CAMILLA LUDDINGTON | THE BRIT WHO TOOK AMERICA BY STORM

 

As we eagerly await to see what the future holds for the “Tomb Raider” games, I’m looking back at the career of the most recent Lara Croft, Camilla Luddington, and how the young Bracknell-born actress rose to stardom in American television. All of which intertwined with playing one of the biggest figures in gaming.

Luddington’s love of acting began as the very young age of 4 when she won a local talent show. She later took acting classes at South Hill Park and signed with her first talent agent at age 11.
She was educated at The Marist School for girls before moving on to The American School in London.
After spending a year in Texas when her Father was posted there for work and six months in Pennsylvania for university, she went onto study screen acting at the New York Film Academy.

In her early 20s, Luddington made the decision to move to Los Angeles to pursue a career in acting.
While waitressing, she worked on several independent projects including “A Couple of White Chicks at the Hairdresser” - a short film starring Harry Shearer, Shelly Long and Deborah Theacker, “Behaving Badly” and a series pilot sizzle reel titled “Serving Time”.
Luddington also co-wrote and co-directed “The Filming of Shakey Willis” which was officially selected at the “LA Comedy Festival” and won the award for “Best TV/Web Series” at “QuirkFest”.
Her first television role was Emma Clark in an episode of “The Forgotten” in 2010. She also appeared in “CSI” and “Days of Our Lives” that same year.

Towards the end of 2010, around the age of 26, Luddington was chosen to portray a brand new reimagined version of a video game character that had become a pop culture icon, Lara Croft. However, she would not be officially announced until the development was near completion in early 2012.
Helping to shape and create this Lara for a new generation who was humanised, younger and untested, she would be the first actress to provide the performance capture for cutscenes as well as the voice and be at the start of an entire franchise reboot. One that would bleed into comics, novels and Hollywood films.

2011 was the breakthrough year for Luddington as she became widely recognised for her portrayal of Kate Middleton, now the Duchess of Cambridge in “Lifetime”’s made-for-TV film, “William & Kate”.
Inspired by the early years of the Duchess’s relationship with Prince William and released in the lead up to the couple’s wedding, it attracted global attention and remains one of the American network’s most successful films to date.

Camilla Luddington (Kate Middleton) and Nico Evers-Swindell in “William & Kate”.

On the back of that, she soon booked roles on “Californication” and “True Blood”.
Following the release of “Tomb Raider” in March 2013, the game received many accolades and the new level of emotion Luddignton brought to Lara Croft earned her three award nominations - a “Spike Video Game Award” nomination for “Best Voice Actress”, a “NAVGTR” (National Academy of Video Game Trade Reviewers) nomination for “Outstanding Lead Performance in a Drama” and a “Behind The Voice Actors” nomination for “Best Female Lead Vocal Performance in a Video Game”.

It was, however, her role as Dr. Jo Wilson in the long standing medical drama “Grey’s Anatomy”, originally intended to be a recurring role for a few episodes, that would cement her status as one of the most recognisable faces on American television. It was then that she left her job as a waitress and she is now in her tenth year of playing the character.

Camilla Luddington as Jo Wilson in “Grey’s Anatomy” 2012/2021.

As production began on “Rise of the Tomb Raider”, the highly anticipated sequel to “Tomb Raider (2013)”, Luddington dabbled in other voice acting, playing Supergirl in the DC multiplayer battle game “Infinite Crisis”.
She also made her horror debut as June Abbott in “The Pact II” which she starred in alongside the Arrowverse’s Caity Lotz.

Camilla Luddington (June Abbott) and Caity Lotz (Annie Barlow) in “The Pact II”.


 “Tomb Raider”’s sequel, “Rise of the Tomb Raider” swept up more awards upon it’s release in 2015, becoming one of the most successful in franchise history and after being nominated a second time, Luddington received the “Behind the Voice Actors” award for “Best Female Lead Vocal Performance in a Video Game”.

That same year, Luddington starred in another TV film called “The Healer” alongside Oliver Jackson-Cohen (“The Invisible Man”, “Emerald City”) and Jonathan Pryce.

Oliver Jackson-Cohen (Alec Bailey), Kaitlyn Bernard (Abigail) and Camilla Luddington (Cecilia) on set of “The Healer” in Nova Scotia.

