MILLENNIUM MAKES MICHAEL
Source: Urban Cinefile, September 23, 2010
The role of Mikael Blomqvist in the Millennium trilogy has put
Swedish actor Michael Nyqvist on the map; he’s now making an
American indie film directed by John Singleton co-starring Taylor
Lautner (of Twilight fame). Australians will next see him in
the second film of the trilogy, The Girl Who Played With Fire,
in a role which was difficult to play, as he explains to Andrew L.
Michael Nyqvist, a bit of a sex symbol for the female fans of his
long-running 2008-9 film As It Is In Heaven, is having a day off
from shooting his new film, Abduction, directed by John Singleton.
This time, instead of an inspirational conductor, he plays Kozlow,
"a bad, bad boy," he says on the phone from the production office in
Pittsburgh, relishing the role. "It’s so much fun; I get to hit
people, kick people, I try and kill Taylor Lautner, I kill his
parents …and I get paid for it!"
The Swedish actor has one big reservation, though."After this movie
comes out I think I’ll have to die my hair blond and go around in
disguise; I’m going to be so unpopular with his fans…" He fears the
likes of the 300 girls who turn up at the shoot everyday screaming
for Taylor Lautner (Jacob in Twilight). But they may also be
screaming for the other stars of Abduction: Sigourney Weaver,
Alfred Molina, Jason Isaacs and Maria Bello, and perhaps the edgy
director, John Singleton who made Fast 2 Furious, Boyz n the Hood,
and the Shaft 2000 remake.
"John Singleton is SO good to work with," says Nyqvist with slightly
accented Swedish enthusiasm, "I love it. . . he’s so graphic. I love
his films." Abduction is a thriller about a young man (Lautner)
who sets out to uncover the truth about his life after finding his
baby photo on a missing persons website.
But our conversation turns to the role that he describes as the one
that "put me on the map internationally," the role of Mikael
Blomqvist in the Millennium trilogy, the second of which,
The Girl Who Played With Fire, is being released now (September
Blomqvist is a crusading journalist, whose relationship with Lisbeth
(Noomi Rapace [pronounced Rapash]) is a central feature of the
trilogy. When he was first called in to talk about the role, Nyqvist
says he was "afraid of playing a character for two years. And I
hadn’t even read the books … I never seem to read books that
everyone else reads, I read my own peculiar choices of novels."
But after talking it through with the filmmakers, Nyqvist was
convinced. "I thought it could be great. I did have concerns that we
were making a film from a book whose readers had formed their own
ideas … and the character is difficult to play. Mikael has no
special physical characteristics, no disability, he doesn’t get
violent, and he is always under pressure."
Nyqvist relied on his earlier training at a Malmo film school, where
his teachers were Russian, Polish and Rumanian acting coaches with
very strict disciplines in the Stanislavski method. "I just tried to
look through the eyes of my character …"
He had only met his co-star Noomi Rapace once briefly, "when she
worked in my theatre. I also made a film with her husband but we
never said more than hello, until making these films." And from the
start, they agreed to only meet in front of the cameras. "We didn’t
go out to dinner or anything … we agreed to see each other only on
the set, and to surprise each other as actors."
Rapace’s character has a dark past, filled with fear and domestic
violence, and while Nyqvist hasn’t suffered domestic violence, he
can relate to how her character feels. He was a 2 year old when he
was adopted by the Nyqvist family from an orphanage. "I have tried
to deal with not knowing where you come from for many years,” he
says. “It follows you around like a black hole." He has just written
a book about himself, titled Just After Dreaming, which is
due out in Australia shortly. "It was my time to speak about it.
There’s so much prejudice about adoption …But it’s not about how to
treat it, but how to live with it."
Nyqvist has now met his biological parents and has developed a close
relationship with his Italian father who lives in Florence. "I also
met with my mother … for 20 minutes … it was very sad."
Nyqvist says he’s very proud of his book; "I forced John [Singleton]
read it," he adds with a laugh. There’s no sign of Nyqvist being
bitter and twisted, though, and he speaks with unassuming ease. When
we mention his family, he becomes animated. There’s his wife
Catharina, plus Ellen (born 1991) and Arthur (born 1996) … "and
Charlie, our cocker spaniel," he adds with enthusiasm. "Arthur rang
me the other day from Paris – we’re going to live there for a while
– to tell me Charlie did his first poop in Paris."
Nyqvist met Finnish-born Catharina in the theatre; "she came up to
me one day and handed me a script she’d written for a film, and
asked me to read it. I did, and I went back and said to her it was
one of the most beautiful scripts I’d read. Catharina, who is very
honest at all times, said it was crap. Then we fell in love."