It’s 9am on a Monday morning but Alicia Vikander looks like she’s been up for hours. Elegant in a cinched black dress and sipping on green juice she seems happy - as well she should be, 2016 having seen her win an Academy Award, start pre-production on an indie film she’s producing through her own company and star in what is set to be one of the summer’s biggest movies.
It’s the latter film, Jason Bourne, that we’re discussing, and I put it to her that I find the popularity of its titular character (played by Matt Damon) weird given his stoicism and lack of charisma.
“I think that’s it though,” she says, “you want to get to know Bourne. “Also I was a teenager when I saw the first film and, in terms of blockbusters, kind of grew up watching Bond movies. For me, Bourne was just something completely new and I think over the years a lot of films have copied the franchise and its muted authenticity.”
The sequel is largely about getting the ol’ band back together - Damon, Julia Styles, Vincent Cassel, director Paul Greengrass, a lot of the crew - but Vikander is a new addition as CIA agent Heather Lee.
She won’t be expecting Best Supporting Actress wins for this role, but enthuses about the film’s “could be taken out of a newspaper” plot elements.
“Even if it is a popcorn franchise movie, it’s intriguing because it has elements of political and social issues that you recognise and yet is still very entertaining,” she says, and she’s right, the film is solid and stimulating.
The political and social issues she mentions come into play in the film when the government starts leaning on a fictional social network to provide them with users’ personal data. Vikander herself won’t be found on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram, though this is down to personal preference rather than privacy concern.
“I don’t use them. It's not that I'm neglecting it, it’s just not for me.”
I tell her I think this is pretty noble, and lament the fact that having a social media presence is increasingly necessary in order to make it in creative industries.
“You know, I heard through a friend that during a casting process - thank god it never happened to me - the [casting directors] came down to two or three people and they asked the actors how many followers they had, because it means something to have direct contact with fans I guess."
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I silently weep into my coffee.
“I must say that, as an actor,” she continues, “I guess it’s a different thing if you’re an artist or musician who needs to be in contact with your audience, but the illusion for the audience to sit down and not know much about the actor, that’s powerful.
“A lot of the actors I look up to, I don’t really know who they are, so with each film I buy into the new role they’re stepping into and I enjoy believing in the illusion.”
Vikander started her career in a popular Swedish TV drama, but since 2010 has mainly resided in film. I ask her if she would ever consider moving back now that so much quality content is being produced in that sector.
“Our whole industry is moving towards that,” she says. “It’s becoming more and more of an event to go and see a big film on a big screen, but I find a lot of the more intimate adult dramas are happening in TV, nowadays. I haven’t done it, but I’d be open to it.”
I detect a hint of nostalgia for cinema glory past in Vikander’s voice, and tell her I’m not ready for film to play second fiddle to television.
“Me too!” she exclaims, “I don’t think it should and I’m fighting… the next thing I’m producing is a small indie film. I want to do both the big films like Bourne that I love to go and watch at the cinema myself but also tell the small stories, and the fight to bring an audience to them is a passion that’s been there since I started acting.”
The small indie film she mentions is Euphoria, which she will star in opposite Eva Green and put out through her newly set up company, Vikarious Productions.
“It started with me and my business partner sitting down at lunch maybe four years ago and talked about ‘what if’,” she recalls of the company’s inception. “It was more of a happy joke or dream and then a year ago we actually started it and now we’re going into production in just a few weeks.”
It’s a bold move from the 27-year-old, and it's no coincidence that Euphoria is written by, directed by, and stars women.
“I was very fortunate to do some really strong, interesting female characters and that became such a big thing that I actually forgot until recently I haven’t really worked with another woman, I was only acting with men. so to be given the chance to make a drama with women I think is important.
“You’ve seen it more in the last few years in comedy, we have a lot of amazing women in comedy that we look up to and I think it’s time we got that into drama as well.
“Of course, I want to make films about any story that I feel for - if it’s a man or a woman it shouldn’t matter. I want to bring the best people to the project possible - but I'm always going to be very conscious that women are represented both behind and in front of the camera.”
The move from acting to producing inevitably leads one to the tantalising prospect of directing; I ask Alicia if she’s considered it.
I”ve always wanted to make films and I love to act, that’s my big passion and I'm just very happy that I can be part of filmmaking from an earlier stage,” she cautions, but “directing is like the highest level of filmmaking. I admire directors for having the knowledge to be able to bring actors, stories, visual aspects, music, art - everything - together, so I’m trying to pick up as much as I can and one day if I feel I can do it I’ll give it a shot."
Jason Bourne is out today in UK cinemas
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