Alicia Vikander’s impressive Tomb Raider transformation

Swedish actress Alicia Vikander gained five kilograms of muscle to play Lara Croft in <i>Tomb Raider</i>.

Swedish actress Alicia Vikander gained five kilograms of muscle to play Lara Croft in Tomb Raider. Photo: Roadshow

Alicia Vikander has replaced Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft in the all-new Tomb Raider prequel, bringing with her a new aesthetic for the notoriously sexualised video game heroine.

In Jolie’s era, Croft was all cleavage, tight T-shirts, short shorts, exposed midriffs and impractically long hair, but Oscar winner Vikander’s iteration brings physicality, strength and longer pants (thank God) to the table.

A former ballet dancer, the 165cm-tall Vikander packed on five kilograms of muscle to play Croft in the prequel to Jolie’s popular early-2000s action films.

Watch our video review of Tomb Raider

Doing most of her own stunts, Swedish-born Vikander has managed to transform the character into a bona fide action figure, rather than a sex object with combat skills.

When she was first cast, fans of the original slammed the decision, complaining Vikander’s chest wasn’t as – ahem – impressive as Jolie’s, simultaneously putting the women’s movement back 100 years or so.

But the 29-year-old actress took it all in good fun, telling UK talk show host Graham Norton: “My breasts are not as pointy as the first Lara, but I had a clear vision of how I wanted to play her.”

Her vision included making Croft “a strong, physical girl”, so she began working out three months before the shoot began.

Vikander took getting in shape seriously, working with celebrity trainer Magnus Lygdback to bulk up with a strict high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet and toning her muscles with weights work, mixed martial arts, rock climbing and swimming.

Her diet involved eating four meals and day and cutting out most carbs, grains, legumes, root vegetables, dairy and most fruit, but Vikander revealed to Entertainment Tonight she got one cheat day a week.

“I woke up on Sundays and was like, ‘It’s pizza day!'” she said.

Vikander’s hard work is part of a bigger movement afoot in Hollywood for female action heroes to shift away from their voluptuous, unrealistic comic book origins towards strong, fearless athletes.

It’s a movement championed by Wonder Woman’s Gal Gadot, who also worked with Lygdback so she could manage the arduous stunts required of her in the box office record-breaking 2017 film.

The hard work paid off for Vikander. By far the most impressive scenes in Tomb Raider involve her pushing her body to the limit with cliffhanging (literally), near-death moments, beautifully choreographed chase scenes and visceral hand-to-hand combat.

As for the movie itself? Well, it’s passable. But you’re better off watching Vikander’s workout videos.

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