Alicia Vikander, 29, has led a charmed life, and she’s probably the first to admit it. Two years ago, she was the surprise winner at the Academy Awards (she won Best Supporting Actress for her turn in The Danish Girl). And then, defying expectations, last year she married Michael Fassbender, 40.
At her press conference for Tomb Raider – in which she assumes the role of Lara Croft made famous by Angelina Jolie – she’s a delightful interview.
So, you’re turning 30 this year?
Yes, that’s right, I am turning 30 this year. I remember when I was growing up, I thought when you turn 30, you are a grown-up. I don’t know about that now, we will see.
The nice thing is as I get older I think I get more and more kind towards myself, which is kinda nice. So, I am just happy to add on another year.
What hopes do you have for the next decade?
Not to be so harsh on myself. From quite a young age, young people are pressured to decide what to do in life, what college to go to, what path to take.
I think young people should be allowed to listen to what they love and not feel forced into something or have to listen to other people’s ideas. That’s something I wish I could have told myself then.
So acting wasn’t your first love?
My mum is a stage actress so I was introduced to theatre through her, but I chose a different path and went to ballet school for many years.
But then when I was 16, I saw this little ad in the newspaper that they were looking for teenage girls for a TV series.
I always had an urge, a love for acting, so I snuck away and went to the audition.
Then I got a call back – I didn’t tell them that I was going to ballet school and I didn’t tell my ballet school that I went for an audition because that was not allowed; so then when I got the part I freaked out totally.
I just knew that I couldn’t say no. I risked leaving the ballet school for three months to do that series, and they were kind enough to take me back, so I did finish my ballet education.
But then when I was 18, I realised what I really wanted to do was act, and I made that decision.
The father-daughter relationship is at the core of Tomb Raider. Did it mirror your relationship with your father?
My dad has always been very present in my life, and that is very different from the story that we have here with Lara. My father meant a lot in my life, and he has been pleased to see a very happy daughter over the last year.
And yet you were brought up by your mum, and have five half-siblings?
Yes, we are six in total – three boys and two girls. I am in the middle; we are from four different mums. But I give credit to my dad.
The youngest one is six, and I have one who is 16, so these two I didn’t really grow up with, but the other three I did, especially the two half-siblings who are just two or three years younger than me.
We were always very close. We all lived (separately) with our mums, but then every second week, we stayed at our dad’s house, so I was kind of the lone child with my mum where I got all the attention, and then I was with this huge crazy, big family every second weekend.
What influences did you get from each parent?
My mum introduced me to the world of film. She still inspires me, and I watch her films and plays.
And your dad?
He has a love for adventure, sci-fi movies, so maybe I have the love of that from him.
My dad is a psychiatrist and has always been very interested in people and humanity, and that is something that I explore in my work. I very often find myself in conversations with him about people and human behaviour in general.
Your parents parted when you were five months old. How come you believe in marriage?
We believe in love, not marriage.
So how has your life changed since marriage?
It hasn’t changed. I have always been a big romantic, and I believe – like I said – that, what people are hoping and searching for in life is love.
And it’s also warm. I am from Sweden but I am not very good with cold. And that’s why I considered London my base, and to be honest, I never thought I would want to leave London, but then Brexit happened. I realised I would never have been hired for Anna Karenina, which was my first English-speaking film, (if I never lived in London).
When Brexit happened, that was a really sad day. So now we live in Lisbon. I consider myself very much European and I want to live in Europe.
You have started a production company. How come?
It just felt natural. I wanted to produce because the films that I have done over the last two years are films where I have been involved in the script process and where filmmakers have invited me into their edit room. So, I just had the hunger to be there for that entire process.
Michael is Irish. Have you been to Ireland?
Only once due to the fact that I haven’t had any time off. My dad has been there four times in his life, and it’s actually one of his favourite places. So I have grown up hearing about this beautiful place, and I finally got the chance to go last year. The coast line and the mountains are just stunning.
What are Michael’s qualities that you most admire?
He’s someone you can trust, who is kind, and who supports me in everything I do.
What was it like working with Michael (on The Light Between Oceans) and had you met him before?
We had met previously at the Toronto Film Festival, but the first time we really had a chat was when we started rehearsals in Wellington (New Zealand).
You always wonder if you are going to have chemistry with your co-star, especially making a film as intimate and emotionally intense as The Light Between Oceans.
And right away I felt like I was back home in Sweden working in this little theatre in Stockholm where I saw both Hunger and Fish Tank many years ago, and I thought he was one of the most brave performers and actors that I had seen.
Were you intimidated?
Of course. Because you can see in his work, how well-prepared he is and how he can step into each role so naturally.
But it helped when I have a challenging actor like Michael to push me, and from the very beginning he was supportive and easy to work with.
Falling in love on the set, how transforming was that?
I think that love is within everyone, and I don’t know if it changes the way you are.
All my life, I have been surrounded by a lot of people who have given me love, and hopefully I can give that back to other people.