While Angelina Jolie's Lara Croft is the face of a fearless female warrior, Academy Award-winning actress Alicia Vikander is bringing a new image of the video-age heroine to life.
Directed by Roar Uthaug, Tomb Raider will unveil Alicia Vikander's take on Lara to a new generation of views in the United States and the Chinese mainland on Friday.
The reboot of the Tomb Raider film series is based on the 2013 version of the video game of the same name produced by Crystal Dynamics, which tells the story of Lara's journey to find her father who disappeared seven years previously.
After playing the game as a child, Vikander thought the 2013 version was different. "It shows the human side of Lara in the original story of the journey that brought out the warrior in her".
Lara's journey to adulthood reminds Vikander of her own experiences of growing up and her decision at the age of 20 to quit ballet dancing to become an actress. After discussing how the director and producer wanted to update Lara Croft for contemporary audiences, Vikander agreed to play the role.
Winning an Academy Award for best supporting actress for her portrayal of Gerda Wegener in The Danish Girl, Vikander's petite frame does not immediately conjure up the image of Lara Croft. To counter this, the actress began a combined training and nutrition program seven months prior to filming, where she gained 5 kilograms of muscle in the process.
Even during filming, the 29-year-old Swede maintained a strict training regime, working out every morning in a customized gym in a truck before heading to the set.
Shooting the action sequences for the film was the first challenge for Vikander. In one sequence where Lara and Lu Ren, played by Chinese-American actor Daniel Wu, attempt to steer a ship through a storm, the shooting took place on a pontoon mounted on a five-axis gimbal strong enough to withstand tons of water being shot at it from cannons.
"It was almost like having ice thrown at you for hours on end, so I thought that was definitely the hardest part," Vikander says.
While her ballet background helped her physically during the big action scenes, she had to learn many new skills that required practice to prepare for the role.
Besides the physical demands, the next challenge for Vikander was how to weigh up the emotional impact of the role.
"I wanted to be able to give truth to this character," says Vikander. "Lara has an adventurous spirit. She's smart but also stubborn."
Vikander was recently invited by Crystal Dynamics to visit their studio, and she was amazed to see how far the gaming universe and the film industry are converging thanks to new technology, which she believes will attract "more actors to work in the video game universe".
Portraying Gul'dan in 2016's Warcraft, Wu is also a gaming fan, and is familiar with the storyline of the Tomb Raider game. In the movie, he plays the captain who helps Lara reach the island where she hopes to find her father.
"The reason I chose the role is that the story is complete. Some roles offered for Chinese actors are not the important ones, but this role is well-structured," says Wu.
"Lara and Lu are from different families and different backgrounds, but they come together to find their fathers who have both disappeared - that makes it interesting," Wu says.
Wu had to learn how to sail for the movie, and gained from five hours of practice at sea. "At first it was fun, but later I felt tired and bored, and then some strange ideas came into my head - that's when I started to understand Lu Ren."
Wu also enjoyed working with the international production team comprising a Norwegian director, a Swedish lead and crew members from Britain, the United States and South Africa.
Since 2015, Wu has been starring in the US action series Into the Badlands, where he also serves as executive producer. When the current filming of the third season comes to an end, Wu plans to take some time off before picking an Asian movie as his next project.