Alicia vikander

An enforced pause meant that the globe-hopping, high-achieving Alicia Vikander had the chance to lớn stop và reflect. Now she"s baông xã at work, it"s not all business as usual...

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Photography: Hans Feurer, Styling: Hortense Manga

‘I’M IN A GARAGE!’ cries Oscar-winning actor Alicia Vikander. She picks up her máy tính và twirls me around on Zoom to prove sầu it. Indeed, she is surrounded by grey concrete pillars và industrial strip lighting in, what I can gather, is a subterranean garage somewhere in Paris. And then she’s baông xã, the camera on her dainty figure with hair scraped bachồng inkhổng lồ a ballerina’s bun, revealing tiny Trắng ear buds that wouldn’t have looked out of place on her character Ava, the AI robot she played in Ex Machina.

It’s not her garage. She’s on set for the cover shoot, but Vikander is perfectly happy with the set-up. After all, she says, this is her first day back at work after several months.

As coronavi khuẩn shuttered the world, Vikander was stuông xã in France where she’d attended Paris Fashion Week, sitting front row at Louis Vuitton – a brvà she’s been an ambassador of for five years. With European borders rapidly closing, she escaped the capital thành phố to lớn her holiday house near a small farming village in rural France, where she spent most of lockdown holed up with her husb&, the actor Michael Fassbender.

The Zoom calls she took there, for work và lớn catch up with family, had a slightly more homely background than the one she’s framed by now, with a bookshelf & a window looking out onto greenery. I ask whether there was ever, you know, any risk of Fassbender walking past the window unsuspectingly while she was on a Call. It’s not happened thus far... ‘But that’s the thing when you’re in your house,’ she laughs. ‘There’s always a risk of someone in the background. My husb& was often around making coffee or putting the boiler on,’ she says, giving a rare domestic insight into the life of one of Hollywood’s starriest, but famously private, couples.


However cosy the set up in France sounds – & it does sound idyllic, with trips lớn the market, grilled fish cooked on the BBQ, impromptu nhảy đầm in the kitchen và virtual poker nights with her family – her enthusiasm for being baông chồng at work is palpable.

‘I’m actually really excited,’ she says in an accent that is mostly transatlantic, though she pronounces certain words with a clean, staccato lớn edge – the only evidence of her Swedish native sầu tongue. She’s not oblivious khổng lồ the new normal though: ‘What we’ve sầu gone through these past few months... I realise how different it feels being baông chồng to lớn what we used to call “normality”.’

For the past 16 years, normality for Vikander has been a fairly peripatetic existence. At age 15, she moved from Gothenburg – on the west coast of Sweden, where she lived with her mother, also an actor – khổng lồ Stockholm khổng lồ join the Royal Swedish Ballet School. After three years there, she made one of the hardest decisions in her life: lớn quit ballet. ‘It was such a tough decision that I couldn’t even train or be in a dance studio... For about a year I had khổng lồ stop everything, that was just what I had khổng lồ go through,’ she recalls.


But performing wasn’t something she could give up easily, & aged trăng tròn she landed the lead role in the Swedish coming-of-age film Pure, for which she won a major award in Sweden. It was the first of many accolades for Vikander, who has worked continuously since then, making at least one film a year. In 2015, she starred in five major releases, including The Danish Girl for which she won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. Around that time, she met future husbvà Michael Fassbender on the phối of The Light Between Oceans, where the Irish-German star was taken by her ‘bravery’ as an actor. Vikander has said that she was struông xã by his openness, such as the way he’d solicit her advice for trickier scenes. The couple married in October 2017 with a low-key ceremony on a beach in Ibiza & chose to settle in Lisbon, ‘khổng lồ get away from London and big cities’.

I ask whether they would consider working together again. She takes a moment to lớn think before saying, ‘I would love to work with him one day, but we’re very much individuals, which I love & I think is good in any relationship. We both take on parts because it’s a film that is right for us, so it would have to be the same if we were ever lớn work together again.’


Indeed, one of the most beguiling things about Vikander is the films she’s chosen throughout her career, which have been much more art house than Hollywood supernhân vật. That is, before she inherited the role of Lara Croft from Angelina Jolie for the 2018 remake of Tomb Raider.

This enforced hiatus then, is the longest the 31-year-old has ever been in one place for more than a month in a long time. As someone who is renowned for their discipline and dedication – Joe Wright, who directed her in her first big English-speaking role in Anna Karenina, called her a ‘relentless perfectionist’ – to lớn suddenly have to stop and just be wasn’t easy for Vikander.

