Exclusive: It’s better late than never for Alan Dale, as the New Zealand thesp has joined the cast of Sony’s “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” — even as production comes to an end.

The TV vet, who played Caleb Nichol on 35 episodes of “The O.C.,” was called in to play a career detective on the verge of retirement. David Fincher is directing with Steven Zaillian adapting the script.

Based on the tome by Stieg Larsson, pic already stars Rooney Mara, Daniel Craig, Robin Wright and Christopher Plummer. Scott Rudin, Ole Sondberg, Stolen Staermose and Cean Chaffin are producing through Scott Rudin Productions.

This isn’t the first time a casting has happened late in the production process: Another example is Goran Visnjic, who didn’t come on to the project until two months after lensing began.

Dale has also recently booked a series regular role on the ABC skein “Once Upon a Time.” He’s repped by APA and Management 360.