Jill de Jong was the last model that represented the original Lara Croft by Core Design. Today she kindly agreed for an exclusive interview with me!
Hello Jill thanks for taking time to participate in this interview!
It’s my pleasure!
How did your career as a model begin?
“When I was 15, I was scouted at an event and theyasked me to participate in a modelling contest. I became one of the winners andwas invited by and Italian modelling agency to come to Milan for a few weeks tosee if modelling was for me. I loved it and was offered a full time contract.It was my ticket to freedom; I did not know what I wanted to study after highschool, this was a dream opportunity for me.
Have you played Tomb Raider games before becoming a model for Eidos? If so tell which one is your favourite? No before I was casted to be Lara Croft I had never played before, I had heard great things about it!
How did you hear about the casting of Lara Croft’s official model? I was in Paris when my agent called me to tell me about this casting. The casting director had seen a picture in my portfolio that resembled Lara Croft’s profile and wanted to meet me in person. I flew to London to meet her.
How did the casting go?
It was really fun, we all got to wear the costume and got our hair and make-up done so we could really feel what it was like to be Lara. Did you have to read lines from the game? No we had to give it our own twist; our own interpretation of Lara.
What was your reaction when you got the news that you were the official Lara Croft model?
It was It was an incredible moment, I could hardly believe it and called my agents and parents right away. I did not even know exactly what was awaiting me but I knew it was going to be awesome.
In the Angel of Darkness Lara Croft was rather dark character. Did they provide you with some insights or write-ups on Lara’s persona from the game?
Yes, they briefed me on the history, the new development and characteristics.
How were you coached to represent Lara?
I worked with a choreographer on some moves, a little routine and after that I could just do whatever I felt Lara would do. And it would depend on the audience and space I had to move around in. I loved getting into character, the adrenaline rush I would get right before getting out on stage fuelled me!
What was the most difficult part in representing Lara?
I think the demanding schedule, the Lara days where always packed with performances, interviews and meet and greets. And after a Lara trip I would go straight to another modelling job and would work 10-12 hour days.
I am sure you have some funny stories to tell about the time when you were Lara Croft?
Haha! Yes! My Lara manager (who I’m still very good friend with today) and I still laugh about the several times I’d pick up a guy and flip him upside down. He’d look flabbergasted once back on his feet LOL.
Were there any particular rules set by Eidos for you when you were in the costume?
Not a whole lot, the main thing was that I couldn’t speak with the press in costume. All interviews were done as Jill not as Lara. That changed later, I believe Karima was allowed to do so.
Jill’s page at the official Tomb Raider the Angel of Darkness website
What skills did the experience of being a look-a-like model gave you?
Performing/acting and gun skills.
What are your thoughts on the Angel of Darkness as the game? Do you like Lara more in the AOD or in previous games?
I did not get to play much because I was always on the road and had very little free time. But I really enjoyed the improvement on her moves and skills over the years. Every time a new game was released she moved better and was more bad ass than the previous year.
Have you played any recent games by Crystal Dynamics? If so, what do you think of the new Lara’s look and character?
No, I have not, I would be curious to see it!
You know they still do not have an official look-a-like model since 2009. Would you agree to become a Tomb Raider once again?
Really, has it been that long? Wow. Yes I would love do it again. With all the experience, I have gained over the years I would be able to give so much more!
What did you do after your contract with Eidos ended? I am sure I’ve seen you in print ads for Escada! In addition, please tell about your experience as an actress!
I coloured my hair back to blond (my natural colour) and continued modelling. I’ve been very lucky with a long successful modelling career. I also moved to LA to get into acting and had a great time in school but was not passionate enough to pursue it as a full time career.
As for being an actress; would you agree to be in the films as Lara?
Yes for sure! That would be a dream come true.
Lara Croft is a toned strong woman. Do you feel your experience of being Lara Croft contributed to the ideas of your “Models Do Eat” Campaign and your interest in fitness and nutrition?
Yes the message of “Models Do Eat” is an empowering message for women to take great care of themselves and kick ass in life. A strong body= a strong mind.
Did you have to or choose to go through any physical training for representing Lara Croft?
No besides spending a few hours with a choreographer I didn’t get any other training. I kept myself in great shape in the gym.
Tell us about your ongoing projects.
I have a challenging and adventurous water sports shoot coming up for Women’s Health magazine in Hawaii. I still get to work on some great modelling jobs but it’s not what I do full time anymore. The majority of the time I coach women (I’m a certified health coach) to get in their best shape physically and mentally.
As you know, there is a huge cosplay community. Did you start looking at Lara Croft fans’ cosplay when you became an official model? And if so, did you have a favourite cosplayer?
I did, it was so much fun to see that there was a big community sharing their passion! I did not have a favourite, every girl is unique in her expression of Lara!
Thank you very much for your time Jill!
You are very welcome. Thanks for your time and energy you put into this!