Lara Croft

Lara Croft

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Lara Croft is a fictional character and the protagonist of Eidos Interactive's Tomb Raider video game series. Designed by Toby Gard, she has also been featured in movies (in which she was portrayed by Angelina Jolie), comic books, novels, and a series of animated short films. In 2006, Lara was honoured with a star on the Walk of Game, and was awarded a Guinness World Record recognizing her as the "most successful human video game heroine."

Lara is generally presented as a beautiful, intelligent, athletic, and somewhat reckless Englishwoman of noble birth who travels the world in pursuit of priceless artifacts. Known as both an archaeologist and an adventurer, she frequently ventures into ancient, and often very hazardous, tombs and ruins. In addition to traps and puzzles, Lara encounters a variety of enemies including rivals, gangsters, dangerous animals (including dinosaurs), legendary creatures, and supernatural beings. The fantastic nature of her archaeology related adventures have drawn comparisons to Indiana Jones.

Character creation

Initially, designer Toby Gard focused on creating the settings for Tomb Raider and the main character was essentially an Indiana Jones clone. When this character was deemed unacceptable, Gard placed his attention on designing a new one. One factor that influenced Gard to use a female character was that he noticed his male co-workers often preferred using female characters in Virtual Fighter. The redesigned character was initially a South American woman named Laura Cruz. She eventually evolved into an English woman named Lara Croft. Her name was picked from a phone book for sounding "UK friendly."

Actor portrayal

Video games

Lara has been voiced by five actresses throughout the video game series:

* Shelley Blond in Tomb Raider
* Judith Gibbins in Tomb Raider II and Tomb Raider III
* Jonell Elliott in Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation, Tomb Raider Chronicles, and Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness
* Keeley Hawes in Tomb Raider: Legend, Tomb Raider: Anniversary, Tomb Raider: Underworld
* Charlotte Asprey voiced young Lara in the flashback sequences of Tomb Raider: Legend

In the upcoming Tomb Raider: Underworld, Olympic gymnast and stunt woman Heidi Moneymaker is providing motion capture for Lara's movements.

Film and animation

Lara was brought to life by actress Angelina Jolie for the movies Tomb Raider (2001) and Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life (2003). Rachel Appleton portrayed young Lara in the first film.

In the 2007 Re\Visioned: Tomb Raider Animated Series, Lara was voiced by Minnie Driver.


Lara has also been portrayed by the following models for public appearances and promotions:

* Katie Price (Jordan): 'portrayed' Lara Croft at ECTS before official models were cast
* Nathalie Cook: 1996-1997 (mostly unknown before Tomb Raider became famous)
* Rhona Mitra: 1997-1998
* Vanessa Demouy: 1997 (hired by a French video game magazine for a photoshoot)
* Nell McAndrew: 1998-1999
* Lara Weller: 1999-2000
* Ellen Rocche: 2000 (hired by Brazilian distributor of Eidos' games to promote The Lost Artifact)
* Lucy Clarkson: 2000-2002
* Jill de Jong: 2002-2004
* Karima Adebibe: 2006-2008
* Alison Carroll: 2008 to present

Nell McAndrew was immediately axed from her stint as Lara in 1999 after posing nude in an issue of Playboy. This was partly due to the fact Playboy printed references to Lara Croft and Tomb Raider on the cover (which were quickly removed when Eidos threatened with a lawsuit).

From February 2006, the model role was played by a previously unknown sales assistant from London, Karima Adebibe, then aged 20. She retired in 2008.

Many of the models were united by FHM in May 2007 to celebrate the release of Tomb Raider: Anniversary.

On 11 August 2008, Alison Carroll was revealed as the new promotional face of Lara Croft.



There are two different continuities within the Tomb Raider video games. The first continuity was created by Core Design, and encompasses the first six Tomb Raider games. The second and current continuity was introduced by Crystal Dynamics for the series' reinvention in Tomb Raider: Legend. Both continuities were created with the participation of Toby Gard. Additionally, Lara Croft's film and comic book appearances present numerous differences from the game continuities.

Back story

In the first continuity, the Tomb Raider game manual tells of Lara's birth to Lord Henshingly Croft and how she was raised as an aristocrat surrounded by wealth and luxury. It also tells how, at the age of 21, she was the sole survivor of a plane crash in the Himalayas and was forced to rely on her wits to stay alive. The incident changed her, and inspired her to forsake her life of comfort and security in favour of travelling around the world alone. This led to her being disowned by her family.

Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation expanded Lara's back story by describing how, at the age of 16, she accompanied a famous archaeologist named Werner Von Croy on an expedition to Cambodia. The events there created a rift between them, but also fostered Lara's interest in ancient civilizations and artifacts. According to the memorial statue shown in Tomb Raider Chronicles Lara was born in 1968, 28 years before the first game.

