Warner Bros. has tapped Swedish thesp Noomi Rapace as the female lead in “Sherlock Holmes 2” opposite Robert Downey Jr.

It’s the first English-speaking role for Rapace, who portrayed the Lisbeth Salander character in Sweden’s “Millennium Trilogy” films — “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” “The Girl Who Played with Fire” and “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest.”

Warner Bros. has set a Dec. 16, 2011, release date for “Sherlock Holmes 2” with Guy Ritchie returning as director along with the rest of the cast and producers including Dan Lin, Joel Silver, Susan Downey and Lionel Wigram.

Warner Bros. tapped the screenwriting team of Kieran and Michele Mulroney to pen the sequel last fall, several months before it opened “Sherlock Holmes” on Christmas Day. The pic performed above expectations with worldwide grosses hitting $523 million.

Rapace’s repped by UTA.