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The Girl in the Spider's Web: Lakeith Stanfield Interview

Lakeith Stanfield as Ed Needham in The Girl in the Spiders Web

Lakeith Stanfield's star has quickly been rising over the past few years, thanks to roles in Get Out, Atlanta, and indie satire Sorry To Bother You. This year he will also star in Fede Alvarez's The Girl in the Spider's Web - a new movie about the girl with the dragon tattoo, Lisbeth Salander.

The Girl in the Spider's Web is the fourth book in the Millennium series created by Stieg Larsson, and the first in the series written by David Lagercrantz, who took over the story after Larsson passed away in 2004. Stanfield plays Ed Needham, an NSA agent who is horrified when an upstart hacker (guess who) breaks into the NSA's files and steals some extremely compromising information. Determined to track down the hacker, Needham leaves his comfy office chair behind and goes on a manhunt in Stockholm to try and find the culprit - while Lisbeth herself deals with a deadly conspiracy and the return of her estranged sister, Camilla.

Screen Rant paid a visit to the set of The Girl in the Spider's Web earlier this year, where we spoke to Stanfield and his co-stars Sylvia Hoeks (who plays Camilla) and Sverrir Gudnason (who plays Mikael Blomkvist) about this revamped take on Lisbeth Salander's world.

Lakeith Stanfield: They told me that I have to say only good things about this film.

But what's your real take?

LS: You'll never know.

 Can you just talk about what that dynamic between Ed and Lisbeth? I mean, you're hunting her down.

LS: Yeah. My character just wants to find her to secure some very precious cargo that she's stolen, that could potentially hold in the balance the future of the world. And so really his motivation is to stop it from getting into the wrong hands, and he assumes that it might have been in the wrong hands, having been taken by... who he finds out is Lisbeth. So he just spends his time knocking down trees, jumping over fire pits, rolling around in the snow, trying to find this woman. His relationship with her... it changes throughout the story and becomes one of like - first of all, who is this unknown entity? And then he finds out who it is, and then they develop a little partnership.

Does he have an admiration for her, as a fellow computer nerd?

LS: Who doesn't? Yeah, I think so. I think he's every in awe of what she's able to pull off, the things she's able to accomplish. He's like, "How does one person do all of this?" So I think there's a little admiration, although I don't think he might admit it.

Related: The Girl in the Spider's Web: Claire Foy Interview

Girl in the Spiders Web - Ed Needham props

In the book Ed is quite an abrasive character. He's not very popular in the workplace because he's a bit of an asshole. Is that the same in the movie, or is he a little bit more mellow?

LS: I don't view him as an asshole. I think he just doesn't take time and engage in small talk too much, just really not with the shits, just getting straight to the point. I think he has to be to do the kind of work he does. Of course he deals with information and a lot of sensitive, high-security type thing. So you could maybe get a cold disposition from him, he could maybe be perceived that way because he doesn't spill his guts out and talk about things, and he would probably need to be a less emotional person to do the work that he does. So maybe one might view him that way, but I view him as actually just a person who takes his time and moves fast, if that makes sense...

I couldn't play an asshole, I think he's just a part of me that, like I said, takes its time and moves fast. You got to get shit done but you have to wait for power move, which gives him this coolness.

Is Fede quite a hands-off director, like he casts you and lets you do what you want, or...?

LS: He's been getting on my nerve since we started this thing. [Laughter]. No, it's a great collaboration, really, and one that I really cherish. You don't always realize how much you will appreciate a director and their discussions with the character about you until it happens... he's just so intelligent and aware of the story and all its many details in a way that I think a director should be. And it's nice, I haven't worked with a director quite like him. And his visual style is so good. I think he's a good actor's director because he sees things visually before they happen, and that's important, so I'm not always having to run back to the monitor to make sure I'm still within the vision, he kind of already has that there. And that's nice, it's a nice gift...

And he's really open and malleable too, like there were certain parts of the story that I thought initially didn't make very much sense, or certain things that Needham might do or situations he might be in that I didn't really feel went with the character. And I would voice them, and we would change the fabric of scenes, and whole things were able to change just based on some notes I was giving. So not only did he have a vision, but he was listening and able to dance with us, and that's equally important because you don't want to feel like you're running into a brick wall.

Page 2: Ed Needham's Lost Data, Claire Foy's Version Of Lisbeth, and More

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Key Release Dates
  • The Girl in the Spider's Web (2018) release date: Nov 09, 2018
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