Tomb Raider is a reboot of the Tomb Raider film series, based on the 2013 video game of the same name. Played by Academy Award-winner Alicia Vikander, replacing Angelina Jolie, the new version of Lara Croft is a heroine who is much more hard candy than eye candy.

Like the 2013 game, this Tomb Raider film promises to be edgier and grittier than the previous incarnations. Tomb Raider represents a makeover for the Tomb Raider film series, and this is embodied in Vikander’s portrayal of Lara Croft, which is defined by functionality and precision.

The opportunity to re-imagine the Tomb Raider film series is what attracted Norwegian filmmaker Roar Uthaug to the project. Making his Hollywood feature directing debut with Tomb Raider, Uthaug, who is best known for his 2015 film The Wave, was most excited about the challenge of translating the Lara Croft Uthaug loved so much in the video game universe to the big screen.

DG: How would you describe your history with the Tomb Raider video game series, and why did you want to direct this reboot film?

RU: I’ve always loved the Tomb Raider games. The video game series has been around for over twenty years, and I’ve been playing the games since the first game was released. Growing up in Norway, my friends and I used to play Tomb Raider all the time. Lara Croft has always been an iconic character who has a lot of interesting dimensions to her. She revolutionized the role of the video game hero, and she’s the ultimate video game heroine. When I saw the reboot that had been done with the last game, the 2013 game, I was very excited about the direction the series was going on. When I got the call regarding the possibility of directing a new film, I was very interested.

DG: Did you have any creative input in terms of how Lara Croft would be portrayed in the film, or were you bound by what had been created for the video game?

RU: We were all in agreement in that we wanted to make a Tomb Raider film that was gritty and more grounded in reality than all of the previous versions. What I loved about the video game reboot is that it showed Lara Croft as being very human. She bleeds. She feels pain. She’s human. When she kills people in the game, it registers with her on an emotional level. These were the elements that I wanted to bring into the film.

DG: As this is an origin film, what do we learn about Lara Croft’s history, her life, in this film?

RU: When we’re introduced to her in the film, she’s living an ordinary life in East London, where she works as a bike courier. The conflict in the film comes from the mystery surrounding her father, who disappeared seven years earlier. Nobody knows what happened to him, and this is what leads her onto her adventure.

DG: What did Alicia Vikander bring to the role of Lara Croft that’s unique from other actresses who might have been chosen for this role?

RU: We’re both Scandinavian, so there was an instant bond between us, and I’ve followed her entire career, from before she found success in Hollywood. When we started thinking of actresses who could play Lara Croft, she was one of the first names that we thought of. Alicia has all of the elements needed to play Lara Croft. She has that ability to make an emotional connection with the audience and the character, and she was able to handle all of the physical scenes as well. She got into amazing shape for this film.

DG: How did you and Alicia create a 2018 version of Lara Croft?

RU: Alicia trained extremely hard for a month, and she developed, physically, into someone who looked like a female action hero. Her trainer pushed her extremely hard, and Alicia pushed herself very hard. It was mostly jumping and running. I knew Alicia could capture Lara Croft emotionally, and to witness her physical transformation was amazing.

DG: What do you think sets this film apart from the previous Tomb Raider films?

RU: Everything that happens in this film is grounded in character. This makes the film more exciting for the audience because they feel like they’re with Lara Croft, emotionally, as she goes through all of the action scenes in the film. This film is all about letting the audience connect with Lara. Then we bring in the big action scenes, which are more effective because we’ve gotten to know Lara Croft so well.

Tomb Raider arrives in theaters on March 16.