Copyright 2003

[ July 23rd 2003 ]

Academy Award winner Angelina Jolie is proud of playing high-flying action hero Lara Croft on screen and believes the character is a role model grounded in reality. Jolie reprises the role in "Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life" opening in the United States on Friday, playing a cultured, yet spectacularly athletic and attractive British adventurer. The Oscar winner in 2000 as Best Supporting Actress for "Girl, Interrupted" said Lady Croft does not have to be "anti-man" to be a strong woman. "She’s very sexual and she’s very sensual but she doesn’t use it to win," Jolie told Reuters in a recent interview. "She’s strong enough. And I think she’s very complete as a woman because she’s a lady and she’s intelligent but she’s also able to get dirty and wild. I think she’s got a nice combination of most of the women I know."

Croft also has supreme martial arts skills, uncanny marksmanship, scores of electronic gadgets, boundless courage and a weapons arsenal that would make small countries envious. Shot on locations ranging from Wales to Greece to Kenya to Hong Kong, the film tells the tale of a treasure hunt that turns into a mission to save the world from a Nobel scientist gone very bad. The action scenes and scope of the film outstrip the first 2001 "Tomb Raider" movie, which grossed nearly $300 million worldwide. Croft pole-vaults from a roof top onto a passing helicopter, makes a head-first escape down a lifeline hanging from a cliff and executes a free fall dive off the 84th floor of an unfinished Hong Kong skyscraper.

To pull off the stunt work required, Jolie plunged into serious training, including gymnastics, weight lifting, bungee jumping, motorcycling, kick boxing, martial arts and weaponry. "There’s a few really hard months of training learning these new skills, and lots of bruises and falling over," said the 28-year-old Jolie. "But it’s great. It’s such a great excuse to get in shape." Beyond the physical demands, director Jan De Bont had big praise for Jolie’s acting. "I think what makes it so special is she is a very daring actress," said the Dutch director, whose previous action films include "Speed" and "Twister". "Quite often when an actress goes into an action movie they think it’s relatively easy and so mechanical. The truth is that it’s very difficult, more difficult than a drama. "When you have a dramatic scene around a table it’s pretty relaxing but if you hang upside down and you have to do things it’s not so easy."

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