Behind the Scenes - An Interview With Lara's Script Writer (1998)
- GameSpot.co.uk -
Vicky Arnold is the women behind Lara Croft. Every time you see an interview with Lara the answers are taken from Vicky's script.
In this exclusive interview she tells us what working at Core is like, her views on Lara, and her thoughts on a Tomb Raider movie.
Could you tell us how you came to work for Core Design?
I think I was happily reading Empire on the beach after completing a degree in Film writing at Bournemouth, when I saw an advert in it for this job. Neither the Asda bakery or a local sandwich shop had wanted to employ me so I figured I'd apply.
What does your role as Script writer entail?
I'm involved with the story aspect of the Tomb Raider games, writing the action and dialogue for the FMV's, cut-scenes and in-game speech and getting the voices recorded with Nathan the musician. I also receive quite a few interview questions for Lara from magazines.
Did you always want to be a writer?
No. I became interested in films at about 15, but while I wrote short stories and stuff, I never really thought about the poor souls who actually wrote scripts. I was more interested in the production side of film-making until I got on my college course.
Do you play computer games?
Not much. I like to muck about with them for a bit but I'm never prepared to invest enough time into them. I did get caught out recently with Pandemonium; I didn't like the look of it much but I just couldn't stop playing it.
What's a typical day at Core-Design like?
Depends entirely on what stage of the project I'm at. Initial stages are very team-discussion orientated, then later, I shut myself in my room and stare at a blank screen... Highlight of the day is trying to persuade Brian Tomczyk that it's exciting to walk into Derby at lunchtime.
Do you work on any of Core's other games?
Yes, I'm available for any of the projects. Tomb Raider obviously takes up the most time but I've also worked on Swagman and did a little bit for Ninja.
What are the Tomb Raider development team like to work with?
The team is always very motivated and so the only problems really come from having to simplify an overload of ideas.
How much input have do you have into Lara's character?
When I first arrived at Core, Lara was already running about with her 9mms, fully intent on massacring furry animals...but the rest of her character was a bit vague. Toby was always keen on her being upper-class, so I wrote a history and profile for Lara, basically to find how someone from her finishing school background could end up doing what she does.
How much input did you have into the plot of the Tomb Raider games?
The plot premise is really the teams - and they decide on the locations they want to see in the game. My job is to make this all work structurally; getting Lara from one location to another in the most interesting way and revealing the right information at the right time.
How do you get ideas for Lara's character, is she based on a person or persons?
I certainly don't know anyone like her. I do remember thinking that Fyona Campbell, who was on a TV documentary at the time, was an interesting comparison considering her background, but she was always just so pissed off. Lara's tone of delivery really came from Wesley in The Princess Bride and also a bit from Benton Fraiser in Due South - though Fraiser relates stories about his grandmother in a time of crisis, while Lara just lets rip with her guns.
What are the weirdest questions that you have been asked?
'Are you, of have you ever been, a member of the communist party?' and 'Have you ever spent time in a Turkish prison?', both from an American Magazine; 'Bikini', I think.
Why is Lara's ideal man Brian Blessed?
Toby's initial character analysis of Lara was something like: 'Lara likes to work with underprivileged children and the mentally disabled. She has a degree in needlework and loves to travel. Lara's one wish is to ski down Everest with Brian Blessed strapped to her back'. The degree in needlework got lost along the way, but magazines are always probing about Lara's ideal man and Brian seemed a likely source of interest for Lara who'd admire his perseverance in trying to climb Everest.
Who do you think should play Lara in a Tomb Raider movie?
Personally, if a film was made, I'd prefer to see a computer-animated one because I think that Lara is best played by herself. But if it was live-action, then it would have to be someone with a convincing upper-class British accent who can look truly at ease with a pair of Uzis.
What relationships do you see between a script for a possible movie and Tomb Raider games?
I think Lara would need to remain as true to the game character as possible in terms of her style and the way in which she reacts to certain situations, else you could easily lose the connection with the game and be watching just another adventure movie. Obviously the exotic locations Lara finds herself in are a strong part of her lifestyle and like the games, I don't think a film should give much reference to the everday world beyond Lara's own home and the characters she meets. Lara shopping in Oxford street would spoil her enigma a bit.
Do you get much feedback from female Lara fans, and if so what?
The only feedback I've had is from friends I've talked to and most seem to find Lara an amusingly proportioned individual who does cool stuff. One girl told me about how within a group of male and female students playing the game together, it was actually the girls who were cornering Lara and sniggering at her double D's... which disturbed me somewhat...
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