Michael Nyqvist on Disconnect, Dragon Tattoo & Abduction

Source: Crave Online - September 18, 2013

If the theme of Disconnect is that all our online technology keeps us apart, we used our power for good and not evil. Swedish actor Michael Nyqvist spoke to us by phone from Stockholm about the film, which is now on DVD and Blu-ray. Nyqvist plays a man who speaks with a grieving mother in a grief chat room, and her husband suspects him of stealing their identity. Nyqvist is best known in the States for the Swedish version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy, which has led to some Hollywood bad guy roles in Mission: Impossble Ė Ghost Protocol and Abduction. He was happy to reflect on everything when we spoke.

Did "Disconnect" get you thinking about your relationship with the internet?

We talked about it, Henry (director) and me. We met in London. I read the script. If I compared myself to my kids, they know everything and theyíre like small little hackers. I also feel that my identity can be stolen, Iím very paranoid about it compared to other people in the younger generation. Also, if youíre going through that as my character did, Iím so lonely and I have this grief and sorrow. I do whatever to talk to someone with something about this. Itís a little bit like I give my credit card to someone, please donít use it. It turns out to be what it is.

Having done the "Dragon Tattoo" movies, how did those films affect your view of technology?

To be honest, what Stieg was into is today like talking about a tractor or sailing ship. Compare where we are now with the internet and computers and just the thing that I smuggle to Lisbeth, one cell phone that lets you go on the internet. In those days when he wrote, it was like, ďWow, thatís really modern.Ē So the technology in The Dragon Tattoo was more or less a pen, paper and using a computer to send mail. That was that generation. Thinking about that, it goes so quick. In 10 years or five years, itís so different. In those days, at the time we did Dragon, we didnít even have apps. They didnít exist. Thatís a new generation on that.

When you read the script to "Disconnect", were you surprised how your character turned out? At first we think heís something else and then itís revealed.

I liked the way it turned out. That was why I said yes to it. I thought the good deed with the script was that you could foretell things. That was also the intent, the intense feeling in the script. It was on the edge for everyone, everywhere and thatís what I liked in the script.

Since itís a big ensemble, was there ever a moment where the whole cast came together, for a rehearsal or a table read?

We didnít do that. I met Henry in London and then I did a film, so I couldnít come. I came doing my stuff with Alexander and Paula. Paula and Alexander are two people I worked with before. I did Mission: Impossible with Paula and Alexanderís father is an old, old friend of mine and we did a couple of films. Also the stories were so in their own universe in a way for us. We didnít really connect to the other people. We did our story.

Thereís been talk that in the American "Dragon Tattoo" movies, they might take Blomkvist out of "The Girl Who Played with Fire" and "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornetís Nest. What do you think about the idea to take him out of the second two stories?

I think the thing with Blomkvist, he has his political angle into things. If you take him out, the stories just go into a thriller. So I donít know. I think that is not the way to do it.

You might end up being the only actor who got to play him in all three stories.

Thatís very flattering and I think Iíll have to call Daniel and say that. No, I think itís kind of weird but also the story of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is so many hidden stones in the story. Itís about Swedish society and the prophet in that is Mikael. Itís not Lisbeth. To make that wider sense of the stories is very important I think.

Compared to all the other films we have, Stieg Larssonís project was to show that society is a society that judges women, men, history in a way that we can do something about. He tried to encourage people to feel that you had the power to change things. You can change a society with a pen and paper and a cell phone if you have the power to ask the right questions of the right people.

Mikael is the one with empathy, with the social skills. To bring him out of the story, it becomes like that French film, La Femme Nikita. Iíve seen that film before, a woman at rage. That storyís told already. The power of Stiegís stories are that he connects the whole society into his thriller. Thatís already done, and we did something else.

"Abduction" became a legendary movie. What was it like making it?

I had great fun with John [Singleton]. Boyz N the Hood is my favorite film of his. To do that, with Sigourney [Weaver] and with Alfred [Molina], we were a good team. I think itís a cult film for teenagers and we felt that a bit when we did that, when we shot it. I had a great time with John.

The thing is I come from a different acting culture. I come from the Ingmar Bergman society and to play a person like him that I played was just for me great fun. Itís so far away from being an actor in the Swedish Royal Dramatic Theater and doing all the Swedish European films, films about grief or revenge or psychology without weapons, whatever. Also the interesting angle of who you are like Taylor [Lautner]ís part, he researches his identity, I found also interesting. That I think was a bit why I said yes to that film, to work with John and the thing about identity. My life story started like that, not knowing where I came from. I come from an orphanage and I wrote a book about it just released when John called me, so I got interested to play from the other angle.

If we only discovered you about five years ago from the "Dragon Tattoo" movies, what would you like us to know about your earlier films?

My early films were very European based.As It is in Heaven, and Together were great international successes, but then I did I think 60 movies or something. Where I come from, itís a little bit like England. We start from the theater and we do films a bit on our free time. The history of making films in Scandinavia is so old, itís like the oldest. The Nordic film industry started before Hollywood in Stockholm and Copenhagen.

So we have an old, old industry so that if you do a thriller, itís not who was the killer. Who is the killer is not the big question. Itís why did they do it? That is the big question so we come from a little bit different angle. That is, for me, the interesting thing when I now  work in the United States, to work with your film culture. Where youíre brilliant in building new worlds like Mission: Impossible or Abduction and things like that, we basically try to put a mirror up to the society we live in. Itís a bit different. Itís a little bit like Mike Leigh. I feel spoiled to do both. I feel so happy about it.