Beginners Guide: Alicia Vikander

With Tomb Raider being released in a little over a month, Alicia Vikander’s career is on the up and up. After winning an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, her career has exploded in the USA and UK, and home in Sweden she has received the Nordic Honorary Dragon Award.

Here is our Beginners Guide to some must-see films starring the Swedish actress.

Who is Alicia Vikander?

Alicia Vikander was born and raised in Gothenburg, the second largest city in Sweden. As a child, she worked in minor-stage productions at the Gothenburg Opera House and trained as a ballet dancer at the Royal Swedish Ballet in Stockholm.

Her professional acting career began in Swedish short films and television, but broke through with the television series Andra Avenyn. Her feature film debut was for Pure (2010), in which she won the Guldbagge Award for Best Actress. She attracted international attention after starring in the 2012 Danish film A Royal Affair, and then went on to star in the 2013 Swedish drama film Hotell.

In 2014 and 2015, Alicia Vikander’s career became international after starring in Ex Machina, for which she was nominated for a Golden Globe and BAFTA Award. However, it was her work as Gerda Wegener in The Danish Girl that won her an Academy Award and Screen Actors Guild Award, among others. Since then she has starred in a number of US and UK films.

In 2018, she attended the Gothenburg Film Festival as a recipient of the Nordic Honorary Dragon Award. She also presented her film Euphoria, which is directed by Lisa Langseth.

Top Five: Alicia Vikander

5. The Danish Girl

The best way to leap into the career of Alicia Vikander is to start with the film for which she won the Academy Award. The Danish Girl is directed by Tom Hooper and filmed in Copenhagen, making it somewhat Scandinavian. Starring Vikander alongside Eddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl is loosely based on the true story of Danish artists Lili Elbe and Gerda Wegener. Lili and Gerda’s marriage and work evolve as they navigate Lili’s groundbreaking journey as a transgender pioneer.

4. Ex-Machina

After watching her Academy Award-winning performance, step back and watch the film released shortly before The Danish GirlEx Machina. Vikander stars as a humanoid who becomes the subject of investigation by Caleb, a programmer at the world’s largest interned competition. Caleb wins a competition to spend a week at a private mountain retreat, but when he arrives he finds that he has to participate in a strange and exciting experiment in which he must interact with the world’s first true artificial intelligence, housed in the body of humanoid Alicia.

3. Hotell

Hotell is the last film Vikander has done in the Swedish language, and is therefore worthy of a viewing. Hotell is about Erika (Vikander), who seems to have it all. However, one day this all falls apart and suddenly her perfect life means nothing. She starts going to group therapy and meets other people suffering from various forms of trauma. One day Erika and this eclectic group of four people decide to take matters into their own hands and heads off together in search of a way out. They start checking into hotels – a place of complete anonymity where one can wake up as a different person. Hotell is directed by Lisa Langseth, who Vikander just made Euphoria with.

2. Euphoria

Euphoria is Alicia Vikander’s latest film, and it is beautiful. Starring Vikander alongside Eva Green, the film is about two sisters who reunite and venture into a remote location. However, it turns out that the remote location is a centre for assisted dying, and Eva Green’s character is wishing to end her life after battling incurable cancer. A shock to Vikander’s character, the two sisters have six days to work through a variety of emotions before the death.

1. A Royal Affair

A Royal Affair is arguably one of the biggest Scandinavian films in the last decade, and was the big breakthrough for Alicia Vikander. Here, Vikander stars as the British Princess Caroline, who is betrothed to the mad King Christian VII of Denmark, but her life with the erratic monarch in the oppressive country becomes an isolating misery. However, Christian soon gains a fast companion with the German Dr. Johann Struensee, a quietly idealistic man of the Enlightenment. As the only one who can influence the King, Struensee is able to begin sweeping enlightened reforms of Denmark through Christian even as Caroline falls for the doctor. However, their secret affair proves a tragic mistake that their conservative enemies use to their advantage in a conflict that threatens to claim more than just the lovers as their victims.

A Royal Affair is a must-see for any Scandinavian film fan!


Emma Vestrheim

Emma Vestrheim is the editor-in-chief of Cinema Scandinavia. Originally from Australia, she is now based in Bergen, Norway, and attends major Nordic film festivals to conduct interviews and review new films.