July 2003
Lara Croft Tomb Raider : The Cradle of Life : An Interview with Djimon Hounson

Interviewed by Wilson Morales

Lara Croft Tomb Raider : The Cradle of Life: An Interview with Djimon Hounson

Djimon Hounson is one of a few African American actors thatís able to get good supporting roles. Ever since he made his debut in Amistad, in which he received a Golden Globe nominated, heís captivated the screen with scene-stealing performances in Gladiator and The Four Feathers. Most recently, he appeared with a slew of African-Americans in Biker Boyz, and in an interview with blackfilm.com, Djimon talks about his role in his latest film, Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life.

WM: What drew you to the role?

DH: It wasnít necessarily the role. The first thing was that I wanted to work with Angelina Jolie and the second thing was Tomb Raider was becoming a nice franchise and I wanted to be a part of that too.

WM: Are you much of a video game man?

DH: No. I have yet to play a video game.

WM: Did they shoot the film chronologically or they did you come in early for your scenes?

DH: No, because after we shot my part, they went off to Hong Kong.

WM: Did you talk to Angelina about your charactersí friendship and how it began?

DH: We talked about it a little bit in trying to define it and come to some understanding, especially the way it was written. You can tell that they were friends before and that they were educated together and befriended each other at one point in London.

WM: Did you guys come up with that idea?

DH: Yes. It would give a better understanding and dynamic to the story.

WM: How much of it did you want to see on screen? Were there more scenes that we didnít see?

DH: We shot a little more, but pretty much of we shot is on screen, because it was a little portion of what I had to do. I guided her to the cradle of life.

WM: Were you expecting a larger role in the film? Did you know going in that it would be more of a supporting role?

DH: Yes, most definitely. I knew that going into the film. Itís part of the reason why I took the part because it wasnít about me, and it was nice to play a cameo in such a big epic type of film.

WM: Whatís it like to perform with Angelina?

DH: Itís extremely rewarding. Sheís very talented. If anything I gained from working with her is knowing how great of a person is, on and off screen. Sheís also very giving. She gave so much to the tribe that we worked with. She built a well for them in their village. She does a lot of things for the UN and when it comes to kids in the refuge camps, sheís great.

WM: Can you talk about working with the tribe?

DH: It was fun. It took me back to my early days being born in Africa where I didnít know much. I only knew my surroundings which was the wilderness and around where I was raised. Itís pleasant to see a native who has never experienced filmmaking and how they were at awe with what we were doing and intrigue by it and the fun we were having. It was entertaining for them for the time we were there.

WM: So many of the films youíve done have taken you back to Africa. Is that one of the reasons you decide to do the film?

DH: Not because I necessarily wanted to go back to Africa. The Four Feathers offered a strong character in that film and this one, if anything, gave me the chance to work with more talented people. Thatís all I ever want, to work with talented actors, and talented directors obviously. Some of the movies I chose is because of the director involved and some because of the actors also involved in the film. Itís not always about the story, itís about the actor or director.

WM: What do you think of your performance after you see the film?

DH: Thatís always delicate because I always so long before I see it and I wait til the last minute that I have to see it. Before I spoke to you, I had to see the film to remember what we shot and also to remember some of the journeys. It is awkward to see yourself afterwards.

WM: Are you in The Adventures of Michael S. Blueberry and what do play in the film?

DH: Yes, Iím in it, but as a cameo. Itís going to be beautiful and exciting. The director is a young French director filled with great vision. To be honest with you, itís been so long, but I help this guy find gold and I found myself on this secret land where Iím being chased by Indians. Itís going to be fun.

WM: Do you find it interesting that the cradle of life is in Africa?

DH: Interesting? No. Africa is the cradle of life

WM: Would you come back for a 3rd film?

DH: If they called me in, maybe.

WM: Have your career choices been a fun ride so far?

DH: Itís not without a struggle. I would be lying if I said that itís been peachy so far. Itís full of struggles and challenges. The nature of this business is hard.

WM: So what are the rewards?

DH: Being part of big pictures like this that does well and make money. Thatís the goal; to be associated with films that are successful and make money. I guess thatís the payoff.

WM: Whatís next?

DH: Iím doing In America with Jim Sheridan, who directed My Left Foot and In the Name of My Father. Thatís coming out in November. The basic story is that I happened to be a New York based artist who befriended an Irish family who immigrated to America.