Alicia Vikander is Exploding – And That’s a Great Thing

Go check out Alicia Vikander’s IMDB page. You’d be forgiven for not recognizing Vikander or much of her work at this point in time, but very soon that will no longer be the case. This young actress has established herself in smaller indie and foreign titles, and casting directors are starting to take notice. I’d like to draw your attention to a few particular items in her filmography, and then marvel at the films that she will appear in over the next 12 months.

The first item of interest is the Danish film A Royal Affair. This was Vikander’s breakout starring role. She is married to Mad King Christian VII of Denmark but begins an ill-fated affair with his physician. The film was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the 2012 Oscars (85th), losing out to Amour. As part of her audition, Vikander went out for drinks with director Nikolaj Arcel, who used to opportunity to test her understanding of the Danish language. Vikander understood Danish poorly, so she faked her way through the rounds of drinks. When Arcel informed her, in Danish, that she had won the role, she did not understand him until he switched back to Swedish. That won’t be a problem in the future; she learned Danish for the role.

I have already spoken at length about Ex Machina (reviewed here), and while my review of that film was quite positive, it did not focus on the brilliance of Vikander in the role of Ava. From the first moment Vikander appears on screen, emerging from the dark with LEDs ablaze, she is mesmerizing. Everything about that performance lends detail to the artificial person Ava – the halting gait, the jumpy eye movements, and even the tone of Vikander’s voice. A critical action by Ava in the climax of the film is so simple and subtle, but so strangely inhuman that it struck me as an amazing single acting choice by Vikander, and it has to be seen to be entirely understood (seriously – go see this movie!). While Vikander certainly had strong performances before Garland’s Ex Machina, this is the film that will be remembered as dropping her on the map. Unless, of course, she astounds even more in one of her six upcoming films.

The films and roles in Alicia Vikander’s future will catapult her from an interesting foreign actress into a household name. Up next is The Man from U.N.C.L.E, an adaptation of a british TV spy show from the ’60s. Directed by Guy Ritchie, Alicia co-stars with Henry Cavill (Man of Steel) and Armie Hammer (The Social Network). She will then revisit the European period piece with Christoph Waltz in Tulip Fever as the subject of an artist’s painting during the Dutch Tulip craze. This film is directed by Justin Chadwick, most known for The Other Boleyn Girl. Then, late this year, Vikander is set to star beside Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne in The Danish Girl. This film, directed by Tom Hooper (Les Miserables, The King’s Speech), tells the true story of Einar Wegener / Lili Elbe, a Danish artist who transitioned from male to female in 1930’s Europe. Vikander plays Gerda Wegener, Lili’s wife. She’ll also star with Bradley Cooper and Jamie Dornan in the comedy Adam Jones, about a chef who assembles a crew to create the best restaurant ever (it would have been called, “Chef”, but Jon Favreau beat them to it!). Continuing this run of outstanding films, Alicia joins Michael Fassbender and Rachel Weisz in The Light between Oceans, a story about an Australian couple who raise a baby rescued from an adrift rowboat (hopefully more cheery than director Derek Cianfrance’s Blue Valentine). Oh, and if that was not enough, it was announced this week that Vikander signed on to star with Tom Hanks in The Circle. This technological thriller follows the story of a omnipresent internet company run by Hanks’ character. This company seeks to unite all of a user’s information into one all-encompassing identity, with the goal of increased transparency and safety. Of course, things don’t go exactly as planned. Vikander will play a young woman hired to work for The Circle, and will follow her story as she investigates the ramifications of a system where all personal data is collected, stored, and mined – perhaps effecting the death of privacy as we know it.

Got all that? Spy film, period piece, historical drama, comedy, normal drama, and techno-thriller. Cavill, Hammer, Waltz, Redmayne, Cooper, Fassbender, Weisz and Tom frickin’ Hanks. Brace yourselves, folks, this is soon to be Alicia Vikander’s world – we’ll just be living in it.

Photo courtesy of swide.com

edit:  At the time of publishing, all information was accurate.  Since then, the chef film Adam Jones has received a title change to Burnt, and Vikander has chosen to participate in the upcomming fifth film in the Bourne franchise instead of starring alonside Tom Hanks in The Circle (for more on that, see here).

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