‘It’s part of my personality, that if I have sầu four days off then I want khổng lồ use them to vị something, lớn explore this new country or see these things. I want to lớn use the time và I think that’s maybe not the healthiest way of living sometimes,’ she says, reflecting that her dad, a psychiatrist, has often told her as much.


‘I’ve sầu struggled with a lot of both anxiety and stress over the years. My dad’s always said, “You know, Alicia , it takes three weeks for your body toàn thân lớn know that you’ve stopped and you’re about lớn relax.” His voice has been ringing in the baông xã of my head several times ,’ she says.

It was only after week five sầu of being stuck in the same house that she managed lớn ease into lớn it and ‘really enjoy being with myself... how lovely it was khổng lồ have sầu a day when I was just a bit bored. That felt pretty amazing.’ Will she take some of the new-found calm with her inlớn life post-lockdown? ‘I think it’s OK lớn work a lot, then take off three or four weeks a year... I’ll take up my dad’s three-week rule & try lớn take a chunk of time at some point to lớn recharge & bring myself back khổng lồ zero,’ she says, as a promise khổng lồ her future self.

In the meantime, she’s gearing up for the release of her next big film, The Glorias, a biopic based on the book My Life on the Road by pioneering feminist Gloria Steinem. Vikander stars as one of four Glorias, hence the title – alongside Julianne Moore, who depicts the activist’s older years, & two rising stars who portray the young Glorias. Vikander plays the activist’s formative years from the ages of đôi mươi to 40. Her first scene in the film is on a packed train in India, sharing chai with a carriage full of women in sarees. It’s during these travels that Steinem experienced the compassion of local activists who went into lớn villages and listened lớn women’s struggles. Inspired, she returned lớn Thủ đô New York where she called off her college engagement và started out as a journamenu, và later went on lớn found Ms., the groundbreaking feminist magazine.

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Vikander’s portrayal of Steinem is already earning early Oscar hype. But it’s also a part that she’s clearly relished, mostly for the long conversations she’s had with other women about Gloria’s life. ‘The first thing I did when I read the book was gọi my mum & some of my friends’ mums to lớn hear their memories of her baông xã in the day. I was blown away by the journey she’s done & women lượt thích her throughout history,’ she says.

It seems the feeling was mutual. When I ask Steinem about Vikander playing her on screen, she says that her performance was enchanting: ‘Only Julie Taymor – a genius in every way, including casting – understood that a Swedish/European actor could inhabit me, an American from the Midwest. From eating lunch with my father in a very American diner, lớn travelling with women on a train in India, Alicia captured emotions that can’t really be described... She inspires that most rare and crucial quality: trust.’

Although Vikander plays Steinem during the 1960s & 1970s – when the activist settled inkhổng lồ her signature style of oversized aviator sunglasses and miniskirts, which were ridiculed by both men & hardline feminists – there’s a clear resonance with today’s protests in support of women’s reproductive and civil rights.

We talk about women in France not being able to lớn get an abortion during lockdown and the events in the US following the murder of George Floyd. Vikander, like many people, has spent time trying to educate herself by watching films and listening lớn Blachồng friends talk about their experiences. The only thing stopping her from joining the Blachồng Lives Matter protests, which took place around the world, was that she was struck down by Covid-19, ‘I wanted to be out there but, for obvious reasons, I couldn’t leave my house,’ she says regretfully.

Playing the role of Steinem và being able to meet her, inspired a personal epiphany for Vikander: ‘I grew up in a house with a mother who taught me about the word feminism from the age of five,’ she says, ‘And I respect that, but then we’re all part of the general unconscious bias of the world we’ve sầu been brought up in. I feel over the past few years và then seeing Gloria’s work và her history, we’re being confronted again with the knowledge that it’s been a very hard journey.

So much work & thought has been put into it, which sadly doesn’t often happen by itself. Time helps, but it’s also due to lớn some incredible people along the way who have been daring enough when everyone else is trying khổng lồ shut them down.’

She spoke to lớn Steinem about her fears of challenging the status quo. As the film shows, the activist was terrified of public speaking at the beginning. These conversations helped Vikander confront some of her own fears. The actor describes her thirties as a new, more nội dung decade. ‘I’ve finally started to be a bit more gentle và nicer lớn myself,’ she says wistfully. ‘I want khổng lồ vì chưng all these things, và I want to progress & I want to be clever & smart & lớn learn. But I think when you’re in your twenties it’s hard, because you’re trying lớn find out who you are.’

