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Last Updated: Saturday, 15 April 2006, 07:18 GMT 08:18 UK
Being Lara Croft
By Phil Elliott
BBC Radio Five Live

Lara Croft model Karima Adebibe
Karima Adebibe gets into her new role as action adventure heroine
One of the big problems with the games industry is that whilst it has icons, it does not have many celebrities.

Hardly any in fact. It is one of the reasons why, for the moment, video games will continue to struggle against the movie and music stars for newspaper column inches.

After all, as an editor choosing what to put in an entertainment section, do you go with pictures of Robbie and an interview about life on tour?

Or do you go instead for the latest screenshots of a video game, along with some words from the game's developer?

This is precisely why British games company Eidos have spent so much time and effort over the years trying to convert Lara Croft from a computer-generated beauty into a living, breathing person.

Lara is the main character in the widely popular Tomb Raider games, that have sold more than 28 million copies worldwide since the pixel vixen first wowed gamers in 1996.

Nell McAndrew and Angelina Jolie have both taken on the persona. Now, 20-year-old Karima Adebibe from east London is the latest person to don the famous Tomb Raider outfit of guns and shorts.

Speaking role

Karima is the first person that Eidos have actually entrusted to "be" Lara, meaning that she is allowed to speak as the character, rather than just pose.

In the game, Lara Croft is an English aristocrat and world-renowned archaeological expert, as well as an unparalleled athlete and fluent Arabic speaker.

Lara Croft model Karima Adebibe
It involves acting, skills, so much more than just modelling. It's not your normal job
Karima Adebibe

So Eidos has sent Karima on all kinds of training, from the obvious combat and motorcycle routines through to the less obvious, such as elocution and deportment.

"In the beginning, it was a little bit surreal," she told Radio Five Live's Up All Night.

"But because of all the training, I really do feel like Lara Croft now. It's incredible."

From Eidos' point of view, as long as Karima stays on message, it is a win-win scenario.

On the one hand it has the latest Tomb Raider game itself, called Legend, and can dish out screenshots and movies ad infinitum.

On the other hand it has Karima who can tour the TV and radio stations, charming the hosts and generating more webcam clicks than is probably healthy.

Becoming Lara

For somebody who was a part-time model and part-time shop assistant, this 12-month contract is a good break, and rather different to what she was doing before.

Angelina Jolie in Tomb Raider
Jolie is up for playing Lara Croft on film again
"It involves acting, skills, so much more than just modelling," she said. "It's not your normal job."

"I want to do it as well as I possibly can, I'm putting my heart and soul into it."

It probably helps that she has dabbled in gaming herself, and played the first two Tomb Raider games a few years back.

For somebody as enthusiastic for the role, even when not dressed in the garb, it is almost a shame that should Paramount decide on shooting a third Tomb Raider film, Angelina Jolie will play the role again.

But that is not something that bothers Karima.

"No, we love Angelina, she's amazing. She is the Hollywood Lara Croft. But if she doesn't want to do it, I'll consider it."

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11 Apr 06 |  Technology
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03 Apr 06 |  Derbyshire
Lara Croft creator speaks out
18 Jun 04 |  Technology

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