'Tomb Raider' Actress Camilla Luddington Gets Her Game On (Q&A)

The "Grey’s Anatomy" star brings Lara Croft to life in Crystal Dynamics’ video game reboot.

Actress Camilla Luddington (Grey’s Anatomy) spent a good part of two years providing performance capture and voice acting for developer Crystal Dynamics’ new Tomb Raider video game reboot. Luddington brings a young Lara Croft to life in the Square Enix PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 game, which ships March 5.

Square Enix used CES to introduce the first multiplayer gameplay for the best-selling game franchise. The new four-player versus four-player competitive game modes, which include Team Deathmatch and Private Rescue, was developed by Eidos Montreal to complement the cinematic single-player adventure that Crystal Dynamics developed.

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Luddington talks with The Hollywood Reporter about her very big virtual role in the upcoming game in this exclusive interview.

The Hollywood Reporter: What’s it like stepping into the role of an icon like Lara Croft?

Camilla Luddington: It’s intimidating for sure. I’ve been a fan of Lara Croft. She’s gorgeous.  She’s sexy. She’s iconic. She’s British. But it was really exciting. I really had no idea what I was getting myself into. I thought that it would just be me running around killing people, being extremely brave all the time, and it was quite different. It was emotionally and physically draining but an amazing experience, and I’m so proud of the product right now. I’m excited for everyone to see it.

THR: What was the experience like when you were actually bringing her to life?

Luddington: I had never done motion capture before. I have done film and TV, but I hadn’t done that process. I hadn’t worked on a game before, so I didn’t really know how it worked. One of the things that they first did was they took me through storyboards, where I could see illustrations of scenes, and I would work with the director. We would talk about what had just happened in game, and we really discussed things. They were able to show me sketches that they had done through early animation, and then we really talked about who she was and who she is in this game. You’re really just seeing a very normal 21-year-old girl who’s just put into a completely horrific situation. They really told me how they wanted to make her very relatable and more human. When she gets hit, you feel that pain and you bring the gamer along with you for that ride so that you’re really on this emotional journey with her. We really wanted to do a good job of recreating it and making it very real, which I think is what we’ve done. 

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THR: How did the performance capture technology compare to what you’re used to with acting?

Luddington: What was fascinating to me about the technology is that when we would shoot something there would be a massive flat screen in the volume, which is where we shot, and they would play it back, and I would be able to see Lara as she is in-game recreating what I had just done. It was really fascinating to me to be able to move around the volume and really experience that. They would tell me this is a fire, and it would just be blocks to me, but then on the flat screen, it was a fire. I would walk over and see and really experience what the level looked like, what my surroundings looked like. It really helped bring that entire world to life for me as an actress, just having that visual there was incredible. 

THR: What are your thoughts on the reboot of this franchise with this younger Lara Croft?

Luddington: The idea of rebooting the game is fantastic because it’s really bringing a new generation of fans to Lara Croft, and it’s more relevant to now. We’ve seen it done with Batman and James Bond, and it’s been incredible. Just by making Lara more of a real person and not a stone-faced character who goes around and shoots people, it becomes about her journey. You root for her more because you want her to not just survive her surroundings, but you really want her to learn more about herself through the process. It’s very interesting because she really grows so much in this game from the beginning and then you see her at the end, they’re almost two different people. I really hope people enjoy it.

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THR: What do you think it is about Lara Croft that has made her a pop culture phenomenon beyond even just gamers with the movies and merchandise?

Luddington: As a female there aren’t too many characters that are very empowering, and there’s something very empowering about Lara Croft. She kicks butt and she does it in style. She’s confident and she’s educated. There’s something about a woman taking control in those situations and being brave and courageous that’s sexy and it’s appealing. Both women and men enjoy her and that’s why it’s gone on to be a movie franchise, and it will probably continue, I hope.

THR: What do you think about the new movie they’re producing, which is based on your game?

I’m completely fascinated with how that will turn out. I hope that maybe I get the chance to go in and read for it. We’ll see, but I’m keeping my own fingers crossed that I’ll be brought in for that myself, but we’ll see. That would be incredible. I’m sure that there’s a ton of actresses that would do an amazing job, and I think it would be a great film.