Angelina Jolie pushed every boundary for Lara Croft’s role in the 2001 film, “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider” based on the video game series.
The action girl brought the famous video game character Lara Croft onto the big screen 20 years back and got critical appraisal and box office success. Back in the early 00’s Jolie was popular as the “Hollywood’s bad girl” and went through some eye-opening measures to master her performance on the screen.
Various top Hollywood actresses, including Jennifer Lopez, Ashley Judd, and Catherine Zeta-Jones, were thought for the role, but eventually, it fell into Julie’s hands.
Angelina was finalized for the role as the direction Simon West believed that she could give justice to the role if given a chance.
“Angelina wasn’t as big as some of the other actresses that were up for the part, who’d done bigger films and had a longer track record and bigger box office grosses. Some of their [images] were safer than Angelina’s, which was quite dangerous. She had all sorts of things written about her—some obviously not true. She was a young woman experimenting, lived quite an alternative lifestyle, and didn’t hold back her words.”
- Simon West told Entertainment Weekly
The director, Simon West, felt that Jolie was an unfiltered woman and was quite infamous at that time. It got quite tough for him to get the final approval of Jolie as the leading lady, but he stood stiff for her as we wanted an experimental actress who possessed a dark, witty and crazy character.
West was so convinced about Angelina Jolie that he flew to Mexico to meet her while she was working on her 2001 romance/thriller Original Sin. After listening to West’s details, she assured him that she would give her level best. Despite her notorious reputation, she will do anything to prove her worthiness, hard work, and reliability.
Angelina even agreed on taking a drug test every day to prove she’s sober, and the studio actually took her words as she was tested regularly.
Sherry Lansing, in her book, revealed that she wanted to meet Angelina to be sure if she is right for the role or not. She got astonished by Jolie’s wit, personality, and beauty.
The director even hired a therapist, Bobby Klein, to keep an eye on Angelina as the producers were quite ambiguous. West thought that it would be good to bring someone to supervise Jolie. However, things didn’t go as planned as Klein wasn’t liked by many people working in the movie.
Producer Lloyd Levin reported that Klein wanted Jolie to get crazy as he suggested her to bathe in milk and asked her constantly to focus on yoga and meditation, as he was trying to be the pivotal person in Jolie’s training. Levin believed that it was all drama and called his practices “bull—-.”
Producer Larry Gordon finally asked Klien to leave the production as he was accused of sexual harassment against West’s assistant. Gordon told Klien that Angelina didn’t need him and disliked his presence and Gordon himself told him that he also didn’t like him on set and warned him to quit or he’d ask his security to throw him off the set.
Jolie didn’t stop her hard work. She fully dedicated herself to getting into the film’s character and followed a strict training regimen that included street fighting, canoeing, yoga, and kickboxing. She also changed her diet, as she only ate steamed beef, vegetables, steamed sea bass, drank soy milk, and abstained from having sugar. She later recalled the training as a huge challenge physically.
With the physicality comes the injuries; the same happened with Jolie. As she suffered various injuries, she ended up injuring her knee, foot, ankle, shoulder, and the side of her neck. She recalled that she got all possible injuries, but she was so into the character that nothing stopped her from going strong.
Once even after a partial tear in her ankles, she came to work with a cane, which showed her extreme dedication for the role. Simon Crane, the stunt coordinator, was so impressed by Angelina’s strength and resilience that he rated her as one of the best actors to work with.
Much to Angelina’s surprise, the press was focused on her sexual appearance. Since the Tomb Raider fanboys were lusting for the character, Angelina decided to wear a padded bra to satisfy the lust of the audience.
“I’ll make it real simple. I’m a 36-C. In the game, she’s a DD. In the movie, she’s a D. We split the difference.” She said that the movie version of the character was even more athletic. “She has smaller breasts, but she’s still Lara Croft. So there!”
Angelina recalled while talking to Reuters in 2001.
It wasn’t easy for Angelina to become a movie star, as she told in an interview that she stopped herself from crying, even though it got hard for her. She didn’t like her breast enhancements, as she felt that her breasts were already okay and the padding was unnecessary. However, she put all of her difference aside and put it all for Lara Croft’s character.
Her sheer hard work translated into numbers as her movie proved to be a box office giant. It debuted at #1 on the box office earning over $48.2 million. The film ended up having a lifetime collection of $274.7 million against a budget of $115 million.