Tomb Raider : Production Notes

Tomb Raider POSTERAbout The Story

From the phenomenally popular interactive Tomb Raider game, springs a new kind of action hero: Lara Croft.

Traveling, taking prize-winning photographs, mastering foreign languages and visiting archaeological sites are perfectly apropos for a rich and pampered heiress ... and very good camouflage for Lara Croft's real passions: raiding tombs, besting bad guys and throwing herself into one extreme adventure after another. Lara's current mission takes her to worlds of mystery and magic: the ancient Tomb of the Dancing Light in Cambodia, and then to Siberia's Temple of Ten Thousand Shadows.

Tomb Raider was already a phenomenon when Paramount Pictures first considered the idea of making it into a feature film. Lara Croft was a megastar of cyberspace: a fantasy figure to every teenage boy and an icon to every teenage girl.

Enter producers Lawrence Gordon and Lloyd Levin who developed the project. For Gordon and Levin, there was really only one contender for the role of Lara Croft: Oscar® winning actress Angelina Jolie.

Tomb Raider - Movie Poster"The challenge for us was to take a video game, turn it into a movie and find the perfect actor for the role of Lara. I can't imagine the film even being possible without Angelina," says Levin. "I think that she is probably the best actress of her generation. She represents a lot of qualities you would hope to capture in the character of Lara: intelligence, fearlessness, playfulness and a wicked sense of humor. "

The producers were likewise confident in director Simon West's ability to create a totally new film experience without losing sight of the phenomenally popular and complex game that inspired it. "Simon believed we should embrace aspects of the game - it is very contemporary and modem - but flesh out the character of Lara Croft in many ways," says Levin.

It was Angelina Jolie first, last and always with West, who says that without her, he would not have done the picture. "It was obvious to me that Angelina Jolie was the only actress who could play Lara Croft,'" said West.

"Angelina's performances to date have all consistently shown brains, guts and wit," continues West. "Those are exactly the attributes Lara needed. Lara is more than an action cartoon cut-out. Her character has depth and complexity. Plus, Angelina is so beautiful and physically right for the role that I knew she would satisfy the demands of the game's fans and their preconceived ideas of what Lara looks like. It was an opinion shared by the producers and by Eidos. We were all ecstatic when Angelina accepted the challenge."

"Lara is strong and extremely attractive, appealing to men and boys," continues West, "but because she's tough, forthright and knows her own mind, she is also an icon to women and girls. She is a perfect role model, totally inspirational. " Says Angelina Jolie, "Lara Croft is a great role model. This has been the hardest job of my life. It has really tested me. "

"It has been both fun and hard work to jump into her world and her skin a bit," continues Jolie. "Lara is very, very much a girl. She's extremely tough, but she's also a bit naughty, which I love. She's really good at what she does. It's not that she's as good as a guy; it's that even if she were competing with a guy, she might win - not because she's a girl, but because she's a better fighter. She's full of fun and fire. She doesn't apologize for herself, ever. She isn't angry. She's playful. She is certainly enjoying everything about this. And I think that's different for a hero. "

Jolie also describes her character's emotional journey and points out that it encompasses a discovery of her past. "It's a thought I think we all have, a wish for some message about where we should be in life, something empowering us to do something," she says. "Her father has given her those. Throughout the fill she becomes closer to him. When you follow in the footsteps of someone, you're seeing where they were. So she unravels a mystery about life and about what happened to her father. That's a special thing. "

West sees elements of James Bond, Indiana Jones and the characters Humphrey Bogart played in the character of Lara Croft and in her world. "We have mysticism, foreign locations, action, intrigue, drama. And because this is the first film, we were not constrained. Our playing field was wide open. "

Working with the established culture that has blossomed around the Tomb Raider phenomenon was challenging, but also part of the fun. "Since the games have such a far reach and huge audience, we didn't want to retread ground the games have already covered," says producer Levin. "We wanted to offer up a new experience: new elements, new locations, a new storyline. "

West adds that they enriched some of the game's supernatural elements. "There are weird phenomena in this world," he says. "Underground, in the tombs, the gloves are off and almost anything can happen. It's also a very visceral film that tells a very fundamental story about loyalty, betrayal, physical prowess and heroism. "

Players Assembled

In rounding out the cast, the filmmakers then brought on a diverse ensemble of acclaimed talent.

One of the most hotly discussed casting choices was the question of who should play Lord Croft, Lara's father. As names were bandied back and forth, the name that emerged as front-runner was Jon Voight, Angelina Jolie's real life father.

