At the age of seven, Rapace was given a non-speaking part in the film, In the Shadow of the Raven by Hrafn Gunnlaugsson. This experience made her decide to be an actress.
She left home at age 15 and enrolled in a Stockholm theater school. In 1996, she made her TV debut playing the part of Lucinda Gonzales in the TV series Tre kronor. From 1998 to 1999, Rapace studied at Skara Skolscen. She has been engaged at Theater Plaza 2000–2001, Orionteatern 2001, Teater Galeasen 2002, Stockholms stadsteater in 2003 as well as at the Royal Dramatic Theatre. She drew acclaim for her award-winning portrayal of a troubled teen mother in the 2007 Danish film Daisy Diamond.
|1988||In the Shadow of the Raven|
|1997||Sanning eller konsekvens||Nadja|
|2003||En utflykt till månens baksida||Andrea|
|Du & jag||Maja|
|Sökarna - Återkomsten|
|2009||The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2009)||Lisbeth Salander|
|The Girl Who Played with Fire (2009)||Lisbeth Salander|
|The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest (2009)||Lisbeth Salander|
|Clean Out||Sister of Stan|
|Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows||Sim|