Watch an exclusive behind-the-scenes peek at the Oscar-winning actress' transformation into Lara Croft

By Joey Nolfi
March 09, 2018 at 01:08 PM EST

Tomb Raider (2018)

  • Movie

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Upon stepping into the role of Lara Croft for director Roar Uthaug’s upcoming Tomb Raider reboot, Alicia Vikander knew she had big boots to fill. And EW has an exclusive behind-the-scenes peek at the Oscar-winning actress’ hard-fought transformation into the video game heroine.

“I’ve been dreaming since I was a kid that I’d be part of a big action-adventure, to push myself. And in this film, I really get to do that,” the Danish Girl star says in the clip above, explaining that her admiration for the character began at a young age as she watched friends play the original game series on the Sony PlayStation. “She was extremely fierce and capable and a big adventurer. This film is about her becoming the action hero that we know her to be.”

In essence, Vikander and Uthaug — a Norwegian filmmaker best known for his 2015 thriller The Wave — sought to strip Croft of the hardened, effortlessly cool, globe-trotting persona codified in previous iterations (like the first, Angelina Jolie-fronted Tomb Raider film in 2001) and start fresh. The contemporary version follows Lara as a twentysomething struggling to make ends meet in London, later mustering the courage to visit a mysterious Japanese island that may or may not have played a part in the disappearance of her archaeologist father (Dominic West) years prior. Along the journey, Croft earns her heroic status against the elements and a nefarious rival explorer (Walton Goggins), but so did Vikander in the process.

“Bruises and the hits, you kind of just suck up. But the cold, that is the tough thing. We had water cannons being thrown at us. We even had to reshoot some things because I turned too blue. We wanted her to be a strong, physical girl,” Vikander explains of her dedication to the character, which also included intense muscle building, mountain climbing, archery, and MMA-style combat training. “I always wanted to try all these physical action beats. Now, I feel like I have the strengths.”

Her signature tenacity wasn’t lost on her costars, either: “She made me embarrassed to take my shirt off,” Goggins adds with a laugh. “And I go to the gym five days a week.”

Tomb Raider vaults into theaters March 16. Watch EW’s exclusive behind-the-scenes preview above.

Tomb Raider (2018)

  • Movie
  • PG-13
  • Roar Uthaug