When I interviewed Mads Mikkelsen last year about foreign language Oscar nominee A Royal Affair, he couldn’t contain his admiration for his young co-star, Swedish actor Alicia Vikander.
“One thing you cannot learn is to make the camera love you,” Mikkelsen said. “It’s just ridiculous. It’s a gift from heaven. And she’s got it.”
Such praise is seconded by NOW photographer Michael Waiter, who enthuses about Vikander’s perfect skin and generosity towards the camera during our interview in a chic studio on Saturday.
After grabbing critical attention for her performance as a girl with a borderline personality in Lisa Langeth’s 2009 feature Pure, Vikander has been climbing the ranks. She appeared opposite Keira Knightley in last year’s Anna Karenina and stars with Jeff Bridges in the upcoming fantasy film The Seventh Son.
Making a casual sweater and pant combo look elegant, the delicate Vikander is evidently losing her voice. She speaks so softly our conversation is reduced to whispers. She’s on a tight schedule that has her doing promotional rounds at TIFF for both The Fifth Estate, in which she stars as Daniel Bruhl’s girlfriend, and Hotell, a small Swedish film that reunites her with Langeth, before heading to Europe to shoot Guy Ritchie’s upcoming blockbuster, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., a mammoth studio production that doesn’t faze the young star despite its budget.
“Even I thought, ‘Is it this big monster that I have to cope with?’” Vikander recalls. “I felt secure, though because between the actors, the director and the director of photography, we do the same intimate work [as in an independent film]. We meet in a room, we sit down and we get through the script. Things work in the same way. But then the scale… instead of 40 people on a set, you’re 500.”