Lifelong Tomb Raider fan Phoebe Waller-Bridge has opened up about adapting Lara Croft for her upcoming Prime Video series.
Back in April — before the ongoing Writers Guild of America (WGA) strike — Waller-Bridge sat down with Joy Press of Vanity Fair. During the newly-published interview, Waller-Bridge discussed developing the upcoming Tomb Raider series, as well as her teenage addiction to the original video games. “My parents were very smart because they didn’t actually limit me. They could sense that I was going to just game myself into the ground, and I did,” Waller-Bridge said. “I packed the PlayStation away, and I was like, ‘I’ve got to not do that because I’ve got to write and read and do other stuff.’”
Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s love for Lara Croft
Despite hanging up her PlayStation controller, Waller-Bridge maintained a love for the character of Lara Croft. “She had an attitude. She was very deliberate in what she wanted to do,” the Solo: A Star Wars Story alum said. “That all changed when they realized that they could market her to be a sex symbol.” Nevertheless, Waller-Bridge dove back into Tomb Raider during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. So, it seemed like fate when Amazon asked her to pen a small-screen adaptation.
“God, it literally felt like that teenager in me saying: Do right by her, do right by Lara!” Waller-Bridge recalled. “The opportunity to have, as we were talking earlier, a female action character … Having worked on [James] Bond and having worked as an actor on [Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny], I feel like I’ve been building up to this. What if I could take the reins on an action franchise, with everything I’ve learned, with a character I adore, and also just bring back some of that ’90s vibe?”
Phoebe Waller Bridge’s thoughts on rebooting Tomb Raider
Press asked Waller-Bridge if she was hesitant to contribute to the current trend of remakes and reboots in Hollywood. “I feel like when you’re working in the industry, you’ve got to ride the waves and lean in,” Waller-Bridge replied. “There’s room to do something really quite dangerous. And if I can do something dangerous and exciting with Tomb Raider, I already have an audience of people who love Lara and hopefully will continue to. And that is a very unusual position to be in. It’s the old Trojan horse.”
Notably, as a writer, Waller-Bridge is no stranger to referencing breasts in her works. However, there was apparently a heated debate in the Tomb Raider writers’ room regarding whether Lara should have her classic busty figure, or an athletic build in line with the more modern games. Waller-Bridge’s stance on the matter is clear. “She’s a tomb raider, so she’s incredibly fit,” she said. “She has to squeeze through tiny rock crevices all the time. It is a different experience squeezing through a small rock crevice when you have larger boobs than if you have smaller boobs.”
Tomb Raider returns to live-action
The Tomb Raider video game franchise consists of 12 main-series games and a number of spin-offs. The original game released in 1996 and spawned eight follow-ups through 2008. The franchise was rebooted with a new main-series game in 2013, which would prove to be the first installment in a trilogy that concluded in 2018.
The franchise was first adapted into live-action via the 2001 Paramount film Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, which was based on the early games and starred Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft. Jolie reprised her role for the 2003 sequel, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider – The Cradle of Life. MGM and Warner Bros. rebooted the live-action series with the 2018 film Tomb Raider. Starring Alicia Vikander as Lara Croft, the 2018 film was primarily based on the 2013 reboot game.
In January 2023, news broke that Amazon — the new publisher of the Tomb Raider video games — had tapped Waller-Bridge to pen a live-action series adaptation for Prime Video. Amazon is also reportedly developing a new Tomb Raider film, which will tie into both the Prime Video series and the next Tomb Raider game as part of a shared universe.