Zurich: Alicia Vikander on Closing the Gender Gap

Courtesy of TIFF

“I did four films in a row, where there wasn't a single scene with another woman,” says the Oscar-winning actress, who is looking to do better as she moves into producing with 'Euphoria.'

The irresistible rise of Alicia Vikander continues. A year after winning the best supporting actress Oscar for The Danish Girl, the Swedish star will soon been seen in her biggest production yet: playing Lara Croft in the reboot of the Tomb Raider franchise from MGM, Warner Bros. and GK Films. This comes after co-starring in Jason Bourne opposite Matt Damon, as well as garnering more awards buzz for The Light Between Oceans with Michael Fassbender and Tulip Fever opposite Christoph Waltz and Dane DeHaan.

But Vikander's ambitions go further. Last year, she launched her own production company, Vikarious Productions, along with her London-based agent Charles Collier, and is touring the festival circuit with the company's first film, Euphoria, which reunites her with Swedish director Lisa Langseth. Vikander's screen debut was as a 19-year-old in Langseth's first feature, Pure (2010), and the pair worked together on the helmer's follow-up, Hotel (2013).

The story of two sisters confronting their pasts and an uncertain future, Euphoria had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival and its European bow at the Zurich International Film Festival. Vikander and Langseth took to the stage at Zurich's annual Winston Baker Summit to talk about the challenges of producing out of Europe for the international market, and the tricky question of cinema's gender gap.

Vikander said moving between tentpoles and small European art house films comes naturally to her. “European art house is where I come from, but I can't tell you how many times I saw Indiana Jones and The Mummy growing up,” said the 28-year-old actress. “I love to do challenging art, but that doesn't take away from wanting to be part of films that I really enjoy.”

For Euphoria, it was Vikander who suggested Langseth adapt her screenplay to make the story bigger, and to shoot in English, giving the project a better chance on the international market. But Vikander said that when the camera was rolling, Langseth was still in charge: “As an actress, I know my job, and she was the director.”

Euphoria was set up as a co-production with Sweden’s B-Reel Films and shot over 30 days “in a big house in Bavaria” last summer, according to the actress. Vikander said the drama could not have been made without “the very special model” of European film subsidies. “It's something we should be very proud of,” she said of the state-backed system, which Vikander said allows greater creative freedom for filmmakers.

In addition to Vikander, Euphoria co-stars Eva Green and British acting legend Charlotte Rampling. Written and directed by Langseth, it also features a number of women behind the camera, including music composer Lisa Holmqvist. As a producer, Vikander said she only wants to get “the best and most qualified people for the job we are doing,” but she was also proud that Euphoria was more diverse than most productions she's worked on.

“I looked back and I did four films in a row, where I was a lead in all of them, but there wasn't a single scene where I was with another woman. Which is nuts, really,” she said. “So I really want to make sure that I always have that in the back of my mind [when I am producing projects].”

While the Hollywood gender gap “it's close to where it should be,” Vikander said she has seen real progress in her short time in the business. “I started making films in English seven years ago and I think even now there are a lot more options out there,” she said. “People are talking more about it and people are more aware, and I think that is the way towards change.”