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Thursday, 28 June, 2001, 16:02 GMT 17:02 UK
Q&A: The man who made Lara
Angelina Jolie
Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft
By BBC News Online's Dave Gibbon

While working for Core Design in Derby, a young man called Toby Gard brought to life a phenomenon using nothing but pencil and paper.

His creation, the curvaceous Lara Croft and the Tomb Raider games is a series which has now generated more than 650m in worldwide sales.

Angelian Jolie
Angelina Jolie at the US premiere of the movie
The Tomb Raider movie has broken all box office records for a film with a female lead.

After signing a deal that would give Toby a paltry one per cent royalty from sales of the Tomb Raider games, he received a cheque for 50,000.

Having fallen foul of big business, Toby left to launch his own company.

He tells BBC News Online more about Lara Croft and what he has in store for video gamers.

What influences helped you create Lara Croft?

I was a fan of movies such as Tank Girl, Indiana Jones and Hard Boiled - the John Woo film. These helped give me the idea for Lara.

How did Lara's creation first come to you?

I was a big fan of an old first person game called Ultima Underworld and I wanted to mix that type of game with the sort of polygon characters that were just being showcased in Virtua Fighter.

I thought by mixing that up we could make it a sort of real-time interactive movie and that was basically the concept for Tomb Raider.

How quickly did the first sketches of Lara appear on paper after your initial idea?

The Lara Croft character had a slow development process of sketching and re-sketching over several months and the same is true of my new character Rhama.

Lara Croft
Tomb Raider: More than 650m in worldwide sales
During this time I was actually in between projects and pitching the idea of Tomb Raider to Core Design's management when I came up with the first draft of Lara. The game concept had come much earlier.

When creating Lara, what materials did you use?

When I'm designing I tend to just use pencils and paper. Then if I make a sketch worth pursuing, I'll scan it into a computer to add colour.

When you created her, did you think she would become a fantasy model for men? No, I thought that men would become, er, attached to her, but not perhaps to this extent.

Why did you provide Lara with larger than life physical attributes?

I think exaggeration is the key to making clearer, more recognisable characters. Caricature, for instance can often communicate an idea faster and more clearly than a realistic representation can. Lara is a caricature of a feisty attractive women.

What is your favourite movie?

Probably the Dark Crystal is still my favourite film of all time.

I didn't ever imagine that Tomb Raider would make it back onto the big screen since it's clearly entirely inspired by Indiana Jones, and that's quite a legacy to live up to.

How suitable is Angelina Jolie for playing Lara Croft on the big screen?

Although I haven't met her, she definitely looks the part and her attitude looks to be spot on.

When did you launch your new company, Confounding Factor?

Tomb Raider
Lara as most fans see her - in the Tomb Raider game
I started the firm in 1997. I was 25 at the time and set this up so that I could have greater control over the new characters and games I wanted to design.

What is your new game all about?

The Galleon idea has been kicked around for a while but it didn't really take shape for a while. The game is based on old Ray Harryhausen Sinbad movies and things like Jason and the Argonaughts. It's a sort of over-the-top big voyage, Sunday afternoon TV adventure thing.

You get to play a captain called Rhama Sabrier and you get involved in stories and adventures on each of the islands you go to and along the way, you meet two girls who are vying for your attentions.

There will be lots of Kung Fu action, giant monsters and amazing situations and we are developing it for the Nintendo GameCube, Microsoft X-Box and PC.

See also:

03 Dec 99 | Entertainment
Cyberbabe Lara's back
18 Jun 01 | Film
Tomb Raider guns to the top
15 Jul 99 | Sci/Tech
Lara saved from Playboy
20 Oct 00 | Entertainment
Tomb Raider films at Angkor Wat
31 Aug 00 | Business
Eidos still suffering
12 Jun 01 | Film
Big screen Lara Croft unveiled
07 Apr 00 | Entertainment
Jolie lands Lara role
18 Jan 00 | Business
Is Lara Croft losing her touch?
19 Mar 99 | Sci/Tech
'Nude Raiders' face legal action
20 Nov 97 | Sci/Tech
Sony targets Lara Croft in games war
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