Paramount Pictures acquired the film rights for Tomb Raider in 1998, which was released as Lara Croft : Tomb Raider in 2001. Producer Lloyd Levin stated that the film makers tried to capture the essence of the video game elements rather than duplicate them. Acknowledging the character’s “huge fan base” and recognizable appearance, director Simon West sought an actress with acting ability as well as physical attributes similar to Croft. Paramount also received input from developer Core Design on casting. Rumoured actresses included Pamela Anderson, Demi Moore, Jeri Ryan and Carla Pivonski.
Academy Award-winning actress Angelina Jolie was eventually cast to play Lara Croft. She had not been a fan of the character, but considered the role as a “big responsibility”, citing anxiety about fans’ high expectations. Producer Lawrence Gordon felt she was a perfect fit for the role. Jolie braided her hair and used minimal padding to increase her bust a cup size to 36D for the role. She felt that Croft’s video game proportions were unrealistic, and wanted to avoid showing such proportions to young girls. Jolie trained rigorously for the action scenes required for the role, occasionally sustaining injuries. Her training focused on practicing the physical skills necessary to perform the film’s stunts. The difficulty of the training and injuries discouraged her, but she continued working through production. Jolie also encountered difficulties when working the guns, bungee jumping, and manoeuvring with the braid. West had not anticipated that Jolie would do her own stunts, and was impressed, as was stunt coordinator Simon Crane, by the effort she put into them.
Angelina Jolie reprised her role for a sequel, Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life. Directed by Jan de Bont, the 2003 film focused more on the character’s development. De Bont praised Jolie’s understanding of Lara Croft, as well as the character’s strength, saying he “hates women in distress.” Producer Levin commented that the film staff tried to handle the character properly, and consulted with the video game developers on what would be appropriate. Despite the second film’s poor reception, Paramount remained open to releasing a third. Jolie was still optioned to play the character in a third film as late as 2007, though she had commented in 2004 that she had no intention of reprising the role again. Development for a third movie was announced in 2009, with Dan Lin as the producer. However, a new actress is currently being sought to play the title character. Lin intends to reboot the film series with a young Croft in an origin story. In 2011, Olivia Wilde denied rumors that she would play the role, but still expressed interest. The film, originally meant for a 2013 release, is currently to be produced by Graham King, written by Marti Noxon and produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Meyer in partnership with King’s studio GK Films.