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Angelina Jolie: Living up to Lara Croft

From Paul Vercammen CNN Showbiz Today Reports

Angelina Jolie says making "Tomb Raider" was "exhausting"  

(CNN) -- The casting of Angelina Jolie as film's Lara Croft -- the titular "Tomb Raider" from the popular video game -- seems to many fans to be dead-on perfect. Jolie has the strength, the body and has even nailed the accent to flesh out the part of the usually two-dimensional cyber-heroine.

But Jolie will tell you it wasn't all nifty technology and exotic locations.

"Hardest was the endurance of it," she says. "Halfway through the film, being away from my family. ... And just every day being about 13- and 14-hour days of just nonstop physical challenges to overcome.

"It was exhausting and sometimes daunting. I would sit in the bathtub with all my cuts and bruises with my head down and say, 'What am I doing?' "

But she didn't want to let down fans of the video game.

"You want everyone to be with you. You want to be the Lara Croft that they already love and they have fun with. So there's pressure to just do right by everybody who already is a fan of this game."

'It was magic'

So she worked to turn herself into Croft. That meant lifting weights, shooting heavy guns, paddling canoes, jumping with bungee cords and riding a dogsled. The movie took her from the chill of Icelandic glaciers to the tropical beauty of Cambodia's Angkor Wat.

The travel in particular, said Jolie, broadened her horizons.

"Iceland was amazing -- being on a glacier the size of Wales and going with dogs on amphibious vehicles into this water, that -- if you fall into it -- you've got about four minutes to live," she says.

"(And) Cambodia is the most beautiful place I've ever been. The people have been through so much, and they've somehow continued to be graceful, peaceful, generous and have such a warm spirit. ... It was magic."

For "Tomb Raider," Jolie also got to act with her father, Academy Award-winning actor Jon Voight. But Voight -- whose Oscar is for his work in the 1978 "Coming Home" -- wanted to make sure the spotlight stayed on his daughter.

"Since she started making films I've always loved it when they have a big close-up of Angie," he says. "I don't want to move (the shot off her face). I'm just like anybody else."

Hanging with Billy Bob

Jolie's been busy. In addition to making "Tomb Raider," she has traveled to Africa for the United Nations' High Commissioner for Refugees.

"(I've) started to really become aware of the world we live in, what's really going on," she says. "I think we should try to be responsible and educate ourselves. I'm simply doing that and traveling, learning firsthand and seeing firsthand what's going on."

But now that her trip and work on the film are over, Jolie says she's planning to take a rest, joining her husband, actor-director Billy Bob Thornton, at home. As it happens, they may not be staying there long -- he's leaving on a tour soon to promote his new album. But that's OK, says Jolie.

"I love his voice," she says. "I love to watch him play the drums. I love when he writes all night and there are pages all over the place with lyrics. Everything about it is great."

Not even Lara Croft has it so good.

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