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Girl with Dragon Tattoo Update: Script Due for Pitt to Read June 1

by Anne Thompson
May 24, 2010 6:35 AM
10 Comments
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Thompson on Hollywood

On the eve of the stateside publication of the third installment in the Millenium Trilogy, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, which goes on sale Tuesday, this exhaustive Sunday NY Times feature on the late author Stieg Larsson promised new news about the fourth and fifth novels on his laptop--still possessed by his surviving partner, Eva Gabrielsson, who he never married--but it's mostly a compendium of everything we already knew. Charles McGrath does talk to the estranged Gabrielsson, who hints at a strong role in editing Larsson's manuscripts, as well as Larsson's father and brother, who inherited his estate and are estranged from Gabrielsson. One thinks they'll make up, the other doesn't.

The Swedish The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (with a Tomatometer rating of 85 %) grossed $90 million overseas and almost $6 million domestically, which qualifies as a foreign-language hit. I'm invited to see the second installment, The Girl Who Played with Fire (this time directed by Daniel Alfredson), which Music Box will open in NY and Chicago on July 2 and July 9 in Los Angeles. It's by far the best of the three books (which have sold an estimated 40 million copies worldwide over four years), because it centers on Lisbeth Salander, who is played in the three films by Naomi Rapace, who does not want to reprise the role in the Hollywood remake. The NYT traces her bloodlines to another Scandinavian heroine: Pippi Longstocking.

Thompson on Hollywood

I harbor hopes that Sony's new Girl with the Dragon Tattoo movie, produced by Scott Rudin and directed by David Fincher, will be an improvement on the Swedish version. Screenwriter Steve Zaillian has set the story in Sweden with a focus on tough, bisexual hacker/sleuth Salander; he's due to hand in his latest draft on June 1, at which point Brad Pitt will get a crack at deciding whether he wants to star. Will he have to play it with a Swedish accent? He's so American. He's the right age and could handle the sexy womanizing role of muckraking journalist Mikael Blomkvist. But I still think the casting should be European playing Scandinavian. There are great parts for the likes of Jared Harris, Ben Kingsley, Liam Neeson, Max Von Sydow, Stellan Skarsgard, and my current fave Mads Mikkelson.

But Salander is key. And Brit Carey Mulligan is better casting than any American girl would be.

Rudin tells McGrath that Sony owns the rights to the first three books, not to anything else. But a new contract could free the characters to exist free from Larsson's writing, James Bond-style.


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10 Comments

  • Brit-Kam | May 26, 2010 10:05 AMReply

    Setting it in Sweden is the biggest mistake they are making.It makes the whole project so redundant.If it was set in The Pacific North West and Canada it would be worth the second adaptation.

    Fincher's biggest problem isn't making a good film (I'm sure he's capable with this source material) it's picking a Rapace-Challanging-Salander. Noomi Rapace pulled off one of the best female performances of the last decade. I can hardly imagine another actress attempting the character in English.

    Why is Carey Mulligan ideal? Her Jenny character showed none of the range needed for Salander. She's a good period drama actress but there's nothing which suggests she can play hard-edged.

    My heart's set on a Hard Candy-esque Ellen Page. She was terrifying in that role. However, I have just started to watch In Treatment and Mia Wasikowska is SUPERB. She is going to be a fantastic star! Page fits the description and has proven her range time and time again. From Juno to Hard Candy to The Tracey Fragments to X Men!!!

  • Norm Gregory | May 26, 2010 8:21 AMReply

    If Brad is in . . . why not Angelina Jolie as Lisabeth. Sure you'd have make the character older but she has the chops to play the toughness. And for sure it would make the American version a huge BO hit.

    By the way, let's not assume the U.S. version of "The Girl With A Dragon Tattoo" will be a scene by scene redo of the Swedish film. The book has many different plot lines, and characters, that were not in the original movie.

  • Mark | May 25, 2010 8:41 AMReply

    Anne is right, Carey Mulligan is by far the best candidate for the role.

  • Robert | May 25, 2010 6:18 AMReply

    Carey mulligan = worst choice

  • Melody Morgan | May 25, 2010 4:52 AMReply

    Mads Mikkelson would be incredible in the role!!! Brad Pitt is such a boring choice...

  • Joe Valdez | May 25, 2010 4:28 AMReply

    I can see that you didn't think much of the Swedish version, Anne, but this remake is Point Of No Return for me. It'll be serviceable and make somebody some money, but it's pointless. Anyone who loves the books already has three movies with Swedish actors speaking the language the books were written in. David Fincher for one is too talented to follow the routine of some other director; he compels other directors to follow him.

  • rgm | May 25, 2010 1:11 AMReply

    Are you are assuming that the cast would need to fake Swedish accents to make a US version tenable -- since it's to be set in Sweden??? Why populate Sweden with a cast of fake Swedes speaking English with heavy Swedish accents?? Although, I admit that Sweden cast with mongrel US/UK accents risks more disbelief, if not ridicule. Let's proceed like the Opera and coach our actors to perform genuine Swedish dialogue. Singers have to do it all the time. Take that Brad Pit. And since we are back into Swedish-- why not let the Swedes rather good movie remain the standard??

  • Anne Thompson | May 24, 2010 12:03 PMReply

    It would have to be an American actress who could truly inhabit the character of Swedish hacker Lisbeth Salander. Someone like Meryl Streep can do any accent effortlessly, can put on the skin of character like a chameleon. It would have to be someone like that. Sometimes movie stars get in the way. Sure, Gwenyth Paltrow and Renee Zellweger were able to go Brit. Did a great job. These days actresses like Kristen Stewart and Natalie Portman --capable, talented and beautiful--carry so much star baggage, it's almost a liability. An unknown would be ideal.

  • rgm | May 24, 2010 10:47 AMReply

    At one time, and not that long ago, we all flocked to Ingmar Bergman movies without anyone (except perhaps Woody Allen) panting to do US remakes. Even small towns had "art" theaters, then. If we must have an English language version, follow the Italians and dub away to placate those who really insist -- leaving subtitled showings for viewers who prefer them. The difficulty of good foreign movies getting a wider screening in the US today is sad. Suddenly, here is one that's actually drawing substantial US audiences. Why does Hollywood require an English language remake? And what hubris makes them think they can do it better?

    Getting back to Woody Allen, he did set his remakes stateside. By the way, does anyone remember an hilarious spoof of Bergman's terrifying Seven Seal? That Swedish movie was so widely seen in its time as to support parody.

  • mswitch | May 24, 2010 9:52 AMReply

    Why is a Brit better than an American? That doesn't make much sense to me. Carey Mulligan is a fine actress, but we have a lot of American actresses that are just as good and there's plenty of Aussies too. White Americans are all of European descent, so where are you coming from on that point? Just curious, because I don't think it really makes a difference whether the actress was brought up in Europe or elsewhere. I like Mulligan too, but surely there are other contenders worth considering. Just cause she's on the same continent as Sweden doesn't make her any closer to being an authentic Swede.

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