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Angelina Jolie
   

Angelina Jolie on Filling Lara Croft's Shoes and D-size Cups, by Prairie Miller

To portray British super-babe Lara Croft, in the new movie Tomb Raider, Angelina Jolie had to boost her spirit, not to mention her chest size. The Academy-award-winning actress delves into specifics with NY Rock’s Prairie Miller about fleshing out the larger-than-life action character with padded bras and intensive workouts.

Easily segueing from her physical transformations to her more personal ones, Jolie also speaks about husband Billy Bob Thornton and the moving experience of the film shoot in Cambodia.

NYROCK:

I've sure been hearing a lot about how much you got into Lara Croft's head and body.

ANGELINA:

It's all lies!

NYROCK:

I hear you. Let me put it another way. How do you transform a video-game babe into a flesh and blood female?

ANGELINA:

I think we realized early on that because of the type of character that Lara is, you can't pretend to be her, you have to be her. Like you can't pretend to do the stunts, and wear the guns and shoot them, and just run around like that. The character has to actually do those things. And every day was this tempting obstacle course. You know, doing it as her, with the confidence of her and the fun of her. And I found, to my surprise, that I loved it. That it was in me, and I was able to keep going and wanted to keep going. I wanted to keep getting back into it, even when I hurt myself. And I was really happy when we would accomplish something. So I was really having fun.

NYROCK:

What kinds of injuries did you incur?

ANGELINA:

Little ones. The biggest one was a torn ligament in my ankle. Other than that, I have lots of little scars, from the harness marks from the bungee cord. Then I got a little burn hanging from this chandelier. You just get all these bruises here and there. I guess it's like being a boxer for a little while.

NYROCK:

What was the hardest part about becoming a character like Lara, who is already so familiar to her followers?

ANGELINA:

It's a big responsibility. Those fans are expecting that they are going to see a character they know so well, this character they love. So you have a lot to live up to, and there's always the anxiety of not being able to pull that off.

What you end up doing is working your butt off. That's just something that you can't fake. So I'm only hoping that I can live up to her. And now what I think about, is how much I miss being her, and all the things we did every day on the set. It was great.

NYROCK:

What was your take on expressing female sexuality with a tough edge to it in Tomb Raider?

ANGELINA:

When you see tough girls like that in movies, it's like they can't possibly also be sensual and comfortable with their sexuality. And I wanted to challenge those expectations. You know, that she's this real person.

NYROCK:

How about the physical regimen you had to go through to play a brawny broad like Lara?

ANGELINA:

Oh yeah. I was just happy that I could pull off a lot of those stunts. I had to train for over two months before filming, and then all the way through we were training. But I learned all these different skills. They put up a boxing bag and a bunch of power bars in my living room for like eight months.
There was also bungee ballet, diving, and weapons training and kick boxing, and everything from yoga to soccer and rowing. And I learned how to sword fight. But when I was trying to shoot, there were shells going down my shirt. So sometimes I would be thinking, this is not for me.

NYROCK:

Since we're on the topic of getting into shape, what changes did you go through for your, you know, bust out role as Lara?

ANGELINA:

C'mon, I'm not so flat chested to begin with. When I wear a tight T-shirt, I look a certain way. So it wasn't like we had to completely change me. You know, we just had to enhance me a little.

Angelina Jolie
  
I'm a 36C. Lara, she's a 36D. And in the game, she's a double D, so we took her down some. But we did give her a bit of padding there. For me, it was simply one size. So it was like having a padded bra. But no, I am not flat chested anyway.

So we still made it Lara Croft, but we didn't go to any extremes. And Lara doesn't apologize for herself, and for having that, you know, recognizable shape. So I'm not going to apologize for her either. Personally, I wouldn't want those breasts. They seem kinda funny to me.

But we did want to put in something for those hardcore game fans. Lara has those big breasts in the game. We didn't want to make them as big as in the game, but at the same time we didn't want to take away from her the things that are, you know, her trademarks.

But I don't know what all this fixation is about anyway. There are certainly lots of women in movies with big breasts. I mean, there are a lot of actresses with huge breasts, and characters with nothing but cleavage.

NYROCK:

How did you end up looking so much like Lara anyway?

ANGELINA:

Yeah, I know! It was a lot of work from a lot of people, and a lot of technical thought went into it. You know, how to figure outfits that were sexy, but that were also practical and worked. And fabrics that you could stretch and jump and move in, and get wet, and do all that stuff.

But so much of it was that we wanted to give the fans everything they like about her. So we wanted to give her all those things, her braid, her breasts, her boots, all those things about Lara that are her.

But at the same time, we didn't want to go to the extreme that the game had gone to. And yet we wanted to make her athletic and strong. We tried to find a happy medium.

Like we had to figure out that braid. I can't tell you how many times I ended up getting smacked in the face with it. So we did lots of different things.

NYROCK:

How many times are you braced to play Lara now?

