Lara Croft has been a household name for over two decades and she was in desperate need of a reboot. As time moves on, society changes, and with that, so must everything evolve to remain part of the fabric of pop culture. Yes, that goes for fictional video game heroines too.
Enter Alicia Vikander, who stars as Lara Croft in the upcoming film reboot, “Tomb Raider.” While her predecessor, Angelina Jolie’s Lara was a bit more geared to what a man would fantasize an adventuring, tomb raiding, intelligent woman would be like (who remembers the pointy video game boobs?), Vikander’s Lara is just a young woman, trying to figure things out…and makes her perfect heroine for today’s audiences. At a recent press day, we got to chat with Vikander, co-star Walter Goggins, producer Graham King, and director Roar Uthaug about rebooting the series for a new time, what Uthaug shared with me right after the press conference on his influences for the film and more.
Vikander on how it’s a coming of age story, and playing a woman finding her footing in the world
It is a coming-of-age story. That was our inspiration because this film was based a lot on the 2013 rebooted game and there 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, to feel for them and to related to them on a more human level. 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 she goes out of her world and 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.
Director Roar Uthaug how Raiders of the Lost Ark impacted his filmmaking
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 or like, what no one’s done with “The Dark Knight” yet, just add something that really grounds it in reality.
Walter Goggins, best known for playing a villain, on finding the heart of his character, Vogel
I don’t like two-dimensional anything. I like to get in there and find out who this person is in the world and how they exist. For me, playing Vogel, when I read it for the first time and talked to Roar, I found him to be very sad, exhausted, at his wit’s end and had almost given up on his reality really ever changing. That first scene when Lara Croft winds up on the beach and is sitting in his tent, it winds up being the opposite of most people’s reaction. His badness really came from being baffled at his good fortune in this moment. The cards had always been stacked against him. It all changes in a moment. It was a very rewarding experience to interpret Vogel in that kind of way.
Producer Graham King on how Lara Croft changed
Out of all the films I’ve been involved with and made, I’ve never seen anyone with so much dedication, put so much energy, so much excitement. I remember in the early days sitting in the office and she’d play out scenes running around the office, so much passion to play Lara […] I have to say, these kind of films are not the kind of films I usually make and we bought the rights for Tomb Raider, I think it was 2010 or something, then waited for the game to come out and saw the game and saw how we can follow that story. It really was like Alicia said, the father-daughter story, the emotional beats that the story covered and also to see the transformation of a normal girl in London, a semi-normal girl, she’s a bike messenger, she’s not winning at everything she’s doing and then see her go off onto this journey and gradually turn into a hero.
Uthaug on what they asked of the actors and how Vikander immersed into the action
We wanted this to feel really authentic and gritty, the whole movie, and it was really important to do as much practical as possible on set. So we really put our actors through a lot on set in this movie. 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 of in the movie as well, that you feel that you’re in middle of it and I think that’s 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. I think the way Alicia handled is just incredible, trying to act in the middle of all that stuff was really impressive to see.
Vikander on the mix of being grounded and magic
It’s still grounded and yet it has this tiny window opened up in the belief of magic and the belief of the things that maybe not know yet what it is, which I think is a nice little balance.
Tomb Raider opens March 16th.