In 2017, she voiced superhero magician Zatanna in DC Comics’ animated film “Justice League Dark” and began working on the conclusion to Lara Croft’s origin story “Shadow of the Tomb Raider” soon after the birth of her first child. During this time, she portrayed the character of Beth Turner in the murder mystery podcast series “The Angel of Vine”.
At the age of 34, Camilla Luddington recorded her last ADR lines for “Shadow of the Tomb Raider” just before the game’s showcase at E3 2018.
Now a dual citizen in the US, her career continues to grow and it’s lovely to see.

With Hayley Atwell taking on Lara Croft’s character for the upcoming animated Netflix series “Tomb Raider” and the previous four voice actresses - Shelley Blond, Judith Gibbins, Jonell Elliott and Keeley Hawes - returning for the mobile game “Tomb Raider: Reloaded”, it’s unclear if Luddington’s connection to the franchise will continue. However, she has stated in interviews that she would always be happy to return.

FAN FILM GOES VIRAL | EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH DIRECTOR DEVIN GRAHAM

 


A couple of weeks ago, the new video from US based filmmaker and YouTuber, Devin Graham was released. In the first three days, the views rocketed to 63K. It now sits at over 255K!
Known for his ambitious stunt and travel videos, Devin set out to make a tribute to three iconic fictional adventurers. This would be the first time they would appear together on screen.
With the stunning Uzbekistan as it’s backdrop, the film’s story centres around Timur Tamerlane, a prominent figure in the country’s history who was a ruthless conqueror up until the early 1400s.
The stunts lifted the production quality even higher performed by some of Hollywood’s best. Michaela McAllister, who plays the rebooted Lara Croft (with the character’s voice provided by Fiona Iredu), can be seen as the stunt double for Yelena in Marvel’s film “Black Widow” and the “Hawkeye” series on Disney+. Her husband Braxton plays Nathan Drake from the “Uncharted” games and Braxton’s brother Corbett plays the OG himself, Indiana Jones!
It’s the crossover we’ve all wanted to see and I had the pleasure of speaking to Devin about his experiences on the shoot.

TDD: Hi Devin, thanks for taking the time to speak to me! Firstly, you have made history by bringing all these characters together on screen. What made you decide to do this project?
DG: I'm a huge fan of all 3 characters, and I had never seen it done before. I run the YouTube channel Devinsupertramp and on that channel it's all about creating content that's unique. We do a ton of video game stuff in real life, and I always approach it with trying to create something I'm genuinely excited about. As a fan of these characters, I tried to think of something fun I would want to see as a fan of all of them.

TDD: What drew you to Uzbekistan?
DG: I actually filmed another video in the country a few years ago, our Aladdin Parkour video. One of the locals out there, Bekruz, is a fan of our channel and he had reached out to us 4 years ago or so, and said he would love to produce/make anything we wanted to happen out there. I had actually never heard of the country, so when he reached out I had to google it and found out that it was truly this amazing country with incredible history. Bekruz helped make this entire project happen. I told him what we needed, and he figured out a way to make it happen.

TDD: Were there any particular challenges you faced prior to or during the shoot?
DG: Everything was pretty straightforward with this. We were filming 4 videos out there though in a two week time span, the Tomb Raider project, an Assassin's Creed Parkour video, a Prince of Persia video, and a Sonic The Hedgehog video. So biggest challenge was trying to balance my time for all 4 videos in the short window we had. And we filmed this the first two weeks in December where it was freezing. In the scene with Lara and Indy, in a few of the shots at the start, you'll see it snowing/raining. Out in below freezing in a tanktop, not ideal.

TDD: You have an incredible cast! Tell us how you decided on your actors.
DG: The cast we had were all amazing. They're all hollywood stunt men/woman in Hollywood. Michaela and Braxton who played Nathan and Lara are actually a married couple as well, so that helps. And Corbett, who played Indiana Jones is actually Braxtons brother. I've worked with all these people over a long period of time, so we're all friends. At the end of the film the credit that pops up says its a film by a bunch of friends, and that's exactly what it was. But they're all true professionals.

Michaela and Braxton performing one of their bigger stunts.

TDD: How were your costumes and props created?
DG: All the costumes were made by Allison Dredge. We went to film school together and she makes most of the costumes for our film shoots. And the Prince of Persia Dagger was hand made by Fitz who makes most of our props. Any other props we used we gathered while in Uzbekistan.




TDD: Favourite memories that stick out in your mind?
DG: I love the country of Uzbekistan. Everyone is so friendly and does everything they can to help. When Lara and Nathan fall from the building, we had the table structure they fall on built by locals. They made it happen so fast. Just the hospitality was on another level I've never experienced.

