Alicia Vikander – The Man from U.N.C.L.E

If you haven’t seen Alicia Vikander this year you probably haven’t been to the movies. She’s been in eight projects throughout 2015 with lots more to come next year (including a plum role in the next ”Bourne” film).

The pixieish 26-year-old plays Gaby Teller, the romantic foil between the characters played by Armie Hammer and Henry Cavill in the big screen reboot of ”The Man From U.N.C.L.E”.

The role in Guy Ritchie’s action comedy is yet another milestone in what still a very new career. With films like ”Ex Machina”, ”A Royal Affair”, ”Seventh Son” and ”The Fifth Estate”, the Swede has appeared in just about every genre there is and shows no signs of slowing down yet. She sat down to talk about ”U.N.C.L.E.” with on the Rome set.

Tell us about your character.

I’m playing Gaby Teller. She’s the daughter of a German scientist who has disappeared apparently and she’s brought up behind the wall in Germany. She’s not very girlish, she’s very headstrong, she’s quite pretty and quite a bad ass. It’s fun, she’s brought up in Germany by Napoleon [Henry Cavill’s character] and Illya [Armie Hammer’s character].

How do you prepare for such a physical role with fighting, driving and dancing?

For the dancing scene I just thought about the nights I spent dancing, I enjoyed myself very much in that scene. To be able to play a kick ass role and be able to take down a very, very tall man, I really enjoyed it very much.

With the car scenes, I didn’t tell the production until I got the part that I didn’t have a driver’s licence. So they put me in lessons quite early on. It was fun because in the big car chase in the beginning of the film a man was on top of my car in a cage where the wires pulled through the car and actually drove it for me. So in one way it was not much green screen going on. I actually got to experience the whole action sequences being behind the wheel, fooling myself that I did all those things with the car.

How is Guy Ritchie as a director?

He’s a man who’s very much at ease and still he brings such intensity. He’s so innovative on set. He collaborates with his actors very tightly. I love when a director’s written their own script but they’re not precious about it.

I think that’s what specifies his films, all the characters are very distinct and that’s why the dry humour between those different characters has evolved. So he let us figure that out as we went along.

How did that make it better?

When everybody feels free to try new things they go far and risk to fail and know that’s fine, then everybody else in the room kind of picks up on it and you say ‘okay we’re on that train now’ and suddenly you end up saying something new or completely different.

Did you have any familiarity with the TV show when you signed on?

I grew up in Sweden and it ran for years on Swedish television in the afternoons. So I watched it when I was like ten, eleven when I came back from school.

Did you reference it?

I chose to not look at it just before we did this film because I didn’t want it to be in my head. I wanted to know that I’m creating a character, a new take on it.

Did you wonder to yourselves at any point how you’re going to sell a 35-year-old TV show remake to audiences today?

Friends who’ve seen the trailer say ‘I didn’t know what you really were doing but oh my God that was a fun ride’. The trailer’s a great trailer because it’s feels like a short version of the film. That’s very rare but I actually didn’t think about time, watching the film for the first time, but it was a pleasant surprise when I saw it.

How was it playing opposite Hugh Grant?

I have two or three scenes with him and I remember he was already in his character. I think we all laughed out loud as soon as he stepped in. It was great to see how into his role he already was.

He was a really fantastic, intelligent human being and he’s just so funny, he’s so quick on his feet, he’s so witty. If most people try and think of a clever line, he’s already written six, and they’re all better than anything you could write.

That’s the charm and charisma of Hugh when you first meet him. I had one scene with him where I think our characters should shake hands again. I would’ve loved to have worked with him more. He’s a lovely man.

It looks like everything in Man From U.N.C.L.E. was very practical and in camera. It must have been a different experience from Ex Machina.

Yes. First of all in Ex Machina there were almost only three character in the film and the action is definitely there in Ex Machina, that’s why I loved the script because of the action is actually not driven by physicality but because of the dialogue.

In The Man From U.N.C.L.E. it’s the exterior that speaks to you that is the action. It is the way we move. In the final film it’s going to be the cuts, the edits, the music, you know, it’s two very different films. But I had never done an action packed comedy in this sense so I was both terrified and extremely excited to be in it.

Do you have a favourite out of the two different styles or approaches?

I can’t compare them. I mean it’s difficult when you see the film because you remember how you made the film because we spend two or three months on a project. So it’s like two different worlds but I really enjoyed them both.

Was Ex Machina a more pure form of performance because it’s not all about the costumes and props?

I still had a costume on, I had three or four hours to get into my costume. It was an intimate psychological drama and this is another type of film we’re aiming for something different.

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Elizabeth Debicki – The Man from U.N.C.L.E