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Alicia Vikander: 'Relentless ballet training prepared me for difficult acting roles'

Actress Alicia Vikander credits her ballet background for helping her rise to the challenge of difficult film roles.

The 27-year-old Swedish star has received numerous nominations this awards season for her portrayal of robot Ava in Ex Machina and she has scored a handful of Best Supporting Actress honours for playing artist Gerda Wegener, the wife of transgender painter Lili Elbe, in The Danish Girl.

And as her star rises in Hollywood, Alicia admits the pressure to perform increases.

"I find all parts very difficult, in different ways," she told Collider. "Ex Machina was difficult because I had to contain. You always want to translate as much emotion as you can, even if it’s broader with bigger emotions.

"I love that Gerda had such an energy to her. I did explore a big range with her. There’s something about portraying someone that I looked up to for being so incredibly loving and good. A human is all those things, but I always had to question myself, if I would have been able to. It was an interesting thing to try to find a way for a human to really be able to support that much and be that caring."

Alicia attended the Royal Swedish Ballet School from the age of nine, but injuries in her late teens forced her to abandon a once-promising dancing career.

However, the rigorous training she received throughout most of her formative years remains incredibly helpful while managing her thriving acting career.

"Even though it was really tough shooting those films, I knew it was never going to be as tough as ballet school," she said. "It’s something that I’m extremely proud of, and I’m so happy I had that training. I didn’t go to theatre school, so that was my education and foundation for being onstage.

"Of course, I got physical awareness, I hope, and maybe some self-discipline. I think it’s something I bring unconsciously to most parts. But then, with Ex Machina, when I read the script and did my first self-tape, I did it in the middle of the night. I was in Australia, so I couldn’t meet (writer/director) Alex (Garland), at that point. I stood in front of the mirror in the bathroom and tried to find some physicality for Ava, which I really enjoyed."

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