The second continuity presents a different back story. Several flashback sequences in Legend show how Lara, at the age of 9, survived a plane crash in Himalayas which led to the mysterious disappearance (and presumed death) of her mother, Amelia Croft. Lara then somehow managed to survive a ten day journey to Kathmandu where she was able to contact her father, Richard Croft. Lara spent the remainder of her childhood under the watchful eye of her father, an archaeologist who allowed Lara to accompany him on archaeological expeditions. Legend and Anniversary both strongly imply most, if not all, of these expeditions were conducted to discover what happened to Lara's mother. At the age of 18, when her father died under unknown circumstances, Lara inherited the Croft estates along with the title "Countess of Abbingdon." According to the Tomb Raider: Anniversary game manual, Lara's pursuits are motivated by the hope that she will learn the truth about her parents' deaths.

Combat experience

In most appearances, Lara Croft displays an exceptionally high level of combat skill, particularly with firearms. In Legend, for example, she is able to singlehandedly fight her way through a small army of mercenaries. How she attained such proficiency is not explained in the games.

In the film Lara Croft: Tomb Raider a photograph can be seen showing Lara at the centre of a small military unit. This, along with one of the films taglines ("Born into Wealth. Groomed by the Elite. Trained for Combat."), suggests that she may have had formal military experience. In the sequel, Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life, it is implied that she served with the Royal Marines, and that her service involved battlefield combat. However, none of the games mention or imply military service, making this explanation exclusive to Lara's film backstory.

Both the games and films do show some of Lara's personal training regimen through the various incarnations of her home, Croft Manor. In the first film, she has a dangerous combat robot that she uses for training, and in the second film, she makes a horseback marksmanship tour of her estate. In the games, Croft Manor usually features obstacle courses or a large gymnasium, typically focusing more on Lara's agility and mobility rather than direct combat.


Lara is consistently depicted as a highly confident, independent, and headstrong person. She is also very brave, rarely showing any sign of fear in very dangerous or lethal situations. Beyond this, there are a number of significant personality differences between the continuities. In the first continuity, Lara is shown as dark, enigmatic, sardonic, and even cold-blooded at times (see controversy below). In Legend, she is shown as a more light-hearted and respectful person who is more open emotionally, and is also portrayed as more feminine than the first continuity Lara. This is due in part to her higher level of interaction with people, such as her assistants, Zip and Alister, as well as people from her past. In Legend, she is also shown to have a love for dizzying heights and dangerous ancient traps, much to the dismay of Zip and Alister. In Anniversary (a remake of the first game), what is implied to be her first human kill is portrayed, and she is visibly disturbed by the incident throughout the rest of the game. By contrast, in the first Tomb Raider, she kills human antagonists without any emotional reaction whatsoever. In Legend, human beings are the most common enemies Lara encounters, and it is necessary to kill many of them to progress.

Costume and equipment

Lara's trademark costume consists of a blue-green sleeveless shirt, light brown shorts, calf-high boots, white socks, fingerless gloves, a small backpack, and a utility belt with two holsters. This outfit (or a close variation) has appeared in nearly every Tomb Raider game to date. Lara may also wear different outfits through the course of the games, such as a wet suit for a watery environment or trousers and a jacket for a colder area. However in Underworld, her original shirt is redesigned with a light-brown holter top.

In most games, Lara's default weapon is a pair of dual semi-automatic pistols. These are typically not identified in-game, though they often resemble real life firearms - for example, in promotional computer-generated photographs (as well as in-game full motion videos), they resembled Browning Hi-Powers in the first three games, Desert Eagles in the fourth and fifth installments, Heckler & Koch USP Match pistols in Legend and the upcoming Underworld, and Springfield Armory M1911s in Anniversary. Lara is usually able to acquire more powerful weapons, such as a shotgun or assault rifle, throughout the course of the games. Lara can also be seen using a grappling hook in one of the cut scenes in Tomb Raider. However, this was not a part of her standard in-game equipment until Legend, when it was a magnetic grapple attached to her belt as opposed to a traditional grappling hook. In Anniversary, the hook was more traditional, in that it wasn't magnetic, but it was still attached to Lara's belt. In Legend, Lara also employs a waterproof PDA that displays mission information.

Cultural impact

Lara Croft is considered by critics and fans alike as one of the most significant game characters in popular culture,and the most famous female video-game character, as listed by The Guinness Book of World Records.

Lara appeared in many "Lucozade" advertisements during the late 90's, and was the cover girl for popular style magazine The Face in 1997. In addition, writer Douglas Coupland dedicated a book to her, analysing the effect of her on pop culture.

Lara made a guest appearance during U2's PopMart Tour and appeared in a music video by the German punk band Die Ärzte. She has also been featured in SEAT car commercials, and three G4 commercials. In all of these appearances, Lara was represented by computer animation. Lara also appeared in a Visa commercial which featured a live-action Lara, portrayed by Sofia Vergara, interacting with her in-game counterpart. The website Education City parodies Lara Croft in a series of games starring "Klara Loft".

Lara is the subject of a song, "Amami Lara" (Love me Lara) by the Italian songwriter Eugenio Finardi. The song was presented during the 1999 edition of the Festival della canzone italiana in Sanremo. (Credit: Wikipedia).



Lauryn Eagle (FHM Lara Croft Challenge winner)


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