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Why The New Lara Croft Looks So Familiar

In early 2017, Tomb Raider fans everywhere got their first look at Swedish actress Alicia Vikander suited up as the series' protagonist Lara Croft in the upcoming film franchise reboot. Casting Vikander was—like the rebooted video game series it's based on—an interesting change of pace. Instead of the Angelina Jolie-type Lara Croft archetype, director Roar Uthaug opted instead for the former ballerina and lithe period-piece specialist. Tomb Raider will be Vikander's first foray into big-budget action, but she's been very busy over the past decade, and you've probably seen her in both leading and supporting roles before.

From Swedish-language film star to indie darling to full-blown A-list celebrity, let's look back on Alicia Vikander's meteoric rise to Oscar-winning fame—and figure out just where you've seen her before.

Ex Machina (2014)

2014 would prove to be a very big year for Alicia Vikander, due in no small part to her attention-getting turn in Alex Garland's Ex Machina. In the sci-fi psychological thriller, Vikander played Ava, a beautiful and dangerous robot powered by artificial intelligence—a role that landed her a slew of award nominations.

Ex Machina was a pleasant change of pace for Vikander, who'd already filmed her fair share of period dramas. "I've never chosen any film because it is or is not period," she told IndieWire. "But yes, when it comes to this kind of genre I think I have kind of a crush. ... I just love those intimate, psychological sci-fi films. Then this script came along and it's one of the best scripts I've read. Normally you come in and work on a script and Alex was very open to us to change it, but it was just a very finished product. It's a page-turner."

Vikander wasn't the only fan of the finished product. The successful indie took home an Oscar for Best Achievement in Visual Effects, as well as four British Independent Film Awards for Best British Independent Film, Best Director, Best Screenplay, and Outstanding Achievement in Craft.

Testament of Youth (2014)

Vikander's stunning performance in Ex Machina was followed by her portrayal of writer Vera Brittain in James Kent's film adaptation of her World War I memoir Testament of Youth.

In an interview with Collider, Vikander discussed the difficulties of playing a real-life character. "You need and you want to stay true to the story," she explained. "You want to ... especially give justice to her family and friends who actually still live and who remember her, who knew her. That was probably the most nerve-wracking thing to meet them in person and do that. But they were so nice and they were really there to support."

That being said, Vikander still wanted to do what every good actor does: put themselves into the character, fictional or not. "With every single character," she explained, "I think you need to make it your own."

Son of a Gun (2014)

Alicia Vikander's third film in 2014 saw the Swedish actress team up with Brenton Thwaites, Ewan McGregor and Jacek Koman in Julius Avery's Australian crime thriller Son of a Gun.

"It was a very intense shoot," Vikander told IndieWire. "[Avery] ... has a very specific style. He shows quite low-middle-class Australian people and I thought that many of the people that he worked with were not actors, but apparently they were—he's just able to make something very raw and authentic ... When I read the script it had such pace, and then it turns into a heist thriller, so I was very intrigued to see how this director, who I thought was a very arthouse director, would do something like that."

Seventh Son (2014)

Sergei Bodrov's fantasy adventure film Seventh Son was the fourth high-profile release featuring Alicia Vikander to hit theaters in 2014, but it was actually one of her very first gigs. "That was my first movie four years ago," she told GoPride.com, "This is how studios work with releasing movies. It was a big experience for me because it was the first American film that I got. In the end, I wound up shooting Anna Karenina shortly before that."

Vikander singled out co-star Julianne Moore as "so supportive" and "an incredible mother and friend" during the shoot, but she didn't just dole out praise to her castmates—she received some of her own. Ben Barnes, who played protagonist Tom Ward, said Vikander was a fitting choice to play Alice Deane, telling Collider she was "the perfect witch." Be that as it may, her performance couldn't save Seventh Son from being earning critical scorn.

The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (2015)

Vikander followed her breakout 2014 with another busy year, starting with Guy Ritchie's re-imagining of the hit '60s television series The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

Having appeared primarily in indie or lower-budget films, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. was a new experience for Vikander. "I mean, they closed down the Spanish Steps in Rome," she told Vulture. "I was like, 'Are you kidding?' I couldn't believe it! But that's what you're able to do when you have those budgets, and it was a huge gift to be able to experience that. I could walk out on the street and feel like I'd time-traveled, with 200 extras and all the shop frames changed to look like the '60s."

Vikander's most memorable scene in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. comes when she dances with Armie Hammer and then slaps him—a spur of the moment idea from Ritchie that took Hammer by surprise during one of their first rehearsals. Saying Ritchie told his stars he wanted to "try something else," she recalled, "It did end up being quite funny, giving Armie a slap. I mean, he's almost double my length, Mr. Hammer."

