Alicia Vikander

Alicia Vikander at the 19th Annual Hollywood Film Awards

Maybe you recognize her from The Man From U.N.C.L.E., the seemed-better-in-previews movie starring Hollywood’s promising rising stars (amongst the most strapping). Or you were mesmerized by her dark eyes in Ex Machina. The quiet beauty is none other than Swedish star Alicia Vikander poised to take 2016 as the most sought after actress in Hollywood. Like Felicity Jones in 2015, Lupita N’yongo in 2014, Jennifer Lawrence in 2013, Rooney Mara in 2012.

Vikander quietly popped up in many films, in 2015, starring with talented young actors like Eddie Redmayne in The Danish Girl or opposite TV favorite Kit Harrington (of Game of Thrones fame) in 2014’s Testament of Youth – a film we highly recommend. The common theme in each performance is the silent strength she demonstrates. The sort of performance which has won her a number of Rising Star awards in 2015 including Hollywood Breakout Actress Award for her performance in The Danish Girl and the Rising Star Award at the 27th Annual Palm Springs International Film Festival Awards.

Vikander, admittedly an uncommonly dark beauty for a Swede, is a trained ballet dancer which accounts for the specific grace she delivers on screen. But Vikander’s colleagues attribute her work ethic to the intensity that is demanded of a serious ballerina. “Alicia has this ripe internal world,” Derek Cianfrance, who directed The Light Between Oceans, says,  “and when the camera points to her, you can see the tornadoes inside. It’s spellbinding. She’s not afraid to be ugly, to be unlikable, to fail. And she gave me as much on the thirtieth take as on the first.”

“I push myself hard,” Vikander tells Vogue. “I don’t like pain, exactly, but as a ballerina I lived in constant pain. At ballet school in Stockholm, I remember we had a locker where if someone had been to the doctor and gotten painkillers, we divided them among us. In a sense we were all addicted. After I quit dancing, for a while it felt strange not to be in pain.”

Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander at the Grand Prix in Monaco

Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander at the Grand Prix in Monaco.

The Light Between Oceans, costarring her real-life boyfriend, Michael Fassbender, is scheduled for release in theaters this year. Vikander and Fassbender met on set, needless to say, there was chemistry between the two actors. “…the way she embodies her characters from head to toe” comments Fassbender on Vikander’s performance.

But it is her performance in The Danish Girl opposite Redmayne that is gaining her acclaim. Vikander plays Gerda the wife of artist Einar Wegener, played by Redmayne, who undergoes one of the first sex-change operations. Her performance is deeply moving causing this story to become more about Gerda than Wegener to Vikander’s credit.

Come summer, she will star opposite Matt Damon in the next Bourne installment. But in the meantime, she is our one-to-watch this award season.