At 29, she seems an old soul, though a mischievous spirit whirrs beneath the surface. She grins when she talks about shooting Tomb Raider, calling co-star West “a hoot”. “There was never a quiet moment on set.” Playing an action heroine was like professional playtime, and she gained five or six kilograms of muscle to play the role: “Due to all the action scenes that [the character] had to be put through, I wanted it to be plausible that a young girl could fight a man who’s obviously both stronger and bigger.” Learning to do a pull-up was exhilarating. “To feel like you have that strength is pretty cool.” Though she didn’t keep up the superhuman regime. “I realised it takes about four months to gain anything, and only three weeks to [lose] it all!” she exclaims with frustration.
Alicia trained with a mountain of a man called Magnus, a “cool guy”, who’d tease her. “I love to drink wine and eat food, and Magnus would sit next to me with his glass of wine and his dessert.” She gave up drinking for seven months, and ate and ate: “Three eggs at 7am, and two fillets of fish, a bowl of rice and veggies at 10am, at 1pm, at 4pm, and at 7pm. I ate more than I’ve ever done in my entire life.” She scorns people who ask her if she gave up carbs. “There was no getting rid of carbs. It was about eating good, and clean.” The physicality reminded her of ballet school. “When I danced, I liked that side of it.”
But she did miss menus, and wine. Cooking equals relaxation, having time to “choose ingredients for two hours and read up on some different recipes and make your own mix and then have friends come over, make sure they drink lots of wine, listen to music, and be in the kitchen for four hours. It’s my dream day.” Her knockout recipe is a bouillabaisse, homemade bread and homemade aioli; she also makes a mean pie. “My own dough – savoury pies and sweet pies.” When she’s on the junket carousel, turning up and finding she has a kitchen changes her mood. “It suddenly makes me feel like I have time off.” She’s delighted with her suite at the Ham Yard Hotel in Piccadilly, which is where we’ve met: she points to a small kitchen off the living room, smiling.
The character of Lara Croft was meaningful to her. “I was a kid who liked playing video games. But when I was growing up, no girls did, and I always hid it. I didn’t have a Playstation, but I went to friends’ houses. I remember that I’d never seen a female protagonist in a video game ever. I tried to play it, and was a bit too scared. I mainly spent time practising in the manor [in the game], running around. But then I did go back and play it in my late teens.
“And as a child I loved to go to the cinema, watch the big movies, the adventures – that genre specifically. I loved Indiana Jones, I grew up with the Mummy films, I loved those films. To be able to be a part of Tomb Raider was like a childhood dream.”
To read the full interview pick up issue 14 of Hunger, Power Play, out now. Buy your copy here.