Alicia Vikander: From ‘The Danish Girl’ to ‘Tomb Raider’
Los Angeles—Alicia Vikander traded Lara Croft’s tank top and cargo pants for designer duds when we recently interviewed her. The Swedish actress, her hair slicked back, wore a brown studded velvet Louis Vuitton jacket over an Anine Bing black dress with glitter accents and Jimmy Choo shoes.
The 2016 Oscar best supporting actress for “The Danish Girl” took off the jacket as she sat down in a meeting room at the Four Seasons in LA.
The 29-year-old, who married Michael Fassbender, 40, in October last year, stars as Lara Croft in director Roar Uthaug’s reboot of the franchise, “Tomb Raider.” Taking over the role originated by Angelina Jolie, Alicia costars with Dominic West, Walton Goggins, Daniel Wu and Kristin Scott Thomas.
Excerpts from our talk:
Which scenes gave you an adrenaline rush? Being in the water and going down that river was very much an adrenaline rush. But I would say that when Lara is up in the ring in the beginning of the film, I remember I had such stage fright. I had been working out with these girls, but I have never boxed in my life or done any MMA (mixed martial arts).
But no, it was very empowering to get to do those things.
What were your concerns about taking on this iconic role? The biggest challenge that I had was the fact that I was taking on a character that had been with us for 22 years. I was 10 years old when I walked into a room and saw a female protagonist in a video game.
That curiosity of seeing something I hadn’t seen before—that a girl could be part of that kind of story—and later on Angelina Jolie’s version, of actually seeing a female action heroine onscreen, meant a lot.
So, you want to honor the character and the traits that she is very famous for. As an actor, there’s an obligation to make it your own. Also, we need to give the moviegoers something new that they haven’t seen before.
I love the fact that in this story, it’s so integrated that she is a very feminine young woman, but she also carries this physical strength. I did put on like 10 to 12 pounds of muscle.
I asked Magnus, my trainer, because he was like, “What is your goal?” I was like, “You’re never, ever going to be able to make me do a pull up, because that is against the laws of nature (laughs).” When I found myself being able to do that, I loved that feeling of being strong.
Do you and Michael play a lot of video games at home? I played the game as a young teenager. I was too afraid when I was 10 years old to play it.
Then, I played a lot of “point and click games.” They are also called adventure games on computers. I have played them for the last 15 years of my life. It’s very time-consuming.
Sadly enough, I haven’t found more time to do it. But I did play the rebooted games in preparation for this part.
How is your life together with Michael now that you’re married? What has changed? It has never changed. I have always been a big romantic. We believe in love, not marriage. What people are hoping and searching for in life is love.
What did you learn from your mother about love and marriage? The best way to learn about love is to be loved. And I have been loved very much.
What made you decide to spend more time in Lisbon (Portugal)? Yeah, first of all, I am hoping to spend more time in Lisbon. I have been traveling a lot over the last few years. I have friends who moved there.
My husband has loved that place for a long time. I went there and thought it was the most beautiful place. It’s also warm (laughs). I am from Sweden, but I’m not very good with cold.
You’re turning 30 in October. Are you planning a big celebration? I remember when I was growing up, I thought that if you are 30, then you’re a grownup. I don’t know about that now. I think it just gets better and better. I am just happy to add on another year.
Nothing planned. But a lot of good parties and dancing, I hope (laughs).
What were the most trying times when you were starting? It’s interesting because when you’re experiencing it, it’s the worst. But then, it’s just one step of your path. It was every time I got a no and I didn’t get my first job yet.
And when I didn’t get into theater school for the first, second, third or fourth time. Now, I am happy I didn’t get in, because I probably wouldn’t be sitting here, and life would’ve been very different.
Do you remember the times when you wanted to quit? Yeah (laughs), on those times I just mentioned. When you haven’t gotten your first job yet and everybody tells you, what are you going to do with your life? I worked in a flower shop and a Levi’s store. I myself probably put more pressure on me.
What do you think of the Time’s Up and MeToo movements? I feel like there’s such a change going on. People are asking, “Do you think there’s going to be an impact?” It’s happening, it’s here.
In the last few months, I’ve been on the phone and e-mailing with girls and women, some of whom inspired me … with Time’s Up—with Reese Witherspoon and Natalie Portman.
I have made more female friends in the industry in the last few months than I have done in my entire career, which is exciting. What is happening is that creativity is blossoming.
It’s about people who are just hungry and looking for films from minorities to females. It’s a time when the stories that need to be told will rise to the surface.
If you can only give one piece of advice to an aspiring actress, what would that be? That your voice deserves to be heard, and you should be allowed to speak up and not feel like you are being pushed into a corner.
What advice would you give to your 20-year-old self, if you can? To not be as harsh toward myself. When I was preparing to play Lara, it was very interesting. She’s 20, she lives with her friends in a commune in East Hackney, just as I did. She had the same ride along London.
It’s a little bit of pressure for young people, including myself, to know what to do in life. People expect when you are in high school to decide what college you are going to go to and what path you will take.
Stop and allow yourself to listen to what you love and not feel like you’re forced into something. And listen to other people’s ideas. To not worry so much about not knowing what is going to come.
Flash forward to your 40th birthday. What would you like to see? God, I don’t want to know (laughs). I’m very lucky if I can continue acting. I am open to new things that interest me.
Maybe I will go on a different path, too. So, if I met the 40-year-old version of me, I hope that I would be utterly surprised (laughs).
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