Alicia Vikander

4 mins read
Photo courtesy of Corina Marie Howell

Alicia Amanda Vikander was born 3 October 1988 and is a Swedish actress.

Vikander was born in Gothenburg, Sweden, to Maria Fahl, a stage actress, and Svante Vikander, a psychiatrist. Her parents are from small villages in the north and south of Sweden, respectively. They separated when Vikander was two months old, and she was mostly raised by her mother. She has five half-siblings on her father’s side. Vikander has said she had the best of both worlds growing up, being an only child to her mother and being surrounded by a large family when she went to her father’s house every second week. She is one-quarter Finnish; her maternal great-aunt moved from Finland to Sweden to escape World War II.

Vikander started her acting career at age seven, starring in a production of Kristina från Duvemåla at The Göteborg Opera, which was written by Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson from ABBA, performing in the play for three and a half years. She appeared in several musicals at the Opera, such as The Sound of Music and Les Misérables. In 1997 she participated in the TV4 children’s singing show Småstjärnorna; she performed the Helen Sjöholms song, “Du måste finnas”. She won her episode with praise from the judges for her stage presence.

Vikander trained in ballet from age nine with the Svenska Balettskolan i Göteborg (1998–2004). At 15, Vikander moved from Gothenburg to train at the ballet’s upper school in Stockholm, living on her own. She trained one summer at the American Academy of Ballet in New York.

At age 16, she almost left school to commit fully to the television series she worked on with director Tomas Alfredson, realizing her passion for acting. Her dance career was sidelined in her late teens due to injuries. She auditioned for drama school but was turned down twice. At one point, Vikander was admitted to law school but she never attended, following her dreams to become an actress instead.

Vikander began her career by appearing in a number of short films and television roles in her native Sweden. She later appeared in the Swedish TV drama Andra Avenyn from 2008 to 2010.

Vikander received critical acclaim for her feature film debut, playing the leading role of Katarina in the Swedish film Pure (2010). The film tells the story of the troubled secretary Katarina, who desperately tries to escape her life. She became represented by Tavistock Wood management in the UK, and shortly afterwards she also signed with United Talent Agency in the US. In 2011, she had the leading role of Fragancia Fernandez, who is arrested for attempted murder, in The Crown Jewels. In 2012, Vikander gained international attention for playing the key role of Kitty in the English-language film adaptation of Anna Karenina, starring Keira Knightley.

That year, she added Danish to her repertoire while co-starring as Queen Caroline Mathilde in the Nikolaj Arcel feature film A Royal Affair. In 2013, she starred as German Pirate Party member Anke Domscheit-Berg in The Fifth Estate. Vikander also had the leading role of Erika in the Swedish film Hotell. In 2014, she appeared in the Australian crime thriller Son of a Gun.

In 2015, Vikander had substantial roles in eight films. She garnered widespread critical acclaim for her portrayal of painter Gerda Wegener in Tom Hooper’s The Danish Girl, for which she won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, becoming the second Swedish actress to win this award.

She garnered critical acclaim and wide recognition for her starring role as Artificial intelligence Ava in Ex Machina. She had the leading role of pacifist Vera Brittain in Testament of Youth alongside Kit Harington and Emily Watson. She also played the role of half-human/half-witch Alice Deane in the fantasy film Seventh Son (2015), narrated the Swedish documentary Ingrid Bergman: In Her Own Words (2015), had the female leading role in the Guy Ritchie-directed action film The Man from U.N.C.L.E., based on the 1964 MGM television series of the same name; and appeared in the film Burnt (2015).

On 6 May 2016, it was announced that Vikander set up a production company called Vikarious along with her agent Charles Collier. The company’s first film, Euphoria, a production with Sweden’s B-Reel Films, began shooting in the German Alps in August 2016. The film is the English-language directorial debut of Swedish writer/director Lisa Langseth, and was Langseth and Vikander’s third collaboration. Vikander starred opposite Eva Green and Charlotte Rampling as sisters in conflict traveling through Europe toward a mystery destination.

In 2016, Vikander starred opposite Matt Damon in Jason Bourne. Vikander then appeared in the adaptation of the novel The Light Between Oceans (2016). Vikander portrayed Lara Croft in the action reboot film Tomb Raider, which was released on 16 March 2018. In 2019, Vikander starred in the short film I Am Easy to Find which was part of the eighth album of the same name by The National. That same year, Vikander starred in the psychological thriller Earthquake Bird opposite Riley Keough for Netflix.

In 2020, Vikander portrayed a young Gloria Steinem in the biographic drama The Glorias. Vikander next starred opposite Dev Patel in the medieval fantasy The Green Knight which was released by A24. She also starred in the thriller Beckett, opposite John David Washington and in Blue Bayou directed by Justin Chon. Vikander will reprise her role as Lara Croft in a Tomb Raider sequel, in 2022. She will star in Firebrand as Queen Catherine Parr, replacing Michelle Williams.

Vikander identifies as a feminist and has advocated for gender equality in film.

On 10 November 2017, Vikander was one of 584 women who called for the Swedish film and theatre industries to address what they claimed was a culture of sexual misconduct. She added her signature to an open letter published in the Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet. The letter contained numerous accounts of sexual harassment, assault and rape suffered by women in the Swedish industry, all recounted anonymously. According to a translation of the letter published by English-language Swedish publication The Local, the signatories vowed that they would “no longer be silent”. Following the letter’s publication, Swedish press reported that culture minister Alice Bah Kuhnke called a meeting of the heads of Sweden’s National Theatre Company, the Royal Dramatic Theatre, and the Royal Swedish Opera.