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“Tomb Raider” director fought for Angelina Jolie as ‘wicked’ Lara Croft

Below is an interview with the Lara Croft: Tomb Raider director Simon West which he did with magazine Entertainment Weekly. He talks about casting Angelina as Lady Lara Croft and the interview also mentions other actresses that was in talks for the part. We are happy that Simon fought to cast Angelina!

Lara Croft is returning to the big screen on March 16, but the gaming world’s foremost feminist disruptor first sprang from the polygonal trenches of the Sony PlayStation and onto movie screens some 17 years ago.

The titular character — a British aristocrat with a knack for archaeology and an affinity for hot pants — ascended the ranks of pop cultural stardom in the late ’90s, becoming an unprecedented digital celebrity in the age of lads’ mags and Girl Power. And playing her made a bona fide movie star out of a 26-year-old Angelina Jolie. But the videogame-to-Hollywood transition might have looked a bit different if, according to the filmmaker behind the project, he hadn’t pushed for his star.

Director Simon West tells EW that he was approached by Paramount Pictures several times before agreeing to helm the first Tomb Raider film, which landed in theaters on June 15, 2001 after Croft had amassed a worldwide following across five prior gaming ventures. Though Ripley had already flexed her heroic muscles in several Alien titles and Wonder Woman had long cemented her legacy in the pages of DC comic books, West says he was up against a market that wasn’t used to women leading summer blockbusters.

“There hadn’t been a female lead of an action-adventure film that had carried a film [by herself recently], and Angelina wasn’t as big as some of the other actresses that were up for the part, who’d done bigger films and had a longer track record and bigger box-office grosses. … Some of their [images] were safer than Angelina’s, whose was quite dangerous. She had all sorts of thing written about her—some obviously not true. She was a young woman experimenting,” West tells EW. He says that names like Catherine Zeta-Jones, Ashley Judd, and Jennifer Lopez were thrown around by studio, but he never saw anyone else in the part but Jolie — largely thanks to her “wicked” offscreen persona — and that the casting process “never [came] down to screen tests or level pegging,” but it did take him a while to “argue” Jolie through.
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