"As a father, spending time with your children is the greatest thing, and to be in the same profession as your children and to be able to work with them is the deepest joy," says Voight "To find ourselves in the adventure of the work was quite daunting to us because we wanted to do it right, we wanted to have our moment together. I was pleased and touched that Angie wanted this to happen, and I was nervous, and she was nervous. But when we were in the work it was good, and we both had a tremendous amount of fun. "

Explains Jolie of Lara's relationship with her father, "Her father died when she was eight. She never met her mother, who died in childbirth. And so she was raised by a father who educated her very well and traveled the world. He was an explorer, and though she was very young when he died, he left many different journals and set up a whole world for her to grow up. "

"It was very exciting to have a genuine father and daughter playing these roles," adds Voight, savoring his role as Lara's father, says, "There is warmth to Lord Croft - humor and a touch of the heroic. "

To play Manfred Powell, adversary of Lara's father, Lord Croft, and now Lara's sworn enemy, the filmmakers enlisted gifted stage and screen actor Iain Glen. "Powell is an intellect and a wit," says Glen. "He is a worthy adversary for Lara. and able to see into people's strengths and weaknesses. He is incredibly astute: fast thinking It is his ability to pinpoint Lara's Achilles' heel that allows him to lead her treacherously close to her own demise. "

Alex West, Lara's fellow tomb raider and occasional adversary, is played by the rising young actor Daniel Craig. "Alex is an American. He and Lara Croft may or may not have been involved in the past," says Craig. "So he takes the job with Manfred Powell because he has offered him a lot of money, possible fame, excitement - and perhaps the chance of seeing Lara again. "

Noah Taylor plays Lara's sidekick and tech guru, Bryce. However, in reality Taylor is just the opposite. Says Taylor, "Personally, I don't drive, I have trouble changing light bulbs; and I am just now embracing computer technology. I have never played the Tomb Raider game in my life!"

Chris Barrie, who plays Lara Croft's butler, Hillary, was delighted with the opportunity to play off of Taylor's Bryce. "I have been cast as the slightly stiffer, more disciplined character playing off the more wild, laid back, messy character of Bryce, and for me it's a natural thing to switch into," says Barrie.

Julian Rhind-Tutt is cast as Powell's assistant, Mr. Pimms, and brings to the role a gawky eccentricity. Leslie Phillips plays Mr. Wilson, a trusted colleague and Mend of Lara's father, Lord Croft. Veteran actor Richard Johnson plays a powerful member of the Illuminati.

angelina Jolie Is Lara Croft

As one of the most experienced stunt coordinators in the world, with Saving Private Ryan (1998), Titanic (1997), World Is Not Enough, THE (1999) and Vertical Limit (2000) among his recent credits, Simon Crane was obviously a natural choice as stunt coordinator as well as second unit director on "Lara Croft: Tomb Raider. " As such, he was the man who turned Angelina Jolie into an action hero for the new millennium. "The challenge is always to try and make the action different, because there is no point in repeating yourself," says Crane. "When your hero is a woman, your approach is inevitably different. "

Jolie's training period commenced three months prior to the start of shooting. Crane and his team devised a training program that concentrated on multiple disciplines: fight training, weapons training, motorbike riding, gymnastics, canoeing, husky dog racing, bungee training and, for relaxation, yoga.

Jolie remembers, "They said, 'No, you're not going to pretend to know how to do this; you're going to be living like her; you're going to do the things she does. So we're going to train you. ' We had military weapons training, which wasn't just shooting. It was taking weapons apart, putting them back together, and so on. Boxing training, strength training. We rode motorcycles. I canoed up and down the Thames river. I learned how to kick box. "

"We had to build up her physical strength and body tone. We put her on a strict diet and training scheme," says Crane. "We weren't going for the stylized Hong Kong type fighting; it was mean street fighting. When Lara Croft punches someone, he doesn't come back," he adds. "She has done so much and the thing with her is that she does learn quickly, she knows exactly what she wants and what she is capable of doing. "

The bungee ballet sequence is entirely Angelina's effort. "There were no doubles involved at all," Crane continues. "She spent a long time learning that sequence and it is all totally her, no trickery. She did extremely well. It is very painful to do because the harness needs to be very tight. "

Inevitably, no leading performer is allowed to do everything herself, although on "Lara Croft: Tomb Raider," Jolie does more of her own action than most actors would attempt.

Clearly, Simon Crane is a big fan of Jolie's, admiring the fearless way she tackled the project. "This has always been a cross between Indiana Jones and James Bond for me," he says. "We wanted to make Lara the kind of woman you would never want to meet in a dark alley - but then again - you would! She is so sexy. But if you fight her, she will finish you off. "

Building Lara's World

While Angelina Jolie trained, other departments began cranking up for the start of production. Producers Lawrence Gordon and Lloyd Levin were joined by Colin Wilson, long an associate of Steven Spielberg, who began his career with Spielberg in the editing department of the "Indiana Jones" movies, and has since produced Lost World: Jurassic Park, The (1997) , Amistad (1997), Small Soldiers (1998) and Haunting, The (1999).

