Noomi Rapace’s character of Elizabeth Shaw is the heart and soul of Ridley Scott’s Prometheus. The film’s expedition is based on her craving to know what’s out there. And as far as the film’s themes are concerned, her character and Michael Fassbender’s David play polar opposite sides of the argument.
Myself and a few other journalists sat down with Rapace last week in London and spoke with her about the physical nature of her role (and the injuries she accumulated from it). We also talked about the Shaw’s intrinsic curiosity and what it’s like to be the latest Ridley Scott heroine.
“With ‘Prometheus,’ Scott creates a groundbreaking mythology, in which a team of explorers discover a clue to the origins of mankind on Earth, leading them on a thrilling journey to the darkest corners of the universe. There, they must fight a terrifying battle to save the future of the human race.”
In theaters June 8, Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron, Idris Elba, Sean Harris, Guy Pearce, Kate Dickie, Rafe Spall, Logan Marshall-Green, Benedict Wong, Emun Elliott and Patrick Wilson all star.
Head inside to check it out!
You do this movie that’s sort of shrouded in secrecy the whole time you’re doing it. How does it feel now to be able to talk about it?
It’s so good. I mean you’ve seen the movie, yeah? Because I’ve been doing interviews for a couple of months without being able to say anything because nobody’s seen it, and it’s so hard. It’s almost like you need to concentrate so much on what you can’t say, and now I can actually talk about it, so it’s really good.
Can you talk about the physicality of the shoot? Especially in that suit?
Oh, my favorite costume. No, I hated it. It was so hot. And in Iceland, in that rubber suit, because it’s not breathing, so you’re really boiling in it and it was just – I don’t know. I’m really stubborn and I would never admit that I was tired or, and I was in pain, my knees were completely messed up and this thing that I call my Prometheus elbow, because I was hitting my elbow. I hit it once really hard and then I was continuing, in the same place, when I was filming. So when we finished the movie in Iceland, I almost had a size-of-a-ping-pong-ball thing, with some kind of fluid in it. It was really, really ugly. But I don’t know, it’s weird, because you never really feel it when you’re in there. You don’t feel tired, you don’t feel the pain. And then you get back home, and then you realize, oh my God, what’s that cut and what’s that big bruise? Where did that come from? But I love it, and I want to do my own stunts, as much as they allow me to do, and I also try to prepare and change my body into whatever I need to be for the character.
There’s one scene in particular that I think everyone’s going to be talking about.
I was a mess. I was dreaming, really crazy disturbed dreams. [It] was quite tough and really kind of affected me a lot. But what was amazing, in a weird way, was to do it with Ridley, because he felt that he was so much in it with me. He’s not—I never thought about that I was a woman, half naked, in front of him as a man. It felt like he was breathing, living, thinking the character with me, inside her. And I think that Elizabeth Shaw is probably a little bit of Ridley too. Because she’s sort of like the heart in the movie, the dreamer, the believer, and he is also that. You know?
Can you talk about the parallels between your character and [Sigourney Weaver's] Ripley and whether it was something mentioned by Ridley ever?
Yeah. I think he mentioned that there are similarities between them, and she is the one—Elizabeth Shaw is the dreamer, she’s the one with the vision, she’s the one with passion and this is her dream. She’s been trying and struggling and fighting to convince people to do this, and to go on this journey with her. So this is her dream coming true. And then she realizes too late that it’s—that was a really bad idea. So it’s very personal for her, this whole journey. Ripley, I think it’s like in the second part of the movie you start to realize she’s the main character, she’s the one—in the beginning she’s just one of the crew members and it takes a while to kind of see that she’s the one we’re going to follow to the end. I think Elizabeth Shaw is more the heart and the engine. She’s the one, together with Doctor Holloway, that is the force that kind of, the engine between this mission. And then in the second part there’s more similarities with Ripley, I would say. But yeah, we talked about it sometimes, but it was not like oh, we should not, we should avoid it or we should go towards it. It was more, we were aware of, it’s almost like flirting a little bit with her. And for me, Sigourney is – I remember when I saw Alien the first time when I was thirteen, and she made a very strong impact on me. It was the first time I saw a woman fight like that, and fight back, and really not posing, not trying to be sexy, not trying to be beautiful. Just being a human and she happened to be a woman in this extreme, disturbed, aggressive environment.
They talked about doing, I guess a trilogy or two films or whatever. I’m curious, when you signed on, did they make you sign for a trilogy or multiple films?
Yeah, I think there’s an option to do that and I would love to do it. I would love to work with Ridley again and do this. This, kind of for giving the gift of playing and doing, giving life to Elizabeth Shaw, felt like the most beautiful thing I’ve been given. For me she’s very much a typical Ridley Scott heroine. Quite iconic in that sense that she has both, she’s quite fragile and vulnerable but still has that kind of, she can become this warrior, this fighter for survival and for protecting earth and all that. So I would love to.
You’d mentioned earlier that you’d kind of changed your body in preparation for the role. Could you tell us a bit more about that?
Yeah. I was prepping. I had like eight weeks. I finished Sherlock Holmes in January and then I had like eight weeks to prep. And I remember I told me trainer that I wanted to change my body into like a cat. I want to be like an animal, be able to do whatever is necessary for me to do to survive. You know, if you throw a cat down from a tree they will land on their feet, and they can run if they need to and they can climb. So I wanted to make my body be ready for whatever she’s going to face, whatever she’s going to be confronting out in that, on this journey. Because I think that Elizabeth Shaw has been prepping. She’s been going through all those physical tests and prepping probably a couple of years before they went on this journey. So yeah. And also because I want to be in a condition so I can do as much of my own stunts as they allow me to do.