Danish filmmaker Niels Arden Oplev, 51, always had the idea to make an American movie. When his 2009 film “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” (remade by director David Fincher two years later) became a huge success, Oplev moved to the U.S. and got the opportunity to fulfill his dream to crossover to the American film industry. In “Dead Man Down,” Oplev directs a stylish double revenge story featuring actors Colin Farrell and Noomi Rapace.
EXTRA: How did this script land in your lap and become your first American movie?
Niels Arden Oplev: Screenwriter Joel Wyman told me that when he was finishing up the script, he saw my film “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” and thought, “This is the guy that is going to do my film.” I had read hundreds of scripts after I did “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” but I didn’t really feel connected to any of them. But when I got [Joel’s] script in my hands, I thought, “Wow, this is really exciting.”
Both “Dragon Tattoo” and “Dead Man Down” explore revenge at a methodical pace. What is it about revenge in this aspect you find interesting?
Revenge is just good drama. You have to think about what people would really do if they were put in that situation. If they get revenge, is it what they really wanted? Will it help them heal from that void or darkness that is put upon their soul from the injustice that has been done to them? That’s a really compelling and interesting theme.
Where did you pull inspiration for the film’s look and feel?
Interestingly enough, we chose the director of photography (Paul Cameron) and the production designer (Niels Sejer) from “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.” We discussed where to take the whole visual side of it. “Dead Man Down” is a story about darkness and revenge, but we wanted to shoot it beautifully.
Had you always wanted to make an American film?
It has always been in my mind, even before I went to film school. I moved to the U.S. when “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” became a huge success for that purpose. But I always thought it would be nerve-wracking to shoot with a crew of 120 people. But I went and did a couple of TV shows first and knew my way around. I wasn’t scared anymore about where everyone was going to park their trucks.
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