The pair spoke to Screen about their working relationship, new projects and diversity after the film’s world premiere in Toronto International Film Festival’s Platform section.
Swedish writer-director Lisa Langseth and actress Alicia Vikander have teamed up on Euphoria, their third feature collaboration following Pure (2010) and Hotell (2013).
For Vikander, Euphoria also marks her debut as a producer, while Langseth tackles her first English-language project.
Screen: This is a different experience for both of you. Lisa, working on an English-language production, and Alicia, the first film to emerge from your production company Vikarious Productions. How did the project come together?
Lisa Langseth: I have worked with other production companies, but since Alicia started Vikarious, I thought it made sense to work together so we could have the freedom to choose the people we want to work with and keep the power inside the project.
Alicia Vikander: I had been wanting to start this production company for a while with Charles [Collier, her London-based agent at Tavistock Wood] because I had as an actor been involved in the different stages [of filmmaking], such as the script process and later in the editing stage. More and more, I wanted to be a part of filmmaking as a whole. So when Lisa approached me with this project, we decided to do it together and I proposed that we make it in English to have a bigger audience. I thought it had potential to be an international project.
How was the film set up as a co-production?
Vikander: Once we decided it would be in English, that allowed us to partner with different production companies. We received private equity in the UK and European subsidy through the Swedish Film Institute and Dancing Camel in Germany. That enabled us to work with a range of different talent and voices.
The film is about sisters and the end of life. Why did you want to tell this story?
Langseth: The film is about life itself, the choices we make and why. These existential questions are the reason I make movies. The sisters [played by Vikander and Eva Green] wrestle with questions I have asked myself: What is our responsibility for others? What does freedom mean? I set out to make a visually beautiful film about these universal and complicated questions.
Anna Serner of the Swedish Film Institute has been vocal at this year’s TIFF about the need to promote more women in film. Is that something you both think about when deciding what films you will work on?
Langseth: For me, it’s natural that my films end up being about women. It’s not political, it’s just a story I want to tell. I think you have to be open. For example, we have a female composer on Euphoria [Lisa Holmqvist] which is rare. I knew she was the right one for the project. It’s just that we often don’t know these talented people are around. If you’re not open, you end up falling back into the same patterns.
Vikander: It just so happens I was lucky to work with a woman on my first film [Pure], and even my second film [Ella Lemhagen’s The Crown Jewels]. But I have been lifted up by both men and women, and have many encouraging male figures in my life. I also think it’s interesting, you would never ask that question to a man. That is what I find difficult. I do think more women, and people of diverse backgrounds, are working in front and behind the camera. And they should as that is what is real – that is what we see on the streets outside. I also think it’s important to start learning your passion from a young age. They will be more likely to be hired [because of their experience]. I am proud to say this film does have a diverse cast.
What are your aspirations with your production companies, and what upcoming projects are you working on?
Vikander: I want to tell stories that are real and I am open to all kinds of formats such as television. I think new distribution models are exciting. This is my first experience as producer so I am getting an idea of how it works. [On the acting side] for the first time in six and a half years, I’ve taken two months off from filming so I have spent a lot time reading scripts. I am working out the next steps I want to take as an actor but I am not stressing about that now. Tomb Raider recently finished which will be another different adventure. It’s a big part of telling a story that has a strong character that is relatable to young women.
You are also working on Ben Wheatley’s upcoming film Freak Shift?
Vikander: Yes, but that is still pending financing. I am excited to work with him; he is a lovely man.
Langseth: I have just started writing my next film. It’s still very early so I won’t say too much about it.