Alicia Vikander on ‘Firebrand’s’ Rarely Told Tudor Story

In Britain, schoolchildren studying about Tudor historical past are taught a helpful rhyme to recollect the order of King Henry VIII’s six wives: “Divorced, beheaded, died. Divorced, beheaded, survived.”

Hollywood has for many years been transfixed by the “beheaded” and “died” bits — basically, the tales about girls struggling — however what moviegoers are not often reminded of is the spouse who outlived Henry. In Karim Aïnouz’s hotly anticipated “Firebrand,” it’s the infamous Tudor king’s remaining companion, Katherine Parr, who lastly takes middle stage.

“What’s mostly been dramatized are the wives who didn’t make it,” says Swedish star Alicia Vikander, who performs the surviving queen reverse Jude Law’s ailing monarch. “[When I read the script] I immediately thought, ‘Huh, isn’t it interesting that most people know more about the other wives.’ It’s almost like people are drawn to quite grim stories.”

The extra Vikander, an Oscar-winner for “The Danish Girl,” learn up on Parr and her expertise, the extra bewildered she turned concerning the grisly narrative surrounding Henry VIII’s wives. “I was like, ‘How could [Parr] not be more known?’ Especially considering that, yes, she survived more years than the other ones, but she was also the first woman under her own name in British history to get published,” says Vikander.

The realized and curious Parr revealed quite a lot of spiritual texts starting in 1545. But as detailed in “Firebrand,” her quest for data and fervour for debate nearly price her her life when she was accused of heresy. Scholars beware: Aïnouz’s explicit rendition of historical past has a revisionist edge that bestows the drained annals of historical past with a contemporary angle. (“It was about having artistic freedom to make a strong story and to surprise people,” explains Vikander.)

Ultimately, it was Aïnouz’s depth and imaginative and prescient that “drew [her] attention.” “I was in Cannes and I saw ‘The Invisible Life of Euridice Gusmao’ and I was so curious [about him],” says the actor.

“We didn’t grow up with British history in the same sense,” she says, reflecting on each their backgrounds — Vikander from Sweden, and Aïnouz from Brazil. This “outsider” standing allowed for a brand new method of approaching the subject material.

“If I were telling a very Swedish story, there may be a part of me that feels some sort of obligation to honor a story that feels like a part of my culture,” she explains. “It can be a good thing when you don’t have that reference as much, because you come from another perspective.”

The world of costume drama, nonetheless, is acquainted terrain for Vikander, whose massive breakout got here with the 2012 Swedish movie “A Royal Affair,” wherein she performed a younger queen married to a mad king. That identical yr got here “Anna Karenina,” which was her first time working reverse Jude Law, after which World War I drama “Testament of Youth.”

Alicia Vikander says she’s sport for one more bodily motion function like Lara Croft in “Tomb Raider.”
©Warner Bros./courtesy Everett Collection

To higher perceive the Tudor interval, Aïnouz recruited specialists who had really lived like Tudors for six months, although not in court docket however moderately on working farms — a “very primitive” and decidedly unglamorous expertise that’s additionally not often seen on display. “It made us want to strip back and make something that feels very raw and authentic,” provides Vikander. “I loved that he wanted to undress the costume drama.”

If the thought of a pared-back Tudor story set within the court docket of Henry VIII doesn’t fairly jive on paper, relaxation assured it’s masterfully executed, however by no means heavy-handed: moderately, it’s within the film’s small particulars, comparable to Vikander’s Katherine rubbing coal into her tooth to seem like a villager earlier than sneaking out, or Law’s Henry bantering together with his posse of advisors as if they’re in an episode of “Entourage.” “Firebrand” feels human in a method that many motion pictures from the interval have did not.

Of working reverse Law in a job in contrast to something he’s taken on earlier than (the chiselled star fully disappears underneath Henry’s prosthetic jowls), Vikander highlights Law’s ability as a personality actor. “I think more and more, he gets to have parts where he really gets to show that.”

Meanwhile, of her personal creative ambitions, Vikander says she’s much less centered on Oscar-baiting roles and extra involved with who she’s within the trenches with. “Maybe it’s about getting old or growing up, but you go through stages and — especially when I became a mother — I [prefer] to work with people that I highly admire.”

Don’t depend her out from main one other motion franchise, although. Vikander says she was crushed when plans for the “Tomb Raider” sequel fizzled out. MGM misplaced the rights to the property in May 2022 because it hadn’t but greenlit a brand new instalment.

“I mean, I thought we were very much [good to go]; we had a director and writer. But yeah, for me, that was another one of those childhood dreams — to portray an action character was awesome, and beyond what I ever thought I would do. And I think the physical part is something that I really enjoyed. So, yeah, if another opportunity like that came again, I’ll be interested.”

“Firebrand” has offered out internationally, with Prime Video swooping for a U.Okay. deal together with choose worldwide markets. CAA is buying U.S. rights on the movie in Cannes.

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