WIRED – EVERYTHING POSITIVE YOU have read about Alicia Vikander’s performance in Ex Machina is true. And if you’ve read something negative, the source clearly cannot be trusted and you should delete them from your bookmarks immediately.
By now, you probably know what Ex Machina is. (In case you don’t, here’s a cheat sheet: It’s a movie, written and directed by Alex Garland, about a genius who wants to put his new AI android through an elaborate Turing test.) But unless you’re a Swedish cinema buff or you’ve been keeping up on your period pieces, you probably don’t know Vikander. That’s about to change in a hurry. With six movies slated for this year, and a collection of co-stars including Oscar Issac (Ex Machina), Michael Fassbender (The Light Between Oceans), Eddie Redmayne (The Danish Girl), Henry Cavill (The Man From U.N.C.L.E.), and Christoph Waltz (Tulip Fever), Vikander is all but guaranteed to be standing in or adjacent to Oscar’s glow (both the statue and the man) come next awards season. Basically, if there was a fast track to “It Girl” status, Vikander just sped onto it.
But we’re getting carried away. The point here is Ava, the aforementioned AI in Ex Machina, which Vikander executes so elegantly and with such nuance you’ll forget they cast a human to play the part. The Hollywood Reporter praised Vikander as “the heart of the film,” while Grantland said, “she gives the role a shocking, visceral sensuality.” Vikander, however, would never say these things about herself. She deftly deflects effusive compliments in conversation—I get that way sometimes—and retrains the focus onto the collective achievements of her film’s cast and crew.
“It’s wonderful when you get on a project and you just feel like everyone is quite excited about the film,” Vikander says. “Everyone believes in it. The gaffers and runners and set builders and everyone just wanted to bring their little thing to this film and it was a very good experience. That’s when filmmaking is the best, when everything moves like little machinery.”
INDIEWIRE – Swedish actress Alicia Vikander has been steadily growing an impressive body of work since garnering attention for her performance in 2012’s Oscar-nominated period romance “A Royal Affair,” by working with filmmakers like Joe Wright (“Anna Karenina”) and Bill Condon (“The Fifth Estate”). 2015 is poised to be the year that she breaks through to the mainstream.
The former dancer appears in a number of high profile projects this year, including Guy Ritchie’s summer blockbuster “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.,” and Tom Hooper’s potential Oscar player “The Danish Girl,” opposite Oscar-winner Eddie Redmayne. But her true star-making performance is in her first major release of the year, Alex Garland’s heady directorial debut, “Ex Machina.” In the sci-fi thriller, which screened to critical acclaim at SXSW last month and opens today, Vikander plays Ava, an entrancing A.I. creation with mysterious motives.
Indiewire sat down with Vikander in New York to discuss the film.
It was great to see you in a bracingly modern film. You’re more known for your period work stateside.
Beyond modern! [Laughs]
Exactly, futuristic. Were you dying to sink your teeth into something not period in the English language?
I’ve never chosen any film because it is or is not period. But yes, when it comes to this kind of genre I think I have kind of a crush. I love sci-fi. A couple months before I had this script in my lap, I was on the phone with my agents and was like, “I saw ‘Moon’ for the second time in two years!” I just love those intimate, psychological sci-fi films. Then this script came along and it’s one of the best scripts I’ve read. Normally you come in and work on a script and Alex was very open to us to change it, but it was just a very finished product. It’s a page-turner.
I’m sure it kind of reads like a play in a way, on the page.
Yeah, it’s kind of set in one space and very contained. I think that was part of the thrill too. It was my shortest shoot ever. I think we had five or six weeks; only one week rehearsals. And great to get the chance to work with Domhnall [Gleeson, her co-star in “Anna Karenina”] again. Most of the scenes between us were 10 or 12 pages long — it’s rare to find a scene that long in any script.
You played Ava as very human. You could have approached her in so many ways. How did you go about deciding on the best way to embody her?
It was difficult because in the script, which tends to be a very difficult thing about scripts, there weren’t many stage directions. So when I read it I didn’t really know what Ava looked like, what she was or anything. My self-taped audition I did is a very different Ava.
DEN OF GEEK – We sat down with Ex Machina stars Oscar Isaac and Alicia Vikander to talk artificial intelligence, science fiction, and X-Men: Apocalypse.
This interview contains mild Ex Machina spoilers.
The summer movie season is still some weeks off, but for fans that really love the genre, we probably already have the year’s best science fiction film. Indeed, Ex Machina marks the directorial debut of screenwriter Alex Garland (28 Days Later, Sunshine, Dredd), and it also stands as a indelibly creepy chamber piece about two men (Oscar Isaac and Domhnall Gleeson) and the artificially intelligent being they covet (Alicia Vikander).
