The piercings (including multiple ear, eyebrow, and nipple piercings) that Rooney Mara sports as Lisbeth Salander are real, not cosmetic simulations. Mara got the piercings in a series of sessions in Brooklyn and Sweden. The ear, nose, eyebrow, and lip piercings were removed after shooting completed, but she kept the right nipple piercing for possible sequels. "It's not something I want to ever get re-pierced," she said. "So I'm going to keep it in."
While filming a scene in a diner, the cast and crew were surprised to find out that Ellen Nyqvist, daughter of Michael Nyqvist, the first actor to play Mikael Blomkvist, was working there as a waitress while attending school. Upon finding out, they wrote in a few extra lines for her, allowing her to interact with her father's successor, Daniel Craig.
Many Swedish critics questioned the choice to have many of the cast members speak in a "Swedish accent". Most criticism was pointed to Rooney Mara's accent that many critics heard as Russian or Dutch, and not Swedish at all. Daniel Craig admitted in an interview that he thought this was stupid, and therefore used his real voice.
Two of the movie's taglines: "Evil shall with evil be expelled" and "What is hidden in snow, comes forth in the thaw" are Swedish proverbs. Stellan Skarsgård, himself a Swede, told them to David Fincher during filming. Fincher liked them and thought they fit the story and setting well, so he made them taglines for the movie.
In order to convince the studio that Rooney Mara had what it took to portray the strung out Lisbeth Salander, David Fincher asked her to go out and get really drunk. He then had her come in the next morning after a night of vomiting, and took pictures of her in her hungover state. This also convinced the studio to cast her.
Noomi Rapace's performance as Lisbeth Salander in the Swedish adaptation of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2009) was so well received, a campaign to have her reprise the role in the English language version gained wide attention in the media, championed by film critic Roger Ebert, among others. Ultimately, Rapace declined to reprise the role, saying that after playing the character for three years (during the filming of the original trilogy), she couldn't play the role again in the same stories.
In the director's audio commentary, David Fincher discussed how a merkin was utilized for Rooney Mara, after she suggested to him that the character she portrayed in the movie was a natural redhead in the book and actually dyed her hair black. Consequently, the merkin she wore was made in red.
After discussions about how to best devise an original score for the movie, David Fincher consulted composers Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, ultimately deciding that dissonance and tinkling bells (no orchestra) should provide the motif and ambiance for the stark coldness of the Swedish landscape.
Daniel Craig originally turned down the role of Mikael Blomkvist, due to possible conflicts with Skyfall (2012). After production of the film was suspended, Craig's schedule freed up, and he took the role.
Tim Miller, designer of the opening titles, was asked to come up with some thoughts about what Lisbeth (Rooney Mara)'s nightmares would consist of. He came up with about fifty ideas, which were whittled down to twenty-five. Miller was then given eight weeks to realize them.
Shot in a period of one hundred sixty days. By contrast, Fight Club (1999), also directed by David Fincher and shot by Jeff Cronenweth took only one hundred thirty-two days. Cronenweth stated, in several interviews, that the large amount of time was mainly due to the lack of daylight in Sweden, on-location sets required lighting several days ahead before shooting.
The original soundtrack album by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross is one of the biggest for a film, consisting of three CDs, thirteen tracks each (just for comparison, a lot of television show soundtracks for entire seasons are shorter than that). Trent and Atticus made a lot of music, and some of the music that appears on the albums isn't even in the film (example: track 32: "Oraculum"). Trent Reznor called it "some of the most beautiful and disturbing music of our careers. The result is a sprawling three-hour opus." They released it on Reznor's independent label "The Null Corporation".
The film received two Golden Globe nominations on December 15, 2011, six days before the film's release date. Rooney Mara was nominated for Best Actress in a Drama, and Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross were nominated for Best Original Score.
Although David Fincher had not requested it, Rooney Mara decided to lose a substantial amount of weight, in order to give her character a bony appearance. She got so used to dieting during the shoot that Fincher had to encourage her to eat during a dinner.
Max von Sydow, a genuine Swede, was the original choice to play Henrik Vanger, but had to bow out, and was replaced by Christopher Plummer. Had Sydow been cast opposite Stellan Skarsgård's Martin, this film would have featured two actors who have played the role of Father Lankaster Merrin in the Exorcist film franchise.
Jeff Cronenweth is formerly an understudy of Swedish cinematographer Sven Nykvist. Nykvist was famously known for his use of soft lighting photography. Cronenweth stated that he shot a bulk of the film with soft lighting as an homage to him.
The full musical score was released on December 9, 2011. Seven days prior to the official release, composers Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross released a six-track sampler of the score online for free. The download was also accompanied by a free eight-minute trailer for the film available via iTunes.
Throughout the film, Daniel Craig (Blomkvist) wears jeans by Dutch fashion brand Scotch & Soda. Specifically, he wears the Ralston slim fit model in "Dark Worn" blue wash, and grey as well. Craig enjoyed wearing these jeans so much that costume designer Trish Summerville gave him several pairs to keep after filming was completed. He also autographed a pair, and sent it back to Scotch & Soda as a thank you.
When Lisbeth (Rooney Mara) talks to a security guard halfway through the film about the murder of a woman, he tells her that the husband was investigated first, as it's always the husband that is the first suspect. David Fincher's next film was Gone Girl (2014), a film about a man being suspected of the disappearance, and possible murder of his wife.
Although Christopher Plummer (Henrik Vanger) plays the younger brother of Per Myrberg (Harald), he is four years older than him. Also, Myrberg is only seventeen years older than his on-screen daughter, Geraldine James (Cecilia).
Due to the disappointing box office for this film, parts two and three were scrapped. Ultimately the series was rebooted in 2018 and loosely based on the fourth book, The Girl in the Spider's Web, with Claire Foy as Lisbeth Salander, but this too performed poorly at the box office.
Stellan Skarsgårds successor to the role of Martin Vanger was Peter Haber. This is not the first time they have played the exact same character. Stellan played the swedish agent Carl Hamilton in Coq Rouge and Den demokratiske terroristen. For the production of Fiendens fiende the role of Hamilton went to Haber.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
Most of the bruising seen on Rooney Mara's body when she takes a shower is real. The physicality of shooting the rape scene the day before resulted in countless bruises on her wrists, neck, and torso. One of the make-up artists was even fooled into thinking that Rooney's make-up had already been applied.
In one of the more harrowing scenes in the film, Martin Vanger (Stellan Skarsgård) has Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) bound, and he switches the music on. The music playing is the song "Orinoco Flow" by Enya. This choice came about after discussion on the scene when Daniel Craig flicked through his iPod and called out the first song he found, which was initially met with a lot of laughter.
In Lisbeth's revenge rape scene, Yorick van Wageningen was not without clothes, as it appears. He was wearing flesh-colored trunks, which were then digitally removed. Van Wagingen was willing to perform the scene in the nude, to even up for the previous rape scene, when Rooney Mara was stripped, but, after consulting most of the cast and crew, David Fincher decided that no one actually wanted to see this abusive man naked.
David Fincher contributed the idea that Martin should have an old video camera, and a reel-to-reel tape player in his dungeon, to suggest how long he had been kidnapping and murdering people in that room, and also to suggest that Martin was used to things never changing in his secret life.
In the script, Martin Vanger (Stellan Skarsgård) was to tear off a sheet of cellophane to wrap around Blomkvist (Daniel Craig)'s face, but the action proved to be too awkward for the actors. David Fincher ordered the Prop Department run to the nearest store to obtain plastic grocery bags instead.