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Noomi Rapace

The magic in unleashing your inner everything


A childhood loner and nomadic explorer, Swedish actress Noomi Rapace shares the kinetic force that can be found at the edge of an extreme and the magic in unleashing your inner everything.


I want to go to that place where I don’t feel completely safe. I want to go to where I’m almost losing control—just to the edge. Because it’s only at this border that I can find something that originates from me or something between me and the other actors that isn’t planned, that I’m not in charge of. I’m passionate about finding those diamonds—those moments of something unprotected and something real. It’s not a selfie. It’s not a pose. It’s something that happens in the moment. That is where the balance between sharpness and fragility happens for me.


I think I’m also drawn to characters who are fighting—against themselves, or for themselves, or towards something, against something, away from something. I think for as long as I can remember, since I was a child, I’ve always felt and lived a life where I’ve been quite intense. If I do something, I really go for it. I also know that the failure of not succeeding or reaching a goal is a much harder fall. The films that I like to watch, the people I’m drawn to, the artists who inspire me, are people who are constantly searching for something, and never too comfortable or certain of what they’re doing. I like people who take big risks.


I didn’t talk much all through my childhood. I was a complete loner. My mom reminded me recently that when I was seven, I said I was going to move to New York. I don’t even know how I knew what New York was. We didn’t have TV. We didn’t have newspapers. How did I even know that New York existed? When I was nineteen, I was quite lost, because everywhere I looked people were so unhappy. People were living life, they had boyfriends or girlfriends, they followed a route that someone else made for them, and they did what was expected of them. I remember thinking that I could never live like this. I would rather be alone and try something completely different. I think I’ve always had the soul or spirit of a nomad, someone who’s on the move. I’ve always felt that Sweden was too small or too narrow. I’m very lucky because I’ve found a platform. I found a reality and a world where I’m allowed to go into these places and ask these questions, and make it all completely urgent and full of life.


There’s a reason why we become what we are. There’s a reason behind every action. I kind of want to trace it back and understand—where did it go wrong? Where did this heart break or where did this soul crack? I want to live in world with more allowance to be different. That was one of the reasons why I always felt like such an outsider in Sweden, because you’re supposed to behave a certain way, and if you don’t, it becomes really complicated and people become really nervous. If you are sensitive, or you are strong-minded, or you have a lot of your own opinions, it becomes really disturbing for people.


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Now I’ve entered a new chapter, and I’m still a bit shocked—and deeply honored and surprised. Sometimes I kind of feel like I shouldn’t be here. I’m kind of surprised that I made it, and that I’m alive. It doesn’t really make sense that I get to work with all these amazing people, people that I’ve admired and people that I’ve watched since I was really young. I’m still afraid that I will wake up in my bed at fifteen years old, living on the farm in Sweden, and it was all just a beautiful dream.


With my work, it’s almost like I have my own tribe of dysfunctional people who are still living in me, and I’m like this spaceship carrying them around. What I love about acting is that, in a way, nothing is too dark and nothing is too bright. My characters are not people that you would like immediately if you met them, but if you get to know them, hopefully you will like them, and they will give you a piece of understanding, or a little more space for the differences in us. And I always use myself. I could change my body, I could change whatever’s possible in me for the moment. But I don’t want to pretend. So I need to find things in my own life—physical or emotional, memories or dreams— that I can translate to my character and open up to them. Ideally it’s like a pipeline which can flow in both directions. You know it’s almost like the character can come in and move into my soul, and also use me and my memories or meld me into them. It’s funny, in a way—with a lot of the characters, I can feel that they’re all still in me. And to be honest, I would rather live a life where I can be all these people, and you are allowed to be all your different “you”s. Where you don’t have to be one one slice of you, because you’re everything.


Photography: Brigitte Lacombe for NeueJournal
Guest Photo Editor: Janet Johnson