Getting to Know Shelley Blond (Original Voice Actress for Lara Croft)

June 05, 2016 Kate Sykes 0 Comments

To celebrate the launch of The Digger’s Daughter, I think it’s only right to open with a special interview with one of the people who made Tomb Raider happen.

It’s been 20 years since we saw, well, heard Shelley Blond as Lara Croft in the first Tomb Raider game. I had a chat with her to get to know her better and see where life has taken her since voicing the now iconic character.

TDD: Let’s start at the beginning. What was it that made you want to go into voice acting?

SB: It was actually a total wonderful fluke. I was acting as Patsy Cline in the West End musical about Roy Orbison called Only The Lonely and a voice over agent came back stage after a show and said she liked my singing voice and accents and asked if I had a voice over agent. I didn’t and she signed me up. Since the day I was signed I have been incredibly lucky, working constantly. It’s a field I never thought about working in before and yet it’s become my passion and hobby as well as my job. I use all my acting skills within my voice jobs as well as using all my different accents. Every day is different and exciting and fun. To have a job that still thrills me and makes me excited to get up for is incredible.

TDD: Did you do any training? If so, where did you study?

EXCLUSIVE: Shelley with Fred Astaire in LA.
SB: I used to do a lot of amateur theatre as a kid and when I finished all my exams my parents agreed that I could do a performing arts course at Italia Conti. It was the one school at the time which covered everything I was interested in…singing, acting and dancing. I did one year there and never stopped working from the day I left. I would audition for everything in the Stage Newspaper and things took off from there. I never trained as a voice artiste. I think it is a gift and a skill and you either can do it or you can’t.

TDD: Who was your childhood hero?

SB: My two heroes were Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. I spent many an hour watching them dance together on screen and even happened to meet Fred when I visited LA with my family. We had a little shoe shuffle together and I was literally floating on air!!

TDD: So what happened after working on Tomb Raider? Have any opportunities arisen from being Lara Croft?

SB: I can't honestly say opportunities have come from it. Voice-wise, no-one ever asked for the voice of Lara and my TV jobs were mostly comedy…so that׳s not Lara at all!! I did one job with Trouble TV called Room Raider…presenting it…where I went into teenagers’ bedrooms and redesigned them, but even though Tomb Raider and Room Raider sound very similar, it wasn’t connected.

EXCLUSIVE: Presenting on Trouble TV.

TDD: Do you know any of the other Lara Croft voice actresses?

SB: I know of all of them. Keeley [Hawes] because she's a fabulous actress and Judith [Gibbins] only because she took over from me, but Jonell Elliot and I are great friends. We met doing Elvis The Musical on the West End Stage and we didn’t stop laughing from the moment we met until the end of the contract. We've stayed in touch ever since and although we don’t speak all the time we are always there for each other and love each other very much. She is so sweet that she even rang me to ask if it was ok with me if she took the job as Lara for game 4. I often see her around on the voice over circuit and we always stop for cuddles and belly laughs. She's an absolute peach.

Shelley as Jenny's boss, Geraldine, in Cold Feet.

TDD: Have you done any acting out of the sound booth?

SB: I started my career acting and I fell into the voice thing. I am lucky enough that I have done everything I have ever wanted to do. Musicals in the West End. (Only the Lonely and Elvis the Musical) Presenting on Trouble TV (T99 and Trouble at Breakfast and Room Raiders) and CITV (It’s A Mystery) Roughly 15 high profile commercials (including ones for David Gray White Ladder, Toffee Crisp Clusters, Pot Noodle) and acted in some fabulous comedies…as Jenny's boss Geraldine in Cold Feet, as Steve Coogan’s PA in Cruise of the Gods and as Jez's saucy girlfriend in Peep Show as well as of course the usual The Bill and Casualty shows like most actresses.

TDD: Now some more fun questions. What’s your favourite film?

SB: Wow. I have many favourite films. But if I had to mention a few then Life Is Beautiful, To Kill A Mockingbird and Django Unchained. Ooh can I squeeze in The Wizard of Oz and West Side Story too? And Some Like It Hot? I'd better stop there. Too many to mention!!!!

TDD: Favourite actor/actress?

SB: I love JLaw [Jennifer Lawrence] and Ryan Gosling. I'd watch anything with Jason Bateman in. For old movies I love Marilyn Monroe, Marlon Brando.

TDD: Favourite song/artist?

EXCLUSIVE: Shelley as Amelia (right) in Disney's Spooky Sisters.
SB: I’m a huge fan of Bruno Mars. He can do no wrong in my eyes. I have a wide range of musical loves…Anything from the 50's and 60's through to hip hop, funk jazz, house and garage but NOT trance. I admit to seeing Barry Manilow 5 times in concert, Prince 3 times, Duran Duran once, Harry Connick Junior 4 times and Michael Jackson and Madonna once each.

TDD: What hobbies do you have?

SB: My hobbies have changed a lot since having kids. Now it’s reading with them or creating fun handmade projects. I still love reading …I soak up books…and shopping. I'm a sucker for a charity shop or flea market. Is shopping a legit hobby?

TDD: Any guilty pleasures?

SB: Charity shops. I cannot walk by one without going in for a rummage. And chocolate digestives. And Coronation Street. Ooh…and TOWIE [The Only Way is Essex].

TDD: You actually resemble your version of Lara Croft. Have you ever sneakily dressed up as her for parties or Halloween?

The Bill.
SB: Hahahah!! Lara and I have NOTHING in common looks-wise at all (although that’s very kind) except we are female and have lips eyes and a nose, but I'll take that compliment and run with it!! I have never dressed up as her although my friend Charlotte did once and looked incredible. I'm a huge
fan of dressing up…I used to fly every year (before [having] kids) to NYC just for Halloween. I could run a Halloween shop. My kids love my Dress Up Box. It’s heaven for them. All my friends borrow costumes for fancy dress parties.

TDD: In closing, what’s next for you?

SB: I just want to continue doing what I do. I'm very content and happy with my lot. Taking immense pleasure in my job and to continue getting varied jobs to voice. I am one lucky lady.

TDD: Thank you so much for chatting to me, Shelley! It was a genuine pleasure.

SB: Thank YOU very much, Kate.

If you’d like to keep up with Shelley’s adventures, you can follow her on Twitter @BlondShelley.

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