The new TOMB RAIDER movie is coming up on us fast, Lara Croft style. The film franchise has been rebooted for 2018 and the story material is adapted from the 2013 game reboot. A number of famous faces were in the running for this new take on adventurer Lara Croft including Emilia Clarke, Saoirse Ronan and Cara Delavigne. At one point, the rumour mill had all-but-awarded the job to Daisy Ridley, but eventually it went to Sweden’s Alicia Vikander.
Vikander has a solid and varied career; movie roles include Joe Wright’s ANNA KARENINA (2012), the Western Australian crime film SON OF A GUN (2014) and the romantic period drama THE LIGHT BETWEEN OCEANS (2016). The role that catapulted her to the wider audience was Ava in Alex Garland’s EX MACHINA (2015). She gained another level of notice for her best supporting actress Oscar for her work in THE DANISH GIRL (2016)
Alicia Vikander and actor Walton Goggins (who plays the villain) joined producer Graham King and the picture’s Norwegian director, Roar Uthaug, to talk about the upcoming action adventure blockbuster.
QUESTION: How did you find the balance between making an original motion picture and honoring the fans of the game?
ROAR UTHAUG: It was important for us to honor the fans of the franchise, which has such a huge global following. It was a daunting challenge but we decided the best way to do that was to create an emotional connection with the character of Lara Croft, which Alicia does so well.
QUESTION: As Lara Croft, you have some scratches on your face that are like those on the game’s Lara. Was that something you had requested be in the movie?
ALICIA VIKANDER: That’s sweet you noticed that. We had a lot of fun making sure that we placed little Easter eggs in the film. I wanted to gather as much information about Lara Croft as possible, and make sure my Lara had the elements that has made her such an iconic character. She’s been with us for twenty-two years. So, I had a lot of fun trying to find those core traits.
QUESTION: Why did you decide to make this film an origin story?
ALICIA VIKANDER: This film is inspired by the 2013 rebooted version of the game, in which Lara is introduced before she became the tomb raider. The origin story lets the audience get to know the character, and relate to her on a more human level. It was wonderful to play a young woman who’s still trying to find her footing in the world, while dealing with her father’s disappearance. Through Lara’s adventure to uncover that mystery, she begins to access the traits that ultimately come to define her as an action hero.
Lara’s challenges and struggles also make her relatable, so you root for her even more. By the end of her journey in this story, you celebrate and look up to her.
QUESTION: How does the absence of her father help define Lara’s journey?
ALICIA VIKANDER: As Roar mentioned, we wanted to find an emotional way in to the character, one of which is through Lara’s relationship with her father. It also helps explain her love for history and mythology. Lara begins to discover and accept who she is, which is something most people can relate to.
QUESTION: How did you physically prepare to play Lara?
ALICIA VIKANDER: We introduce Lara as a physical being – she trains in mixed martial arts and works as a bicycle courier. I began training about four months before starting production. Roar, Graham and I wanted the action sequences to be a big part of this film, and to be believable. For example, how this young woman could defeat a bigger, stronger man.
QUESTION: What was it like to experience that transformation, along with Alicia.
GRAHAM KING: Of all the films I’ve been involved with, I’ve never seen someone with so much dedication and who put so much energy and excitement into the physical aspects of a character, as I have with Alicia. She was in the gym every day. I’d always see her practicing the action and stunts with so much passion. Even when she’s doing the big action heroics, it’s so grounded in the way she plays it, that you’re just with her the entire journey.
WALTON GOGGINS: The interesting thing about Lara’s physicality is that it’s not rooted in a superpower. This is a very strong young woman who uses her wits, as well as her physical prowess to become a hero; Alicia really makes that believable.
QUESTION: Alicia, were you injured during filming?
ALICIA VIKANDER: I still have like little wounds on my legs, but no serious injuries. We had an incredible stunt team that made sure everything was safe.
QUESTION: Walton, how did you approach playing Vogel, who is the film’s villain?
WALTON GOGGINS: I love villains, but they must be multi-dimensional characters. I like to get in there and discover the character. I found Vogel to be sad, exhausted and at his wits end. He’s given up things that are important to him to finish his mission.
The scene where Vogel meets Lara on the beach is revealing. For me, Vogel’s behavior comes from being baffled at his good fortune in meeting Lara. The cards have always been stacked against him and now, with Lara’s arrival, that’s all changed. It was rewarding and fulfilling to interpret Vogel that way.
QUESTION: Alicia, were there moments on set that you thought were almost too daunting?
ALICIA VIKANDER: I had never taken on a character and a role in a film like this. I was a dancer, but I was not sure I could look real doing an MMA fight scene. I was almost like, please don’t look (laughs). All eyes were on me and that was scary. But the biggest overall challenge was to make sure the film had both spectacle and heart.
QUESTION: It’s impressive how Lara avoids using a gun, and instead relies on her wits.
ALICIA VIKANDER: I loved that, and it was something we discussed early on. Lara uses her wits and what’s around her.
QUESTION: How were you pitched the film?
ALICIA VIKANDER: I became interested when they told me that it was going to be inspired by the rebooted game, which was released in 2013. I did my research and realized that it was a very different take on Lara, and then my imagination began spinning. When I met with Roar, I realized we shared a vision for the film.
WALTON GOGGINS: I had just seen Roar’s film The Wave, which I was a huge fan of, when I got a call that Roar wanted to meet with me. We had a long talk and I read the script, and thought, wow, this is different. I had incredible conversations with Roar, Alicia and Graham. From that point on, I was hooked.
QUESTION: What was either your favorite scene to film, or the most difficult scene to film?
ALICIA VIKANDER: Yeah, sometimes that is the same scene! (laughs). One of my favorites was the scene where Lara meets Vogel. It was both difficult and exciting because Walton and I tried so many different things.
The scene where Lara bicycles around East London was a wonderful way to introduce her. When I was twenty, I lived in east London with my girlfriends. And I used to have a bike, because it’s so crazy expensive to get on the tube, and I almost was severely injured riding the bike. So, I know how difficult it is to bicycle in London.
WALTON GOGGINS: That first scene with Alicia was a memorable one for me, too. We knew we wanted to disorient the audience and have them wonder where the characters are in the scene. The audience is experiencing what Lara is.
ROAR UTHAUG: One of my favorite scenes has Lara going down a river on an old Japanese bomber; that was inspired by the 2013 game. Filming encompassed different elements, like Alicia being in a tank, on the wing set, and on a big gimbal plane set that would spin 180 degrees – culminating in Alicia speeding down a whitewater Olympic rafting course, with her hands tied.
ALICIA VIKANDER: Twenty-five times (laughs).
ROAR UTHAUG: When we put all that together, it made for a great sequence.
GRAHAM KING: That first day of filming was the scene Alicia and Walton have already mentioned, in the tent, where Lara meets Vogel. Seeing their chemistry on set that day, of watching them getting into their characters, gave the production a lot of momentum. But as a producer, it’s difficult to single out a day or scene. They were all incredible to experience.