L - O - V - E
Alicia Vikander flooded the film industry last year with a whopping seven film releases, proving her talents immediately in her portrayal of painter Gerda Wegener in The Danish Girl, which earned her both an Academy Award and a Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Supporting Actress. The beautiful, young Swede also received a Golden Globe and BAFTA Award nod with her nomination as Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal as an A.I. (artificial intelligence) in the sci-fi thriller, Ex Machina.
Now that Hollywood has been inundated with the talented 28-year-old actress, fans couldn’t be happier for Vikander since her on-set chemistry with the sexy and charismatic Michael Fassbender turned into a passionate romance. Since last month’s film premier of the heart-wrenching love story adaptation of ML Stedman’s novel, The Light Between Oceans, the two talents have publicly stated that they did truly fall in love on the New Zealand set, and have been showing their affection for one another openly in public.
Vikander’s hasn’t had too much time to luxuriate in her new love life, as her career continues its fast track to fame with three more film releases expected next year: Tulip Fever with co-star Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds, Django Unchained, The Legend of Tarzan); Submergence with co-star James McAvoy (also known as X-Men’s Professor Charles Xavier); Euphoria with co-star Eva Green (Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, and television’s “Penny Dreadful”). She is possibly most excited to begin work on Tomb Raider, in which she will take on Angelina Jolie’s iconic character of Lara Croft, of which she has long been a fan. The film is currently in pre-production and due to be released in 2018.
Vikander took out a moment to answer a few questions about working on both the action-thriller, Jason Bourne, and the most recent love story, The Light Between Oceans. In a sweetly subdued tone, the humble all-natural beauty spoke about the stories behind her desire for wanting to work on the two powerful, yet very different films.
STRIPLV: Tell us the story of your new film, The Light Between Oceans.
VIKANDER: It’s about a man named Tom, [played by Michael Fassbender], who has just come back from World War I. He’s been through so much trauma and tries to kind of escape, I guess, himself, and the rest of the world, and takes on this job that most people are not interested in, because it’s taking care of a lighthouse out in the middle of nowhere. On the way he meets Isabel, the character I’m playing. They fall in love and end up going out [to the lighthouse] together, but they go through a lot of loss. And the film and the story takes a big turn, and it’s about great people, and good people, who you know, sometimes in life don’t make the best choices or best decisions.
STRIPLV: What drew you to work on this film?
VIKANDER: I read the script before I read the book, but both of them had me in tears. You know, it’s a great love story, but it’s also a third party that comes in halfway through with the role of Hannah. And it’s just a film, a story that makes me believe every single character, and I feel for all of them. And even though there are two different sides to an argument, I kind of feel for all of them.
STRIPLV: Tell us about what you found interesting about your character, Isabel.
VIKANDER: Well, I saw her as quite whimsical and her parents maybe look at her and see this girl that doesn’t see reality for what it is. And I think when she meets Tom, she has a man who actually lets her be who she is, and is calm about it and wants to see the, I don’t know… yeah, I think she feels calm with Tom. She’s able to relax and be herself. She’s very naïve in a way, and she’s very open and she doesn’t think. I think she’s a very emotional person, either if it’s black or white, I think she just goes for it. And that makes her sometimes… she goes with her impulses, which in this story can take her on quite tough journeys. But I admire her for her willpower, and her strength and life spirit.
STRIPLV: The relationship obviously between Isabel and Tom is very beautiful. Can you describe the relationship? And what does The Light Between Oceans say about the enduring power of love?
VIKANDER: My character Isabel is kind of the opposite of what Tom’s become through his experiences, in the sense that she’s so full of life and energy. And of course everyone kind of also bonds and connects during this time because it was almost like a whole generation that was wiped out. But it’s so she can of course see or understand partly the loss that he’s gone through and what he’s seen that wants to kind of bring him back. She’s very transparent. You can kind of read her initially, and sometimes she can do things and say things without thinking. But you can’t really blame her, because it all kind of comes from an initial loving place; a place of just pure heart.
STRIPLV: Tell us about Derek Cianfrance’s method of direction.
VIKANDER: Derek is so humble and so giving in the fact that he just let us be in the scene and kind of see whatever happens. We’d play it out, and then he’d just throw out: “Go back from start,” like, “Go with the first sentence again.” And then you’ve already been in it and you don’t need to cut and do it all over again. You can have a continuous take, but kind of, you know, circle the scene and be in it. Yeah, it’s a very special way of working, I guess. I think most of the preparation of this film comes with how Derek works. I mean, I’ve never shot a film the way we do now. And I knew about… I’ve heard about the way he works. I was a big admirer of Blue Valentine and The Place Behind the Pines, and I know I’ve met a few people that had worked with him before I met him. And he kind of creates the opportunity and the space for us to just be in it.