Pulling from the great sci-fi traditions of Isaac Asimov or Philip K. Dick, with a little bit of gothic horror thrown thanks to overt Frankenstein parallels (and perhaps some subtler Bram Stoker ones as well), Ex Machina creates a taut 108-minute thriller about the deceptively simple execution of a Turing test—which is to prove artificial intelligence exists.
When Caleb (Gleeson) is invited by Nathan (Isaac), a search engine monopoly’s mercurial CEO, to a mysterious and unvisited country estate, Caleb discovers he is only allowed in certain rooms. But in one of them, he meets Ava (Vikander), a likely sentient robot. Nathan insists that Caleb is there to perform a Turing test on Ava, but it quickly becomes apparent, there is more to this experiment than meets the eye.
In preparation for Ex Machina’s limited release this weekend, we sat down for a roundtable interview with Isaac and Vikander to discuss the future of artificial intelligence, the preparation process in bringing it to the screen, and just where our relationship with technology is headed.
Oscar Isaac also had a few words about the villainous Apocalypse, a “creator” of sorts that he is gearing up to play in X-Men: Apocalypse.
Obviously this is a uniquely elaborate film. Alicia, could you describe how much time you spent in hair and make-up? How did you apply such an intricate look to both the robotic and flesh elements?
Alicia Vikander: I spent four and a half hours [in make-up]. I think we cut it down to [three hours and 45 minutes] at the end, but I think my pick-up call time was at 3:50 in the morning to be on set by 8am. They just did a mold of my body. A lot of people assume [there’s] green screen action going on, but you don’t apparently need that anymore. So, the silver mesh that you see is just a full bodysuit, so I looked like Spider-Man.
And then they continued and slicked my hair, and they had a bald cap and did the silver mesh on top of my head, and then they build my forehead on top of my skull. So the form you see for Ava in the film is actually me, and then they haven taken away some of the parts.
Alicia is featured in the April issue of StripLV magazine. Four scans have been added to the gallery, enjoy!
Magazine Scans > 2015 > StripLV (April)
Alicia and her co-star Oscar Isaac attend the ‘Ex Machina’ premiere and after party on April 6, 2015 in New York City.
Public Appearances > 2015 > ‘Ex Machina’ New York Premiere
Public Appearances > 2015 > ‘Ex Machina’ New York Premiere – After Party
Alicia is W magazine’s April 2015 cover girl and high quality scans have been added to the gallery.
Magazine Scans > 2015 > W (April)
Alicia and Eddie Redmayne attend a photocall for their new film ‘The Danish Girl’ in Copenhagen on March 22, 2015.
Alicia graces the cover of W magazine for April and they give us a gorgeous new photoshoot that you can find in our gallery as well as the cover, all in high quality. I will add the scans as soon as possible. Make sure to check them out and to read the interview below. Enjoy!
Magazine Scans > 2015 > W (April)
Studio Photoshoots > Outtakes & Sessions > 2015 > Session 002
Around four years ago, Alicia Vikander was heading from England back to her native Sweden. The actress, who is normally driven by a joyful determination, was a little sad: She had spent the last of her savings on a plane ticket to London so she could meet with casting directors about a part in Snow White and the Huntsman, a big-budget reinvention of the classic fairy tale. “I was completely on my own,” she told me on a very chilly day in early February in London, where she now resides. We were having hot beverages at a small gourmet shop near her apartment, and Vikander, who is petite and very slim, with wide brown eyes, was swathed in a caramel-colored overcoat and a long pale blue wool muffler. She projected an air of self-sufficiency: polite but not warm, and certainly not vulnerable.
Vikander, 26, has been acting since she was 7, including a three-year run in the Swedish musical Kristina From Duvemala, written by the creators of Mamma Mia! When she was 15, she left her hometown of Göteborg, where she was living with her mother (her parents separated when she was an infant) to study at the prestigious Royal Swedish Ballet School in Stockholm. When she realized that she wasn’t going to make it as a professional dancer, she started thinking about trying out for English-speaking acting roles. She worked on her English—she now speaks it beautifully, with a slight British accent—and made tapes of herself playing different characters, hoping to land a part in an American movie. The tapes were sent to casting directors in the U.K., but neither Vikander nor her Swedish agent received any responses. “I never even heard ‘No thank you,’?” Vikander said, taking a sip of her coffee. “So I decided I had to get myself to London.”