Part of Vikander’s epiphany has been realising that it’s normal to lớn change your opinion: ‘I think that’s important và that’s something Gloria said, too.’ Last year, the actor took an unconscious bias course. ‘It was so interesting. You realise that there are all these fast information in your brain that you’ve been taught & it’s OK lớn have sầu had an opinion. I’m not as afraid... I thought I saw the world in one way, now that’s starting to change. That’s something Gloria said was OK: khổng lồ have different versions of yourself, because you transform all the time.’

There was a time when Vikander was too scared to lớn speak up for herself. When she first worked with Julianne Moore in năm trước on fantasy film Seventh Son, she recalls an incident when a man on phối made a distasteful joke about her for everyone to hear. Vikander’s 20-year-old self didn’t dare say anything – ‘I was just thankful to lớn be there. I was afraid of speaking up or losing respect, or that people would find me difficult’ – but Julianne Moore did. ‘I think she was lượt thích, “If you ever say anything like that again, I’m leaving and we’re done.” That changed my situation on set going forward và it meant the world to lớn me.’

Although Vikander says she’s never experienced any sexual harassment on phối, she recalls other uncomfortable environments: ‘It’s mostly been men, but women too, who have sầu talked about sex on mix in a way that I just don’t find appropriate in a workspace at all,’ she says. ‘I understvà what can go wrong in those situations.’

She has seen a noticeable change since #MeToo, however; a recent project for Netflix involved a three-hour group session with the cast, which involved talking about boundaries – Vikander says she’s a hugger & had to realise that not everyone wants lớn be hugged on set – as well as laying down certain rules, including two colleagues not being allowed lớn meet in their khách sạn room lớn discuss work. She sat next to lớn her co-star Riley Keough &, when they came out of the session, they couldn’t believe sầu what they’d just sat through: ‘We said if it had existed when we were trăng tròn, it would have for sure been another vibe.’

But even before she started working in Hollywood, Vikander had already experienced the very traditional world of ballet. It’s clear that her relationship with her time there is mixed: it’s where she got her discipline and work ethic from, but it also put her, và her teenage body toàn thân, under a lot of căng thẳng.

‘I’ve sầu often thought khổng lồ myself, If I were lớn have sầu a kid, would I put them in ballet school? I vì really treasure a lot of my work ethic and things that I got from that education, but it either makes you or breaks you. And it could have as easily have gone the other way ,’ she says.

The effect it had on her body toàn thân image is also something that has stayed with Vikander: ‘Being in a leotard looking at your body in a mirror seven hours a day, six days a week and having people talk about your toàn thân in front of you and in front of other girls & boys... Growing up with that is not healthy.’

‘I was very lucky to go through ballet school without having an eating disorder. I don’t know how, I think it was my mum who talked lớn me about it every day,’ she recalls. ‘But when I stopped ballet, I continued lớn eat a lot & – it’s stupid because I was really thin when I was khiêu vũ – but I gained two or three kilos and I freaked out when I saw a phokhổng lồ because my toàn thân had changed’.

It was then that naturally petite Vikander started restricting what she ate. ‘Like so many other girls I was lượt thích, I shouldn’t eat carbs. That was the first thing I heard about, so I stopped eating bread.’ It was only when preparing for her role as Lara Croft, when she trained at 4am most days before filming started and gained 5kilogam in muscle, that she says she really understood the importance of diet và a healthy approach to lớn getting strong.

It’s a regime she might have sầu lớn take up again soon if talks of Tomb Raider 2, directed by Ben Wheatley, come lớn fruition, even if the chances of Hollywood opening up again in the near future look uncertain. ‘The world we live sầu in right now... there’s a lot of fear,’ she says, not allowing herself khổng lồ get too excited.

With all this uncertainty hanging in the air, I ask whether she believes in fate, và things working out for a reason. After all, there was a time when it looked unlikely that she’d be able lớn bởi vì both The Danish GirlThe Light Between Oceans because of a filming clash, which was eventually resolved. The two films have been pivotal in her life, the former winning her an Osoto and the latter introducing her to lớn her husb&.

‘I think things come & go. I’ve sầu played a lot of Yahtzee during lockdown. It’s pretty crazy when you play it a thousand times và you realise it’s going to end up being the same numbers for both people at the over of it. But somehow along the way you have the best luck ever và you win 14 times in a row,’ she laughs. ‘Sometimes you’re too busy khổng lồ realise that you’re having a good roll và you can get blinded by the tough things you go through... I think it’s lượt thích that in life. But of course, that time was a jackpot!’ she says, flinging her arms up in front of the screen.

With that streak of winner’s luchồng, she signs off from the garage and gets lớn work. There’s no doubt that, for Vikander, there’ll be another jackpot just around the corner."s October 20đôi mươi issue hits newsstands on September 3.

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