‘Prometheus': Noomi Rapace says she gutted out a ‘psychological meltdown’

June 09, 2012 | 7:31 a.m.

SPOILER ALERT: This post reveals details about a key scene in “Prometheus” and also touches on other major plot points. 

prometheus noomi rapace Prometheus: Noomi Rapace says she gutted out a psychological meltdown

Logan Marshall-Green, Noomi Rapace and Idris Elba in “Prometheus.” ( Kerry Brown/20th Century Fox)

SPOILER ALERT: Haven’t seen “Prometheus” but you plan to? You might want to read this post later.

From the moment Swedish actress Noomi Rapace signed on to play Elizabeth Shaw in Ridley Scott’s sci-fi action film “Prometheus,” she was concerned that acting in front of a green screen would be a big challenge. But Scott had no intention of putting Rapace on an empty stage. Rather, the director and his crew built enormous sets at Pinewood Studios in London to create the far-off planet where Shaw and her crew land after two years of space travel.

A monolithic figure towers over the explorers of a distant planet in "Prometheus."

A monolithic figure on a distant planet visited in “Prometheus.” (20th Century Fox)

Even the monsters in Scott’s world were real — including the baby alien that Rapace’s Shaw rips out of her belly with help of a high-tech, robotic surgery machine — the kind every space ship without a doctor aboard should carry. The climatic scene in the middle of the film was shot over four days, a period that Rapace says she’ll always remember as the most stressful of the entire shoot.

The scene, according to Scott, is the one that tipped the film’s rating from a PG-13 to an R. The director said the only way to land the more family-friendly rating would have been to remove the scene entirely.

“They didn’t even want the scene,” Scott said. “It wasn’t about just cutting it down, they didn’t want the scene.”

And that was something neither Scott nor studio chief Tom Rothman  wanted considering the importance of the sequence and the toll it took on the Rapace.

“I was in complete psychological meltdown when we were doing those scenes,” said Rapace, 32, who is the mother of a son, Lev, born in 2003. “I felt feverish and I was dreaming these really crazy, dark twisted dreams. It effected me a lot. I was really not well.”

In her dreams, she believed she had her own alien baby growing inside of her–one that she needed Scott to help extract.

“I better call Ridley,” she said, laughing, recalling the dreams. “He was the one I was going to call. What was I going to say to him? I have something in my tummy, come and help me.”

In another dream, she was standing in front of a bathroom mirror watching her skin, her eyes, her whole self turn pitch black.  “Then I woke up for real. I was sweating. My bed was wet. I was drained and I really felt like I was losing it.”

It probably didn’t help that during filming, affixed to the top of the machine was the actual alien baby — a heavy, silicone creature being maneuvered remotely off-camera. Despite the creature being utterly repulsive to Repace, the actress still tried in some odd way to connect to it.

“It was weird because I think we as human beings desperately want to create connections,” Rapace said. “So I remember when I saw that thing, my baby, hanging there, I was trying to find something to like about him. And Ridley would come in and say, ‘It’s a cutie, huh?’ Yeah, maybe if you see it from this angle.”

ridley scott and noomi rapace Prometheus: Noomi Rapace says she gutted out a psychological meltdown

Ridley Scott and Noomi Rapace on the set of “Prometheus” (20th Century Fox)

Despite the other-worldly circumstances, the actress tried hard to make her character feel real and she pushed Scott to add scenes that showed her humanity.

“She’s not an action heroine, a cartoonish superhero — I wanted the audience to feel how hard it is to run around,” Rapace said. “You run out of steam. You can’t do a caesarean on yourself and stay strong. That’s why we put the morphine shots in. I asked Ridley to put in a scene where she cracks, where she can’t take it anymore — that scene where I start to cry in the helmet. It’s too much. For God’s sake,  she lost her man, she’s pregnant with something. She takes that thing out of my body. It’s crazy. I really tried to make her real. To make her a real woman.”

– Nicole Sperling


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32 Responses to ‘Prometheus': Noomi Rapace says she gutted out a ‘psychological meltdown’

  1. CPG says:

    Wow, it must be rough being you… "Everything Sucks." Ha HA HA!
    There's much more to Prometheus than you're allowing but why waste any energy trying to convince you?

