If there’s a Palme d’Or awarded for having fun, it should go to Noomi Rapace. Because she is clearly having the best time at this Cannes festival, taking in every dinner and late-night party, not to mention seeing 21 films in 12 days.
The actress is making the most of her experience as a member of the main competition jury. In her hotel suite dressed in a sculptured Celine gown and diamonds from Chopard, Rapace is sprawled across her bed surrounded by racks of dresses, shoes and jewelry. Every night she’s been going to sleep “as excited as a kid.” Her energy is infectious.
“I just feel so amazed, surprised and inspired by all the people around me and all the films,” she tells WWD, careful not to give away any indication of which ones are her favorites so far. That info is kept carefully under wraps until the final selection is revealed Saturday.
“We talk about what is good and what is bad, I find that doesn’t really matter, it needs to do something to you. What is ‘good’ and what is ‘bad’? I love films that stay with me and burn some mark in me,” she says about debating with her fellow panelists.
“It’s very much about instinct, a bit like falling in love and feeling something. I don’t want to be too analytical and too political and to overthink stuff. If I’m brutally honest, I always know. Then I can dance around and be more diplomatic and I really try to stay open as well for what the other jury members might add or what perspectives they might have on things,” she says of the discussion process. “I’m also learning from that. It kind of feels like going to school.”
The invitation to be on the jury represented something more than just red carpets at the most glamorous film festival in the world. “It felt like an invitation to become part of the family. I really feel like the festival is such a small group, everyone is really involved and it’s not a lot of people in the circle. What ties everyone together is a passionate love for film,” she says.
The call from artistic director Thierry Frémaux opened the waterworks. “I was really sort of crying.”
The darkness of the movie theater soothes any nerves from walking the red carpet. “I mean, this is what I love. I love celebrating other filmmakers, actors and stand there and to do carpets for other people. I get such a kick out of it. It’s like it’s my drug,” she says.
Thirteen years on from the film that launched her into international stardom as Lisbeth Salander in the original “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” she swears she hasn’t watched it and probably never will. Rapace doesn’t like to revisit.
“I don’t ever want to be hit by my own vanity and start making decisions and adjusting myself,” she says. Even on set, she will look at takes for technical reasons — fights, sex scenes — but stops there and lets the moment live in its own time. “I try to keep a blurry innocence to my own performances, because I really want to put it in the hands of the director to guide me. I do know that I will start correcting myself for the wrong reasons, and I made a decision when I was 22 to never make a decision out of vanity.”
And therein lies the contradiction of being an actress, and Rapace is very conscious of the double standard since she gravitates toward action, sci-fi and thriller roles such as “Prometheus,” “What Happened to Monday” and the upcoming Apple TV+ series “Constellation.”
“I mean, we’re just constantly fighting all this,” she says, sweeping her arm across the room. “I’m sitting here in diamonds, in this dress and high heels, and I have blisters and I have been in hair and makeup for hours. It’s good fun here and I love it, because here it is a game and we put on a show and it’s not real.
“The reality is really long days on set,” she says. “I feel like women [in general] and what I’ve been struggling with from an early age is to not let it be about beauty and say, ‘I’m a human, it doesn’t matter what I look like.’”
She takes that ethos to set, pushing for makeup-less fight scenes and wanting to infuse a bit of reality into her characters. “I try to convince people around me to go that route, rather than going the kind of sexy, attractive, likable route.”
In real life she has a teenage son who brings her down to earth. “He’s so straight to the point, so he kind of guides me,” she says. At home in London it’s all Tesco runs and going to the gym. But here in Cannes, she’s taking it all in and sees the fashion as another form of communication.
“If you wear something that you feel good in, it will make you feel stronger, and I will walk prouder. If I’m wearing something that makes me really feel like my wings actually grew a little bit larger, it empowers me. I love that side of dressing up,” she says. She’s been guided by stylist Rose Forde for the festival. “It’s fun to play with. But I don’t take it too seriously.”
At 42, she’s with the “love of her life,” singer Victor Thell. “I am probably happier than I’ve ever been. You know, for many years I was kind of holding on to the belief that you had to suffer a bit and that whole thing, kind of holding on to my old traumas,” she says. “And now I’m like, let it go. Let’s just be.”