An action film combining stunts and special effects necessitated the controlled environment of a studio, so the production team built two highly ambitious sets on Pinewood Studios' famed 007 Stage. At one end stood the Tomb of the Dancing Light and at the other, the Temple of Ten Thousand Shadows, the former linking to exterior scenes to be filmed in Cambodia, the latter to scenes set in Siberia (though filmed in Iceland).

Tomb Raider (2001)The Tomb of the Dancing Light was a massive, four-story construction dominated at one end by a huge, six-armed Buddha. Around the tomb are stone monkey warriors, protecting it from harm. The Temple of Ten Thousand Shadows was dominated by a gigantic orrery, defined in the dictionary as an apparatus for representing the positions, motions and phases of the planets and satellites in the solar system, named after Charles Boyle, Earl of Orrery, for whom it was first made.

In addition to the two sets on the 007 stage, there was the interior of Croft Manor, a stimulating blend of British tradition and cutting edge technology appropriate for Lara Croft. Production designer Kirk Petruccelli (Patriot, the (2000), Mystery Men (1999) was supported by an experienced team of four art directors: Les Tomkins, John Fenner, Jim Morahan and David Lee. Michael Redding, one of the most experienced construction managers in the film industry (he ran construction at Pinewood before the studio became a freelance operation) subsequently joined the team.

Tomb Raider (2001)Petruccelli describes the film's sets as "a combination of ancient and super-modern influences to create a sort of timeless feel. " As the sets neared completion, with no fewer than one hundred sixty men working day and night to complete them, the Tomb of the Dancing Light set was revealed to the world during a live webcast in November 2000.

The filmmakers employed colorful real world locations in the film. Standing in for the exterior of Croft Manor is Hatfield House in Hertfordshire, home of the Marquis of Salisbury. The Royal Naval College at Greenwich, chosen for its magnificent Painted Hall, became the chamber of the High Council of the Illuminati. Elvedon Hall, once the home of Duleep Singh, a maharajah from the Punjab, and now home of the Guinness family, was the perfect interior townhouse for the cultured and sophisticated barrister, Manfred Powell. As the sets were completed, special effects supervisor Chris Corbould (Mummy, The (1999), World Is Not Enough, the (1999)) prepared his team for the film's considerable effects demands. Visual effects supervisor Steve Begg set up his state of the art machines to begin the marriage of practical and computer effects that has become a modem filmmaking technique.

Another key appointment was costume designer Lindy Hemming, an Oscar® winner for Topsy-Turvy (1999) and veteran of the three most recent James Bond films.

Ancient Worlds: Iceland And Cambodia

While much of Tomb Raider (2001) was created on the sound stages of Pinewood Studios, two spectacular locations were chosen for exterior scenes: one in Iceland (standing in for Siberia) and the other in Cambodia. Most of the Icelandic scenes were shot on a glacier, and on icy lagoons full of floating icebergs ranging in color from black to bright turquoise - so blue that they look like the creation of an over-imaginative art department. Much of the landscape has been carved and shaped by rivers of ice flowing down from permanent icecaps.

The crew of Tomb Raider (2001) was based at the small farming, fishing and fish-processing town of Hofn, set amidst stunning surroundings. All locations required for the week's filming lay within a two hour drive. The town is on a main road, and a tough five-hour drive, from Reykjavik, the capital. With most of the equipment transported over road, the unit flew in from London, transferring to smaller planes at Reykjavik before making the additional one hour flight to Hofia.

Location manager Chris Brock, a man well used to moving mountains, crossing continents, and keeping a sense of humor comments, "Taking a unit our size onto the glacier was quite something to organize. I don't think anyone had ever taken an amphibious transport boat onto the glacier. The road up to the glacier was quite narrow and steep, with some very sharp tunas. It even amazed the locals. " Inevitably, the day before the unit arrived, there was a terrible rainstorm that washed the snow off the glacier, leaving sheet ice, and washing away part of the road up to the glacier. Local safety authorities advised the production during all stages of shooting, ensuring the production's well-being.

Despite the wondrous scenery, shooting in the frigid temperatures was trying, particularly for Angelina Jolie in her Lara Croft gear. While every other member of cast and crew was submerged in the warmest mountain gear, Angelina was clad in her ice blue top and a stunning blue fur-trimmed coat as she rode a sled pulled by teams of husky dogs.

The production next moved to the spectacular location of Cambodia, off-limits to filmmakers since Lord Jim (1965) was filmed there in early 1964. Since the 1960s, Cambodians have been ravaged: bombed during the Vietnam War, tortured by Pol Pot and his Khmer Rouge cadres in the 1970s, occupied by the Vietnamese in the 1980s and engulfed in civil war in the early 1990s.

