Lara Croft is back in Warner Bros.’ Tomb Raider, the latest incarnation of the video game icon rooted in the recent video game release and played by Alicia Vikander as a burgeoning heroine to reflect the times.
Recently, the new title star of the franchise and the director Roar Uthaug chatted about the film with Los Angeles press and shared the process of bringing to life what makes Croft so iconic while keeping true to what it means to be a heroine in this day and age. See below for more of what they had to say about the new film.
Alicia Vikander thought it was important to not just have her be automatically a bad-ass. When she starts in the film, she fails A LOT and is learning to find her footing in a world of adventure she gets thrust into.
Alicia Vikander: It is a coming-of-age story. That was our inspiration because this film was based a lot on the 2013 rebooted game. She is a normal girl in the beginning. We’ve seen it a lot in these superhero and action movies. If you have the origin story, that’s a way for us to get to know our character.
I thought it was wonderful to play a woman who was still trying to find her footing in the world. It’s a story where all the traits she has in her are forced out due to the adventure she goes on and the challenges she’s put through. I wanted to have every single step being portrayed, from the beginning until the end, for her to become the action hero that we know her to be.
It’s also very empowering when you get to be there in the end.
The film’s director Roar Uthaug incorporated inspiration from one legendary archeologist who was a touchstone for the character, but also spliced in his own style by keeping it real and gritty.
Roar Uthaug: Growing up in Norway, Raiders of the Lost Ark was one of my favorite films. That’s impacted my whole love for movies and how I want to tell stories. Then, like I tried to do with The Wave which had a kind of grounded, gritty take on a genre movie, is something I wanted to do. I don’t think there was just one special movie, just more grounded, gritty action movies, like they did for Casino Royale for James Bond — just add something that really grounds it in reality.
Vikander on finding the core of Lara’s motivations and how it carries her throughout the film as she goes from reluctant heiress to figuring out what the real family business is. How it’s about finding your place in a legacy.
Alicia Vikander: In any film you need to kind of narrow it down and decide what story within that life you’re telling. We wanted to find an emotional way and to feel with her. I think one of them is the relationship with her father. We kind of know this character too; she has the love for history, mythology, artifacts, and all of that. I thought it was an interesting thing, like a lot of young people do — you had your dad telling you stories when you were a kid, but because of the pain that he just took off, she never really knew what happened. Maybe he just abandoned her?
She has kind of closed that door, and it’s not until she realizes he was not only a suit in a corporate company and here’s actually a reason for why I have the love for these things. That’s a discovery and also an acceptance of who she is, and that is something that I think any young person can relate to. The fact that she has a lot of people who tell her what to do — they ask her, “Well, what are you going to do with your life? Is this good enough?” I think that’s a pressure that I remember I had when I was in my early 20s.
Uthaug on mixing CG sequences with practical pieces in order to give some of the memorable aspects of the game intact but putting them on the stage of cinema.
Roar Uthaug: We wanted this to feel really authentic and gritty — the whole movie. It was really important to do as much practical as possible on set. So we really put our actors through a lot. I think my favorite was the Endurance (the boat) which was built on this giant gimbal so we could rock it around and we hit with water cannons and rain towers and wind machines, and Alicia was in the middle of that. The rest of us were on solid ground, dry and then we looked up and Alicia was there in her tank top and getting pummeled with all this water, which was a lot of fun to me. I really think it pays off in the movie as well. You feel that you’re in middle of it and I think the most important thing about these action sequences was to make it immersive and make the audience feel like they’re in the middle of it with Lara and the characters.
Vikander on taking on the mantle of Lara Croft for the current generation and discussing what Lara meant to her growing up in a world where there were so few female heroines.
Alicia Vikander: I was probably around 9 or 10 years old when I walked into the room at a friend’s house. I hadn’t seen a female protagonist in a game and I was so curious. I stood behind them and I asked those older boys if I was allowed to play, and they didn’t let me, so I had to wait until it was just me in that room. I did play it then, and then I was more into computer games, so I played the anniversary version of the first game around my mid-teens.
Angelina Jolie made her into an icon, and still, that is one of the first times where we got to see a female action hero on screen. This character has been with us for 22 years. I was at Crystal Dynamics in San Francisco, the gaming company, and I got to see all these different versions of Lara that has been throughout history to now. What I realized was the fact that it’s truly the essence of her, the kind of woman that has inspired a lot of both young girls and boys around the world, for so many years, but it’s more that she’s morphed into a personality or a different version of herself due to what time she’s in. I think that’s interesting. It sort of reflects on what terms we’re on now. This is the kind of girl that you would relate to in 2018.
Tomb Raider hits theaters on March 16, 2018.