Millennium actress slams Swedish ‘Jante’ tradition

Currently back in her native Sweden at the Gothenburg Film Festival, Stieg Larsson star and London resident Noomi Rapace says she finds the Swedish attitude to success "oppressive".

Millennium actress Noomi Rapace is in Sweden to promote her most recent blockbuster, The Drop. But the Hollywood star says she no longer feels at home in her native country. 

“I have always felt like an outsider. I wanted to be the best at everything and you are not allowed to say that,” the Swedish actress tells Swedish newspaper Metro.

The 35-year-old star, whose movie is showing at the Gothenburg Film Festival, has hit out at a 90-year-old Scandinavian tradition: 'jantelagen' or the Jante Law.

The phenomenon, which discourages individual achievement and instead encourages collective rewards was coined by Danish-Norwegian author Aksel Sandemose in 1933 but is also deeply ingrained in Swedish culture and society. 

It goes hand in hand with the untranslatable Swedish word 'lagom', which roughly means 'sufficient', 'just enough', 'average' or 'just right' in English.

Noomi Rapace – who now lives in London with her 11-year-old son Lev – says she finds this attitude destructive.

“It’s pretty comical that Zlatan is a hero in this country. He’s the opposite of all that – he wanted to become the best and everyone loves him now that he is.”

Noomi Rapace herself is anything but 'lagom'. When she takes on a role she goes all in, be it Lisbeth Salander in the Stieg Larsson Millennium series or a CIA agent in upcoming thriller Unlocked – also starring Michael Douglas and Orlando Bloom – which she has just finished shooting.

“We shot a scene where I was kicking a sack. I didn’t notice I scraped up both my knuckles and elbows so it started bleeding,” she told Metro.