With the identity of David Fincher's The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo's boot-tough and brilliant tech hacker Lisbeth Salander still under wraps & the movie's release set for December 21, 2011. Sony have yet to announce a name for the role that launched Noomi Rapace, here's an assembly of the front runners. 

Léa Seydoux

Another to have reportedly donned costume and read for the part of Lisbeth with Daniel Craig's Mikael Blomkvist, the French actress is one the most experienced on the putative shortlist. At 25, she's already worked with Quentin Tarantino (popping up in Inglourious Basterds' epic farmhouse opening), appeared in Ridley Scott's Robin Hood and picked up a César nomination. She can clearly act a bit, but will speaking English in a Swedish accent be too tongue-twisting a challenge?

Sophie Lowe

Part of an Oz-wave of up-and-coming actresses that also includes Mia Wasikowska and Emily Browning, the second Aussie in contention is the right age (early twenties) and has the right looks to play the brilliant amateur sleuth with girlish features and a sideline in kicking substantial ass. Lowe is no stranger to the kind of confronting situations that Lisbeth tends to start her day with. She's tackled incest (winning an Australian Film Institute award for Beautiful Kate) and killers on the loose (Road Kill), learning to ride a motorbike on skiddy Outback tracks in the process. Tatts, piercings and kickboxing should be a cinch.

Rooney Mara

The gamine Mara is one of four possible Salanders on Fincher's shortlist according to The Daily Beast. Working with Fincher on The Social Network - she's rumoured to steal her scenes as Mark Zuckerberg's soon-to-be-ex-girlfriend Erica Albright - should be an advantage (think of the on-set opportunities to be spotted musing intelligently over Stieg Larsson's book). She'll also be well-versed in the director's occasionally punishing use of multiple takes. Dealing with Freddy Krueger on A Nightmare On Elm Street should equip her to cope with the array of sociopaths that haunt Stieg Larsson's world.

Sarah Snook

One of two Aussie actresses in the running, Snook is a virtual unknown with limited feature film experience. And when we say 'limited', we mean 'none whatsoever' - at least, until the recently wrapped live-action Sleeping Beauty. A near perfect match, in other words, for Fincher's casting criteria. He's looking for someone with a profile low enough not to distract from the character. Snook is a rising star on the Australian stage where she's played another tortured heroine, Cordelia in Hamlet, and trodden the boards for the Sydney Theatre Company. Which, as springboards into Hollywood go, worked out okay for Cate Blanchett.

Evan Rachel Wood
With Carey Mulligan, Emily Browning and Mia Wasikowska seemingly to be out of the running, and Emily Watson only getting that elfin crop because it looked nice, Wood could be moving closer to the top of the list. She's shown an affinity with grittier, darker-hued roles in her career (see also: True Blood, The Wrestler) and has the talent to carry the demanding role through the trilogy. Helpfully, she could also delve into fiance Marilyn Manson's make-up drawer to help create that goth-punk look.
Natalie Portman
At 29 the oldest of the possibles, Portman was rumoured to have been ruled out by Fincher and Sony, but it's a case of rumour, schmumour, at least as far as the bookmakers are concerned - they've made her 11/4 favourite for the role. Maybe it's not as unlikely as it sounds. After all, she kicked off her career playing a kind of Lisbeth Jr. in León. Scheduling might be an issue with bonnets and bloodbaths awaiting in Pride And Prejudice And Zombies (aka Elizabeth Bennet Vs. The Undead World). And is she too, well, Padme to play the avenger angel?

Courtesy Empire:
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