Now that The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest is available from redbox, you can have a full seven-hour Millennium Trilogy film fest, including The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and The Girl Who Played With Fire. All three Swedish films are of course based on Stieg Larsson’s best-selling thrillers about crusading magazine reporter Mikael Blomkvist and his very unlikely ally: a tiny but fierce, introverted, bisexual Goth punk named Lisbeth Salander.
(If subtitles aren’t your thing, don’t worry–all three of the Swedish films have English-language dub tracks.)
Hardcore fans of the late author and his (often graphic) books probably already know some of these, but here are five fun facts about the books, the Swedish films made from them, and of course everyone’s favorite pint-sized butt-kicker, Lisbeth (played brilliantly by Noomi Rapace in the films):
Friends say Larsson imagined Lisbeth Salander as what might have become of Swedish author Astrid Lindgren’s beloved spunky literary character if she’d grown up. (And been repeatedly brutalized, abused, and locked away in a mental institution.) Lisbeth’s real hair color is red, like Pippi’s, and her apartment is called “V. Kulla” (short for Pippi’s house, Villa Villekulla). The series’ other hero, Millennium magazine editor-reporter Mikael Blomkvist (the very solid Michael Nyqvist in the films) is often mockingly called “Kalle Blomkvist” after Lindgren’s boy investigator character (known as Bill Bergson in the English versions.)
It’s common knowledge that Larsson’s fictional crusading, caring, and irresistible-to-women writer Blomkvist and his Millennium magazine are stand-ins for the late writer and his own real-life magazine Expo. (A copy of the real Expo can be seen in the Millennium offices in Fire.) And the young investigative reporter and his live-in girlfriend in Fire resemble Larsson and his longtime partner Eva Gabrielsson–right down to the death threats. But Larsson also said that he was driven to write the books–whose main theme is the mistreatment of women at the hands of powerful and sadistic men–because he was haunted since age 15 by not having helped when he saw a woman gang raped. Her name, said Larsson, was “Lisbeth.”
You may also know that the original Swedish title of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is (the very thematically accurate) Men Who Hate Women, but did you know that in Sweden The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest is called The Air Castle That Was Blown Up? (As in, grandiose dreams and plans that come crashing down.) And in Sweden, The Girl Who Played with Fire is called… um, The Girl Who Played with Fire. Also in Sweden all three films were presented as a six-part television miniseries Millennium that included extra material not seen in the theatrical versions.
(And bonus fun fact for copy editors: In English early editions of the third book were published as The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest, but later changed to the singular possessive Hornet’s Nest. Awesomely exciting apostrophe fact!)
The character “Paolo Roberto,” the boxing instructor who tries to rescue Lisbeth’s girlfriend Miriam in Fire, is a real-life person. And he’s played in the film by the real Paolo Roberto, a Swedish southpaw boxer of Italian descent who also hosts a cooking show and has appeared on the Swedish version of Dancing With the Stars.
Ronald Niedermann, the menacing, murderous blond giant who bedevils Lisbeth and her friends in Fire and Hornet’s Nest is said to have congenital analgesia, a genetic condition in which the person cannot and never has felt pain. In fact, the very rare disease has been most commonly observed in a small village in the northern part of Sweden. In the films, Nidermann is played by Swedish actor Micke Spreitz, but the producers’ first choice for the part had been one of Sweden’s most famous acting sons. No, not Max Von Sydow… Dolph Lundgren! Dolph turned them down.
- David (The Social Network) Fincher’s English-language version of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, starring Rooney Mara (A Nightmare on Elm Street) as Lisbeth and Daniel Craig (Defiance, Quantum of Solace) as Mikael Blomkvist, will be in theaters this December.
- Noomi Rapace will appear opposite Robert Downey Jr in the sequel Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows and with Michael Fassbender and Charlize Theron in Ridley Scott’s “maybe-Alien-prequel” Prometheus.
- Michael Nyqvist is in the new Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol.