Tomb Raider Time

Chris Barrie talks about his movie debut.

22 June, 2001

Tomb Raider mania looks set to strike across the globe, and Red Dwarf's own Chris Barrie has been talking to the waiting world about his experiences on what looks set to be one of the summer's hottest blockbusters.

"Obviously it was, I thought, a very good idea for [a] movie," said the actor. "Actually, it was one of those things where you can't understand why people haven't done it already, you know? Even now I'm still thinking, 'Am I really in [this]? Surely this is just another sit-com, really. Is it?' But no, it isn't. It's big bananas. And it's what I've really always wanted to do. There seems to have been a tradition - Gielgud stands out, of course - of English or British actors playing butlers in big movies. I don't call it butler so much, I call it more [a] P.A. type figure than [a] butler."

Tomb Raider Time

Chris will be playing Hillary, butler to Lara Croft (Angelina Jolie) herself. "Bryce and Hillary, [are] almost a double-act type thing, in support of Lara at Croft Manor," says Chris of hectic computer boffin Bryce, played by Noah Taylor. "It is a prickly relationship. Bryce is messy, he's wound up in all this techno nonsense - all stuff that Hillary regards as just being for geeks, really. Hillary is onto another level with the Tai Chi and this sort of philosophical sort of notion he has of life. And, of course, Bryce is really just his servant, you know: 'Come along, cabin boy. Let?s get on with the decorating.'"

"Hillary's the disciplinarian, the sort of calm leader, if you like - or he thinks he is. Bryce is this sort of head-scratching, grungy techno-boy. Complete opposites. It's going to be fun discovering further that relationship. Bryce is programming these droids to leap out at any time and confront her, put her under immense pressure to keep her in tip-top shape for the eventual mission."

How does Chris look at the Hillary character? "He's, he's quite a cool guy, really. He's quite long-suffering in terms of what Bryce, Lara and the droids are sort of doing to Croft Manor. Because he wants to keep that ship-shape; he wants to sort of keep it in good order."

Tomb Raider Time

"He loves Lara. He wants to protect her all the time. I think he probably knew Lord Croft [played by Jolie's real-life father, John Voight] pretty well, and sympathises with Lara and her reminiscences of her dad and everything. But underneath it all is a simmering eagerness to be all part of it. Then when [it] comes to handling the pump-action shotgun, we see another side of Hillary that maybe one day might need to be called to action further. Who knows?"

Tomb Raider II? With a franchise like this, anything is possible. Chris seems keen to return to the set, too, having had such a good time on this one. "There seems to be less pressure when you come to actually doing the takes. [Although] there's probably immense pressure being felt in the corridors, in the offices, etc. etc."

"There is that time to talk a few things through," he continues. "If you do want to talk about a line, you don't get a look saying, 'This is not the time to talk about it. The time to talk about it was on Monday when we were rehearsing this, lovey.' There's much more of a feel of, 'Okay, yeah, we can talk about that.' It might differ from director to director, but certainly with Simon [West], it's a very easy-going approach - which I think is essential to create the atmosphere for an actor to do good work."

Tomb Raider Time

Was the size of the film imposing to an actor best know for his TV work? "You go into a big film stage - a big shed, ostensibly - and someone has built this extraordinary manor house. It never ceases to amaze me; the whole thing is just absolutely fantastic. Every time I walk in there, I just sort of pinch myself, 'This is actually real. Someone?s built this for this movie.'"

And what of the eponymous Lara Croft herself, Angelina Jolie? "She seems prepared for just about anything anyone wants to throw at her. For someone in her mid-twenties, it's an extraordinary, challenging role. She's playing English, she's doing the bungee ballet, the gun stunts, all that sort of thing. She seems to be grabbing it by the horns. That's brilliant - and she's a normal, nice, decent girl with it."

Tomb Raider Time

"Tomb Raider is a thing for the kids mainly," Chris adds of the audience for the film. "I guess it was possibly in Simon's mind that he wanted to cast younger people in it. Bearing in mind that there is this sort of cult feel about the whole thing. Red Dwarf, of course, is similar in many ways. It is also a cult kind of thing - lots of web sites for that and lots of web sites for this."

Not least of all this one! So with eager fans poised, is Chris confident about the movie's success? "Here is this all-action girl, attractive in pixel form - definitely even more attractive in Angelina form. It's James Bond [and] Indiana Jones rolled into a young, attractive, modern girl. That's got to be a winner. It's going to have something unique about it. It's going to be a spectacular piece of cinema."

Tomb Raider Time

Lara Croft's Tomb Raider opens in the UK on July 6th, following a June 15th premiere in the States. Australia is nicely sandwiched in between with a June 21st release.

Previous news on Chris' involvement with the Tomb Raider movie can be found in the News Archive.

A link to the Lara Croft's Tomb Raider site is available in the Links section.

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