by William Burleigh ’19
A new cinematic incarnation of the iconic The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo character was on Nov. 9 when The Girl in the Spider’s Web, starring Claire Foy. In the crime thriller film, Foy plays the titular Lisbeth Salander, an introverted and asocial computer hacker anti-heroine. The massively popular Lisbeth Salander comes from literary origins: she is the lead character in the Millennium series, written by Swedish author Stieg Larsson and commonly known for his first book, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. A survivor of emotional trauma and sexual assault, Salander is known for her dedication to rescuing and exacting revenge for women who are battered and abused by predatory men.
Foy is the third actress to portray Salander onscreen, in the fifth Dragon Tattoo film total. The first three books of Larsson’s series were previously adapted in a Swedish-language trilogy, which starred Noomi Rapace and came out in 2009, to critical acclaim.
Following the popularity of the Swedish films, a Hollywood edition of the first book, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, was released in 2011. This American version stars Rooney Mara as Lisbeth and is directed by David Fincher.
Foy’s The Girl in the Spider’s Web is based on the fourth book of Larrson’s series. It is a sequel to Fincher’s 2011 rendition, but is considered a soft reboot. It follows the same storyline and characters, but with different actors.
This new iteration with Foy, directed by Fedé Alvarez (Don’t Breathe), follows Salander as she attempts to navigate a web of spies, cybercriminals, and corrupt government officials. Sylvia Hoeks (Blade Runner 2049) co-stars as Salander’s villainous sister, the head of a major crime syndicate. Lakeith Stanfield (Get Out, Atlanta, Sorry to Bother You) also appears as an NSA security expert tasked with tracking Salander’s every move.
While the film has received mixed reviews, Foy’s performance has been cited as a highlight. Indiewire praised Foy as being “the best on-screen depiction of Lisbeth yet.” The publication added that Foy’s particular nuances are a testament to the idea that “the full spectrum of her talents have yet to be tapped” and make for “a better and richer take on the character” than those given by previous portrayals.
This acclaim for Foy comes at the end of a highly successful year for the newly minted leading lady. While Foy is most well-known for her popular role as Queen Elizabeth II in the Netflix original series The Crown, a biographical drama which details the story of the English monarch and has garnered her a Golden Globe and an Emmy for her noteworthy performance as the steadfast queen, Foy has had a standout year with three films already released.
In March, she starred as a troubled mental institution patient in the experimental Steven Soderbergh horror film Unsane. Foy gave a fiery performance as Janet Armstrong in Damien Chazelle’s historical biopic First Man, which premiered at the Venice Film Festival and was released last month. Many are predicting that her performance in First Man will result in her first career Oscar nomination.
To cap it off, Foy’s new take on the Lisbeth Salander character marks her first lead role in a major blockbuster. The Girl in the Spider’s Web is currently playing in theaters nationwide.