Alicia Vikander was thrown down an Olympic whitewater course 25 times without a life vest for Tomb Raider’s biggest action scene

It must be pretty fun being Lara Croft, right? Just ask Alicia Vikander. Except I actually asked her to take me through one of Tomb Raider’s biggest scenes step-by-step and, honestly? It sounds harrowing. From getting spun upside down, to being chucked down rivers… I’ll stick to the day job, methinks.

The scene in question which, if you’ve played the games or seen the Tomb Raider movie trailers (hey, you can even see a sneak peek above!), will instantly be recognisable, involves a gigantic Bomber plane and Ms. Croft running with her hands tied together. As you can imagine, it involves a bumpy landing.

“That was probably the one scene filmed on so many different locations,” Alicia Vikander tells me. It’s a little wonder too, as director Roar Uthaug reveals the sheer scale that went into the scene’s production: “We had our own collapsing plane wing. We had [Alicia] in a Bomber fuselage that we could spin around 180 degrees.”

“That was put… on a gimble, so it was floating in mid-air,” Vikander elaborates. “We actually had to stop because me and the guys that filmed me, we were all inside and we don’t have any reference because there were no windows.” 

It gets even worse.

“So, we all got seasick because we were tumbled around and the guys were hanging on, including myself.”

Oh, it gets even worse.

“And then, of course, we had the big rapids. Those were actually shot in London…They built a whole river for the [2012] Olympics where they did the canoeing. But normally people go down there in boats with life vests; we were just pushed out there. I went down there 25 times in one day in 11-degree water.”

Skinning the deer in Tomb Raider aside, I don’t remember anything quite so traumatic from Lara’s virtual trip to Yamatai. Let’s get some perspective: world-class athletes need all sorts of safety equipment for disciplines they’ve trained there whole life for. Lara Croft? Nah, just chuck her in. She’ll be fine.

So, Alicia Vikander pretty much sacrificed life and limb to bring us one of the best action scenes of the year. How did she react to being put through the wringer? Just how Lara would, actually: “So, that was tough – but looked cool.” A professional to the very end.

Image: Warner Bros.