The Danish Girl (2015)

2015 also saw Vikander starring in Tom Hooper's film adaptation of David Ebershoff's transgender novel The Danish Girl, brilliantly portraying the Danish painter Gerda Wegener and beating out Oscar favorite Kate Winslet for Best Supporting Actress while also taking home a Screen Actors Guild Award—officially rocketing the budding star to mainstream fame.

Before The Danish Girl put her name on the awards season docket, however, Vikander was blissfully unaware of that part of the Hollywood hoopla. "For me, it's all just very new," she told Vogue. "Being Swedish, I didn't know that 'awards season' was actually a thing. But—apparently it's a big thing. I think that it's all just buzz, and if people recognize the film and talk about the film, then maybe that will bring audiences to see our film. It's an important story to tell, so that's all we want."

Burnt (2015)

Rounding out 2015, Vikander appeared in the John Wells cooking drama Burnt, in which she appears in an ultra-brief role as Bradley Cooper's ex-girlfriend.

Unfortunately, despite being billed as one of the stars of the show, you only need one hand to count the number of minutes Vikander actually appears onscreen, and her minimal presence does little to impact the movie aside from making Cooper's character feel a tinge of regret. On the bright side, her brief screen time means Vikander is most definitely not to blame for the film's disappointing reviews.

Jason Bourne (2016)

2016 saw Alicia Vikander continue her rise to mainstream stardom with her portrayal of CIA Cyber Ops Division head Heather Lee in the Bourne series' fifth installment, Jason Bourne.

As it turns out, she was a longtime fan of the franchise. "I was a teenager when I saw the first film," she told the Independent, "and, in terms of blockbusters, kind of grew up watching Bond movies. For me, Bourne was just something completely new and I think over the years a lot of films have copied the franchise and its muted authenticity." Having performed in many notable independent films, she appreciated the blockbuster approach on its own merits. "Even if it is a popcorn franchise movie," she added, "it's intriguing because it has elements of political and social issues that you recognize and yet is still very entertaining."

Unfortunately, Bourne's return failed to live up to its predecessors, earning average reviews. In spite of all the action, Vikander's butterfly hair clip ended up being one of the film's main talking points.

The Light Between Oceans (2016)

After playing a department head at the CIA, Vikander returned to period fare, starring as Isabel Graysmark Sherbourne in Derek Cianfrance's film adaptation of the romantic drama The Light Between Oceans.

Vikander's onscreen romance with co-star Michael Fassbender immediately led to popular speculation that they were having an offscreen romance, although neither actor would confirm the rumors. "We've done this film and we're talking about it," she told The New York Times. "Then you keep certain things private and between us, which I think is the right thing." Fassbender also added: "Our work is something that we're very committed to, but also our private lives."

Since filming The Light Between Oceans, the pair's private romance has been a hot topic for tabloids, and they've since become one of Hollywood's more popular 'it' couples.

Tulip Fever (2017)

In 2017, Vikander returned to period drama as Sophia Sandvoort in director Justin Chadwick's film adaptation of the Deborah Moggach bestseller Tulip Fever.

Despite arriving in theaters in September 2017, the movie was actually filmed in in 2014—and as is the case with most heavily delayed projects, it earned dismal reviews. It's Vikander's worst-reviewed movie to date, but there's no reason to fear it'll tarnish her reputation. The first film that was, in the words of the director, built around the rising star, it led to Vikander landing on the front of ELLE's September 2017 issue.

There should be no shortage of magazine covers in her future, either. With a full docket of high-profile releases on the horizon—including that Tomb Raider reboot, scheduled to arrive in theaters in March of 2018—we've only seen the start of what promises to be a long and fascinating film career.

She quit ballet in favor of acting

Now that we've taken a look at Alicia Vikander's most widely seen work, let's examine how exactly the Swedish actress went from indie drama sensation to Lara Croft.

Before Vikander became an actress, she was a ballerina at the Royal Swedish Ballet School. By the time she was in her late teens, however, she realized her ambitions lay elsewhere. "I don't think I wanted to live my life as a dancer,"  she explained. "It's hard, and ... it's also three, four hours of training every day to do that, to be on that level. I could sometimes be a bit sad, and I was quite hard on myself and jealous emotionally of some of the girls who I saw just loved it." The ultra-competitive ballet scene put too much pressure on Vikander, who actually sought therapy to deal with the stress. "My image of myself was not the best," she told Vanity Fair. "Being in ballet school and being in leotards in front of a mirror I don't know how many hours a day was quite tough."

