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Apr 2022
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Apr 2022
Photoshoot  •  By  •  Comments Off on Alicia Vikander on motherhood, movies and going meta

The Oscar-winning Swedish actress Alicia Vikander tells Sasha Slater about her unconventional upbringing and playing the ultimate femme fatale.

It is a sunny, but bitingly cold, March morning on a quiet side street in Paris. Alicia Vikander, tousled, draped in diamonds, bare-footed and wearing a filmy black negligée, is posing on a rooftop for the Harper’s Bazaar shoot. There are 17 people milling around her holding coffees, warm robes and blusher, including the florist, the make-up artist and the photographer. And everywhere, spring flowers are piled up in drifts, while the stylist teases individual petals on a particularly lush, creamy bloom to get it ready for a close-up. It’s quite a scene.

The next morning, Vikander and I meet in the belle époque splendour of the Salon Proust at the Ritz Paris. She appears alone at precisely 8am, having been awake since six, playing with her one-year-old son. “He’s learning to walk,” she says. “So it’s good there’s carpet everywhere.” I shouldn’t be surprised she’s so punctual. She says she’s never late: “never. My mum was strict about time.”

At 33, Vikander already has an Oscar win under her belt (for The Danish Girl). In the course of her stellar career, she has stepped into Angelina Jolie’s combat boots as Lara Croft in Tomb Raider and has played an android in Ex Machina, the feminist writer Vera Brittain and the political activist Gloria Steinem. Along the way, she fell in love with her now-husband, the Irish-German actor Michael Fassbender; they have been married for five years and have just set up home together in Lisbon.

We are now in France to talk about her latest, and perhaps strangest, role to date: a Sky Atlantic television series called Irma Vep, written and directed by the French filmmaker Olivier Assayas. In it, she plays Mira, an American film star who comes to Paris to act in a remake of Les Vampires, a French silent classic about a criminal gang, whose antiheroine is the wholly amoral, black-catsuited femme fatale Irma Vep (an anagram of vampire).

This show offers a fresh take on Assayas’ cult 1996 film of the same name, which featured the Hong Kong star Maggie Cheung as the actress portraying the villainess. As Vikander says in her (almost) perfect, charmingly transatlantic, English, “it’s so meta, it’s eating itself “. She declines to define what the series is, exactly: melo-drama? Crime caper? Comedy? “I think, while I was making it, I played five roles… It’s like Chinese boxes. There’s always something else going on. I think that’s the beauty of the project.” The series also has a voyeuristic edge, giving a convincing impression of the drama behind the scenes on a struggling film whose director is on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

There was only one episode available to watch before our meeting, because Assayas is still hard at work in the editing suite, but it was very beguiling: one particularly intriguing moment comes when Mira (the name itself is, of course, an anagram of Irma) tries on her character’s velvet catsuit and somehow also adopts her criminal impulses, slipping upstairs and rummaging in another woman’s handbag.

As Assayas sees it, the silhouette of Irma in her Paul Poiret-designed black costume slinks through the history of cinema, from Les Vampires to The Matrix via To Catch a Thief. “She was the first bad girl who was a main character,” he says. “Before that, women were damsels in distress, but she had a striking originality and a strange ambiguous eroticism.” He “always wanted to work with [Vikander]; it was just a matter of finding the right role. And I thought about her at once for Irma Vep. She has all the depth, the complexity and the humour I needed.”

“He’s the most timid and kind person and everybody loves him,” Vikander says of the director, whom she has known for over half a decade. “When you go on set, it’s all the same people he’s worked with for years – it’s a joy to be with him and his friends, and it’s all happy and sweet. And then he wrote this in a few months, with its darkness, and you say, ‘This was actually in your mind?’ He’s an extreme observer.”

Generally, she says, she enjoys the experience of making a movie: “I love the communal feeling independent films give you.” There have been times, though, when she wasn’t so comfortable. Discussing intimacy coaches (a topic that, incidentally, comes up in the first episode of Irma Vep), Vikander is in favour. “The only thing that can’t be improvised is an intimate scene – you have to make choreography and stick to it. It’s the worst thing ever to do those scenes. I am very comfortable with my body and I’ve done quite a bit of nudity and sex scenes, but it’s never easy.”

The coaches, she says, “should have existed at the beginning of my career. I’ve been in situations that were not fine, where I didn’t feel I was protected.” She describes one occasion on a set where “everyone was busy doing their own thing and, in the middle, you have an actor who sits there naked for a couple of hours. And someone is supposed to arrive with a robe, and they don’t. It comes afterwards – [the knowledge that] that was not right. I should have been looked after.”

Vikander was brought up in Gothenburg, the daughter of an actress, Maria, and a psychiatrist, Svante. They divorced when she was young, and she lived most of the time with her mother but remained close to her father and his five other children. Indeed, when a Swedish documentary company interviewed her for a programme on the impact of divorce on children, they cut their footage of her because she seemed so unaffected. “I had an amazing childhood,” she says, smiling. “I’m fortunate to have a really solid base, emotionally, with friends and family I’m very close to.”

She talks fondly of her 20-year-old brother, who is currently disporting himself in Portugal, while she has telephoned one of her sisters in Australia already this morning. As for her female friends, she says: “I am really attracted to them. Very often, when I see them, I’m like, ‘Woah, she’s so impressive!’ With all my closest girlfriends, I had that first-love moment and I said to myself, ‘I need to be with that person.’ It’s another kind of love. I’ve never wanted to go to bed with a woman, but I’ve definitely had a spark and a magic and a rawness that is intense.”

