Alicia Vikander, a larger than life Irma Vep in the HBO series

Alicia Vikander, a larger than life Irma Vep in the HBO series

We know Alicia Vikander’s dark skin and fine features, the couple she forms with Michael Fassbender and her role as the face of a major luxury brand. But her career as a Nordic actress, with perfect English, had until now an elusive side. First destined for a career as a ballerina, the Swede finally followed in the footsteps of her mother, a famous theater actress. For the past fifteen years, the 33-year-old young woman has been following a path in the form of a paradox, between independent cinema (Pure, Blue Bayou) and successful franchises (tomb Raider, Jason Bourne).

But at a time when French cinema is torn apart by the uncertain future of theaters in the face of competition from platforms, it is an auteur series produced by a powerful pay-TV channel, HBO, which offers Alicia Vikander perhaps his most interesting role to date. And since we are no longer close to a paradox, it is at the Cannes Film Festival that the first episodes of the series version ofIrma Vep – the story of the complicated filming of a remake of Vampiresthe Louis Feuillade serial released in 1915, of which Irma Vep is one of the main characters – were screened.

Read also: Article reserved for our subscribers “Irma Vep”, on OCS, the joyful macabre dance of Olivier Assayas

Mira Harberg, the young star whom Alicia Vikander interprets in the series that Olivier Assayas took from his own film released in 1996, inevitably recalls the imagination of the celebrity carried by the characters of Kristen Stewart in Sils Maria (2014) and personal shopper (2016) from the director. When we meet her in an impersonal suite at the Majestic, the actress on promotion, frozen in the luxury of her clothes and the coldness of the moment, strangely merges with her character. It will take her a little time to let her guard down and it is obviously by talking about cinema that she warms up.

The young woman had met the French filmmaker when he was preparing personal shopper. The two had hit it off over conversations about Bergman, and when they reunited for lunch some time later, the director broached the idea of ​​adapting Irma Vep in a longer format. “I knew about the film because my mother showed it to me when I was a teenager. Olivier offered me to be part of the project when he hadn’t started writing it, I obviously said yes”remembers the actress, who quotes Summer time (2008) and Sils Maria as important sources of inspiration.

“Cinema neuroses”

“I harbored a certain guilt for not having hired Alicia on Personal Shopper, remembers the director, back in Paris where he finished the last episodes of the series. To redo Irma Vep, I needed to rely on the total commitment of an actress. » A commitment that stems from this game of mirrors involved in shooting a film within the film and putting actors in the shoes of actors. “Because of her experience in theater and dance, Alicia has a very wide rangehe adds. It can be lots of things. I knew she would be very fair in this role, which is a bit special. » There is indeed a sort of evidence in seeing her put on the black jumpsuit of the criminal of the Vampires and use dance – the choreographies are by Angelin Preljocaj – to better slip into your skin.

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