Quitting ballet in favor of acting obviously worked out for the Academy Award winner, but her time spent in ballet school still undoubtedly helped her as an actress. "In dance, you do it again, and you do it again, and you do it again, until you get it right," Vikander's The Danish Girl costar Eddie Redmayne explained. "The pain of ballet to get to the beauty. She brings that absolute rigor and absolute desire to give the very best ... A kind of deep emotion and capacity to feel that is volcanic."

She had an unconventional childhood

Not only did Alicia Vikander's childhood experiences in an ultra-competitive ballet school help instill a Hollywood-conquering work ethic, but her unconventional childhood also helped give her the ability to handle any situation.

Raised in Gothenburg, Vikander spent much of her childhood between houses after her mother, a stage actress, separated from her father, a psychiatrist. As Vogue explains, Vikander was an only child while with her mother, but one of many children at her father's house. "My dad has children by four different mothers," the actress casually told the magazine. "The youngest is 15 now." Luckily, Vikander's parents got along relatively well—so well, in fact, that Vikander's teenage interview for a Swedish documentary about children of divorce was rejected on the grounds that it wasn't sad enough. "I thought," she recalled: "'But wouldn't it be good for other teenagers to hear someone talk about it in a positive way?'" Apparently, that wasn't really what the angle the filmmakers were going for.

Nevertheless, growing up in two distinctly different home environments helped prepare Vikander for a career in which she'd be expected to work tirelessly in closed locations before hitting the intense award-show circuit—all while dazzling fans, granting interviews, and shooting magazine covers.

Moving to London wasn't easy

In order to really make a name for herself on the big screen, Vikander packed her bags and moved to London, where she lived with fellow Swede and singer Tove Lo, in addition to the Swedish electropop duo Aino Jawo and Caroline Hjelt, now known as Icona Pop. And though that sounds like the hippest Swedish apartment ever to grace England's capital, it wasn't exactly Vikander's cup of tea. According to Vanity Fair, the apartment's kitchen had a pretty serious rat problem, and the girls were forced to share both beds and clothes, which mostly remained piled up on the floor. "It was the dirtiest bachelorette pad you've ever seen," she claimed.

She also didn't find much success in those early days, despite her intense drive to land a big-time acting gig. While her roommates hit the town and enjoyed the London nightlife, Vikander often stayed in and practiced her accents. "Her work ethic was insane," Jawo and Hjelt told Vogue. "She was so focused. We were like, 'You need to sleep!'" Still, she was denied roles in both The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Snow White and the Huntsman and was repeatedly rejected by American television shows—as she put it, "I didn't even get a 'No.'"

Of course, Vikander's intense work ethic would ultimately pay off, and the actress—who now owns a comfortable home in North London—has a much better relationship with England's capital of culture.

She never stops working

Though it wasn't always smooth sailing, Alicia Vikander credits her outstanding work ethic for helping her gain A-list celebrity status and land an Academy Award. In fact, she almost never stops working, having appeared in an almost unbelievable number of movies in only a few years. "I was speaking to my dad on the phone about it this morning," Vikander told Vogue. "He said, 'You're a stabil flicka', and I got what he meant. It's a Swedish phrase—like a girl who loves horses. A stable girl. My dad said to me, 'You're living a lot. But, actually, when you get back to work on set, that's when you feel the most relaxed. You're in your stable.'"

While some people might think that feeling most relaxed while working is a bit depressing, Vikander is totally cool with it. Actually, she finds peace in the routine of being on set. "Working makes me happy, makes me calm," she said. "Being here [on set], waking up to work, the same 60 people around you every day on a shoot. I like that stillness."

One thing's for certain: nobody could ever accuse Vikander of not earning her place among the Hollywood celebrity elite.

Her audition for 'The Danish Girl' made Tom Hooper cry

Vikander's hard work really paid off when she landed the role of Gerda in the critically acclaimed drama The Danish Girl. In fact, she was so well-prepared she made director Tom Hooper cry during her audition.

The scene she read during the career-defining audition was the one in which Gerda confronts Einar, after witnessing her partner kiss a man at the ball, while dressed in public for the first time as Lili Elbe. "The camera was by my head," recalled Vikander's co-star Eddie Redmayne in Vanity Fair. "We read the scene, and got to the end of the scene. I was waiting for Tom [Hooper] to call 'Cut.' I looked over to my right, and there he was, gently sobbing." And Hooper's not afraid to admit it: "The audition moved me to tears to an almost embarrassing extent. Eddie was like, 'You're so busted. There's no way you're not going to cast her if she made you cry on the first take.' I'm like, 'No, no. I'm—it's just a bit of allergy. I'm fine.'"

