With the release of a reimagined Tomb Raider coming out on March 16, fans of the wildly popular video games and the franchise's 2000s movies, featuring Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft, have some questions. Namely — just how, exactly, is the new Tomb Raider different from the original? As it turns out, the two iterations are pretty distinctive, and at the new film's LA premiere in March, star Alicia Vikander explains how she was able to create her own version of the heroine while still taking inspiration from Jolie's iconic portrayal.
"Both Angelina and I, we had different versions of the games," says Vikander, speaking on the red carpet. "I had the reboot, she had the previous ones, where we could both find inspiration from the character."
Jolie's version of Lara Croft, which was based on the early 2000s Tomb Raider games, was a highly-trained woman groomed for solving mythical puzzles to save the world. She led a double life of being an elite British aristocrat and searcher of ancient artifacts with killer combat skills. Vikander's version, on the other hand, loosely based on the reboot of the game from 2013, is a young woman who's finding her way, realizing her calling as the story unfolds. Both women, however, are in search of the same irreplaceable gem: their father.
While Vikander and the movie team made this version of Lara Croft unique, screenwriter Geneva Robertson-Dworet reveals that there actually were "early, early talks" about a Jolie cameo which ultimately ended up being "narratively tricky." Still, the movie does pay homage to the 2001 film with some carefully hidden Easter eggs, according to director Roar Uthaug. And Vikander explains that while she wanted to use the "fearless essence" from Jolie's role in her own performance, she was also committed to making Lara her own.
"You always have to step away from somebody else’s work and make it your own, even though I was a fan of the films myself," the actor says. She explains that her focus was on making Lara someone audiences would recognize and relate to. "I really, really fought for trying to make a young girl with all the emotional levels that any human being has. Yes, it’s an action figure, but I wanted to bring out the more emotional self," Vikander says. "I think in 2018 the [coolest] superpower is the ability of being OK with showing your vulnerability. That’s what make somebody actual relate and feel for you."
On the red carpet, Robertson-Dworet tells Bustle just how involved Vikander was in molding this script to fit her vision. "She’s a creative powerhouse... basically the whole tone of the movie was tweaked according to her vision of the movie," the screenwriter says. "She loves a very grounded tone, that was her vision for this movie."
Vikander's co-star, Walton Goggins, praises the actor for allowing parts of her real-life personality to impact the character as well. "It’s a real reflection of who she is a person," he says. "She’s a very earnest, very driven, very focused human being, and very serious in all the right ways. This Lara Croft reflects that, how deeply serious she takes her work."
Uthaug adds that in the process of filming the movie, which is filled with intense action scenes, Vikander was as committed and ferocious as Lara herself. "In everything she does, she works so hard. She was so dedicated to this part," the director says. "No complaints, even when she was turning blue in the face from the cold and wind, she just kept going."
While there may be major differences between the two Tomb Raider versions, it's clear that both movies share stars determined to give their Lara Crofts their all. "I hope that [Angelina] feels we did justice to a franchise that she first showed — I feel like the amazing thing about the original is it came at a time when female-led action movies were really doubted," Robertson-Dworet says. "She really blazed trails for us. I hope she’s pleased with what was originally her franchise."
Led by Vikander, the new Tomb Raider shows the beauty of learning from those who came before us while still blazing a unique path of our own. Because when it comes to fearless women, there's room for each and every one of us to make a mark of our own.