STRIPLV: What was it like working on the set?
VIKANDER: We lived on set. Derek, I, Michael, you know, the tiny crew. We lived on the beach, 20 seconds away from the house. And we actually changed makeup and hair in the shed of the house of the set. And the first day actually came… I mean we did have two weeks of rehearsals, and of course I did prep work with the dialect, which was quite British, in 1920’s. But he made it possible. He had all the sets built up for us to be able live in them.
STRIPLV: We hear you had a unique entrance onto the set…
VIKANDER: They had me, like, walk into this shed with my eyes closed, not looking anywhere. I mean, it was pitch black anyway. They took me in there and they put me in my costume for the first time, and my makeup, and then they just had me sit there. I didn’t see Derek. I didn’t see anyone. And then the AD came in and said, “Well, Alicia, we’re now gonna open this door.” There were no windows in the shed. “And you’re gonna… just look around, and you’ll see Derek and the DOP, and a tiny crew somewhere. Just walk towards them and experience the island for the first time.” And that’s what I did. So I opened up the door. I ran up this hill. And, as my character, I got to use her childlike excitement of just feeling the nature, and then I walked up towards the lighthouse, and at that moment on the other side of the hill, the sun came up (snaps fingers) maybe five seconds after I reached the top. And I was just struck by it. I had never seen such a beautiful place in my life.
STRIPLV: The film has been described as a timeless love story...
VIKANDER: Well, I think that it feels like it’s quite old fashioned in the sense that that’s not really one good or bad side. It’s real people and emotions, and everyone’s extremely leveled, and it’s a story about the love between, not only about partners, but also between children and parents, and friends, and about what you do for pure emotional survival, and different longings to find love and to start a family.
STRIPLV: What was it like working with Michael Fassbender?
VIKANDER: It’s been wonderful working with Michael. I’ve been a big admirer of his work. I knew that he was attached. I think I’ve seen most of his films before, and he is such a committed actor. I mean, just to be able to go in there, and he gives you everything on every single take.
STRIPLV: Can you speak to how the film puts forth the idea that love and hope can get you through the most challenging of times?
VIKANDER: Yeah, I think that’s the last thing that you cling onto is hope, and to have that, you need to kind of have a belief in goodness, and with that, I think, a belief in love. And I feel like that that’s something that makes them so… you know, they all are pure fighters, I think, every single character in this film. They’re very human. They may not make the best decisions, or the morally right ones sometimes, but it’s really just from a longing of love.
STRIPLV: What does the film mean to you on a personal level?
VIKANDER: When I read the script, it felt extremely close and humane. I loved that. And it made me go back and read the book, that’s of course an even more in-depth version of our film. Sometimes it feels like this film feels old fashioned because it was a long time when I’d read a book or I’d seen a film when I thought I was gonna to choose a side or have a very clear opinion of characters or the story. And I loved the fact that this was kind of how normal life is, when you actually get in depth, and you get to know the reasons why somebody acts in a certain way. And then you start to relate to it and you kind of start to see your own actions that you’ve made, and you know the situations when you haven’t been proud of decisions you made, even though you never, you know, intended to do something wrong. And Derek, I’d seen his films before I came on this project, and I loved the fact that it always felt like… I was almost watching them kind of embarrassed, because it felt like I was in the room. It was almost like I watched something very personal happening in a scene between two people that felt like it was the real story; the human stories that happen surrounding us in our homes, and in our friend’s lives and in our own. And it becomes very emotionally draining. So I think, with this film, he, once in the beginning mentioned to me that he wanted to make a melodrama. And that’s sometimes a word that has a bit of a negative cling to it. But I realized he actually proved me wrong. When I’ve seen the film now, it’s one of the most difficult things to make and I love that he aimed for it, because a melodrama is the pure, traditional emotions that became famous because they’re all so universal. And that, I really appreciate that he dared go for that.
STRIPLV: Without giving anything away, how is there an unexpected turn?
VIKANDER: Well, we find Isabel and Tom, after they fall in love, before he heads out to the island, he ends up bringing her with. So they live on this island, and they fall in love and have the wish of starting a family, and sadly, they end up losing two children. But she gets pregnant again, and before people know, (again it’s going to end very badly), there’s this boat that washes up on shore in this very remote place, and in there is a dead man and a baby. And then it’s the decision to of course maybe just call the authorities and of course report what you should about this baby that you just found. But then it’s the emotional, kind of almost religious experience, of having this child being brought to them in this situation that they’re in.