ANGELINA:

You mean if it doesn't kill me first? It's not a bad life. I know people think that because Tomb Raider is a kind of fun film, that it's not a real acting challenge. But because there are so many things about Lara that are very difficult to do and she is such a great character, I'd love to keep doing her.

So being Lara could be this amazing job, and I'd be lucky to have it. You know, it's not so bad for somebody to say to you, look we need you in six months to go back into training and learn ten new skills. And also go to circus training and learn to fly a helicopter. And visit three more countries, learn about their history and explore places that people haven't been to. So I would be thrilled. But it would only be if people accept me as her with this movie. We'll know then.

NYROCK:

How was the Cambodia location experience?

ANGELINA:

    Angelina Jolie
Cambodia is the most beautiful place I've ever been to. I don't want to get into the heaviness of it here, but I discovered things about what's happening in the world. Like my eyes started to open.

When I was in Cambodia, I learned so much about these people and what they had been through. I expected to meet a certain kind of people because of that. And when I met them, they were so generous, spiritual, and open and kind.

So I couldn't believe that they would have such patience with us, and such openness after all of that. There were areas we shot in, that we could only be in certain places, because they hadn't been de-mined yet.

And to know that there are hospitals where kids are still being affected by stepping on landmines every day, was horrifying and so sad. You never hear about that. To discover that kind of stuff was to really understand people in the rest of the world. So Cambodia was really eye opening for me.

NYROCK:

How did the shoot in Iceland compare?

ANGELINA:

Iceland was just strange. It's a strange, magical kind of place. And very cold. I'm really not one for cold weather. But I think there were actually more sheep than people where we were. And glaciers the size of whales. When we rode the dogs on sleds over a hole in the ground, there would be a crack like a mile deep. And there were certain areas we wanted to shoot where it got so white around us, that nobody was allowed to move. So it was amazing, it was like being an explorer or an adventurer. There was just a great feeling in all of it. Yeah, those dogs were magnificent. Though they didn't like each other very much sometimes.

NYROCK:

Did you end up speaking that very British Lara accent off camera without realizing it?

ANGELINA:

Billy said I did. I didn't notice it. But yeah.

NYROCK:

Did you receive the kind of criticism that Renee Zellweger did for trying to pull off a British accent in Bridget Jones's Diary?

ANGELINA:

Yeah, I know. You really do want to do right by England when you're playing Lara Croft. England is very special to me because I've lived there, so I feel personally like it's a world that is almost a second home.

But there are people there who are still going to feel that Lara should have been played by an English girl. And I'm not going to argue with them because I understand why they'd feel that.

NYROCK:

Moving beyond the action mode of Tomb Raider, how did you propel Lara emotionally from within, to get her character in touch with the story?

ANGELINA:

Well, I knew she would have a sense of humor, even during the stunt scenes. So we would talk about stuff like that. We would also talk about the way she would fight, and that she wouldn't use fancy fighting. She would be a straight fighter, and have a square fistfight.

So we made big choices like that, having to do very much with Lara's personality. And there were moments where she'd be enjoying the fight, so we would pause and make sure we caught that moment where she was laughing.

With every little thing, we just wanted her personality to be there. Lara is a very direct person, and a very impatient person. And she's very to the point, and kind of wicked and in the moment. You know, she doesn't want to sit and talk to anybody; she wants to move.

So yeah, you hope that it comes across. As an actor, you hope that you can get the personality across with the right gestures, and a few of the right things said. And make it fun, but not campy. You want to make her real. So I really hope we found the balance.

NYROCK:

Which kind of acting do you like most, the emotional or physical kind?

ANGELINA:

I think I have to have both. Like right now I'm doing a comedy. I just had to have that after Lara Croft. And with this one I'm being very, very girlie. Like big blonde hair, these ridiculous nails and high heels.

NYROCK:

Cool. Why did you need that after Tomb Raider?

ANGELINA:

I just needed to be light and silly. I need a balance, and I don't know if you could do one without having the other. But being Lara was harder. I had to be a character who gets everybody to want to follow her into the middle of a jungle and be excited about it, and ready for it all the time. That takes a certain kind of confidence, and energy and presence that can be much more draining than going into yourself and going a little mad. Yeah.

NYROCK:

What has it been like becoming an instant mom to Billy Bob's kids?

ANGELINA:

Billy has these two beautiful children. And their mother has made it really comfortable for me to get to know them. She's been wonderful. So we've been allowed to become a family very easily.

NYROCK:

Will you have kids of your own any time soon?

ANGELINA:

In a few years, we've talked about it. I would love to adopt. Yeah, quite a few children.

NYROCK:

You and Billy Bob make lots of movies. Do you also take time out to get together, chill out and just watch them too?

ANGELINA:

We have like eight remote controls near the bed, and we both just sit there and half the time we don't know what we're doing. Yeah, we're a mess. Seriously, the two of us have enough trouble with the toaster! We're just ridiculous when it comes to things like that. But he's so cute.

June 2001

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