    • This article highlights everything in the movie that annoyed me. I did not think any of her extra scenes were necessary I wanted to see more blood and gore lol. The movie was good and bad.

  2. Joe says:

    You and I saw different movies.
    You must have missed out on the whole “person-hood”, and ownership conflict between the engineers, us, and cyborgs/robots.
    Or maybe the twist where Dr. Shaw was sterile, and then ended up getting pregnant (with a f-ing alien), oh, and then fakes being unconscious, so that she can go cut her uterus out herself.
    Super lame, right?
    If you want to go see a Michael Bay movie, then go do it; but don’t say there was no story here because you missed it .

    • Xavier says:

      Thank you. Someone actually appreciates this epic movie. So many reviews were negative. Why? This was an intense deep movie with great philosophy and intense action. Of course it had some flaws (what movie doesn't) but the great things super-exceed that. I pray that in the future it gets more props.

    • drb says:

      Okay I get it, you're thinking of the wrong movie. James Cameron did Aliens. Ridley Scott did Alien. 33 years ago! Holy crap I'm old.

    • Tim Lieder says:

      You are honestly putting that pathetic abortion scene by a machine taht doesn't know the difference between a stomach and a vagina in the PLUS category for this film?

      And basic physiognomy would be nice – like the little fact that a woman who has had an octopus ripped out of her vagina by a machine that thinks it's a stomach and then staple guns her back together is NOT going to be running around and getting into fisticuffs.

      At least Michael Bay movies are honestly stupid. Ridley Scott movies are stupid AND pretentious.

      • Hana says:

        Tim, to be fair – caesarians are done by cutting open the womb through the abdomen area…it really has nothing to do with the vagina. Often, women who can't have a vaginal birth have a c-section. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caesarean_section).

        Unless by 'vagina' you were speaking more broadly to the whole female reproductive system.

  3. guest says:

    I enjoyed the film a lot. The ties to Alien were not hidden at all but it put the first film in greater perspective, It added depth to the Alien. It is also a great film of it's own rights. I would not say a perfect film, but Noomi Rapace did an excellent job, I could really empathyze with what she was going through. Charleze Theron was also wonderful (i can't think of ANY film where she wasn't).
    The story was very well told and the real sets added a depth to the whole production that really resonated.
    If i was to have any realy complaint, it was Guy Pearce. An excellent actor. In this film i simply did not feel like he was a very old man. I simply saw a young actor in heavy makup made to look like an old man. This is sad since he is a great actor. I cannot understand the disconnect with his character

    • ester says:

      What was the point of hiring him for this role when they could have hired an old man? Perhaps Keir Dullea – who is now an old man, and the ties to 2001 would have been complete.

  4. drb says:

    Yeah, you go watch Avatar. Much more your level.

  5. carmen says:

    Awesome movie…nuff said.

  6. EBL says:

    http://evilbloggerlady.blogspot.com/2012/06/prome… Good article. I thought Noomi did very well in the movie. The movie is not perfect, but it is very good and the acting was well done.

  7. Prometheus Sucks says:

    I agree… I couldn't stand her… Bad casting move, and hating the director for it.

    • bojangles says:

      I thought Rapace was awesome. She's a magnetic actress. When she's on screen, she really draws the audience's attention. Very interesting to watch. I don't think there's anything wrong with her face as you say. I'm glad they picked her for the role, I doubt anyone else could have pulled it off.

    • drb says:

      I think she did as good a job at creating a believable, yet heroically stoic character as Sigourney did with Ripley in the first two Aliens movies.

  8. brian says:

    To me, the draw in seeing the movie was that it could provide its own set of (meaning interesting) questions as they relate to the potential for the interstellar origin of mankind. I feel that the plot was good and not great – as certain parts were not necessary, while other parts were left not fully developed or explored – where the director went for action and visual impact over a more considered or cerebral approach. I've seen better and I've seen worse. All-in-all a good movie though.

  9. DVS says:

    I'm with CPG on this. You have to judge the movie on what it is and not what you expected it to be. This is clearly a new chapter in the Aliens story.

    How can you contemplate a multi-billionaire spending a billion dollars to look for the fountain of youth? I don't think the POV of the billionaire is hard to believe based on real billionaire's of the today.

    The octopus was a form of the face-hugger.