STRIPLV: Describe how it’s a story of good people and not necessarily always making the best choices for themselves.
VIKANDER: It is a film about good people that you relate to and feel for, and that sometimes they don’t make the best decisions or the right, morally best choices. And I think when you’re just put with the dilemma in front of you, most people would know what is right and what’s wrong. But as soon as you start to engage with people and realize that every single choice that led up to this dilemma, in the end, it kind of just happened because of pure, loving reasons. And then it’s hard to start to judge people, and you can even start to relate to certain facts of it. I remember when I had read the book, I went on this famous website where there were thousands of comments from people who had read it. And it was so interesting. That means it’s a story that is universal, that people were as taken away by it as I was. I cried the first time that I read the script and it’s because people end up having such different opinions and views. And it’s a film that makes people talk and kind of think about their own relationships and families and friends. I love that a film can bring that much discussion.
STRIPLV: What are you hoping audiences will feel while seeing this movie?
VIKANDER: I hope that the audience will experience what I felt when I read the book, I was quite thrown by the emotional journey and I enjoyed being able to just let go and to feel all the loss, but also the… I think it made me feel okay with some of the maybe... not the best choices I’ve done in my life, and to also accept and to know that it is a part of life. And that’s why I fell in love with all of the characters in this film, and that, I hope, the audience will too.
STRIPLV: Tell us just a little about when you worked on the Jason Bourne film here in Vegas. Stepping into a franchise that you were personally a fan of before you got the role—what was that experience like for you?
VIKANDER: Pretty surreal. I had seen these films several times, and when I just heard that I was going to get the chance to have lunch with Paul Greengrass, I was kind of just excited to kind of meet him. I kinda think, instead of sitting down, and having the normal chitchatting of getting to know each other and talk about the project… I just wanted to tell him what a big fan I was—and that his films have been something I’d gone back to many times. So I’d gotten a phone call saying that he’d invited me to come and join, and not knowing that he was teaming me up with Matt Damon again, to make a new one. I was just over the moon. So thrilled.
STRIPLV: Was the experience of working with Paul Greengrass as big a dream as one would think it might be, knowing him just a little bit?
VIKANDER: First of all, he’s such an incredible director. It comes from the feature films he’s done, leading on to the documentaries that he’s famous for, that I also think has kind of been his kind of foundation inspiration till what one has made Jason Bourne movies so authentic, as well. And, if you’ve ever met this man, he’s one of the most sweet and happy men. For me, this was a very new franchise. And I kind of stepped in and it was something very different, having all these hard and direct lines, and being very technical. And every single line had this kind of punch and pace to it. It was quite nerve-wracking, stepping in. But he just transcends such trust and belief, and it was such a humbling thing to have such a generous director to be able to work with for this film.
STRIPLV: One of the things that I really liked about your role is that you were portraying the new generation. This woman was younger than most of the females we’ve seen in the past films—really strong females that came before you. And Heather Lee is no different—just younger, with a different mindset.
VIKANDER: Yeah. Like you said, I think it just shows, in reality, in the world where it has changed. Joan Allen, I mean, she did such a fantastic job, and had such power and strength in her character in the previous films. But yes, Heather Lee is young, but nowadays, it’s quite a thing. I met a guy who is the head of computer learning at Google. And at the office there, everyone’s under 30. Everyone has several PhD’s and it kind of is mind-blowing to know because of the computer and the world of tech. It is such a young thing. So, the people who have the knowledge and who are the experts in this field are kinda the ones who can now very fast rise to power.
STRIPLV: What was it like coming back to Las Vegas for the film premiere? You spent almost two months here when filming the movie.
VIKANDER: We were all extremely happy that we were able to come here and have the American premiere back in Vegas, because this place meant so much for our film, and people from this city and the locals were so supporting of us—closing down the Strip, and taking over, making traffic jams and noise all night—and I was just happy being here, in the sense that I had been here doing the very kind of classical in-and-out two-days partying. And I was thinking: “Oh, my God. How am I gonna manage to be there for two months?” But through the people that we worked here with, the locals, they kind of showed me the real side of Vegas. I got out to the suburbs. I found my favorite restaurants, the little coffee shops. I went hiking in the “Red Rocks”, and I did go to the Grand Canyon, which was like a dream come true, on one of the weekends.