You Could Most Likely Beat The Real Lara Croft, Camilla Luddington, In Tomb Raider

“Some of the tougher stuff that I filmed was towards the end of the game and I haven’t reached there yet,” said Luddington. “That will be interesting for me because I almost feel like things get worse before they get any better.”
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I’ve been covering the so-called “convergence” of Hollywood and video games for over 20 years for outlets like Reuters, CNN, Entertainment Weekly, The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. Over that time, I’ve interviewed a lot of celebrities about video game projects or gaming, in general. Often times when an actor is attached to a video game movie, or plays a role in a big game, he (and especially she) isn’t much of a gamer. So the associated interviews aren’t always fun.

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Camilla Luddington, who currently stars in Grey’s Anatomy but who you’ve also seen a lot of in Californication and True Blood, is a fun person to interview. I’ve actually interviewed the actress twice, once at San Diego Comic-Con last year and again recently on the eve of the official launch of Tomb Raider. Luddington, who provided the voice, facial expressions and performance capture for the new Lara Croft, takes her game seriously.

“It’s so funny because I get so mad from playing with her because I know what I need to do, like I need to get to this lighthouse, but then I can’t always remember how to do it,” said Luddington, laughing. “It’s like, ‘How the f*ck do I get up there to do it.’  I have those moments. It’s even more frustrating for me because I know what’s coming, but I mean I’m still pretty bad at it. But I’m getting there.”

Luddington joked that she’s glad Crystal Dynamics hired acclaimed video game writer Rhianna Pratchett, who previously penned Mirror’s Edge and Heavenly Sword, to write the game’s dialogue because if it was up to her, Lara would have a very foul mouth.

You can understand Luddington having flashbacks from playing the game. She spent three years working on this project. And having done the performance capture for the game, that meant Luddington had to hang upside down in the game’s opening sequence and fall – just like Lara did.

“Some of the tougher stuff that I filmed was towards the end of the game and I haven’t reached there yet,” said Luddington. “That will be interesting for me because I almost feel like things get worse before they get any better.”

With Eidos Montreal adding multiplayer to the game, Luddington is open to jumping online and taking on gamers. And unlike many Hollywood gamers, she’d wouldn’t use an alias.

“I don’t know why I’d do it incognito,” said Luddington. “I’d just go like, ‘What up?’ I’m sure it would be very amusing to play against Lara Croft, herself, and do better than her because – almost everybody is.”

There have been a lot of comparisons between Lara Croft, a game character who has successfully translated to Hollywood films thanks to Angelina Jolie, and Indiana Jones, a movie franchise that has had several successful games. But who’d win in a fight?

“Clearly, Lara would kick his butt,” said Luddington. “It would take a whole lot more than snakes to scare her. That’s what I say to that. As a kid I played Temple of Doom all the time and I’m a huge Indiana Jones fan, but I think that Lara Croft is a bad ass and I’m not sure if Indy’s whip is long enough. He would be challenged.”

With GK Films, which is best known these days for the Oscar-winning Argo, working on a big screen reboot of Tomb Raider based on the new game, Luddington would love to reprise the role in the live action film.

“As an actress I feel like I will fight as much as I can to get that role,” said Luddington. “The competition for something like that will be huge because I don’t think that there’s any girl in Hollywood that doesn’t want to be Lara Croft. But I do feel like I’ve helped originate the character and so it would be tough to lose it to somebody else and not have the opportunity to translate it in film. I think it’s great either way. If I’m not a part of the film and I just get to go watch it in the theater it will be incredible because I know that I’ve been part of that past.”

Given the critical accolades (an 86 Metacritic rating) and strong sales (over 1 million games sold in its first 48 hours), it’s likely publisher Square Enix will greenlight more Tomb Raider games.

“I hope this is the beginning,” said Luddington. “I think it will be.”

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John Gaudiosi
John Gaudiosi has been covering the video game business for over 20 years for outlets like The Washington Post, Reuters, Fortune, AOL and CNN. He's EIC of video game site