The Crown star Claire Foy talks The Girl In The Spider's Web PLUS TRAILER

The Crown star Claire Foy takes a turn in a very different direction to play tattooed vigilante Lisbeth Salander in The Girl In The Spider's Web, a sequel to The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. She talks to Laura Harding about her fear the part would seem like an obvious reaction to playing the monarch, her feelings on replacing Rooney Mara and her newfound fighting skills.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 15th November 2018, 9:39 am
Updated Thursday, 15th November 2018, 10:49 am
Claire Foy in The Girl In The Spider's Web.
Claire Foy in The Girl In The Spider's Web.

To think of Claire Foy is to think of the Queen.

She has become as closely associated with the monarch as corgis and handbags.

Indeed it seems likely that she is one of those stars that will forever be associated with the role that made her famous, in this case playing a young Queen Elizabeth II in Netflix's big budget drama The Crown.

Even though Olivia Colman will soon pick up the mantle when the show makes a time jump, Foy's performance looms so large in the public consciousness that it gave her pause when it came to choosing her next part.

She will next be seen as shaven-headed, heavily tattooed and pierced vigilante hacker Lisbeth Salander in the latest instalment of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo series.

"I was a bit worried everyone would think it was a bit obvious," the British star, 34, says with a chuckle.

"Or they would say I've gone, 'No, I throw off the shackles of being the Queen and want to shave my head!' but that wasn't it at all.

"If anything I thought this could be a bit extreme but I loved it so couldn't not do it.

"I'm not like that. If it's in front of me I am like, 'That is what I will do' but other than that, I can't think a day ahead really."

It isn't the first time that playing Queen Elizabeth II has given her pause about another role that followed.

"When I did Breathe, it was in my head it was too similar but I did it anyway because I loved it," she says, referring to her turn as the wife of Robin Cavendish, who was paralysed from the neck down by polio at the age of 28.

"That is the same sort of thing. If something else like that had come along, I wouldn't have turned it down purely because I didn't want to repeat the same thing.

"If I love something, I'm doomed. I'm like, 'Oh god, I've got to do it' and it was sort of the same with this."

In The Girl In The Spider's Web, based on the first novel in the series not penned by late author Stieg Larsson, Stockport-born Foy takes over the role of Salander from Rooney Mara, who was nominated for an Oscar for her performance in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo in 2012.

It's not just Mara who has played the role before though - Noomi Rapace has also donned black leather to take on the part in the Swedish-language films.

"It's not ideal, is it?" Foy laughs. "Hopefully at some point, I will be able to meet both of them and say, 'I think you're amazing and great' but it's a weird thing, isn't it?

"I feel very, very honoured to share this part with them but at the same time we are all playing a different woman because we are all different women.

"Of what I know about them and have heard about them, I think everybody has an amount of respect for what we all do. We all do the same job and we are all aware of how it works and what it is and so I think we would all be pretty much (she gives a nod of recognition), 'Hi, how are you doing?'.

Did she try to discuss the role with either of them?

"Dear god no, of course not!"

But one thing that marks Foy's performance apart is the timeliness of the film's release.

The film follows Salander as she tries to rescue and exact vengeance for battered women. It's the first movie of the series released since the scandal surrounding disgraced producer Harvey Weinstein rocked Hollywood, and the image of a woman taking revenge on abusive men takes on a more loaded meaning.

"Weirdly, since we have made the film, and in the process of making the film, the conversations that people are having are very different and what is in the news is very different.

"Just by the pure nature of it, it is of the moment and that is interesting because we haven't made the film with that in mind at all.

"Lisbeth, and what she stands for and what she's been through in her life, has been around for such a long time and the books were written over a decade ago.

"Stieg Larsson wasn't writing anything that people didn't already know so we will just have to see what effect that has."

But timeliness aside, taking on the part did give her the chance to learn a whole new skill set, talents she had not previously had a chance to accrue in Little Dorrit, Upstairs Downstairs, Wolf Hall and, of course, The Crown.

"I learned lots of new things to do in the gym and lots of fight moves.

"But I can only do it if I stop my fist an inch away from someone's face, so it's not very good in everyday life.

"But it wasn't just those elements. My approach to this film was very different to anything else so it's been a learning process."

The one thing she did not quite master was the world of computer hacking.

"There is no way," she says, looking baffled. "It's a whole world of intelligence.

"Coding, that's a thing. I don't even know what that is! There is a dark web out there though!"

The Girl In The Spider's Web is in cinemas from November 21