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Raiding Her Tombs: A conversation with the new Lara Croft



British model Karima Adebibe discusses being the latest lady to slip into Lara Croft's short-shorts

If you asked most people to attend promotional events and video game conventions dressed as Lara Croft, they'd shoot you with two guns blazin' while doing a back flip off a cliff. But not Karima Adebibe, the 20-year-old model who's been hired by Eidos Interactive to attend promotional events and video game conventions dressed as Lara Croft. In fact, she's so excited to do it that when I met up with this beautiful Brit -- who's half Moroccan, a quarter Irish, and a quarter Greek, but grew up in England - in a room at The Standard hotel in Los Angeles, she showed up in costume. And, we should add, with two guns blazing.

GameSpy: What was your first thought when you got hired to be the new Lara Croft: "They liked me, they really liked me," or "I guess my boobs are big enough?"
Karima Adebibe: Well, to be honest with you, I couldn't figure out why they chose me. I don't know if it was a lack of confidence on my part, but when I saw the competition I was up against, I thought the girls were fantastic, and were in much better shape than I was. Though I'm in better shape now than I was then. But as I've gone along with the job, as I've gotten into the role of Lara and done all the training and gotten dressed up for the part, I have come to feel as if I do deserve it.
What's funny is that I did something really stupid during the casting. They asked me if I had seen the other girls, and I don't remember doing this, but apparently I said, "Oh yeah, wait 'til you see the next two girls, they're so much better than me." And when I got the job, they asked me why I had said that, and I swear blind I didn't say it, but according to them, I did. I just don't know why.

GameSpy: Did they ask you if there was anything in your past that could be a problem? Like, did they ask if you were now, or had ever been, a member of the Communist Party?
Karima Adebibe: That was one of the questions they asked me, if I had any skeletons in my closet. But to be honest with you, I do not. I'm so kosher. They asked me if, when I was working as a model, I had ever posed naked, if I'd ever gotten my assets out for a picture. But I've never gotten my boobs out, I've never got naked for any pictures, and, for the first time, it's benefited me.

GameSpy: So has anything been done to your costume to ensure your assets won't come out on their own?
Karima Adebibe: Well, in the new game, Lara wears a brown top made of lycra and a latex top underneath, which is very tight, so she's very well supported. So I don't see how anything could pop out and say hello.

GameSpy: When you're not dressed as Lara, what do you usually wear?
Karima Adebibe: I'm a bit of a tomboy, so when I'm home, I'll slip on a pair of jeans and a t-shirt. If I have to go out and dress up, I will, but I'm not a very showy dresser. I'm not a girlie girlie at all.

GameSpy: How familiar were you with Lara before you got this gig? Had you ever played a Tomb Raider game before?
Karima Adebibe: I had, absolutely. I'm a gamer...

GameSpy: Now are you really a gamer, or did they just tell you to say that?
Karima Adebibe: I am! I can even name you games I like and what happens in them. Though my games are a bit cheesy. I like games like Crash Bandicoot and Pandemonium, and I like racing games. I used to love Doom, too. The new game I'm quite into is The Warriors. I just love it. As for Tomb Raider, I had the first one and the second one, but I didn't have the rest. I was ten years old when the first one came out, and I was really into it. I loved it.

GameSpy: What are you going to do to distinguish yourself from the other women who've worn Lara's Daisy Dukes?
Karima Adebibe: I'm probably going to be clumsy Lara because I can't eat or drink without spilling stuff on myself. Which I probably shouldn't say because Lara's a lady.

GameSpy: Since getting this job, what's the strangest reaction or comment you've gotten from a friend or loved one?
Karima Adebibe: That would have to be my dad. He didn't know who Lara Croft was, and he kept calling her Tara Toft. He kept saying "Tara Toft of Room Raiders."

GameSpy: Did he think you were going to be on that MTV show, Room Raiders?
Karima Adebibe: No, he doesn't watch MTV, he just watches the news.

GameSpy: Did anyone think that you were replacing Angelina Jolie in the movies?
Karima Adebibe: Absolutely. It still keeps happening. Which is flattering. I think Angelina Jolie is the sexiest woman. Who doesn't want to be Angelina Jolie?

GameSpy: Uh…Jennifer Aniston….
Karima Adebibe: Yeah…. But we love Jen, too.

GameSpy: Has your boyfriend asked you to wear the outfit during, well, you know?
Karima Adebibe: He hasn't, actually. No, he hasn't. And I'm not sure if I should be bothered by that.

GameSpy: I'd be more bothered if he asked you to dress like Pikachu.
Karima Adebibe: Yeah, right.

GameSpy: You mentioned that you had to go through training for this job. What kind of training have you done?
Karima Adebibe: I've had to do SAS training, combat training, elocution lessons, deportment [a.k.a manners], etiquette, media lessons, and I still have firearm training. And I have to get my motorcycle license. I actually already started my motorcycle lessons, but they failed me because I crashed into a wall.

