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JOLIE, ANGELINA: LARA CROFT - TOMB RAIDER

SHE CAN’T BE SERIOUS
Award winning actors should never take themselves too seriously, Angelina Jolie tells Jenny Cooney Carrillo as she tackles the role of Lara Croft.

As Angelina Jolie steps into the role of Lara Croft, the long-awaited big-screen adaptation of the popular video game heroine, she is aware that the world is watching to see if she lives up to expectations. But she’s not afraid. This is a woman described by the film’s director Simon West as “completely fearless – just like Lara Croft,” so it would seem perfect casting for the powerful beauty to play a strong woman lusted after by teenage boys everywhere and adored by women who consider her a role model.

The 26-year-old wife of Oscar-winning actor Billy Bob Thornton and daughter of Oscar-winning actor Jon Voight (who plays her father in this film, marking the first time the pair have ever worked together) has been earning more than her fair share of adoration for a while.

One moment Lara is beating up bad guys and the next she’s having a shower looking very sexy. How do you see the character?
I think she’s a woman. I think a woman is very, very feminine and sensual and loving and nurturing and emotional and the other side of us is we’re a bit crazy, we’re wild, we’re strong and we’ll try things. I love that she is an heiress, she is Lady Lara Croft and that was something we wanted to establish early on in the film. But we’re also aware that there’s a certain following of people and you want to give them the things they like about the game - but we stayed neck-up in the shower so we don’t give them too much!

Which side was easier for you to tap into – the aggressive side or total femininity?
(laughs) What do you think? I’m still learning how to walk in heels!

Did you think it was risky being an Oscar-winning actress doing a movie based on a video game?
I was told that if you win an award you should start taking yourself very seriously and I think that’s the most dangerous thing a person can do. I certainly don’t want people to think I’m not a good actress or not serious because I love it and work hard at it. But Lara Croft was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done. She’s a different voice to mine, a different personality and a lot of things about her that make her very colorful as a character are as an actor very challenging. But I would love to do another adventure with her and plan on doing many sequels if the audience will have me.

How different is the video game to the movie? Will people who’ve never played the game be able to enjoy the film?
I don’t think you have to know the video game at all and I really didn’t, but for all the people that do like the video game and like her, it’s her. There are all the things about her that I think people need to know and the game is very much about a puzzle you have to solve and clues you have to pick up on and we’ve made sure that the structure of our plot is so that people who are used to that could maybe work on something with her. A lot of the physical things we tried to include, and certain little sounds she made and movements she has might be recognizable to people familiar with the game but wouldn’t mean anything if you didn’t know the game. We kind of introduce you to her in the movie so you can meet her for the first time.

I believe your husband of one year wasn’t able to see you much after you got married because you shot the movie in London and he’s afraid of flying? Since you’re so fearless, has any of it rubbed off on him?
He came to visit me recently and flew by himself. I think it’s not that he’s afraid but he likes to be in control. If he could fly the plane he’d be fine (laughs)! But he did come to London which was the first time he’d ever been to Europe and it meant everything to me, and we’re talking about going to Cambodia together again so he’s starting to travel.

What did it take for him to get on the plane?
He’s my husband and I miss him so I kind of asked him really nicely to get on a plane; it doesn’t take much. We love being together. If anything, my marriage made it possible for me to do this film because I finally had somebody saying, ‘I love you, I think you’re capable of doing anything’ and I had fun again in my life. I think we can all take ourselves too seriously and get very dark and I have certainly been like a caged animal at times in my life but I’m finally out of the cage and it’s a nice feeling.

How do you get along with your husband’s children?
I’m finding that to be a real blessing. I went home last night and we were looking at bunk beds, which is so exciting. It’s like the simplest things in life. I’m learning how to make pancake animals. They have a wonderful mother and she’s been very kind to me about making it comfortable for all of us to get to know each other as a family so I’m grateful to her and they’re amazing children. They’re two little boys and they’re turning seven and eight and they’re a lot like their dad so it’s great to be around like little Billies. It’s like having three of him! They’re very sweet and think I’m just silly. They’ve seen parts of Tomb Raider and want to know if I can flip off the bed and other than that, they just think I’m silly.

You’ve been married a year and just celebrated your 26th birthday. Are you big on celebrations and how did you mark those occasions?
I used to really not be into holidays or celebrations because I wanted to move through life very quickly and didn’t like to dwell on past things or feel the markings of things in your life so you start to think you should have done something or it should mean something more than it does. My birthday this year will be celebrated when I’m home with Billy and his kids, whose birthdays are in June too, but for our anniversary we did lots of things. I went to see him in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and we pretty much promised each other our love forever in different ways. I called his mother and talked to her about it. There’s a place where a lot of his family are buried and we’ve reserved a place near where his brother is, where his family is going to be one day, so when we die, we’ll be next to each other. I changed my will - I wanted to be with his family and that meant a lot to me and that was my gift to him on traditional paper. And he had traditional paper – we both laughed because we both got things notarized and it’s not like us to do that. He had a paper notarized that said that he would be with me forever, so it’s maybe a funny way of doing it but it was a paper that we kind of signed our life away to each other. And he bought some paintings from a local artist who was eleven and I made an album of us as kids growing up together, kind of like us as babies next to each other, and we also got matching tattoos.

What kind?
It’s a symbol that is private but says something to us. We both have them in the same place now. We woke up and stayed in our pajamas and got tattooed in the house, so it was nice. It may sound a bit weird to people but it was very special to us.

Any plans to have a family?
Not if Paramount Pictures have anything to say about it (laughs). It depends on the sequel but I actually think I have a year-and-a-half between sequels in my contract in case I get pregnant. They were terrified when Billy came to visit me that something would happen and we’d have to stop filming! (laughs) I’ve always felt a strong feeling to adopt and I still do but I think in the future more children will come into our lives.

Published June 21, 2001

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