Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft

Pretty much every big name actor in Hollywood has that one role they look back on as the role that really pushed their career forward. For Angelina Jolie, that role just might be Lara Croft in the iconic film adaptation of the video game Tomb Raider. It may be one of the most widely recognized female-led adventure franchises; plenty of millennial girls likely grew up wearing their hair in a long braid at some point and wanted to be Lara Croft. Jolie, though, apparently wasn’t so sure that she wanted to be Croft, and she now explains why she almost passed on the role - although it’s safe to say she’s plenty glad she didn’t!

Tomb Raider was one of Angelina Jolie’s first big roles and, while the actress had already won an Oscar, the action fllm thrusted her into true blockbuster territory and labeled her as a strong woman capable of taking on badass roles. In an interview with Collider though, Jolie reveals that she originally didn’t think she would be a good fit to play Lara Croft and explained what convinced her to change her mind and take on the fan-favorite character. Here’s what the actress/producer/director said exactly:

I said, ‘I really didn’t feel like that character suited me.’ I actually didn’t at first want to do it; I said no. But they said you can travel the world and train with the British Military and so I had three months of seeing what I could do. And I would encourage anybody to do that. Sign up for as much as you can, give yourself a few months, push yourself to the limit and see, ‘What can I do?’ And you find that there’s a lot you didn’t know and some crazy, weird things you can do or you’re capable of, so I love it.

The woman who almost said no to Tomb Raider because the role did not suit her may have existed 20 years ago, but the Angelina Jolie we’ve seen on screen since then couldn’t be more an epitomization of Lara Croft. Today, Jolie is known for doing a lot of her own stunts and has played a number of strong, badass female leads. She’s a figure who has helped pave the way for women in Hollywood and arguably helped open up the action genre for women even further, following in the footsteps of Sigourney Weaver and Linda Hamilton.

By pushing herself to become Lara Croft and finding exactly what she was and is capable of, Angelina Jolie has gone on to not only play strong and daring characters but to write and produce them as well. More recently though, she has gone back to acting, and her character in the recently released film Those Who Wish Me Dead is another perfect example of the strength she portrays.

In Those Who Wish Me Dead (which is now playing in theaters and on HBO Max), Angelina Jolie plays a smokejumper who parachuted into forest fires to help fight them. But when she crosses paths with a boy in need, she finds herself fighting assassins as well as fire. Without Lara Croft, who knows if we would have gotten to see this latest role of Jolie's at all, as the Tomb Raider character seems to have both taken her career to new heights and helped her find the strength within herself.

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