“Tomb Raider”: Angelina Jolie Interview

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif., June 2, 2001–For all the fearsome, curious
declarations that have come from the naturally collagenic lips of Angelina
–talk of knives, blood, bisexuality, you know–the most surprising
thing about meeting the actress is that she’s downright harmless.

Of course, you wouldn’t think so watching her latest film, Lara Croft:
Tomb Raider
, which poises the 26-year-old to take the throne from
reigning action heroine Sigourney Weaver. Based on the popular video game,
the Oscar winner channels the dark side she explored in films like
Gia and Girl, Interrupted into the titular adventure-seeker,
who is part Indiana Jones, part lady of the manor and part James Bond.

Born into English wealth, Lara Croft spends her days traveling around the
world to recover lost treasures. When a clock hidden in the house leads her
to clues left behind by her long-dead father (Jon Voight, Jolie’s real dad),
Lara embarks on a mission to recover two halves of an artifact that will
allow its owner to travel through time. Traveling to the likes of Cambodia
and Iceland, she hopes to find it before it falls into the hands of a
dangerous secret society called the Illuminati and its representative,
Manfred Powell (Iain Glen).

Bungee-cord flying, gun firing and motorcycle riding her way through the
action film, Jolie shows a playfulness and warmth that’s closer to her off-camera self than her previous roles. It’s a sign that the beaming woman sitting at the Four Seasons Hotel, whose marriage to 45-year-old actor/director/writer Billy Bob Thornton shocked all of Hollywood, has finally found happiness.

The media has been surprised that you and Billy Bob have lasted a year so far. Are you?
Angelina Jolie: Nope. When I met him, I knew. He knew. We’d been best friends forever and it seems I’ve been missing him my whole life. He’s truly my best friend in this world and my favorite person. And we have such a beautiful private life…[it] certainly makes everything easier and mean more. It’s just great.

Have you guys gotten any more tattoos? Are you running out of skin?
Jolie: We got one on our anniversary. There is a makeup artist who’s really had it with me.

Besides the marriage, it seems Lara Croft has also brought out a new side of you.
Jolie: This was a side of myself that I didn’t think was in me. But it wasn’t a surprise to people who know me. You spend so much time in your head as an actor, living in the dark, you forget to be free. And I’m the first person to be looking for what freedom means and to feel trapped and in a cage. It took me a while to realize that when I was standing at the edge of a waterfall in Cambodia, and I was so happy…God, I really learned what the world is about. Now it makes more sense to me, because if this is how I’ve needed to be my whole life and I didn’t have an outlet for it, it maybe explains why I’m a little crazy.

You have some very touching scenes with your real-life father, Jon Voight, another relationship that has healed for you in recent years. What
was it like calling him up to ask him to be in the movie?

Jolie: I actually called him and got a machine and said, “This is Angie.” And then said, “This is not a bad call.” ‘Cause I don’t call much, and if it’s me and it’s your father, you say, “Hi, this is not a bad call. I’m not in jail, no more tattoos, I’m not pregnant, I just need to talk to you.”

So how were things when he came on the set?
Jolie: We were nervous for each other and nervous to want to make it a good scene, ‘cause it meant so much to us. But you forget so much when you look into your parents’ eyes. When he came on the set, I was in hair and makeup, and he sent in this silly toy that came walking in the room. And I’m trying to be all tough, and here’s this, like, pig.

We were in wardrobe together and having lunch together. It’s a great thing to work with your parent…it was just so much fun. And then he hung out and watched some [filming]. Jon would watch some of the things and just really
not understand why it was necessary for me to be falling on the ground again. He was like, “What is she doing? Couldn’t somebody else be doing that?”

The director, Simon West, says you were so gung-ho that he often had to tell you that you weren’t really Lara Croft.
Jolie: He’s still trying to tell me that. [Laughs] [But] the first few weeks in this film, when I was training, I spent one night in the bathtub with all my bruises and the little cut, crying, “What am I doing? I’m not gonna be able to do this.” I couldn’t get the guns even. I kept hitting myself with the braid. I’ve always been ridiculously fearless to a fault. I don’t know where that comes from; maybe it’s because I feel so happy just to be alive.

So how authentically Lara Croft are you, in the, er, bustline manner of speaking?
Jolie: This has been the big question. I’m a 36C. In the film, I’m a 36D. In the game, she’s a double-D 40 with a 20-inch waist and 35-inch hips or something. I have a regular waist, regular hips, kind of like a boy. So we basically gave her a proper padded bra. But it wasn’t so far off, since I had to do the physical things. I’m fine with my breasts and I don’t think it’s something little girls look at and think “I should be that and get a breast implant.” It’s a part of her character, so you do it. But I want every young girl to know that is not completely me.

Lara uses guns, but you’re famously known for being a knives kind of woman, right?
Jolie: I don’t think that’s that crazy. I lived in New York by myself for three years. I had a knife under the mattress, you know? I have a case that I lock all my knives in when [Billy’s] children are in. And they can’t go in that room–that’s the weapons room. That’s where Billy’s guns are. There’s a lock on it.

What’s this we’re hearing about an electric chair you asked them to put in Lara’s bedroom? Was that a Lara thing or an Angelina thing?
Jolie: [Sheepishly] That’s a few things. Billy got electrocuted at the end of a movie this year [The Coen Brothers’ film The Man Who Wasn’t There]. So it was romantic for me to have it. [Uproarious laughter from the press]

And how are you at the video game?
Jolie: I get frustrated with the game all the time. I can’t work a computer, it’s so frustrating.

We heard Billy Bob’s kids were asking you for help.
Jolie: They did…I could not help him. Eventually he switched games. He worked out some of the things, but I was thinking “Maybe I could just
call Paramount and get somebody on the phone with me.”