Every now and then in Hollywood, as if from nowhere, an unknown actress becomes a star. Swedish beauty, Alicia Vikander, 27, who stars in The Danish Girl falls into this category. She has been recently nominated for two 2016 Golden Globe awards: Best Actress, for her role in The Danish Girl and Best Supporting Actress for Ex Machina.
Set in the 1920s and based on the true story of a married couple, both celebrated painters in Denmark, one of who undergoes one of the first sex reassignment surgeries (Eddie Redmyane) while his wife stands by his decision.
Vikander has been busy in recent years, working back to back with roles in Anna Karenina (2012), A Royal Affair (2012) and The Fifth Estate (2013). She also starred in the Australian crime thriller, Son of a Gun (2014) and although the film didn’t fare too well, she garnered rave reviews. In 2015, she starred as Vera Brittain in Testament of Youth, and later followed in the starring role in the sci-fi epic, Ex-Machina. Now in The Danish Girl, she has already received a Best Actress nomination at the Golden Globes and the SAG Awards.
In her personal life she has been dating Michael Fassbender for more than a year.
HOW DID YOU BECOME AN ACTRESS?
I grew up in Gothenburg, Sweden. My mum is a stage actress and I watched her from very early on, on stage. I was introduced to the theatre through her and I saw her passion for it. I moved away from home at 15 and went to the Royal Swedish Ballet School so I was on a different path. One day I saw this little ad in the newspaper that they were looking for teenage girls for a TV series. We had 6-day weeks in ballet school and this audition was on a Sunday and I thought, ‘Okay, I’m just going to go there.’ I had done a few short films growing up and I had an urge, a love for it. So, I snuck away and didn’t tell my ballet school because that was not allowed. Then I got the part. I freaked out totally because I knew that there was no way I could do it but I couldn’t say no. So, I took the risk of leaving my ballet school for 3 months to do that series. I did it and then the school was kind enough to take me back in so I finished my ballet education until I was 19. I think that’s partly when I realised that that was what I really wanted to do.
IT SEEMS YOU’RE IN EVERY SECOND MOVIE COMING OUT THESE DAYS.
(Laughs) I have a strange worry now that people are going to get a bit tired of me. It’s been back to back the last 4 years.
AT LEAST IN EVERY MOVIE YOU DO YOU’RE COMPLETELY UNRECOGNISABLE – FROM TESTAMENT OF YOUTH, MAN FROM UNCLE, EX MACHINA AND NOW THE DANISH GIRL – YOU’D NEVER KNOW YOU WERE THE SAME PERSON.
I like that. I like to see actors up on the screen who are chameleons, who are able to kind of move into quite different spectrums so I take that as a compliment, thank you.
AND NOW IN THE DANISH GIRL – YOU’RE PLAYING A REAL PERSON. DID YOU KNOW MUCH ABOUT THIS STORY?
I didn’t know much about this story. I felt throughout making the film quite honoured that I was trying to portray a person that I really looked up to on many levels. First of all, she’s a woman in the 1920’s who was actually ahead of her time. She not only speaks out but she’s working, she’s self-made, she’s an artist. She’s a supportive woman which is impressive but also the fact that she’s open about how devastating and tough it is when somebody needs to take a very tough journey to become their true self. It’s also an example that if you love somebody more than anything you must dare to let that person go, set them free.
WHAT IS YOUR VIEW OF PEOPLE WHO FEEL THEY’RE BORN IN THE WRONG BODY?
Everyone is different. When you talk about someone who’s done a transition to another gender none of the stories are identical. It’s your personal experience and I would love to support anyone that I knew to be able to love themselves and be their true self.
HAVE YOU EVER BEEN SURPRISED BY SOMEONE YOU KNEW WHO MIGHT HAVE GONE THROUGH AN EXPERIENCE LIKE THAT?
No but my dad is a psychiatrist and just a few years back he was more into psychology patients. I immediately called him when I got the script because he just had 3 years of being one of the last doctors to give approval to people to be able to go through their sex change. So to be able to call my dad and get kind of input with personal stories was invaluable.
WHAT SURPRISED YOU THE MOST ABOUT WORKING WITH EDDIE REDMAYNE?
I’ve probably met Eddie a lot of times now and I remember when I met him the first time we presented an award at the BAFTA’s this year and that was actually before I came for an audition. I was like, ‘Oh my God, is this the most kind and wonderful person I’ve ever met.’ He’s always so happy and up spirit. I was like, that can’t be real, but now I can tell you that after doing a very tough film, a very intense film and working for long hours, he really is like that.
YOU’RE WORKING ON THE NEXT BOURNE MOVIE WITH MATT DAMON?
Yes, I’m very excited about it.
WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOU’RE NOT WORKING?
What I do for fun? I’m very good at planning trips. I live in London and I go abroad, visit my friends and my family. I now have bought a flat in London and I’ve started drawing so that’s my new hobby. I’m learning how to draw my own kitchen and bathroom so that’s like one of my biggest hobbies at the moment.
HAVE YOU LEARNT ANYTHING FROM MICHAEL FASSBENDER IN REGARDS TO HIS TRANSITION FROM AN ACTOR TO A MOVIE STAR?
When I knew I was going to do a film with him in A Light Between Oceans, I saw Shame, then I saw Fish Tank and then I saw Hunger. I followed his career and I think he’s just one of the best actors of his generation then when I got the chance to work with him and it’s another very small centred drama between these two people, I knew that I couldn’t have a better actor to play that out with and of course to work with such a great actor – you look and you receive and you learn. And now he’s my best friend.