Modem day Cambodia is the successor of the mighty Khmer empire, which, during the ninth to fourteenth century Angkorian period, was the cultural heartland of Southeast Asia. Its Angkor Wat legacy is one of the wonders of the world. The ruins of Angkor are in a category of their own; no other historical site in South East Asia matches their grandeur.

It was to Angkor Wat that the filmmakers wanted to go. Having negotiated with APSARA, the body that protects the Angkor War heritage site and is supported financially by the United Nations, the filmmakers were given permission to film in certain locations within the vast Angkor Wat area.

"I knew that audiences probably would not have seen this environment," says West. "They've seen the pyramids. They've seen the Acropolis and all those ancient monuments. But this felt like an untapped location. The mixture of ancient architecture overgrown with nature appealed to me. It felt lost and forgotten. A number of these temples were abandoned four hundred years ago, and so the jungle has overtaken them. In a story like this, there is a certain amount of exploration and moving of things. But we were very careful not to damage these ancient monuments. "

Production personnel worked out the practicalities, importing equipment from Thailand, over a road that was once a stronghold of the Khmer Rouge. Littered with potholes and mines, the film transport was preceded by a minesweeper and the Royal Cambodian army. As thirty truckloads of equipment inched their way to Siem Reap, gateway to the Temples of Angkor Wat, the convoy was often forced to stop as soldiers repaired the bridges ahead.

"I feel blessed and very lucky to have been a part of this film and this experience," Angelina Jolie told a press conference in Siem Reap. "Being here in this country has changed my life. It makes me feel different about everything: my life, work, what we can all do. It's the most amazing place I've ever been to in my life. "

The film brought much needed finance to the area's heritage site, hotels, restaurants and shops. It also provided employment, albeit temporary, to hundreds of local people. Many of them played extras, including one hundred genuine Buddhist monks. For all of them, the two weeks when Hollywood came to Siem Reap was an extremely beneficial experience.

But all good things must end, and the unit returned to Pinewood Studios, England to complete the film's final scenes. "This was a huge enterprise," says Levin of the production of Tomb Raider (2001) "The logistics were enormous and complicated, so the physicality of the production was enormous. We pushed the envelope in every way possible to put something on the screen that is fresh. Technically, it is immensely complicated. There is not a visual effect that we have not included in the film, and many scenes have relied on multiple uses of visual effects. "

Lara Croft And Tomb Raider: The Game

Lara Croft has become a worldwide phenomenon since her debut in 1996. She is the fast female to star in her own action game series, which comprises the original Tomb Raider, along with Tomb Raider II, Tomb Raider III: The Adventures of Lara Croft and the recent Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation. With total sales reaching twenty one million units, the games have each topped the PlayStation and PC game best-seller lists and revolutionized gaming with groundbreaking perspectives and motion control techniques.

"All of us working on the film have tremendous respect for the game," says director Simon West. "In fact, we have a very successful relationship with the game creators and have worked hand-in-hand with them. But what I would say to the game players is, this is not a film version of the game, it will be a movie experience. "

Assertive, resourceful and independent, Lara is the fast virtual celebrity to hold her own in a world of flesh and blood, non-virtual stars. She has appeared on more than two hundred magazine covers around the globe, was featured in a major Time magazine story (December) and has graced the pages of Newsweek, Rolling Stone and Entertainment Weekly's "It" issue, feting the hundred most creative people in entertainment.

In addition, Details magazine heralded Lara as one of the "Sexiest Women of the Year" (the only virtual celebrity so chosen) and The Times of London recently devoted a special sixteen page supplement to her. Time Digital included Lara on a list of the fitty cyber-elite in America, ranking her among Bill Gates, Andy Grove, Steve Jobs and George Lucas.

Lara is the subject of more than a thousand interact fan sites, each created independently of Eidos; and her merchandise includes eleven different action figures, t-shirts, candy bars and a monthly comic book. Total game sales and related merchandise have generated $500 million in sales. Her success has inspired the world famous Elite model agency to devote an entire division to developing virtual models, and other companies are now following suit.

The Music


The Elektra soundtrack, assembled by music supervisor Peter Afterman and Elektra Vice- President of Soundtracks / A&R John Kirkpatrick, explodes with intensity and excitement. A slew of superstar artists were eager to contribute to the Tomb Raider phenomenon, including U2, nine inch nails, Missy "Misdemeanor" Elliott with Nelly Furtado, OutKast, Moby, Fatboy Slim and The Chemical Brothers, among others.

U2 kicks off the star-studded collection with the first single, the Tomb Raider Mix of Elevation, available exclusively on this soundtrack. The band shot a video for the song, directed by Joseph Khan, who has directed videos for such artists as Destiny's Child and Wu Tang Clan.

Tomb Raider (2001)The video features a set that will wow even the most ardent Tomb Raider fans. The film and soundtrack album also feature the song Deep, by Grammy Award winner Trent Reznor/nine inch nails. The track is the second single from the soundtrack.