Angelina Jolie loves to further than most actresses in her generation, and she told Paul Fischer, making Tomb Raider was a fantasy come true.
It’s a relaxed, beautiful and supremely confident Angelina Jolie who walks into her Four Seasons hotel room.
Always unashamed and outspoken, the Oscar winning star of the action pic Tomb Raider has no qualms about being truthful about her life. “I’m just honest and I like that I don’t 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 don’t want to live that way”. Jolie also concedes, however, that “sometimes things are taken the wrong way and it’s crazy to be misinterpreted and it bothers you sometimes, but there’s also a hell of a lot people who don’t know about me. People know maybe ONE-TENTH of my life and because it’s maybe a certain KIND of life, they assume that that’s 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 her year-long marriage to Billy Bob Thornton is still alive and well, and the actress couldn’t be happier. “In fact, better than ever. We’re even talking about a poodle,” Jolie says laughingly. “What I mean by that is, we’re having fun with our life. We’re coming back from work and we’re spending July mostly with his children and we want to have a REAL life and a REAL family”. That’s 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”.
Tomb Raider is Jolie at her best, in this whiz bang adaptation of the popular video game. It’s the first time since the Alien films, that a woman has been allowed to drive an action picture, and playing Lara Croft, the empowering central character, was a dream come true for the actress. “I saw the film for the first time yesterday and all I could think about was how much I missed being her and travelling and all the things we did every day. It was great”. Jolie plays Lara Croft, daughter of a British aristocrat (played by Jolie’s real-life dad Jon Voight) was born and raised to be part of British high society. But at the age of 21 on her way home from a skiing trip, her charter plane crashed deep in the heart of the Himalayas. For two weeks, Lara was forced to rely on her wits to stay alive in the hostile environment until her rescue. The incident had a profound effect on her.
Disowned by her family, she has spent the last eight years travelling the globe exploring the tombs, temples and archaeological sites of ancient civilizations – funding her travels by writing her exploits and occasionally picking up certain ‘items’ of historical importance which certain people will pay a LOT of money for. One such person is a man named Powell who’s after ‘The Clock of Ages’, a device which gives its user the powers of the tribe it once belonged too. Playing such an empowering female character was a liberating and fun experience for the actress. “This film was great to do and it was so much fun, but even through the process of it, we didn’t 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 I’m just happy all the way through the process when something has been a solid thing. I’m still looking at it so much as that way, but I know myself being such a nut. I think my husband would see this and just go, “Oh, look at her in her little shorts.’ Please! “
Indeed, as powerful a character Lara Croft is, no attempt has been made to hide the character’s sexuality, and for Jolie, that was half the fun with this film. “Almost every other suggestion for a movie I’ve done has been for a short, brown haircut and leather pants because THAT’S what a tough girl is. A tough girl couldn’t possibly be a curvaceous woman who also is comfortable with her sexuality. And so many women are like, “Well, we don’t like the woman who’s comfortable with her body and flirtatious because that means she doesn’t like other women or that means she’s too flirty. We’re not comfortable with her.’ The reality is, nobody actually knows what sexual preference she has. That’s one reality. And the thing is, she’s just free. More than anything, she’s athletic. 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 it’s not an intentional [thing] where she’s being teasy or sexual. The entire movie was made for the people that like her. It’s one of those movies you do where, when there’s a moment where you finally accomplish something, you want them to be with you and rooting for you. That’s what it’s for. She’s 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 didn’t ignore that and put a bit of it in, but didn’t really show her body, didn’t really do anything overly sexual”.
Part of the character’s look came in the form, how can one put this, her breasts, which have been commented on a lot, but which are a dominant component of the character. “Personally, I wouldn’t want those breasts,” she admits smilingly. She’s one cup size bigger than me. I’m a 36 C, she’s a 36D. In the game, she’s a DD, so we took it down, but still just gave her some proper padding, but it’s 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. It’s 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. It’s just a great feeling”. Iceland on the other hand, was not as pleasurable. “Firstly, I don’t 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 it’s so blue, but that was Iceland and it was freezing. We had dogs on the boats that were very unhappy”.
What DID make Jolie happy was the chance to fully work with her father in one of the film’s 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 it’s for everybody, if you’ve lost somebody in your life and you want to know how they feel about how you’ve 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 it’s 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, you’re playing with each other. You’re acting together, so it’s like we were both working together and that’s 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 there’s a bunch of little things. It’s a real life that you have together and memories you build and share, so we want more time together. I’m going on tour with him in August when he does his music at House of Blues. We’re just home more”.