    I don't judge a movie based on if it's 3-D or not. It's irrelevant to the story.

    You really wanted another Avatar? I thought you would want something new or at least a new spin on a on-going story.

  10. victronix says:

    I loved it, especially the expansive views, so I'm wondering if having the set be real rather cgi made the difference. It's really interesting too how the film affected her directly. I felt badly that she had to suffer, the scene with the robotic surgery was incredible — so glad they kept that in. I sort of wonder if a lot of the anger that some feel has to do with the power of this female character, the way that she expels the attacker directly from her own body, and survives, while the only surviving male is only a head. Nice.

  11. Frank says:

    The problem with these sorts of movies and stories, is that you need some level of intelligence to understand what youve just seen. Reading most of the negative cooments, it seems most people haven't the capacity to invest themself into the movie with a full and deep understanding of the historical and biblical links interwoven into the story. If they did, they'd be positive about the movie. Perhaps they should go and watch "Bambi".

  12. gnbi says:

    you people got your prometheus movie and like it or not!! there will be a continuation

  13. ester says:

    So Dave's head comes off. It's on the space ship's dashboard. He's in a space ship that crashes mid-air, falls, rolls and flips over.
    Amazingly, it's in the same exact spot.
    Amazingly, he's not "dead."
    Amazingly, he can speak to Dr. Shaw, even tho his body [where the microphone is] is many feet away. And, he can even see where she is – the escape pod – and knows what's happening in there… at the exact moment she needs to react.
    Later, when she is lowering his body – with the microphone – down a line, she can still speak to the head, even tho she has a helmet on.

  14. antai says:

    i really liked the movie..saw it twice..minor unexplained scifi stuff, but any scifi fan would agree that some things cannot be explained scientifically 100% . I thought the acting was OK specialy charlize, im hooked for the next one, I'm a big alien fan (i even saw the predator vs alien LOL)

  15. Galactus says:

    This movie was intensely philosophical. 2001 space odyssey type of stuff; I love the universe, physics, space, human origins, etc… People who think there is no story line or don't understand it, are just far to deep into the brainwashing that is society. They only care about ball chasing games and politics. The questions in this movie are the things that really matter, plus some entertainment. It is incredible just to see the space ship; to imagine the journey they are on is beyond words. To find the creators of mankind!

  16. koan says:

    Those last two comments are so incredibly stupid that i'm lost for words.

  17. AX- says:

    Why are all celebrities lying about their nose jobs? Maybe they want to be worshiped for being born with a "beautiful" face.

    Noomi Rapace has a fake nose.

    Here is Noomi Rapace before nose job:

  18. Jonny says:

    I'm impressed that this movie is getting so much love. I really cannot see any redeeming qualities to it. The fact that this is part of the Alien franchise, made by the original director and still failed made this movie suck even worse! I'm sorry, but if I have to watch two more movies just to get an answer I'd feel like I'm bribing an informant who answers my questions one-by-one for each dollar. Let's be honest the stupidity and the pointlessness of its contents makes the film a failure and I'm not going to buy that "It's made by Riddley Scott" thing. It was terrible. Plain & simple.

  19. Jason says:

    For those that those that thought the movie “sucked”- there are these places where ancient knowledge is kept that contain the clues to all the answers you may seek regarding human origin, one of the questions elaborated on in the film. They’re called “libraries”- and if you’d ever set foot in one with more than the intention of doing a book report for school in the 8th grade, you might find the film Prometheus to be as entertaining and thought provoking as many of us who know what a card catalogue is and how to use one. That is, if you’re not so brainwashed by religous beliefs that you can’t comprehend the possibilities explored in this ground-breaking film. For those of us who can, wouldn’t that be something if Prometheus wasn’t quite so far off?

  20. Charles Mana says:

    Noomi Rapace has one of the most muscular bodies I've ever seen on a woman. The thing about her that is so impressive is that this is all natural muscle without going to extreme body building. It is muscle that is normal for her body. Her legs are tremendous and her back muscle definition is tremendous. She has a beautiful face with many different looks to it by which I mean she can almost look like another person. Noomi Rapace is spectacular and I shall never forget her. I have the DVD and I fall asleep watching Prometheus every night. Thanks Noomi Repace.

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