ALICIA VIKANDER is a 29-year-old Swedish actor, best known for her role in the 2015 drama The Danish Girl. From the artist wife, we now see her morph into Lara Croft in Tomb Raider, a role made famous by Angelina Jolie.
What were some of the challenges in taking on such an iconic role?
With Lara Croft, the biggest challenge that I had was the fact that you are taking on a character that has been with us for 22 years. I was 10 years old when I walked into a room and saw a female protagonist in a videogame, and that curiosity of seeing something that I had never seen before, that a girl could be part of such a story and later on Angelina Jolie’s version, seeing a female heroine, meant a lot. So, you want to honour the character and the traits that she is so very famous for. But there is also an obligation to make the character your own and that can make you quite nervous. You have to give the audience something new that they haven’t hopefully seen before, that at least isn’t an old teenage game, and that is what I wanted. And the body language. I don’t know if it is me telling myself, that my dancing is there, within me somehow. I have always been a petite girl, but I love the fact that in this story, it was so integrated that she is a very feminine young woman but she also carries this physical strength, and I wanted to honour that and show that she could do the physical things that she had to do. I put on 12 pounds of muscle and I actually asked my trainer to push me. I did push ups, which I’ve never done before. I loved the fact that I was feeling strong. I could feel it in my body.
What attracted you to this part? What was your physical training regimen?
I’ve always had such a curiosity towards these kinds of films when I was growing up, what it is to make these action films and do the stunt sequences. And it is one of the most wonderful perks I find in the job I do, the fact that someone tells you it’s your day job to prepare for a character and to perfect a certain skill whether it be an instrument or a language or a stunt and you only have a few months to be good at it. So, apart from the weight training that I did to add on muscle, I did rock climbing and MMA training and I worked with some incredible female boxers, and swimming and bicycling. I had a lot of pain in my body throughout these months, but I felt empowered.
What was the hardest stunt?
I don’t know if it is a stunt, but I had to get into this really freezing water, and I was turning blue, but I did it and I thought that that was it, but no, they came to me and said, ‘We have to reshoot a scene.’ I thought they were joking and making fun of me because they knew how tough it was, but they were serious and told me to get back in there. I had invited my parents to the set that day and I wanted to be happy, but instead I had to use all my energy to stay awake; I almost fell asleep actually, I was that tired, trying to keep my temperature up.
What can truly empower women? What are your thoughts on the gender conversation in Hollywood?
I think that it is so nice just to be in it, ’cause it’s already different. Films like Tomb Raider and Wonder Woman are being made. I like that there is such a change going on and people are asking, ‘Do you think there’s going to be an impact’ and it’s like happening, it’s here. I have reached out to Reese Witherspoon and Natalie Portman who are active in advocating change. I have met and made more female friends in the industry today than I have done in my entire career, which is just exciting. Creativity is blossoming in terms of both females and minorities. It’s a time when their stories have to be told. This will rise to the surface and it is exciting.