TDD: Might there be a sequel on the horizon and can you tease anything?
DG: We would love to make a sequel. With these passion projects, they're pretty expensive to make since they're fully self funded, so the hope is the video can get a lot of attention and that we can make another sequel, we already have the locations and some of the events in mind if we're able to make it happen, all I can say about it for now is it would be somewhere tropical :)


Thank you to Devin for doing this interview! Check out the film and behind the scenes video below…

 

TR25 FAN FILM FEATURE - TOMB RAIDER (2013)


 
Last year, I had the opportunity to write monthly blogs for the official Tomb Raider 25th Anniversary website highlighting a selection of fan films in the theme of the game of the month. The “Tomb Raider” (2013) entry didn’t make it into the series but I’ve been kindly given permission to post it here instead.


“Because when men will fall, you, my daughter...You will rise.” - Tomb Raider: Reborn by Aurélien Sallé 

In 2012, we were given our first glimpse into the future of Tomb Raider when the announcement trailer for Lara Croft’s fresh and gritty origin story premiered at E3, marking a new beginning for the franchise. It ignited the imagination of fans and filmmakers alike across the world and to this day, “Tomb Raider” (2013) has inspired the highest growing number of fan films in franchise history! With so much amazing work, it was very difficult to narrow it down - as you can probably tell - so you aren’t going to be short of things to watch.

“Tomb Raider: Reboot” (UK)

Written by David “dwyz” Wayman and Dan Brand. Directed by David “dwyz” Wayman. Starring Teya Simone as Lara Croft (Tomb Raider: Legend) and Alexandra Lyon as Lara Croft (Tomb Raider 2013).

Wayman and Brand’s short was released shortly before the game itself and took inspiration from the concept of rebirth. We see Lara from the previous trilogy go in search of answers to whether or not it is possible. In her first film role, Simone captured the confident and witty personality of this incarnation really well and with some nostalgic moments, a great sword fight and a sneaky nod to the Matrix, what more could you want? It was a lovely way to celebrate the launch and it serves as the perfect Segway into our next lot of fan films.


“Tomb Raider: Reborn” (FRANCE)
Written and directed by Aurélien Sallé.
Starring Tiphaine Vaudable (Illyne Cosplay) as Lara Croft.

This is only the final trailer as, sadly, the completed film was never released. However, I simply couldn’t leave it out!

The passion pours from this project! In just a few minutes, we’re taken on a journey of survival with elements of the supernatural and at the heart of it, a story of Father and Daughter superbly portrayed by Arauna Bernheim-Dennery (Young Lara) and Stephen Scardicchio (Richard Croft).
The stunning production value coupled with a beautiful original score by non other than writer/ director Aurélien Sallé amplifies all the performances, including that of official French cosplay ambassador Tiphaine Vaudable (Illyne Cosplay). A natural on screen!
To find out more about the film, check out their Facebook page.


“Tomb Raider: Legacy” (GERMANY)
Directed by Petra Pausch.
Starring Petra Pausch as Lara Croft and Nora Rüdiger as Sam Nishimura.

After years in production for the two film students, losing some footage making it a longer process than originally anticipated, the final fifty minute film was released in August 2017.

The faithful retelling of the game, which was shot in Germany and South Korea, boasts a very strong cast of characters! In particular, Pausch’s Lara Croft but also Rüdiger’s Sam Nishimura. Sam’s character development as she goes on her own journey to understand the island is wonderful and it’s great to see her character explored more than we see in the game.
     
The bond between the two leads is clear see, especially in video diary scenes and in moments when their roles are switched and Sam must be the strong one.
A fantastic piece from these two ladies!


“Croft” (CANADA)
Written by Trevor Addie and Irma Leong.
Directed by Trevor Addie.
Starring Cassandra Ebner, Liam Carter and Devyn Dalton.

Well, where to begin with this one...
“Croft” was released on YouTube Christmas Day 2013 and went viral in the first few hours.
Since then, it has screened at a number of film festivals across Canada and the US, winning awards along the way.

From the first note in the score as the film begins, you are immediately invested!
Music is vitally important to set the tone of a film and this nailed it.
Good writing and exceptional action sequences led by world class action actress and YouTuber, Cassandra Ebner, made the twenty minute film the huge success it has become!
In fact, this is the most emotional fan film I have ever had the pleasure of watching.
Get the tissues out...That’s all I’m saying.


“Raider Origins” (CANADA)
Written and directed by Jerome Kruin. 
Starring Irina Andreea as Lara Croft.

