him being OK?

Stellan: Well unfortunately it wasn't my job to see that he was OK but of course I worried. When the camera rolls, I cannot worry about it but the moment they say cut then you say, oh how are you, how are you? But you have to stay in focus when they're rolling and it's very brutal. It was brutal. There were no devices to make him breath. He just couldn't breath.

Some people might think there was a hole where he can breath.

Stellan: There were a couple of times where he had problems due to the lack of oxygen.

Besides working with Fincher, what was it about the script that made you want to take the role?

Stellan: If the script was a piece of toilet paper, I still would have said yes. But Steve Zaillian (Screen writer), I've worked with him before and he is one of the best writers that there are out there. So I knew it would not be stupid, I knew it would be intelligent. I knew it would be well written with a smart dialogue. I saw all that in the first draft that I read. This combined with the filmmaking of Fincher convinced me.

Out of all the directors you have worked with, what's so special about Fincher?

Stellan: It's the skills and the tools, total control of the craft, Fincher is the best of the directors I've worked with. They also have the ability to use those tools to express themselves and use those tools to create whatever universe they wanted to. Fincher is extremely skilled and what is important to him is the soft side of it which is character. He's interested in the story and no matter how good a story he has, there is no human being in the center without work. Keeping the pace he has in this film and the power of the atmosphere he's still able to keep close to the characters.

How much input did Fincher help you for your character?

Stellan: It's very hard to say, he did a lot. You do 40 takes and I go in one direction for one take, then I suggest another then a next, then a third, so it's a collaboration. What he's very good at is reminding you what you might have forgotten or over looked about the character. He's very good at making sure he gets the kind of material that's necessary for his film. You can do a great performance but it can also not fit into the rhythm of the film.

With a character like this would it be difficult to do some sort of research?

Stellan: No I did do some research, not that I went out and killed another person but I read a lot about psychopaths. I wanted to see how they functioned and what was it that they're lacking. Obviously one of the things is that they can't feel empathy, it just doesn't exist in them but they're pretty good at faking it. They're so good at faking feelings that they're all psychiatrist. Sometimes you can't capture them or discover them which was very good for me because before they reveal who I am, I can play who I wanted.

A lot of the film was staged and shot in Sweden, does that help as an actor to have Sweden as a character in the film?

Stellan: I don't think about it that much when I'm actually playing it but when I see the film I think of it and Sweden is a strong character. It's not the tourist board version of Sweden but everything is very Swedish. All the details are Swedish, they were very particular about that. It was cool being a Swede and to see Sweden portrayed like that.

The important characters were Rooney and Craig and the whole issue of trust, would you agree with that?

Stellan: Absolutely, that's the quality of the original material. They're very unlikely heroes, a girl who a child who's also the most violent and fierce in the film but at the same time extremely vulnerable and hurt and almost autistic. Then the other hero, the male hero, whose not a hero that goes into fist fights but a very normal and intelligent man. Then the extremely unlikely combination of these two as a love couple is fascinating. They way they play it, Rooney's fantastic portrayal of Lisbeth and Daniel's fantastic portrayal of the less exuberant character and the kind of relationship those two actors have managed to create is very beautiful and that is the core of the film.

Yes, he's a journalist and she's a bit more tech savvy. Do you think that technology has changed a bit?

Stellan: Yes it has, it's definitely two generations.

Do you like to do more indie films then come out with bigger films later?

Stellan: What I do is that I constantly go back and forth with the big hollywood films and the indies. The big hollywood films have the big finance and I really feel privilege. I enjoy both worlds and I'm one of the few actors that can go back and forth. This to me is an indie film ever though it has a budget of 100 million because it's a Fincher film which means that Fincher spends all the money on screen not on gigantic trailers or private jets or lavish character. What he wants is to buy time for a 100 million. The last shots we did in September, a year after we started, he takes the time to go back and re-shoot if he's not sure about something, if he wants to change something. He will rewrite a scene that he re-shoot twice and will go back to re-shoot again until he finds something that he likes.

What was one of the best scenes for you in this film?

Stellan: Well what I like about this film is the Fincher-esq, which is the dance in the atmosphere which makes you sit tight, it's the sound track and the sound effects which are used in wonderful ways which you can never be sure what's going to happen, if you're ever safe and you're on your toes all the time.