Lisbeth Salander is notable for being a canonically queer female character in the books and movies that tell her story, but for Claire Foy, a graphic depiction of the hacker's sexuality was not necessary to remind audiences of that identity. In early stages of the script of the new adaptation, there was a sex scene in The Girl in the Spider's Web, but you won't see it on screen when the movie opens Nov. 9. Foy, who's stepping into the role previously played by Rooney Mara and Noomi Rapace, wanted to be sure that any such scene would contribute to the story, so she raised her concerns with director and co-writer Fede Alvarez.
"I just asked him what he wanted to communicate in the scene, whether he thought it was relevant, how he was going to shoot it, what did it say about the character, how significant was it to show this part of her character in that way," Foy says during the film's press junket at Rome Film Fest. "And [I] just got him to question the motive of putting a scene of two women making love and whether that would be something that was titillating or informative."
Ultimately, the decision was made that the scene wasn't essential to the story, though audiences will see Foy's Lisbeth with a woman in a morning after scene, which does move the narrative along. In this way, the character's sexuality is portrayed as being an undeniable aspect of her, but not something that's there simply to excite viewers. And if you know her history, you'd know that being an object of titillation is the last thing that Lisbeth would want. As a victim of abuse, she's something of an avenging angel for exploited women. And she owns her sexuality in a way that very strongly underlines that it is not up for public consumption.
So it seems that the right call was made, and Foy's colleagues on this project were receptive to her comments. However, she cautions that that's not always the case.
"I don't feel confident doing it, but I feel compelled to do it," she says of speaking up when something makes her uncomfortable. "All you can do is say I don't necessarily agree with this,' and hope that people question their motives."
Foy is the star of the film and decorated for her work on The Crown, so she does have more clout than other women in the business. But, ideally, when actors like her speak out about the way they advocate for their characters and themselves on set, it will inspire others to do the same and show filmmakers and executives that listening to those voices often leads to a better final product. And the hope is that the Time's Up movement is making it so that these dialogues are expected and welcomed. In this case, Foy says, the sex scene was nipped so early that it was never even shot. She didn't have to act in a scene whose purpose was murky to her, and that's another small but significant win in the fight for gender equality in film.