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CINEMA

Interview: Claire Foy talks #MeToo, Lisbeth Salander and Stockholm

The Local's Sophie Miskiw sat down with Claire Foy, who is starring as hacker heroine Lisbeth Salander in the new Millennium movie.

Interview: Claire Foy talks #MeToo, Lisbeth Salander and Stockholm
Claire Foy as Lisbeth Salander in Columbia Pictures' The Girl in the Spider's Web. Photo: Nadja Klier/CTMG

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.

READ ALSO: Sweden's most watched movie in 2017: Star Wars beaten by film you've never heard of


Swedish-Icelandic actor Sverrir Gudnason as Mikael Blomkvist. Photo: Reiner Bajo/CTMG

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.

READ ALSO: What does #MeToo reveal about Swedish feminism?


Lisbeth Salander is the invention of Swedish author Stieg Larsson, who wrote the first Millennium trilogy. Photo: Reiner Bajo/CTMG

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

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CULTURE

‘Don’t wear bright colours’: Eight tips on how to dress like a Swede

Swedes have an international reputation for dressing well, with Scandi style a popular trend outside Sweden. The Local asked Swedes and foreigners living in Sweden to try and figure out the best tips and tricks for how to dress like a Swede.

'Don't wear bright colours': Eight tips on how to dress like a Swede

Black is best

When asking several Swedes their top-tips on how to dress like a Swede, many agreed – wear black.

Young professional Tove advises to keep it “all black, minimalist”. Uppsala newspaper columnist Moa agrees: “Wear a lot of black clothes and DON’T wear sneakers or ‘comfortable’ shoes, like running shoes, with dresses.”

Black is a neutral colour and, in general, if you get the neutral colours right you have got a long way in following the Swedish style. 

Neutral colours and a lot of knitwear is a good starting point. Photo: FilippaK/imagebank.sweden.se

Stay neutral 

Sweden might be saying goodbye to hundreds of years of neutrality by joining Nato, but Swedish fashion maintains its strong neutral stance when it comes to colour combinations.

Generally speaking, in autumn and winter Swedes tend to wear darker colours, as Sharon put it: “lots of beige, grey, black and ivory knits or wool. Jeans black or any shade of blue. Black tights with white sneakers for skirts and dresses”.

“Swedes in general will wear black and navy together which I’ve not seen before,” she added.

However, as the weather gets warmer, things change, as half-British half-Swedish Erik explained: “in summer/late spring Swedes change shape and personality,” adding a bit more colour to their wardrobe.

“Lots of colours yet still somewhat monochrome,” he said.

Most Swedes don’t wear a tie at work. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

Follow the news trend, drop the tie

Nils, a reporter and presenter for public broadcaster SVT in western Sweden, does not always wear a tie in front of the camera – and he said his colleagues on national news don’t wear ties either.

“It’s not a must,” he said.

A blue shirt, no tie, top button open, beige chinos and a grey dinner jacket is the look he chose when presenting the evening news a few weeks ago.

Nils Arnell presenting the news on SVT Nyheter Väst. Photo: Nils Arnell/SVT

On a day to day basis Nils, who stressed that he’s “not a fashion expert”, gave the following advice: “As long as you manage to dress in a neat style, you can get away with quite a lot.”

“A white t-shirt and an overshirt work well in most situations and look stylish.”

Stay classy, even in class

Engineering student Erik (not the same Erik quoted previously) recently returned to Sweden from a one-year exchange at Birmingham University, where he noticed a big difference in student style between the two countries.

“The first thing that comes to mind is that on university campus there are so many people wearing work-out clothes, at least where I was”, he said.

“In Sweden, it’s more common to wear jeans than tracksuit bottoms, compared to the UK”. 

It’s also common to see a difference in styles even between departments at Swedish universities. The law and economics departments, for example, tend to wear more formal attire with a higher number of students wearing shirts and polos than, say, social sciences or engineering students.

Many students seem to wear a toned-down version of what they might be expected to wear in their future workplace.

When in doubt, think Jantelagen!

Equality and conformity are important concepts when it comes to many aspects of day-to-day life in Sweden, including the clothes you wear.

This doesn’t mean you have to do exactly the same as everyone else, but more that being too flashy or over-the-top can be frowned upon.

This can be traced back to Jantelagen, “the law of Jante”, a set of 10 rules taken from a satirical novel written by Danish author Aksel Sandemose in the 1930s, which spells out the unwritten cultural codes that have long defined Scandinavia.

Jantelagen discourages individual success and sets average as the goal. It manifests itself in Swedish culture not only with a ‘we are all equal’ ethos but even more so a ‘don’t think you are better than anyone, ever’ mindset.

And this is seen in Swedes’ attitude to clothing, too. Flashy, expensive clothing with obvious logos or brands designed to show off your wealth breaks the first rule of Jantelagen: “You’re not to think you are anything special”.

‘Stealth wealth’

This doesn’t mean that Swedes don’t wear expensive clothes, though. They’re just not in-your-face expensive.

Felix, a podcaster from Stockholm describes it as “stealth wealth”, saying that Swedes would have no problem buying and wearing “a black jacket without any tags for 10,000kr”. 

Despite living in Sweden his whole life, he said that it’s not always easy to get the style right.

“I’m struggling myself,” he admitted.

He suggested taking a look at fashion blogger and journalist Martin Hansson for inspiration on how to dress. 

“Do NOT use bright colours,” Felix added.

Birkenstocks with socks. Photo: Carl-Olof Zimmerman/TT

Footwear

Most of those we asked said that Swedes are a fan of white trainers, most commonly Stan Smiths or Vagabonds.

With the shoes being popular all year round for men and women, this can cause issues at house parties – as Swedes take off their shoes when they come inside.

This inevitably results in confused guests at the end of the night trying to figure out just which pair of white trainers belongs to them – and trying to find one missing shoe the next day because someone accidentally walked away with one of yours is more common than you might think. 

Vans trainers are also popular amongst more alternative crowds (black of course). At work, dress shoes are popular in the winter and loafers or ballerinas in the summer.

In the summer months, you’re likely to see Birkenstock sandals on men and women. Most Swedes wear Birkenstocks without socks – unless they’re off to do their laundry in their building’s tvättstuga.

Birkenstocks are also popular as indoor shoes all-year-round, both at home and at work. It is common to have a “no outdoor shoes” policy in gyms, schools and some offices. This is to avoid bringing a lot of dirt indoors, especially in the winter months when there is snow, rain, grit and salt on the streets.

H&M’s then-CEO Rolf Eriksen wears colourful socks at a press conference in 2006. Photo: Björn Larsson Ask/SvD/SCANPIX/TT

Don’t forget the socks!

As you often take your shoes off indoors in Sweden, your socks are visible.

This has led to an unexpected trend for colourful socks with interesting patterns, which are a great way to break the monotone of neutral colours and conformity by expressing your personality – in a lagom way, of course.

A pair of colourful socks or a playful pattern will get you noticed and likely be a conversation starter at a dinner party.

What’s your best advice for dressing like a Swede? Let us know!

This article is based on the responses we received from Swedes and foreigners in Sweden on what they think you should wear if you want to follow Swedish fashion trends.

If you have any tips of your own which you think we’ve left out, let us know! You can comment on this article, send us an email at [email protected], or get in touch with us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram: @thelocalsweden

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