You've had quite a varied career so far! You've played Anne Boleyn in Wolf Hall, Queen Elizabeth in The Crown, and now Lisbeth Salander – three very different roles. Which have you enjoyed playing most?
I've loved them all. I'd feel incredibly duplicitous if I picked one that I love more than another. And they're all for different reasons you know. Wolf Hall I loved in the sense that it was my favourite book I'd ever read and I thought I'd never get to play that part. I felt a lot of pride about getting myself to the point where I could walk on set and feel like I was that character because I had to overcome a lot of internal bullshit to get to that point.
Playing Elizabeth was a huge experience, a life experience. I made friends for life and I was part of something that has been really special that I don't ever expect to repeat again. Having something so warmly received by so many people of so many different backgrounds from so many different countries is something that I don't ever expect to repeat ever again.
And Lisbeth was just sort of like a pinnacle of putting myself in a position where I was asking myself to do something that I didn't know if I could do and whether anyone would accept me doing it and just sort of forcing myself into a position of pure challenge and kind of trying to be free within something that could have been seen as very, very restrictive.
Claire Foy in Stockholm. Photo: Fredrik Persson/TT
In The Girl in the Spider's Web, Mikael Blomkvist is going through something of a career crisis. Do you think he's become dependent on Lisbeth? How would you describe the dynamic between the two?
That's definitely part of the story, they have a very odd relationship. They are sort of soulmates; she was his muse really, he was incredibly inspired and excited by her. But Mikael has his own problems, he's always been mixed up when it comes to work, about the magazine and where that's going and what the future of journalism is. He's a journalist to his absolute bones and journalism is in crisis and I think that's what his story is. He doesn't know what his job represents or means anymore. And that's very tied in with him and Lisbeth and their dynamic.
The 2011 film wasn't the franchise starter it set out to be. In the wake of #MeToo, is this a more auspicious time to relaunch a character like Lisbeth Salander?
I'm very nervous of using #MeToo as a convenient thing for this film. #MeToo is an incredibly significant thing that has happened and it's very hard fought for and hard won. It's an incredibly important movement in the history of women. Not only in the workplace but everywhere else. This film is this film regardless of whether that movement is happening or not.
The producers of this movie, Amy Pascal and Elizabeth Cantillon, came up with the idea of reinvestigating the character many years ago. It's to their credit that they felt there was more in this character they wanted to explore and that she could be as the centre of the story as opposed to being the interest of the story; that she could lead the action as opposed to something that is there to be looked at and fascinated by and thought over by someone else.
There are some amazing shots of Stockholm in the film, for example, when Lisbeth drives her motorcycle off the end of a dock and onto a frozen lake…
The stunt driver, to get that scene to happen, had to just drive off the dock into water on the bike! In freezing cold waters and she did it more than once! I was like 'Surely there is an easier way?! Surely she doesn't have to just drive off the dock and plunge into ice cold Baltic Sea?!'. But she did it! She's incredible, she did it twice! I was like 'You are mental that you've done that!'.
That's just one of many beautiful scenes showing off the city. What was your impression of Stockholm?
Just beautiful. To be on the sea like that and to have the sea so present and to hear people say that in the winter it entirely freezes over and you can walk across. I just found there's something incredibly poetic about that, about the sea and being so close, and so involved in the city.
I think the parks are amazing, I went to Skansen and loved that, I spent a long time there. And the Pippi Longstocking museum (official name: Junibacken)! And I just loved walking around, you don't feel the pressure to see things or go to museums or do things, just walk around and eat a lot of cardamom buns and I just absolutely loved being here.
The light is extraordinary, I think I've been very lucky because I came in April and now I've come in October and at those particular times of year the light just looks extraordinary.
The Girl in the Spider's Web premieres in Sweden on October 25th