The pneumatic Lara Croft is a boy's wet dream, but Angelina Jolie says the sexuality of the videogame character made it all the more fun. By Paul Fischer
It's a relaxed, beautiful and supremely confident Angelina Jolie who walks into her Four Seasons hotel room in Los Angeles. Always unashamed and outspoken, the Oscar winning star of the action pic Tomb Raider has no qualms about being truthful about her life.
Im just honest and I like that I dont have to worry about what I say in life or try to pretend to be somebody else; nor do I have the time or energy for it and dont want to live that way.
Jolie also concedes, however, that sometimes things are taken the wrong way and its crazy to be misinterpreted and it bothers you sometimes, but theres also a hell of a lot people who dont know about me. People know maybe one-tenth of my life and because its maybe a certain kind of life, they assume that thats everything, but I have my secrets.
Those secrets may be many, and may not include the blood necklace she proudly wears around her neck, but, despite the sceptics, her year-long marriage to Billy Bob Thornton is still alive and well, and the actress couldnt be happier.
In fact, better than ever. Were even talking about a poodle, Jolie says laughingly. What I mean by that is, were having fun with our life. Were coming back from work and were spending July mostly with his children and we want to have a real life and a real family.
Thats not surprising given then fact that she spent her honeymoon working on Tomb Raider, but I made sure that I came back pretty much every weekend.
Jolie's character, Lara Croft, may be an English aristocrat but she follows more in an American vein of kick-ass heroes. Playing an empowering female character was a liberating and fun experience for the actress.
We didnt want it to become too jokey. We all went into it knowing what could be the obvious jokes about it, how it could not work, how it would be really campy, so Im just happy all the way through the process when something has been a solid thing," she says adding, "I think my husband would see this and just go, Oh, look at her in her little shorts. Please!
Laras sexuality is not glossed over in the film, and for Jolie, that aspect of her character was half the fun. Almost every other suggestion for a movie Ive done has been for a short, brown haircut and leather pants because that's what a tough girl is.
A tough girl couldnt possibly be a curvaceous woman who also is comfortable with her sexuality. And so many women are like, Well, we dont like the woman whos comfortable with her body and flirtatious because that means she doesnt like other women or that means shes too flirty. Were not comfortable with her.
The reality is, nobody actually knows what sexual preference she has. Thats one reality. And the thing is, shes just free. More than anything, shes athletic," points out Jolie.
To shower or not to shower?
"She has the things that make her Lara Croft. We also knew there were lots of questions about what she was going to be wearing and whether she was going to have a shower scene. There are moments where, and its not an intentional [thing] where shes being teasy or sexual. The entire movie was made for the people that like her.
Its one of those movies you do where, when theres a moment where you finally accomplish something, you want them to be with you and rooting for you. Thats what its for. Shes become a real person. We were aware of all the things that people are looking for, like whether there was a shower scene, so we didnt ignore that and put a bit of it in, but didnt really show her body, didnt really do anything overly sexual.
Part of the characters look is dominated by, one can't put this any more decorously, her breasts. Allegedly created by accident when the designer jolted his mouse while drawing the character for the game and fell in love with what he saw, they remain unfeasibly large.
Personally, I wouldnt want those breasts, Jolie admits smilingly. Shes one cup size bigger than me. Im a 36C, shes a 36D. In the game, shes a DD, so we took it down, but still just gave her some proper padding, but its one cup size up from me. Ah, the things one discusses in interviews.
Jolie gets to do some physically demanding stuff on this movie, and training was part of the deal. We had the two and a half months before filming and then all through filming we were training. I had a bedroom and a living room and the living room was taken out and [they put in] a boxing bag and a pull-up bar and a bunch of power bars for like eight months. I would call my husband and say, I want a cheeseburger and some pancakes. Yet she enjoyed the kick-ass stuff she did. I loved it, yeah. I especially loved the fight at the end.
It would have been easy to shoot Tomb Raider entirely on sets, or in local British locations that double for the exotic locales in which much of the film was set. But Tomb Raider was shot on location in both Cambodia and Iceland, which provided diverse opportunities for Jolie.
I really missed Cambodia when we were done with the film, she recalls laughingly. I miss that every day was so freeing; I recommend it for anybody. Its just such a freeing thing to set these great challenges for yourself, to travel, to learn more about the world, to just go out there and get crazy and get free and get strong. It was wonderful that every day was about learning something new and trying to overcome some obstacle. Its just a great feeling.
Frozen in Iceland
Iceland on the other hand, was not as pleasurable. Firstly, I dont like cold weather very much. And here, they filmed on top of a very real glacier. We all thought that being inside the glacier, water would definitely look like this because its so blue, but that was Iceland and it was freezing. We had dogs on the boats that were very unhappy.
Working with dad
What did make Jolie happy was the chance to fully work with her father in one of the films gentler, more emotive moments. It remained a very special component of her experience making the film, she says.
This was a very special moment because its for everybody, if youve lost somebody in your life and you want to know how they feel about how youve grown up, whether it is your parent, your lover, your husband or wife. There are things you want to get back, you want to say, and I think for everybody, you want to know that your parent is proud of you and that they love you and you want to be able to say certain things to them.
I think its a universal theme, but it was very, very personal to me because it is my dad and we adjusted little things, maybe a word here or there, so we were really speaking to each other. Also, youre playing with each other. Youre acting together, so its like we were both working together and thats a great feeling.
Jolie is preparing to take a break. She has another film Original Sin due out later this year, is shooting a new film in Canada, but is content to spend more time with her husband and family, which these days, are becoming increasingly important to her.
Family is what grounds you. No matter what kind of press I have been doing for this movie, I came back to our house where there were bunk beds being built and theres a bunch of little things. Its a real life that you have together and memories you build and share, so we want more time together. Im going on tour with him in August when he does his music at House of Blues. Were just home more.
Lara Croft - Tomb Raider is on theatrical release in the UK from 6th July