"She's a force of nature," Redmayne explained. "She's just the most extraordinary talent. She has this deep, visceral relationship with her emotions. She challenged me to step up my game continuously."

A match made in New Zealand

Occasionally, asking two actors to pretend to be in love onscreen can lead to love offscreen—which is exactly what happened to Alicia Vikander and Michael Fassbender. While filming The Light Between Oceans, the couple were forced live together, an arrangement that ended up working out just fine for both of them.

Vikander's drive to play her character to perfection impressed Fassbender, who found himself challenged to become a better actor. "She doesn't take anything for granted," he told Vanity Fair. "She doesn't mind taking a character she's playing to an ugly place. Her level of commitment made me focus and make sure I was as committed."

The film's director, Derek Cianfrance, wasn't surprised when he started to witness his stars' blooming romance. "It wasn't hard for me to see that the chemistry could be there, just knowing them as individuals," he said. "What I saw was two great people who were so supportive of each other, who were really picking each other up, and pushing each other ... They were an undeniably good match and they pushed each other ... Michael and Alicia, they were like Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen. They were going to make one another better. And they were better together."

She's launching her own female-focused production company

Having already taken Hollywood by storm, Alicia Vikander isn't merely interested in the acting side of show business. She's also interested in the producing her own films—ones which specifically aim to promote female leads, female screenwriters, and female directors.

In collaboration with her agent Charles Collier, she's launched her own production company: Vikarious. According to Vogue, the company's first production is a tale of two sisters titled Euphoria, starring Vikander opposite Eva Green and directed by Lisa Langseth—who first cast Vikander in the dark Swedish indie Pure. The drama debuted during fall festival season in 2017, and although it hasn't exactly been showered with praise, it represents an important step forward for the budding filmmaker.

Vikander has noted that, since her English-language cinematic debut in Anna Karenina, all 11 films she's acted in were made by men. Furthermore, some of those films didn't feature even a single scene with Vikander alongside another woman—a trend the actress finds problematic, and one she firmly aims to remedy. "I think I can make a difference," she said. Given her star power and determination, it's a safe bet she will.

She doesn't do social media

As reporters, interviewers, Hollywood insiders, and anyone who's ever tried to get more info about Alicia Vikander's relationship with Michael Fassbender knows, she's incredibly reserved. She also values her privacy, and really can't be bothered with maintaining any sort of social media presence. "I'm not very good at it or into it," Vikander claims, and that goes for almost every major form of social media. "I used Facebook when it came out, but then less and less, and now I'm not using it anymore." The same goes for Instagram—as she put it, "I felt like I had to post something all the time and I didn't really like it." With an almost unbelievable amount of projects constantly on her plate, it's easy to understand why she can't be bothered with thinking about something else. "I felt this constant pressure to post," she explained. "I was so stressed."

Vikander also finds the paparazzi more than a bit strange, since she prefers to maintain an element of mystery. "There's nothing to [paparazzi photographs]: I'm just buying a book and meeting a friend for coffee. It's just very strange. And it's hard to say anything's tough when you're getting to make a career out of what you love most, but I don't think that's anything you can be used to."

She's been all over the newsstand

Even if you've somehow managed to go the last few years without seeing a film featuring Alicia Vikander, you've undoubtedly seen her face gracing the cover of the world's most popular magazines.

Vikander made her first major magazine appearances in 2013, landing features in Glamour UK, Dazed and Confused, GQ, Wonderland, and Interview Russia. Since then, she's appeared in Vogue, Total Film, Empire, Entertainment Weekly, Telegraph, InStyle, and has graced the covers of W Magazine, The Edit, Elle, VarietyMarie Claire, and Vanity Fair—for which she prank-called random Swedes.

With her career showing absolutely no signs of slowing down anytime soon, expect to keep seeing Vikander's seriously serene face gracing the covers of your favorite magazines for years to come.

She still can't believe how far she's come

Having gone from Swedish indie darling to an Academy Award winner with her own production company, Alicia Vikander has come a long way. In fact, sometimes she still can't believe just how far. "Hollywood was like a rumor," she explained to Vanity Fair. "I and my mum, we'd set the alarm to 2AM to watch the Oscars, and it was like a window onto another universe. And then to have her there next to me [at the Oscars] ... We were just cursing in Swedish ... It's been pretty f***ing ... Wow."

With a long and even more successful career presumably ahead of the new Lara Croft, the surprises and accolades have only surely just begun.