Lara Croft interview (September 13)

OXM talks to Alison Carroll about being Lara Croft, SAS training and that 'rolling over the beam thing'

A new Tomb Raider game means a new Lara Croft model and Tomb Raider: Underworld is no exception.

This time, it's the turn of Alison Carroll, plucked from her job as a receptionist in Croydon to become the new face of Lara Croft.

OXM caught up with Lar... sorry, Alison Carroll to ask her about life as the English tomb raider and find out how she's settled into the famous boots of the global videogames icon!

So let's get the ball rolling... were you into your gaming in any way before you got this gig?
Well, I have been playing the games, I've played the first three but I'm definitely better at doing my own thing [laughs]

So you've played on all the consoles?
Well my brother has all the consoles so I'm always round at his house, playing with his friends

Well do you have a favourite game?
A favourite game? Tomb Raider, obviously! [laughs]

Obviously! So Lara Croft is this kind of cult figure, its quite a big role for you...
Completely, it is a huge responsibility and a big privilege really to be playing the iconic role of Lara Croft but I'm ready for the challenge, I've been in Germany all this week and yeah, I'm really enjoying it.

So you feel that you're up there with say Angelina Jolie and the other people who have played her?
Well, previously the models have been very static and I've been taken on because of my gymnastic ability. In the game she's been motion captured, so her movements are more fluid and more believable, so as the model I'm doing that as well. I'm bringing the athletic side as well as the model, so I've got my own little Lara routine that I do, I don't know if you saw it earlier?

Um, no I haven't seen it, no.
No? So I've got like, combat and I've got back flips, all the sorts of things you see Lara do in the game.

Oh, I was going to say, so all that rolling over the beam thing she does, you can do that as well?
Absolutely.

Marvellous. Okay. Obviously in the game Lara goes sort of all over the place, like Mexico and Cambodia and all that...
She goes to some fabulous places doesn't she, and I think im gonna be following in her footsteps because I'm going... well I'm in Germany at the moment obviously, then I'm going to Australia, then I'm going to Tokyo and south Africa, Dubai and Singapore. So I'm gonna be all over the place.

So you're gonna be just as well travelled as she is.
Exactly, yeah.

And obviously, as well as meeting lots of people that need to be shot, she meets lots of animal, tigers, spiders and sharks... would you fancy your chances of going up against that sort of thing?
Well, I'm gonna be doing SAS training and obviously fire arms training and even a crash course in archaeology. So as well as my athletic abilities, I'm gonna have all these firearm skills... so yeah, all the skills to hopefully make the ultimate Lara Croft!

So have you done any firearms stuff or anything like that before?
I've been paintballing [laughs] But I'm gonna be doing all the firearm training in the next couple of months and that's gonna be over in New Zealand, so I'm really looking forward to that.

So is this gonna be ongoing?
Well I'm going to be promoting Tomb Raider round the world, which comes out on November 21st and then after that we'll just have to wait and see.

As you do the sort of motion capture side of the game, how do you think you compare to her in the actual gymnastic prowess? Well I can do everything that she can do/ I represented Great Britain doing display gymnastics, so I've travelled up and down the country, so you know I've got a lot of experience in these boots [laughs]

Obviously you've been wearing the uniform for a while now, do you think it would be practical for the business of raiding tombs? Yeah I think so. We've got nice heavy duty boots and we've got our pistols and our backpack. So yeah, I'm ready for action!

Well, you know it's rare to have practical costumes for characters in games.
Lara's actually got new outfits for this game. She's got trousers and you can see over there that she's got a long sleeve top, she's got a swimsuit, a diving outfit for underwater which you'll see in some of the photo shoots that I've done. I've done underwater shoots, so yeah.

So they have all been bespoke made for you?
They've all been tailor made yes, Lara wouldn't have anything else [laughs]

I mean Lara's been famous for being one of the female characters in games and she's famous for being into guns and all that, do you think it's important to have strong characters like that?
I think it definitely is, she shows confidence, independence, she shows strength of character, she's got this athletic ability, which makes her appealing to men and women aspire to be her, so she's the ultimate gaming figure.

You haven't shot any guns yet, but do you have any experience in destroying stately homes or anything?
[laughs] Not yet

Could be good publicity you know.
We'll have to see about that. But the game, you know, you're in for a real treat with the game.

So previously as a gymnast, did you ever think you were gonna do all this high profile media thing?
No, no. Well when I was younger I always wanted to play an action hero but one who could do her own stunts and you don't really see that, you know, ever. So promoting Tomb Raider around the world and playing the part of Lara Croft has given me that opportunity.

And do you hope that this is something that you can do beyond just promoting the game?
Well yeah, at the moment I'm concentrating on Lara Croft but in the future I'd love to be able to do films and television, we'll just have to wait and see.

Do you have any kind of experience of that before or did this pretty much come along out of the blue?
I've had training as an actress and since my training I've been a receptionist, so this is my first big gig, as it were, you know, taking Lara to a new level.

And because this is the role of an attractive female character and there may be, you know, some crude remarks on the internet, how are you going to deal with that?
(Eidos PR) Don't even go there.

Okay. So anything else you want to say about the experience of playing Lara?
I'm absolutely loving it [laughs] Don't want it to end.

So when does it end? I mean obviously the game is out in November.
The 21st.

Yeah, but will there be any kind of promotional stuff after?
There'll be all sorts of travelling all round the world, so yeah, there's lots of promotions going on.

So you think you're gonna be doing it for a while?
I hope so.

Okay, cool. Well, that's me done.
Thank you very much.

Source: oxm.co.uk, by Jon Hicks