Lara Croft is finding her roots.
Next year’s Tomb Raider reboot, adapted from the 2013 video game, portrays Croft (Alicia Vikander) as a young woman working an ordinary day job in London. A clue leads her to embark on a search for her presumed-dead archeologist father (Dominic West).
“She has all the fierce, tough, curious, intelligent traits,” Vikander says, “but we’ve stripped away all of her experience. She hasn’t gone on an adventure just yet. She thought he was a stuck up businessperson living in the modern youth culture of suburban London, but then this whole box of information. This is the beginning.”
For the 28-year-old actress, starting from the beginning was a major pull for doing the film. “I was surprised that my mum knew what Tomb Raider was. That’s due to the fact that Angelina Jolie made Lara Croft such an icon. But this is a beautiful way of showing a very loved character from more angles.”
Jolie, interestingly, starred in the first Tomb Raider movie in 2001, two years after winning the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for Girl, Interrupted, a timeline that Vikander is echoing. (The Swedish actress won Best Supporting Actress in 2016 for The Danish Girl.) “I’m emotionally drawn to something that’s very different from what I’ve done before,” she says. “Naturally that gives me an extra thrill. I have mostly done dramas and indie films in my career but I don’t know how many times I’ve watched big adventure films like Indiana Jones or The Mummy. I love to get embraced in all those big journeys and to do an action role has always been a child’s dream of mine.”
And Vikander’s background as a dancer prepared her for all the challenges that director Roar Uthaug (2015’s intense disaster movie The Wave) tossed her way.
“Just like in The Wave, we have a lot of water sequences,” she says. “I spent my last two days of shooting in a tank and that was my 16th total day being fully drenched or submerged in the water.”
So come March 16, 2018, we’ll get to watch Croft — and Vikander — basically sink or swim. “For one action scene, we used the London venue for Olympic rafting,” she says with a bemused laugh. “They threw me down that river — with my hands tied — about 50 times. I didn’t need to act, just react!”
Vikander, also, feels fortified by the success of a recent female action hero onscreen. “I went to the cinema and saw Wonder Woman the other day. It’s a mixture of joy and sadness pouring over me, as I was thinking, ‘Oh, my God, I haven’t seen women onscreen like that.’ And I wondered how many stories there have there been throughout the years that haven’t been told. If Wonder Woman made such an impact, which it deserves to, then we need to use ten times as much force to make some change. Because it needs to happen.”