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Tuesday, 3 July, 2001, 16:33 GMT 17:33 UK
Angelina Jolie: Born to be Lara
Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft
No contest: Jolie was earmarked to play Lara Croft
Even while Tomb Raider the movie was still on the storyboard, its makers knew Angelina Jolie was the only actress they wanted to take on Lara Croft.

Physically, Jolie, 26, was perfect to play the athletic, dark-haired and buxom computer heroine.

But in Hollywood, such attributes are two-a-penny - and not enough to automatically win a coveted lead.

What Jolie offered was something extra, an edgy, quirky, humorous quality that made her right to play the thrill-seeking British aristocrat Lara.

Actor Billy Bob Thornton
Billy Bob Thornton is Jolie's second husband

"I can't imagine the film even being possible without Angelina," said producer Lloyd Levin.

"She represents a lot of qualities you would hope to capture in the character of Lara: intelligence, fearlessness, playfulness and a wicked sense of humour."

Looking back over Jolie's short time in the spotlight, Levin's comment seems almost an understatement.

After all, Jolie is the woman who appears to have gone out of her way to set herself up as Hollywood's flesh and blood Morticia Addams.

She appeared dressed and made-up like the horror heroine when collecting her supporting actress Oscar in 2000.

Angelina Jolie films
Hackers (1995)
Playing God (1997)
Gia (1998)
Pushing Tin (1999)
The Bone Collector (1999)
Girl, Interrupted (1999)
Gone in 60 Seconds (2000)
Tomb Raider (2001)

And Jolie has made known her unusually active interest in the red stuff flowing in the veins.

At her first marriage to British actor Jonny Lee Miller in 1996, Jolie wore a silk shirt with Miller's name written on it in blood.

Now married again to actor Billy Bob Thornton, Jolie reputedly wears a phial of Thornton's blood around her neck.

Most recently, she booked a double grave for him and her as a gift. He is 20 years her senior.

And the actress has also said she enjoys eating raw meat and sleeping with knives.

"I like to dwell on darkness and insanity," she said in a recent interview.

Ability

Jolie's offscreen antics have certainly shown she is unorthodox enough to play Lara.

Onscreen, tough roles such as a car thief in Gone in 60 Seconds and a policewoman hunting a serial killer in The Bone Collector have also proved her professional grit.

Then, her Oscar-winning turn as the unhinged Lisa in Girl, Interrupted established Jolie's skill.

Jolie won an Oscar for her role in Girl, Interrupted
Jolie won an Oscar for her role in Girl, Interrupted

"It was obvious to me that Angelina Jolie was the only actress who could play Lara Croft," commented Tomb Raider director Simon West.

"Her performances to date have all consistently shown brains, guts and wit."

Jolie's other notable roles have included a tomboy computer crook in Hackers in 1995. She also met Miller while working on the film.

She played a drug-addicted model in the 1998 HBO TV movie Gia to widespread acclaim.

The part of the volatile wife in the air traffic control comedy Pushing Tin in 1999 raised her profile - and brought the whirlwind romance and marriage to co-star Thornton.

'Primitive'

Despite her early ambitions to be a funeral director, Jolie seemed destined for a life in the Hollywood spotlight.

Her father is the Oscar-winning actor Jon Voight. Her mother was the late French actress Marcheline Bertrand.

She made her first film, Lookin' to Get Out, with Voight at the age of five.

Father and daughter Jon Voight and Angelina Jolie
Voight and Jolie have a close bond

Father and daughter are very close and Jolie has spoken of her joy at working with him again in Tomb Raider.

"Our scenes together were special for so many reasons," says Jolie, who uses her middle name.

"We were in wardrobe together and having lunch together, it was great.

"So much of this story is about Lara reconnecting with her father."

So, for all her apparent kookiness, Jolie has also shown her soft side, which includes her comments about Lara.

She has described how she relished the heroine's lady-like side, calling to mind her total femininity.

But if Jolie is remembered for her portrayal of Lara, it will be as an actress who gave as good a challenge as she got.

She insisted on doing most of her own stunts, injuring herself more than once and causing director West a fair amount of angst.

But with characteristic honesty, Jolie explained her enthusiasm: "Lara is wicked and wild. She's completely sensual, free and primitive."

She concluded: "More than anything she is also athletic. I love everything she stands for."

See also:

07 Apr 00 | Entertainment
Jolie lands Lara role
18 Jun 01 | Film
Tomb Raider guns to the top
28 Jun 01 | New Media
Q&A: The man who made Lara
29 Jun 01 | Film
Violent Lara Croft scenes cut
12 Jun 01 | Film
Big screen Lara Croft unveiled
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