Features

5 things learned visiting the set of "Tomb Raider" in the U.K.

Writer: Naseem Randhawa


Alicia Vikander with director Roar Uthaug at Wilton House.

In May last year, we got a call from Warner Bros to visit the set of their much-anticipated action adventure movie, "Tomb Raider".

Having already been familiar with the video game and its past movie adaptations starring Angelina Jolie, we couldn't pass the chance to witness the makings of the reboot with our very eyes.


With our special pass that gets us access to the set.

And when we say eyes only, this means absolutely no photography allowed and definitely no smartphones!

Also signing a non-disclosure agreement is a must! Reveal any info before the movie is released and be prepared to get sued! Yikes!

Along with journalists from all over the world, Cinema Online as the only Asian media representative was given the golden opportunity to visit the secret location and interview the star of the movie itself, Alicia Vikander.

We have to admit, being on a Hollywood set is a money-can't-buy experience like none other and we learned so much from the U.K. set visit, thus here are the things we would like to share with our dear readers on visiting the set of "Tomb Raider"...

Getting to the Croft Manor in U.K.

Walking with the journalists towards Wilton House a.k.a. Croft Manor in this case.

When we found out we would be visiting a grand English country house, well, more of a mansion, really, that would stand-in as the family home of Lara Croft, needless to say we were excited! The said mansion is called Wilton House and is located in Salisbury, Wiltshire.

To get there was no easy feat. After enduring a 17-hour flight from Kuala Lumpur to Gatwick Airport in London, we had to take a 40-minute train to London's Waterloo Station. From there on, we had to board yet another train, the National Express to Botley Station which was a 90-minute ride in order to leave the city behind and venture into the countryside.


Some of the magnificent centuries old archways at Wilton House.


The wonderful courtyard that stretches into way yonder.


Inside one of the grand rooms where we interviewed Alicia Vikander (photos during interviews are not allowed).

The first recorded building on the Wilton estate was in the year 871 and was commissioned by King Egbert. Then during King Alfred's reign, more land and manors popped up until it eventually became Wilton Abbey. when King Henry VIII ruled, it got dissolved as the Abbey began to lose its prosperity. It was then presented to the 1st Earl of Pembroke in year 1544 and has remained in the family and its heirs ever since.

The current heirs, we learned, are a fairly young middle-aged couple with two kids. They do not live in the house, but often allow visitors to the estate for an admission fee and rent it out for exclusive events and film productions.


Prior to "Tomb Raider", Stanley Kubrick's "Barry Lyndon" (1975), the Keira Knightley starring "Pride & Prejudice" (2005), and the TV series "Outlander" season 2 were shot at Wilton House.

Upon our visit, we were told that no absolutely no food or drinks were allowed in the house at it may cause damage to the centuries old carpets and the priceless sculptures that adorn the hallways.


Dominic West as Richard Croft, and a young actress playing young Lara in a flashback scene.

Among the scenes we saw shot at the mansion was an exterior scene which serves as a flashback sequence of young Lara Croft playing by the fountain with her father Richard Croft (Dominic West) and an interior scene where Alicia Vikander bumps into her friend and her friend's kid in the library.

 

Interviewing Alicia Vikander

Alicia Vikander looking bad a** with a black leather jacket.

After picking up our jaws from exploring the many grand rooms of Wilton House as well as its luscious grounds that belong in novels of great English romances, we were brought into a room to finally await Alicia Vikander for our interview. The five feet four inches tall actress may be considered petite by some, but when she finally walked in, the elegant tanned beauty carries a powerful enough presence. With an English accent, the then 28-year-old Swede proceeded to cheerfully greet everyone with a husky "hello". Clad in jeans, boots and a black leather jacket that screamed she means business as Lara Croft, all doubts were erased if this could actually be Angelina's successor. Slated for a 15-minute interview with us, Vikander talked about how her version would be different than previous adaptations and even shared her gruelling workout and diet to become a much fitter Lara Croft. Before we knew it, 15 minutes turned to just 9 minutes and Vikander was promptly called back to shoot the next scene as director Roar Uthaug and the crew was ready for her. Time is money on sets like this. A slight delay could mean overtime for many and more days spent on set, which means possibly busting the production budget.

Craft services booth on set is THE place to be!

Enjoying apple crumble by the craft services booth.

A film set's version of a watercooler area is the craft services booth. It is THE place where actors, directors, producers, crew members and extras all bump into each other over food and coffee. We were lucky enough to have been to a few of these and let us just say that we would LOVE to work as the crew on a film set just for the food alone! From devouring a great selection of pastries and cereal in the morning, to great and nutritious lunch and dinners like grilled rosemary chicken with roasted garlic potatoes, sautéed salmon steak with asparagus, hearty meatloaves, to mash and bangers, there is also a whole section set up for all kinds of salads imaginable. If you aren't drooling yet, then you will after we tell you that the desserts section (Yes, a dessert section!), has amazing things like orange chocolate cake, lemon meringue pie, apple crumble, fresh fruits in Greek yogurt and more! If the weather is too cold, there will also always be a truck serving all kinds of coffees and teas to keep you warm.

While we were casually stuffing our face with our second slice of apple crumble, we managed to meet Alicia again who promptly agreed that the dessert was worth it despite it being bad for Lara Croft. "I'll just work it off tomorrow morning!" chirped Vikander.

Weapons on set are not real

The "weapons" on set used by Daniel Wu and Alicia Vikander's characters.

In "Tomb Raider" we see Lara Croft using all kinds of weapons, like bow and arrows, pistols, flares and an ice pick. Although they look super real, just know that there's about an 80 per cent chance that not all of the weapons used in the movie by an actor are real. They are most probably harmless rubberised bow and arrows, or swords that really just bend or bounce off and are painted to look like actual wood or steel by really, really, good artists. We learned that usually only the stunt persons would be handling the actual weapons (if any, but rarely) for the realistic effect. Can you imagine what insurance company would be willing to insure the production and the movie star if real weapons are allowed on set?

All artworks must be owned and designed by the studio

In this bike scene, Lara Croft will pass by a wall of graffiti.

In an early scene of the movie we see Lara Croft at work as a bike courier navigating the streets of London as she passes by buildings and graffitied walls. Did you know that the graffiti was actually painted on by the film's production crew and is not part of the building's natural facade? Why do they do this? Apparently, all artworks shown in movies have to be exclusively owned by the studio. This includes flyers, posters, paintings, and anything else that constitutes as "artwork". It needs its rights to be owned by the studio so that chances of them getting sued by the original or anonymous artists are eliminated. Of course, exceptions are made when a film needs to feature popular works in the storyline like the Mona Lisa painting and more, then they obviously need to get legal permission and probably pay royalties.

Cinema Online, 17 March 2018


Related Movies:
Tomb Raider (08 Mar 2018)

Jwplayer article page COSG

Related Links:
Showtimes