When plans for a big-screen adaptation of Tomb Raider were announced back in the late 90s, everyone who was anyone found themselves linked with the role of Lara Croft.
Sandra Bullock, Diane Lane, Demi Moore, Denise Richards, Ashley Judd and Jennifer Lopez were just some of the more notable names in the frame to play the Playstation heroine.
Several non-actresses, including glamour models Linsey Dawn McKenzie and Katie Price were even touted for the role – mostly by the British tabloid press – as teenagers everywhere awaited news on the casting with baited breath.
Angelina Jolie’s eventual unveiling generated a mixed response among fans. Some were unhappy at the casting of an American in the role of a British character. Others felt Jolie lacked the necessary, ahem, ‘dimensions’ to play the part.
Then there were those who expressed concern that Jolie’s contentious personal life would impact her work on the film. They need not have worried though.
“This troubled and dangerous aspect in her reputation actually helped the character,” director Simon West later explained in Leading Lady: Sherry Lansing and the Making of a Hollywood Groundbreaker.
Jolie certainly impressed in the role, helping Lara Croft: Tomb Raider set records for the highest opening for a video game adaptation and for a film featuring a female protagonist. Despite this, both Jolie’s Tomb Raider outings are not exactly fondly remembered by critics or fans alike. So, what gives?
Here are the 16 Things You Never Knew About Angelina Jolie’s Disastrous Tomb Raider Movies.
16. The Script For Tomb Raider: Lara Croft Could Have Been Much Worse
Tomb Raider: Lara Croft earned a 20% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes thanks, in no small part, to the film’s lacklustre script. The film went through a variety of rewrites during pre-production that resulted in significant delays. By the time filming wrapped, the final draft was attributed to six different writers.
It could have been worse though– early in pre-production writer Brent V. Friedman, the co-writer of the notoriously awful Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, submitted a script for the film as did Steven E. de Souza, the writer and director of the Street Fighter movie.
15. Jennifer Love-Hewitt Lobbied For The Part Of Lara Croft
I Know What You Did Last Summer star Jennifer Love-Hewitt was an early contender for the role of Lara Croft and made no secret of her desire to play the part. Unfortunately, director Simon West already had his heart set on Jolie.
That didn’t stop Hewitt from continuing to lobby for the role long after Jolie’s second Tomb Raider outing had come out, though.
In 2009, Hewitt told MTV News she thought playing Lara Croft would “be really fun” and admitted she was eager to star in an action movie of her own.
14. The Tomb Raider Movies Utilised Massive Tax Loopholes
Lara Croft Tomb Raider had a budget of $94 million, but actually cost Paramount less than $7 million to make. In order for this to happen, Paramount took advantage of German tax laws to sell the film to a group of investors for $94 million before repurchasing the movie for $83.8 million in lease and option payments. The $10.2 million windfall earned paid the salaries of the cast.
They then ensured some of the filming took place in the UK, to take advantage of tax relief laws there. This deal included another complicated sale-leaseback deal that saw the studio make another $12 million profit. This paid for the writers and director.
13. Jolie’s First Attempt At Bungee Ballet Went Badly
Jolie was put through her paces prior to filming. “I had to train for over two months before filming, and then all the way through we were training. But I learned all these different skills,” she told NYRock.
“They put up a boxing bag and a bunch of power bars in my living room for like eight months. There was also bungee ballet, diving, and weapons training and kick boxing, and everything from yoga to soccer and rowing. And I learned how to sword fight.”
Despite her bests efforts, Jolie struggled with the scene where Croft enjoys a spot of bungee-ballet. Jolie managed to damage ligaments in her ankle after landing awkwardly on top of a chandelier. It was her first attempt too, and her injury ended up delaying the end of filming.
12. Jolie’s Fear Of Jungle Wildlife Held Up Filming
Despite damaging ligaments in her ankle and incurring any number of scars and rope burns in the role, Jolie appeared nonplussed at the physical exertion of playing Croft. “You just get all these bruises here and there,” Jolie said to NYRock. “I guess it’s like being a boxer for a little while.” She wasn’t quite so relaxed when it came to some of the other challenges attached to the role.
The story goes that during the scene where Lara drives her Land Rover through some intense jungle terrain, the scene had to be repeatedly re-shot.
The reason for the delay? Snakes and other wildlife kept falling into the car through the open top roof, making Jolie jittery in the process. She was able to eventually overcome her fears though to complete the scene.
11. Tomb Raider Wasn’t A Satisfying Experience For Daniel Craig
Craig was still five years off landing the gig as James Bond when he was cast as Alex West, Lara Croft’s love interest of sorts in the first Tomb Raider movie and it wasn’t a role he has cherished much since.
“I don’t regret for a second doing it but it just wasn’t an experience that was that satisfying,” Craig told the efilmcritic, years later. “There are only so many ways you can look surprised at crap blowing up.”
Craig later told Phase9 that he took the role for the paycheck. “I also like going to the cinema and having popcorn, nachos, hot dogs the lot whilst watching some big Hollywood movie so it was an opportunity to be part of that and it was a good movie for what it was but that kind of film does not turn me on.”
10. The Lara Croft: Tomb Raider Trailer Was Misleading
Tomb Raider fans were super-pumped when the first trailer for the first movie came out – but it ended up being a little bit misleading. In the preview clip for the movie, Lara enjoys a memorable exchange with the film’s main villain Manfred Powell, played by Game of Thrones’ very own Iain Glen.
The exchange sees Lara quip to Powell “You might try to kill me.” Powell replies the he”“would never kill a lady,” before Jolie’s Croft replies, quick as a flash “I said you’d try.”
