ALICIA Vikander knew she had big shoes to fill when she accepted the role of Lara Croft.
The video game heroine was famously brought to life on the big screen by Angelina Jolie in 2001 when Vikander was just a schoolgirl.
Now, 17 years later the Oscar-winning Swedish actress gives us her take on a younger but still fiercely independent Croft in director Roar Uthaug's Tomb Raider.
In this Q&A, she talks about the challenges and joys of the role.
Q: What was your reaction when you were first approached about taking on the iconic role of Lara Croft?
A: I was certainly familiar with Lara Croft, having played the Tomb Raider game both as a kid and as an adult. Since this project draws its inspiration from the 2013 version of the game, which is quite different from the editions I was familiar with, I played that version and really liked its more contemporary feel. So, I met with the director, Roar Uthaug, and the producers, who provided some intriguing insights about the film they wanted to make. I realised that they wanted to bring the world of Tomb Raider and Lara Croft to life - and into our time - in an exciting new way that would be compelling, human and relevant to this generation.
Q: What can you tell us about the Lara Croft we meet in Tomb Raider, and what drew you to the character?
A: Lara has a fiestiness, intelligence and wit about her that I love, as well as a passion for adventure.
Since this is an origin story, we meet Lara as she's still trying to figure out what she's going to do with her life and find her place in the world. Although she was born to privilege, I really liked the fact that instead of embracing a glamorous life, Lara stands up for herself; she wants to figure out who she is on her own terms, which I think is something that anyone can relate to. Young people don't always know the journey that lies ahead for them.
Lara has a wounded relationship with her missing dad, whom she hasn't even been able to mourn because he had disappeared when Lara was 13. When we meet her, she's a bit cynical about the fantasies and stories her father told her as a child. But, as her journey unfolds, she opens up and dares to believe again. I like that about her.
Q: Was embarking on a production of this scale its own adventure for you?
A: My mother, who's an actress, introduced me to the world of theatre and film. I loved independent, art-house films, but, like most people, I also loved being drawn into big adventure films, like the Indiana Jones movies. So, with Tomb Raider, I had the chance to work on something that's very different from my previous work, but which has long been close to my heart: a big action and adventure film.
Along with that came the opportunity to explore my physical side on a film. I come from a dancing background, so when I learned that playing Lara would involve three or four months to get in shape - well, that kind of preparation and the chance to create a new physique are gifts. I found the training and muscle-building to be empowering.
Q: Did you have a favourite scene to play in the film, or a moment off-set that was especially fun or memorable for you?
A: It's difficult to single out one moment, because there were so many big things on this film that I've never done before as an actor. Working on the big action sequences was tremendous because most of the sets were practical and the action was real.
It goes back to how I fell in love with adventure films when I was a child. Walton Goggins shared that obsession (laughs). When we started work on the film, we got to walk into the tomb set and saw an enormous pagoda and a sarcophagus and all kinds of amazing details. We were like two children running around. I loved working on those sets, which were massive. It was magical.
Tomb Raider opens in cinemas tomorrow.