Throughout the history of film, female heroes have proven to be some of the most fierce icons of the action genre. With the upcoming release of Tomb Raider, based on the 2013 reboot of the video game franchise, Alicia Vikander hopes to add one more hero to that list as Lara Croft.
Unlike the 2001 film Lara Croft: Tomb Raider starring Angelina Jolie, which was based on the first video game, this new movie is looking back at Lara Croft’s origin and the role they played in the adventurer she becomes. As Vikander explains, while speaking at Tomb Raider‘s press junket, it’s the best way to introduce the world to her Lara.
“If you have the origin story, then that’s a way for us to get to know our character, to feel for them, to relate to them on a more human level,” she says. “I thought it was wonderful that I could play a young woman who’s still trying to find her footing in the world…”
Just as important to Vikander, though, was showing audiences that anyone could be a hero–not just those with superpowers. “What I loved was that when I met [director] Roar [Uthaug] and Graham [King] and the producers, the fact that we wanted the actions sequences that were going to be a big part of this film kind of be set in a reality,” she says. “Would you buy that this young girl could beat this bigger, stronger man? We then, storywise, integrated that she’s a physical being–[she] trains in MMA and is a bicycle courier. I wanted her to be a strong girl.”
Of course, to portray it, Vikander had to become that physical being herself. According to King, Vikander trained hard in the gym every single day throughout production to keep herself in peak physical condition. It’s a transformation he likens to another iconic big-screen heroine. “I would actually put her performance along Sigourney [Weaver] when she did Aliens,” he says.
Speaking to GameSpot, he elaborates. “She committed in a huge way. She was excited from an early stage. She has a lot of ideas, which I love. Actors should have a lot of ideas,” King says. “She was so committed in the transformation of her physically and mentally. She’s in every scene in the movie, I think, apart from maybe one or two. She worked her butt off every single day in the most extreme heat in Africa.”
Whether the work Vikander and the movie’s creative team put into bringing Lara Croft to life was worth it is something audiences will have to decide. Luckily they won’t have to wait long. Tomb Raider hits theaters on March 16.