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TOMB RAIDER

Angelina Is Lara Croft
As one of the most experienced stunt coor dinators in the world, with "Saving Private Ryan," "Titanic," "The World Is Not Enough" and "Vertical Limit" among his recent credits, Simon Crane was obviously a natural choice as stunt coordinator as well as second unit director on "Lara Croft: Tomb Raider." As such, he was the man who turned Angelina Jolie into an action hero for the new millennium. "The challenge is always to try and make the action different, because there is no point in repeating yourself," says Crane. "When your hero is a woman, your approach is inevitably different."

Jolie's training period commenced three months prior to the start of shooting. Crane and his team devised a training program that concentrated on multiple disciplines: fight training, weapons training, motorbike riding, gymnastics, canoeing, husky dog racing, bungee training and, for relaxation, yoga.

Jolie remembers, "They said, 'No, you're not going to pretend to know how to do this; you're going to be living like her; you're going to do the things she does. So we're going to train you.' We had military weapons training, which wasn't just shooting. It was taking weapons apart, putting them back together, and so on. Boxing training, strength training. We rode motorcycles. I canoed up and down the Thames river. I learned how to kick box."

"We had to build up her physical strength and body tone. We put her on a strict diet and training scheme," says Crane. "We weren't going for the stylized Hong Kong type fighting; it was mean street fighting. When Lara Croft punches someone, he doesn't come back," he adds. "She has done so much and the thing with her is that she does learn quickly, she knows exactly what she wants and what she is capable of doing."

The bungee ballet sequence is entirely Angelina's effort. "There were no doubles involved at all," Crane continues. "She spent a long time learning that sequence and it is all totally her, no trickery. She did extremely well. It is very painful to do because the harness needs to be very tight."

Inevitably, no leading performer is allowed to do everything herself, although on "Lara Croft: Tomb Raider," Jolie does more of her own action than most actors would attempt.

Clearly, Simon Crane is a big fan of Jolie's, admiring the fearless way she tackled the project. "This has always been a cross between Indiana Jones and James Bond for me," he says. "We wanted to make Lara the kind of woman you would never want to meet in a dark alley - but then again - you would! She is so sexy. But if you fight her, she will finish you off."

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