Vikander left home when she was only 15, because she won a place at a ballet school in Stockholm. “I thought it was the most exciting thing in the entire world,” she says now, with a laugh. “Any 15-year-old would feel the same.” Her mother, though, was less than delighted to wave goodbye to her only daughter. “Now I ask her, ‘How? How could you bear it?’ And she says that the whole year before I left was horrific. She says, ‘You were doing well, and I saw you were going to get in. And, that year, it was constantly with me that you were going to leave.’ But after I’d gone, she was OK. She did the grieving in advance.”

As a teenager, alone in Stockholm, Vikander had a blast, living with a dancer boyfriend for a year and then alone in a tiny, 20-square-metre apartment, “in a beautiful old building. It was amazing. It had a Shoreditch vibe. Children of that age, they are capable – they are young adults.”

The family didn’t have money for luxuries (she still recalls being thrilled by her first sight of a hotel swimming pool at a shabby two-star resort in Turkey, while in her late teens). As a result, she is not sentimental when it comes to possessions. “I don’t own much,” she says, but she is partial to homegrown Swedish labels Acne Studios and Totême for their minimalist lines and high-quality fabrics. When she travels, she packs light, with one suitcase containing perhaps “two pairs of jeans and three sweaters”. Her son “has much more stuff than me right now”.

The family didn’t have money for luxuries (she still recalls being thrilled by her first sight of a hotel swimming pool at a shabby two-star resort in Turkey, while in her late teens). As a result, she is not sentimental when it comes to possessions. “I don’t own much,” she says, but she is partial to homegrown Swedish labels Acne Studios and Totême for their minimalist lines and high-quality fabrics. When she travels, she packs light, with one suitcase containing perhaps “two pairs of jeans and three sweaters”. Her son “has much more stuff than me right now”.

The two years of the pandemic seem to have been the first time she took a break. Vikander and Fassbender lived together in their house in the Basque country in France, and to begin with, she recalls, “there was obviously quite a lot of fear. But I was very fortunate that all my loved ones were fine. And it was the first time I was at home for that long since I was 19. That was quite a blessing, in the end.”

There was another reason why that time was so precious, however: she wanted to start a family of her own. “I tried to get pregnant for a while,” she confides. “So I had tough times during lockdown. I struggled for a while.” Vikander doesn’t normally stray into such personal territory during interviews. “You saw me now,” she says, slowly. “And I kind of stopped and thought, ‘Am I going to talk about this?’ But I think it’s universal and so many women go through similar things. And it’s tough.” Motherhood wasn’t something that Vikander had thought much about in the past. “I didn’t think I even wanted children, actually, until I was 30.” It was the experience of having a miscarriage that brought home to her how much she wanted to be a mother. “For a while I didn’t think that I could get pregnant.” But now she has her baby, she finds she has changed “in every way. It’s life. It’s so profound.”

The pandemic was “a chance for my husband and me to be at home, just cooking. We had a routine. We worked and we met up with five other families on Zoom and worked out Monday to Friday together.” Since the regulations in France at the time were draconian, involving carrying a passport every time you left the house, they stayed at home much of the time, enjoying their garden, reading plays, watching films and “falling in love with movies again”. Classic films, or the Die Hard variety? “Oh, that too!” she says, laughing.

She is determined to keep that sense of togetherness going now her life has gone back to its frantic normality. “In my little family, with my husband and my child, we travel together, always. That’s the rule. We do jobs so one of us can always be with the baby.” And with that, this most unshowy of stars slips off through the fashionable throng to take her toddler son for his pre-nap walk.

‘Irma Vep’ will be coming to Sky Atlantic and NowTV later this year. The May issue of Harper’s Bazaar starring Alicia Vikander is on newsstands from 7 April.

Source : harpersbazaar.com

Mar 2022
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Mar 2022
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Mar 2022
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Feb 2022
Firebrand, News  •  By  •  Comments Off on Alicia Vikander to Replace Michelle Williams in Psychological Thriller ‘Firebrand’

Oscar-winning star Alicia Vikander will keep her head when she portrays the last of Henry VIII’s six wives in a new film about the perils of being wed to the much-married monarch. Vikander will share the screen, and the throne, with Jude Law as the King.

Producer Gabrielle Tana told me last night that she’s thrilled to have signed Vikander to play Katherine Parr in the psychological thriller Firebrand, based on Elizabeth Freemantle’s best-selling historical novel Queen’s Gambit. ‘You can see why we’re not able to use that title’, Tana joked, alluding to the Netflix phenomenon The Queen’s Gambit, which starred Anya Taylor-Joy.

Firebrand is basically ‘a portrait of a marriage, and of survival’, the film-creative explained. The vivacious Parr was a noted scholar and author, and already twice widowed when she met Henry. However, she was a good choice for the tyrannical ruler who, by this point in 1543, was ailing and as much in need of a nurse as a wife. He’d already beheaded two of his queens, cast aside two more, and watched one die in childbirth. ‘She’s smart, and she outwits the king’, Tana observed of Parr. Not an easy task, given there were dangers lurking in every corner of Henry’s court.

Source : dailymail.co.uk

Dec 2021
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Dec 2021
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Dec 2021
Interview, Screencaps, Video  •  By  •  Comments Off on Sten A Olsson’s Cultural Scholarship 2021 – Alicia Vikander