Simon West



Director, Simon West has been responsible for hit films including Con-Air and The General's Daughter. Nick Smithson caught up with him on the set of the Tomb Raider movie...

Nick Smithson: Had you played any of the Tomb Raider games before you agreed to be involved with the movie?

Simon West: Yes I had. I'm not a computer games addict or anything - I don't have much time to sit down and play video games - but I think that Tomb Raider is one of the best games I have played. I found it to be intelligent, creative and incredibly good fun.

NS: Why did you pick Angelina Jolie to play the title role? And did you have any trouble convincing her to ger involved?

SW: Angelina is a very talented actress. She's really thrown herself into the role. She's trained really hard. She physically embodies the character so well that I sometimes forget that she's not Lara Croft. She's got everything perfect - even her accent and mannerisms are perfect. I've never seen an actor change so much so quickly - she is brilliant.

NS: Ah, so from that can we assume that Lara will retain her Britishness?

SW: Oh yes, absolutely. In actual fact that is what first attracted me to the movie. But don't worry, we're not about to portray England in a cliche'd Hollwood style - there will be no badly acted cockney characters like Dyke Van Dyke's attempt in Mary Poppins. No, we are focussing on Lara's character in a much more realistic way.

NS: So how real will it be?

SW: Well, we are shooting in some beatiful locations to give it a grounding in reality, but the movie does rely very much on the fantasy element. So the audience will get to see a realistic world mixed with a little bit of Hollywood magic.

NS: You mentioned exotic locations, and the comparisson with the Indiana Jones movies must be something that will hound you. Lara's games are based around Egypt and India, like Indiana Jones. How will you silence fans who say "it's just a female version of Indiana Jones"?

SW: Hmm, that's an interesting question. Sure, the parellel between the two movies will be drawn and Tomb Raider will probably also be compared to The Mummy. However, when we considered locations we wanted Tomb Raider to look different from similar types of movies. You are so right, audiences are so used to seeing Egypt, India and even Greece on the big screen. We wanted to change this and so we chose to film in Iceland and Cambodia as they provided many environments rarely seen in action films.

NS: What do you think will most please the audience about the movie? Will it please Tomb Raider fans, or are you going for a wider audience?

SW: Hmm, it's hard to say because there are a lot of elements in this movie which will surprise the audience. I think that the film's scale, the complexity of the plot and how involving the characters are will all be surprising to people, be they fans of the computer games or not.

NS: What would you say was the biggest influence for you that helped you to set the feel for this movie?

SW: I'd have to say that the classic quest movies and big epics have always been inspirational to me. Inparticular Dr. Zhivago, Lawrence of Arabia and The Conformist. We also cam up with a range of new and interesting ways to surprise the audience with different styles of action which they won't have seen before. This was hard form both a creative and technical level.

NS: The music from the games was well scored, especially the main theme. Is this something which you will be taking from the game and giving a fully orchastrated treatment? Or will you be looking for a new score entirely?

SW: The music is something which is incredibly important to me. I plan on relying upon a number of music sources. We won't simply be having one single composer for the movie, but we will be creating entirely new music and not borrowing from the game.

NS: Thank you for your time and good luck with the launch