Hollywood's hottest breakout star Alicia Vikander opens up to PEOPLE

Credit: Peter Hapak

After appearances in four (that’s right, four) noteworthy films in 2015, Alicia Vikander is Hollywood’s most in-demand rising star.

In the past year, the Swedish-born actress has portrayed a sexy, manipulative cyborg in Ex Machina, flirted with danger with Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer in The Man From U.N.C.L.E., and played the sobered-up ex of Bradley Cooper‘s character in Burnt.

Vikander also gives a moving turn in The Danish Girl as Gerda Wegener, the loving wife of transgender artist Lili Elbe (Eddie Redmayne), which earned her a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role.

Here are five things you should know about the talented beauty:

1. She was introduced to acting by her stage-actress mother.
“When we couldn’t get a babysitter I followed my mom to work,” recalls Vikander, a former ballet dancer whose earliest “performances” included impromptu living room plays and dances. “I’ve always seen how tough the industry is, that was never anything she wanted to hide. You can’t do it without an immense amount of passion.”

2. Instead of sending her parents letters, she sends them scripts to read.
Vikander’s red-hot career has kept her busy and away from her family for long periods of time. One way she stays connected to her parents, who divorced when their daughter was a baby but remain friends, is by sending them scripts to read.

“I’m sad I don’t see my family so much,” Vikander admits. It’s one of those things if they want to read them and are interested, it’s a way for them to get a little insight into what I do when I’m away. We discuss certain work and it’s not so much about asking what they think I should do and not do, it’s basic conversations about how you see and read and react to different things. It’s a nice way to have them close.”

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3. The Danish Girl helped cure her fear of Pictionary.
Before filming the Tom Hooper-directed drama, Vikander admits she lived in fear of impromptu Pictionary games. “I’ve been to dinners and I will almost run out the door when I hear that somebody has brought Pictionary that they wanted to pull out after dinner,” Vikander says of her former fear.

Now, thanks to confidence gained after time spent learning to draw with real portrait artists in preparation for her role, Vikander seems to have slayed the anxiety dragon. “I think I would probably look forward to a Pictionary game now,” she says. “I would probably be okay and dare to try at least.”

4. She keeps her dating life out of the headlines.
“Not really knowing everything about one’s private life also makes it easier for the profession you do,” Vikander says. (She’s been romantically linked to Michael Fassbender, her costar in the upcoming film Light Between Oceans.) “I think it can be quite good for everybody to have a bit of privacy. That is something in whatever work you do, I think it’s everybody’s clear right.”

5. She is getting in on Matt Damon’s action.
Vikander’s next high-profile gig is in Matt Damon‘s next Bourne film. And while she can’t say much about it, judging from early footage released from the untitled fifth film, she’ll very likely be in on a lot of the action.

“This is something I really wish I could talk about,” she says, adding that she’s having a hard time believing her own luck in getting cast in the film. “I walked on the set the other day and I was like, ‘Oh wow, this looks like one of those Bourne films,’ like I wasn’t in it,” she says with a laugh.