It’s one of the more memorable exchanges in an otherwise leaden script and a moment that stuck out in the initial trailer. Which makes the fact that the conversation was cut from the finished film that bit more bizarre.
9. Angelina Had Tattoo Issues
Jolie has never made any secret of her penchant for body art. Unfortunately, back in the 90s and prior to the actress emerging as an A-list star, her love of tattoos was cited as an example of the kind of “wild” behaviour that made her unsuitable for the role in the eyes of some fans.
To counteract these concerns, Jolie had her tattoos covered up for Lara Croft Tomb Raider using make-up. Unfortunately, some of these tattoos – including a rather large design on her upper left arm – were still visible in several scenes like the movie’s memorable shower sequence.
8. They Wanted To Build The Great Wall Of China… In Scotland
Lara Croft: Tomb Raider director Simon West originally envisioned filming several action sequences on the Great Wall Of China itself. Unfortunately scheduling and tight deadlines meant it simply wasn’t possible.
At first, production planned to recreate a version of the Great Wall for a sequence filmed in Scotland but those plans also fell by the wayside with the Great Wall sequence scrapped altogether.
Instead, West and the film’s crew headed to Cambodia to film several alternative sequences at the Ta Prohm temple in Angkor Wat, Siem was Riep. In doing so, they created a moment of history, becoming the first US film crew to visit the region in 30 years.
7. Jolie Underwent Drug Testing Throughout Filming
According to Stephen Galloway’s book Leading Lady, producer Sherry Lansing became concerned about the suitability of Jolie after warnings from Jon Voight and Jane Fonda that the young actress was “fragile.” Matters were hardly helped by her unusual relationships with her brother and then-partner Billy Bob Thornton.
Simon West was sent to meet Jolie on the set of Original Sin where, according to the director, the actress put forward a proposal: “She said: ‘Look, I want to do it, but I know what my reputation is, and I’ll do anything you want to prove that I’m worthy. I’ll be reliable, and I’ll turn up, and I’ll work hard,’ ” recalled West.
6. Lara Croft’s Short-Shorts Were Controversial
One of the biggest stumbling blocks for Jolie prior to signing on to star in Lara Croft Tomb Raider was the character’s iconic short shorts. Jolie really didn’t want to wear them and told Simon West as much, informing the director she would do the movie but she wouldn’t wear the shorts. In the end though, she relented.
“We knew we had to have the shorts at some point, which was very, very difficult and there were some big discussions up until the last minute.” Jolie admitted to ScreenSlam.
5. The Shower Scene Was Toned Down
In a scene written purely to pander to the fan boys, Lara Croft enjoys a steamy shower in the first movie. It’s gratuitously long with director Simon West employing all the familiar camera tricks and angles to ensure we never actually see Jolie without clothing.
That wasn’t always the plan though. At one point in discussions were had over making the scene explicitly nude. Those plans were ultimately dropped though to ensure the film still got a PG-13 rating. As a compromise, Jolie’s “sideboobs” remained present in the film.
“We were aware of all the things that people are looking for, like whether there was a shower scene, so we didn’t ignore that and put a bit of it in,” Jolie told Anne Carlini. “But didn’t really show her body, didn’t really do anything overly sexual.”
4. Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle Of Life Was Banned In China
By the time the second film, Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life, came out, the tide appeared to have turned against the franchise, with the film grossing $157 million compared to the previous movie ’s record-breaking $275 million haul.
Matters were hardly helped by the fact the film ended up being banned in China amid concerns that it damaged the country’s reputation, giving the impression that China was a country of chaos, with no formal government and glut of secret criminal societies.
“After watching the movie, I feel that the westerners have made their presentation of China with malicious intention,” an unidentified official told the BBC. “The movie does not understand Chinese culture. It does not understand China’s security situation. In China there cannot be secret societies.”
3. Gerard Butler Messed Up His Audition
Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life earned negative reviews on release but one of Jolie’s co-stars, Gerard Butler, loved the film telling IGN he “really enjoyed it.”
This is the guy that made Olympus Has Fallen though. Butler, told IGN he was brought in to add a “strong male character” to the mix, and also revealed how he nearly messed up his audition for the role.
Eager to look “pumped up” for the audition Butler spent the hours before doing “every press imaginable.” When he turned up to read for the part, director Jan De Bont asked him to lift himself up onto a bar to show his athleticism.
2. There Were Plans For A Third Tomb Raider Movie
When Jolie first landed the role of Lara Croft, she appeared keen to talk up the idea of reprising the role over multiple films. “Because there are so many things about Lara that are very difficult to do and she is such a great character, I’d love to keep doing her,” she told NYRock.
As time wore on, however, that stance shifted. Asked about the possibility of a third Tomb Raider movie in the run up to the release of the second, Jolie told Blackfilm “I don’t know.”
A year later, Jolie confirmed she was done with the franchise. “I just don’t feel like I need to do another one. I felt really happy with the last one,” she told WENN. Plans for a third film in the trilogy were immediately scrapped.
1. Angelina Jolie Wore A Padded Bra To Play Lara Croft
As well as undergoing extensive training for the role of Croft, Jolie also underwent a pretty significant physical transformation. “We just had to enhance me a little,” Jolie told NYRock.
“I’m a 36C. Lara, she’s a 36D. And in the game, she’s a double D, so we took her down some. But we did give her a bit of padding there,” she said.
Speaking at the time of the film’s release, Jolie had few issues with wearing a padded bra. “Lara has those big breasts in the game,” she said. “We didn’t want to make them as big as in the game, but at the same time we didn’t want to take away from her the things that are, you know, her trademarks.”
The padding was ultimately ditched for the sequel, though.
Did we forget any other interesting facts? Have your say on all things Tomb Raider in the comment box!
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