The release of the Tomb Raider movie reboot starring Alicia Vikander comes 17 years after the video game heroine's first live-action outing. While the original 2001 flick isn't exactly going to be hard to top in terms of critical reception, Vikander has her work cut out by stepping into Angelina Jolie's raiding boots. Despite being relegated to movie history as a cheesy Indiana Jones wannabe, Jolie's emphatic presence was really the one thing the film had going for it, helping to pull in over $250 million to make Tomb Raider a box office hit.
At the time, Jolie's reputation as Hollywood's wild child led to the studio making some very extreme, invasive and odd decisions in regards to her wellbeing on set. Paramount also went to great lengths to pay as little as possible toward the film, which seemed counterintuitive to the sheer number of writers the studio burned through to get to the final draft. Read on to dig up more of the darkest and most interesting behind-the-scenes stories from Tomb Raider. (And if you're a fan, be sure to check out our list of the best Tomb Raider games and the best Angelina Jolie movies.)
Angelina Jolie's casting was contentious for many of Lara Croft's fans at the time. Turns out, there were some people at Paramount who felt just as apprehensive about it, if for different reasons. At this point in time, Jolie was infamous for being an unconventional wild child, which included rumors about her wearing a vial of her then-future-husband's blood around her neck and her weird relationship with her brother.
Sherry Lansing, the then-head of Paramount, went to visit Jolie on the set of Original Sin to discuss the part after being advised by Jolie's father (the actor Jon Voight, who also played Lara's father in the movie) that the actress was "fragile." Lansing recalled,
"[Jolie] said: 'Look, I want to do it, but I know what my reputation is, and I'll do anything you want to prove that I'm worthy. She said, 'I don't care if the studio wants to drug test me every day.'"
As per their agreement, Jolie had both her blood and urine tested at random and did indeed prove herself passable.
Even after agreeing to the drug testing, the studio still didn't seem to fully trust Angelina Jolie. To keep tabs on her, a psychologist/ex-photographer named Bobby Klein was brought in to "give her spiritual and psychological support." Producer Larry Gordon's description of Klein should have rung alarm bells straight away for the rest of the team. "He was dressed all in black. He's a weird-looking guy with a white beard and white hair."
As the film went into pre-production in the UK, Gordon's fellow producer Lloyd Levin also became doubtful of how effective Klein's methods were.
"[The expert] wanted her to have milk baths and started talking about yoga and meditation and wanted to be the point person in charge of Angelina's training [...] It was just this bullsh*t. It seemed like spiritual hokum."
After rubbing most of the production the wrong way with his "spiritual hokum," Jolie's handler, Bobby Klein, was finally fired — partly for trying to interfere with the actress' physical training regimen and partly for being accused of sexually harassing the director's assistant. Producer Larry Gordon wasn't exactly sorry to see him go.
"I said, 'Angelina doesn't want you around, and I never wanted you around, so your ass is gone. You can get your sh*t and go, or I can get security to throw you off the lot. You decide.' He said, 'I still get my expenses?' I said, 'Unfortunately, yes.'"
A few years after Tomb Raider, by the time Angelina Jolie was coupled up with Brad Pitt and the actress admitted that she owns the original gun versions of the props she used on the Paramount film, and said she wouldn't be afraid to use them to defend her kids.
"I bought original, real guns of the type we used in Tomb Raider for security. Brad and I are not against having a gun in the house, and we do have one. And yes, I'd be able to use it if I had to. I could handle myself. I think there are certain combat skills that would come out."