There was also quite a bit of hype surrounding this with its release set to tie in with that of the game.
Leading lady, Irina Andreea even helped promote the release of the PS4 in Toronto, wearing her costume from the film.

It premiered on gametrailers.com and then later came to YouTube.
The sets and visual effects are really well done! An impressive effort from the team!


Back in 2013, I got the chance to adapt the game script myself for “Tomb Raider: Hunted” - a short fan film starring Annie Roig and Sara Croft. As I was directly involved, I thought it wouldn’t be fair to list it with the others but if anyone is interested, it’s available to watch here.

Check out the rest of the TR25 fan film features below categorised by game…

COSPLAY CORNER: INTERVIEW WITH KATE SPEAK



Everyone meet Kate! She is an award nominated actress who has been in the profession for 20 years.
Her newest projects include “Out of Mecca”, an innovative sci-fi short by Stephen Reynolds, “Sequestration”, a short thriller filmed entirely via video call during the first lockdown, “The Lockdown Hauntings” with Tony Todd and  upcoming action comedy short, “Choose Your Weapon”, which shines a light on postnatal anxiety.
When not kicking butt on screen or coaching fitness, Kate spends her free time cosplaying one of her favourite characters, Lara Croft.
You may also recognise her for playing Lara later in life in our Tomb Raider fan film, “Athena”.
I’ve known her for a number of years now and so I thought it was about time I invited her to the Cosplay Corner!
Check out her video interview below.

“TOMB RAIDER: WAR OF THE WORLDS” OUT NOW!

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Cover art by Marta Polak.

After years in development, the highly anticipated fan-made game “Tomb Raider: War of the Worlds” by Tomb Raider Level Editor builder, Mateusz, released today!

The game was originally intended to be released in 2016 but due to lack of time, the project was delayed and underwent several changes, including Lara Croft’s voice changing to Jenni Milward - who many fans will recognise from other TRLE levels.

In the game, you will help Lara survive a post-apocalyptic Earth ten years after a strange disease wiped out most of human civilian.

You can download it for free HERE and find out more on the game’s official website.

Check out our exclusive behind the scenes look HERE where I had the pleasure of interviewing Mateusz and Pai (the original voice of Lara).

SQUARE ENIX MOBILE-BASED STUDIO | TOMB RAIDER: RELOADED UPDATES


Yesterday, Square Enix announced a new studio based in London which will be dedicated solely to the development of mobile games, including the upcoming tribute to the Core Design and early Crystal Dynamics eras of the Tomb Raider franchise, “Tomb Raider: Reloaded”. 

Since it’s soft launch earlier this year, there have been many changes made to “Reloaded” following feedback from players and the game is now expected to have a global release in early 2022.

A handful of past characters will be returning; including Lara’s beloved butler Winston, former mentor Werner VonCroy from “The Last Revelation”, “Chronicles” and “Angel of Darkness”, fan favourite Kurtis Trent from “Angel of Darkness” and Anaya from “Legend”.


We also learned that English television actress, Keeley Hawes, will be reprising her role as Lara Croft after writer/director, Ed Perkins, shared a photo to Twitter showing Hawes in the recording studio after COVID restrictions began to lift.


Hawes remains the longest running voice for the character, having worked on 5 games previously, debuting with “Tomb Raider: Legend” in 2006.

EDIT: The official Tomb Raider social channels have revealed that the original three voice actresses for Lara Croft; Shelley Blond (Tomb Raider 1996), Judith Gibbins Tomb Raider 2 & 3) and Jonell Elliott (The Last Revelation/Chronicles/Angel of Darkness) will also be reprising their roles in the game.
For a limited time after global release, players will be able to choose which voice they want.

Hayley Atwell to Voice Lara Croft in Netflix Animated Series



English actress Hayley Atwell, best known for her portrayal of Agent Peggy Carter in the Marvel universe, has just been announced as the voice of Lara Croft for the upcoming Netflix animated series “Tomb Raider” from Legendary Entertainment and dj2 Entertainment.
“Tomb Raider” is being written by Tasha Huo who crafted the stories for “The Witcher: Blood Origins” and “Red Sonja”.

It’s set to follow on from the rebooted video games and is rumoured to bring back the character of Zip from some of the earlier games to be one of Lara’s travelling companions.

Atwell becomes the eighth actress to take on the role.

Edit: Further casting announcements reveal that Earl Baylon will be reprising his role as Jonah Maiava from the rebooted games and the character of Zip will indeed by making his television debut as well voiced by Allen Maldonado.