GameSpy: Ouch! Are you alright.
Karima Adebibe: Yeah, I'm okay. I actually thought it was funny.

GameSpy: When it comes to the weapons training, are they going to show you how to shot two guns at the same time like you're in a John Woo movie?
Karima Adebibe: I hope so.

GameSpy: Are they going to show you how to shot two guns at the same time like you're in a John Woo movie while doing a back flip off a cliff?
Karima Adebibe: I don't know about that, that might take me a while to learn. But I'd like to think so.

GameSpy: Are they going to teach you how to shoot a bear?
Karima Adebibe: I wouldn't shoot a bear! Lara doesn't shoot bears. I wouldn't shoot a bear! Well, unless it was attacking me.

GameSpy: What about a really big alligator?
Karima Adebibe: If it was attacking me, yes.

GameSpy: What about a bunch of henchmen who were trying to steal the treasure you just located in an underground temple that was guarded by bears and a really big alligator?
Karima Adebibe: I'd kung-fu them. I'd kick them.

GameSpy: Do you know kung-fu?
Karima Adebibe: Uh, no. But I am going to have combat training.

GameSpy: What is the point of having you go through combat training? Is it so you can whack journalists who ask stupid questions about bears and really big alligators?
Karima Adebibe: No, I can handle you lot. I'm a bit of a tomboy. I've grown up hanging out with guys, and I've got quite a mean punch, so if any dodgy guys try to harass me, I'll kick their ass.

GameSpy: So what is the dumbest question you've been asked in an interview?
Karima Adebibe: "Are you going to learn how to you shoot two guns while doing a back flip off a cliff?"

GameSpy: Hey! That's a legitimate question!
Karima Adebibe: Heh heh heh.

GameSpy: You keep saying that you're a tomboy. What kind of tomboy-ish things do you like to do?
Karima Adebibe: I'm always out and about playing football [soccer] or tennis. I go to the gym a lot, I like to run in the park, I like to box, and I like to do yoga.

GameSpy: Have you had to work out more since you got the part?
Karima Adebibe: Yeah. I've always been quite athletic, but I've had to step it up because the outfit is very…unforgiving. The shorts are very short, and the latex is very tight.

GameSpy: Besides the training, what else have you been doing since you got the part?
Karima Adebibe: Since February 14th, which was the unveiling, I've mostly been doing interviews, which has been fun because I've been getting to put everything I've learned into practice.

GameSpy: So how long are you scheduled to be doing this?
Karima Adebibe: It was meant to be a year, but it looks like it'll go over a year.

GameSpy: Will you be at E3 this year?
Karima Adebibe: I am. I'm really excited to meet gamers.

GameSpy: Really?
Karima Adebibe: I am. I love gamers. They're so much fun.

GameSpy: Have any tried to pick you up yet using a Lara Croft-related pick-up line?
Karima Adebibe: No, they've actually been such sweethearts. They've all been perfect gentlemen.

GameSpy: Really? No one's been like, "Hey baby, I'd like to raid your tomb."?
Karima Adebibe: No, not at all. They've all been so lovely. I usually have to ask them if I can have my picture taken with them.

GameSpy: Has that been true for women as well? Because some women have dismissed Lara over the years for her outfits and her, uh, dimensions.
Karima Adebibe: No, they've been nice, too. I understand what you're saying, but I never felt that way about her. I never saw her as just boobs. I thought she was sexy and had an amazing body, but I also thought she was intelligent and rugged. She has everything.

GameSpy: So as a woman who plays games, how do you feel about the way women in games look?
Karima Adebibe: It doesn't bug me. Women have…assets. Some women have big ones, and some women have small ones. To each their own.

GameSpy: How has playing Lara at promotional events different from playing "Sacrificial Maiden" in Alien Vs. Predator?
Karima Adebibe: Well, that was a movie, so all I had to do was walk on stage one day and act. For this, I'm supposed to be the living embodiment of Lara Croft, so I get to act as Lara every day. But doing Aliens Vs. Predator was so much fun. I never thought that the little face-hugger would have two men controlling it.

GameSpy: So when it's all over, do you get to keep the outfit?
Karima Adebibe: No. There's no point in even asking. In Eidos' offices in London, they have all the outfits that the different Laras have worn over the years. So that pretty much says it. But I will have this all-in-one Ducati leather motorcycle suit, and since I started this, I've really gotten a taste for motorcycles, and I think I'm going to get myself a bike, so I'm going to be dropping a lot of hints about that leather motorcycle suit. I'd like to keep that one.

Source: Gamespy.com, by Paul Semel

To visit Karima's mini page click HERE