Alicia Vikander Reigned Over an Eight-Minute Standing Ovation at Cannes Premiere of Brutal Historical Drama ‘Firebrand’

Like a beloved monarch, Alicia Vikander was greeted with an eight-minute standing ovation at the May 21 Cannes premiere of director Karim Aïnouz’s “Firebrand,” from a crowd that included best actress Oscar winners Michelle Yeoh and Marion Cotillard.

With her husband Michael Fassbender beaming on from the row behind, Vikander motioned for the cheering audience to stop or she would cry. But then she gave into the adulation and blew kisses to the upper balconies.

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Vikander’s co-star Jude Law, who plays a cruel and merciless King Henry VIII, and Brazilian helmer Aïnouz also got huge applause from the crowd at the Palais. Vikander joins a group of Cannes leading ladies including Lily Gladstone, Natalie Portman and Julianne Moore who have turned in show-stopping performances.

Oscar-winner Vikander stars in “Firebrand” as Katherine Parr, the sixth and final wife of the brutal king, as she tries to outmaneuver and outlast the barely recognizable Law. The film, adapted from the 2013 novel “Queen’s Gambit” by Elizabeth Fremantle, takes place in blood-soaked Tudor England as Parr is named Regent while the tyrannical Henry is fighting overseas. When the increasingly ailing and paranoid monarch returns, he turns his fury on the radicals and charges his wife’s childhood friend with treason and burns her at the stake. Horrified and grieving but forced to deny it, Katherine finds herself fighting for her own survival, terrified that she will end up beheaded like some of Henry’s prior wives.

“What’s mostly been dramatized are the wives who didn’t make it,” Vikander recently told Variety. “[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.”

Ahead of its Cannes world premiere, Variety exclusively reported that “Firebrand” sold out internationally. Prime Video picked up the royal drama in a handful of territories, including the United Kingdom. Vikander told Variety she was excited by the chance to make a costume period drama that was very much unglamorous.

“It made us want to strip back and make something that feels very raw and authentic,” Vikander said. “I loved that he wanted to undress the costume drama.”

“Firebrand” is seeking U.S. distribution and is being sold by CAA and FilmNation.

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