Meet Noomi Rapace, member of the Feature Films Jury

Noomi Rapace, Member of the Feature Films Jury © Maxence Parey / FDC

Noomi Rapace is a fearless, funny, free-spirited actor who left her mark on the Festival de Cannes last year with her performance in Lamb, the folk horror story that scooped the Un Certain Regard Prize of Originality. She is back this year, taking a seat on the Feature Films Jury, and treating us to a better opportunity to get to know her through the films, actors and lines that have stayed with her over the years.

Which film character do you identify with the most?

When I was younger, I had this crazy obsession with Bukowski’s Barfly and I identified with Henry, a drunk and a poet, played by Mickey Rourke He has the most beautiful words. He’s Bukowski himself, he was beaten by his dad and the words became his weapon and his freedom. There is a beautiful scene in Barfly when he has this publisher who wants to sign him, give him a lot of money. He sleeps with her and she is trying to trap him because she also has this obsession that people from the outside can get with artists. She is like: “You can lie here, this can all be yours”. And then he would say: “But that would be a golden cage” and that just stuck with me. I think that character is really connected with me because there is this desperation for freedom above everything. So even if money and fame can be offered to you, if it becomes a prison, it’s not worth anything.

Are there actors or actresses that made you want to be an actress?

I would say Susan Sarandon. Thelma and Louise and Dead Man Walking, with Sean Penn. She’s someone that I’ve been following. Patricia Arquette as well, Juliette Binoche and Emily Watson.

Who are the actors you admire?

I’m going to tell about my two most powerful moments.

They are tied. The very first time I was in Cannes, I was very nervous, I was here because The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo was out in the world and I came here. I was in this big black dress like a big armor. Then I went in Grand Théâtre Lumière, I sat down and I didn’t know what I was going to see. It was A Prophet. The movie just grabbed me and I felt so new born. When the lights came out, I cried so much that I was wet. I stood up and all the cast was standing behind me. Jacques Audiard is one of my favorite director, he was there with Tahar Rahim. It was such a powerful moment that I forgot about myself totally and I was like a mess.

Last night we had one of my long time heroes: Forest Whitaker. Since Good Morning Vietnam, I have watched all of his films. Every time I’m blown away and shocked by him.  He has something that is so human, it’s real, it hits you, you can’ protect. At the opening ceremony, I cried again and my makeup got messy.

Can you tell me about the first time you were moved by a film?

It was Romper Stomper with Russell Crowe. It’s a brutal film. I was thirteen or maybe fourteen and our school showed it with Natural Born Killers. It was a week like promoting nonviolence behavior. I couldn’t breathe. This angry young man who is so dangerous like an animal in a cage. It’s sort of like The Blaze, the French band. They did a fantastic video called Territory. You can feel the animalistic brutality and the tenderness. It was the same with Romper Stomper, the trapped animal inside of us, how that becomes a dangerous beast and at the end of the day, it’s a fragile boy. When I saw the film, I was shaking. At the Press conference, I said films can reach people. I grew up poor in a farm, everything was quite dark and depressing and those films were the oxygen to my little bubble. Those films made me understand a different side of life, even through brutality.

Is there a reply that often comes to your mind?

“Stellaaa! Stellaaa!” Marlon Brando in A Streetcar Named Desire. That was the first part I played on stage, Blanche, I was sixteen and it changed my life. I saw the film, I sat and was crying everyday in my dressing room. I really took on board my character. I watched Marlon Brando’s performance and it was a shutdown. It was a domino effect. I discovered one character’s performance, then I watched Apocalypse Now and all his films. I love to follow filmmakers or actors’ journeys. Someone like Maggie Gyllenhaal who was in the Jury last year is remarkable. I was so taken by  Sherrybaby and I completed the whole three seasons of The Deuce. Following her as an actress is a pure joy. She has this balance between total fragility and a strength from heaven and hell.

What is your guilty pleasure film?

My son has been promoting like Adam Sandler’s films for quite sometimes and I’ve been refusing to see them. Then I started watching Don’t Mess With The Zohan and it was quite funny. It took me to a whole kind of stupid comedy. I’ve just finished 40-Year-Old Virgin with Steve Carell. I was laughing like “Ha, ha! Give me more popcorn!”