Our Top 5 Actresses for Lara Croft

Travis Newton
Movies Games
Movies Games

With yesterday’s news that the new Tomb Raider film is looking for its Lara Croft, the rumor mill is grinding like mad. While it’s still in development and runs the risk of languishing in development hell, we know that the new film seeks to model itself on the rebooted game series. The new Croft is younger and grittier than previous incarnations, channeling the stars of Neil Marshall’s spelunking horror The Descent. This Lara Croft prefers khaki trousers over her ludicrously tiny shorts, and a bow and arrow to her classic double pistols. And if you’ve played either reboot game, you know she’s a magnet for all types of gruesome injury and death. She’s a scrappy, resourceful, intelligent young heroine that might remind people of another scrappy, resourceful, intelligent young heroine who recently headlined the #1 movie of all time. And that’s why studio execs at Warner Bros. and MGM are looking at…

tomb raider daisy ridley

Daisy Ridley

So it should come as no surprise that 23-year-old English actress Daisy Ridley is reportedly being looked at to fill Croft’s boots. Her performance as Rey in The Force Awakens captured the kind of fierce independence and physicality that the Croft role demands. Star Wars has put her through a lot of stunt work, brought her to exotic and remote locations around the world, and forced her to act against intimidatingly huge green screens. She’s got the chops, and I think she’d be a darn near perfect fit for the role. The trouble is that she’s up to her neck in Star Wars for quite a while, and contractual obligations and scheduling may prevent her from going and working on another big effects-laden blockbuster. In short, I think she’s pitch perfect, but I doubt we’ll see her in the role. [Travis Newton]

So who else could be a great new Lara Croft? Here are four other choices we think could really ace the role.

Gina Carano - tomb raider

Gina Carano

Lara Croft is, above all else, an action star. Tomb Raider is an action series. So you need to have an actress who can believably be that star. So my recommendation for the new Lara Croft is Gina Carano. She’s got the cred as an MMA star, and is one of the few women in Hollywood who can believably kick ass. Angelina Jolie could be sexy and make James Bond-esque quips in her movies, those were fine for their time. But Tomb Raider, as gaming franchise, has moved on to gritty realism and hard survival stories. You need an actress who can take punches, get dirty, and suffer on camera just like Lara has done since her reboot.

Gina Carano’s acting chops are proved in 2011’s Haywire. Along with kicking Channing Tatum and Michael Fassbender’s ass, she was also a decent actress with plenty of intensity and charisma. Unfortunately Carano’s film career seems to have faltered in recent years. She had a bit part in Fast & Furious 6 where she took a few jabs at Michelle Rodriguez, but then for years she seemed to disappear. Recently, though, she was a great henchwoman in Deadpool. It was a good reminder for us all: we need Gina Carano in more movies. She’s been a star in search of a franchise for years now. Let it be Tomb Raider. [Eric Fuchs]

tomb raider - tatiana maslany

Tatiana Maslany

As any fan of Orphan Black knows (and I am a huge one), the entire success of that show hinges on the incredible flexibility and talent of the wildly under-appreciated Tatiana Maslany. She plays sexy, coy, tough, bitchy, perky, deadly, on top of tenderness and vulnerability – all in the course of an episode, thanks to playing various identical but slightly different clones. Bring all those elements together into one woman and you have a pretty righteous version of the more fragile new version of the historically kickass video-game heroine. Add in her incredible physicality and her ability to pull of a British accent, and you’ve got yourself the total Lara Croft package. [Annette Cardwell]

Lupita Nyong’o

The character of Lara Croft has gone through a lot of changes over the years. Her body shape has morphed from that of a pixelated porn star to a realistically athletic young woman. Her character arc has changed some as well, with variations on her origin story and adventures in different media. In 2008, Guinness World Records even recognized Croft for being the fictional character with the highest number of real-world models representing her. Actresses, models, and athletes have all had a shot at the character, with varying degrees of success.

What has not changed, however, is Croft’s indomitable spirit, thirst for adventure, and dry wit. If viewers could set aside their preconceptions about what Lara Croft should look like, the choices for casting open up. Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o would be a fantastic Croft. Like Croft, Nyong’o is beautiful, athletic, well-educated (she graduated from the Yale School of Drama), and speaks several languages. Nyong’o is also no stranger to acting in difficult conditions and the physicality of her work, demonstrated by her ability to endure in 12 Years a Slave.

When Lara Croft first hit the video game world, she was an anomaly: a female action-adventure protagonist. She inspired girls and young women everywhere, and she was a breath of fresh air in an industry that focused so primarily on men. Nyong’o could be revolutionary in her own way, giving a face and a voice to girls and women of color, while still being a true-to-character Lara Croft. Nyong’o has the sass, spirit, and skill to be an incredible Tomb Raider. [Danielle Ryan]

emily blunt - tomb raider

Emily Blunt

The latest version of Lara Croft is more than a gun-toting archaeologist. She can stand toe-to-toe with the best action heroes of our time, yes. But she’s also vulnerable, at times completely demolished, physically and psychologically, and she is, at times, almost psychotically troubled. Few women in Hollywood can take-on that depth of character as well as Emily Blunt. We’ve seen Blunt deliver some amazing action sequences in Edge of Tomorrow, and we’ve seen her put a stunning dramatic performance in Sicario. Emily Blunt is a star and would make an an excellent Lara Croft. [Jorge Albor]

Tomb Raider will be directed by Norwegian filmmaker Roar Uthaug, who directed the effective slasher Cold Prey and the acclaimed disaster film The Wave. There has been no release date announced for the film yet, but keep your browsers pointed to Fandom and we’ll let you know when that happens.

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Travis Newton
Travis Newton is a Fan Contributor at Fandom. He began writing about movies and TV for CHUD.com in 2012, and co-hosts The Drew Reviews Podcast with Fandom Entertainment Editor Drew Dietsch. He’s partial to horror movies, action games, and Irish Breakfast tea.
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