‘Tomb Raider’ Star Alicia Vikander’s Training Video

March 19, 2018

Tomb Raider actress Alicia Vikander grew up watching action and adventure movies and always wondered what it would be like to act in such rigorous plotlines. Well, now she knows! Playing the iconic character Lara Croft has given her the opportunity to climb cliff faces, zipline down ropes with a pickaxe, and dodge traps. Indeed, Vikander’s Tomb Raider shoot schedule revolved around day-in, day-out multiple takes of Lara the warrior battling henchmen, being dropped off a cliff, and swimming in roaring rapids.

Determined to capture the sheer grittiness of the character, the refined Swedish actress said, “I wanted her to be a strong physical girl, so I started to gain muscle and build strength.” Vikander worked with personal trainer Magnus Lygback so she’d be prepared to perform most of her character’s stunts. Vikander packed on 12 pounds of muscle onto her 5-foot, 6-inch frame in the three months she was given to prepare for the role. She’d hit the gym at 4 a.m. for demanding workouts that included squats, bear crawls, deadlifts, pull-ups, push-ups, rock climbing, swimming, bicycling, training with machines, training with bodyweight, plyometrics, explosive training, and medicine-ball tossing. Vikander regularly got in the boxing ring where she learned MMA moves and choke holds. Occasionally she’d take a day off to rest. The result of her work–besides her eight-pack abs and overall remarkable muscle definition–was to be prepared for the physically demanding role requirements as well as a tough-as-nails mentally. However, it should be noted that Vikander, who studied to be a principal dancer at the Royal Swedish Ballet School, recalls that ballet training was “more grim.” “Nothing is going to be harder than ballet,” she insists.

The 29-year-old actress recounts one day in particular when she felt overwhelmed with the relentless shoot schedule. “I actually woke up one morning … and I actually stood in the kitchen with my husband, and he was like, ‘Are you okay?’ and I was like, ‘No, I just don’t want to, you know, I don’t want to play anymore!’” she recalls. (Spoiler alert) The challenging scene in mind required her hands be tied while being swept away in 50-degree Fahrenheit raging rapids–and she was exhausted from days shooting the same scene repeatedly. Vikander estimates doing 25 takes for that scene alone, each time struggling to keep her head above water. On the other hand, she enjoyed the stunts that required taking flying leaps into giant mattresses.

Vikander’s commitment to her work is undeniable. The star also won an Oscar for her supporting role of painter Gerda Wegener in The Danish Girl in 2015. Her other performances include the portrayal of Kitty in Anna Karenina opposite Keira Knightley, Queen Caroline Mathilde in the Danish film A Royal Affair,  activist Vera Brittain in Testament of Youth, and a humanoid robot in Ex Machina. When it comes to Tomb Raider, Vikander’s personal trainer, Magnus, said of Vikander’s Croft, “It’s a modern Lara Croft, a strong, independent woman, and I think it’s exactly what the world needs right now.”