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The following contains minor spoilers for Tomb Raider.
Alicia Vikander has talked at length about the physical work that she did in order to get just the right look for Tomb Raider. However, she told us why it was so important for the film that she do it. Vikander is a trained dancer and so she's already fit and athletic, but she told CinemaBlend that, for Tomb Raider, it was necessary that she be physically strong in order to make the things Lara Croft does in the movie look plausible. According to Vikander...
I think sometimes, especially with women, I think it's a wonderful thing to show strength in a young woman. Also, that it was plausible... because we talked a lot about wanting to make it, because I was like, 'She's gonna take on some bigger dudes in this film.' If you're talking about making real stunt scenes, we need to buy that she can do this. She still needs tools and to be clever, because she's still gonna be a girl. But if she's just gonna be able to pull herself up on a bomber plane, she needs to have that strength. I'm a petite girl. I had more leg muscles when I danced, but it is a difference.
Lara Croft finds herself in over her head in Tomb Raider, shipwrecked on an island with few resources to aid her. However, she does have her natural abilities which go a long way in helping her overcome the obstacles. In fact, the first act of the movie basically exists to show where Lara's physical strength comes from so that it makes sense to see her use it later on. She makes her living on her bicycle, which keeps her fit, but that's not all she does.
I love storywise that it's integrated. She's into MMA training, and she's a girl who likes that. That is very lucky due to the fact that she is thrown into this adventure. It's gonna come to use. You shouldn't be afraid of the femininity that I definitely wanted to be there. Being attractive and sexy and strong.
Of course, building the 12 pounds of muscle that Alicia Vikander put on in order to look like a realistic physical threat takes work. In addition to the exercise, the diet she was on was quite specific, limiting what foods she was allowed to eat. Vikander told us that the thing she missed most was carbs, leading to her eating some foods more often on her "cheat days" than she normally would, simply because she wasn't allowed to have them otherwise.
I love food and I don't eat this very much, but when someone told me to just have one cheat day, I was like 'What!?' Then it was interesting because i love bread. I mean i had carbs every day for all of my five meals, but it's like quinoa and brown rice. So pizza. Every Sunday. Or pasta.