Daniel Wu – Interview for TOMB RAIDER

This week see’s the return of Lara Croft in a brand new version of ‘Tomb Raider’. Oscar winner Alicia Vikander plays the iconic heroine, with martial arts expert Daniel Wu playing her side-kick Lu-Ren. Daniel is currently living in Ireland, where he is shooting the new season of his hit TV show ‘Badlands’.

Daniel, What can you tell us about your character in Tomb Raider?
It’s an origin story, it’s not the Lara Croft we know from the previous two films, it goes back to a young Lara Croft, she’s a young girl, she’s strong but has no focus in her life after her father’s gone missing. Suddenly she gets a clue that her father may still be around and that he got lost on this island, so she starts this whole journey. Where I come in is that my father went on the same journey and also went missing. When she finds me I’m this drunken, cynical f**k … but deep down inside, subconsciously he wants closure which motivates him to help her on her journey. It’s interesting because they have parallel stories but not exactly the same… What I like about it is that it’s not your typical action movie where there has to be sexual tension between the two characters… it’s about two kindred spirits who meet each other from two different worlds and share this one thing about finding closure in their family.

Is your character based on anyone from the game?
The whole film is based on the 2013 reboot of the game, my character is loosely based on a very stereotypical Scottish, red bearded guy, so they switched him out. They made him into a new character within this world.

Had you played the ‘Tomb Raider’ games in the past?
Yeah, I played the first two versions and that’s around the time I quit gaming altogether, it takes up too much time. It was definitely effecting my work & my sleep. But the ‘Tomb Raider’ games were a game changer for sure, to have a female character be the lead in an action game, the only time I’d seen that was in ‘Street Fighter’ with Chun-Li’s character, she wasn’t even a main character. This is an independent strong female and it fits in with what’s happening now with Wonder Woman, there’s huge interest in strong female characters.

Two other projects you worked on were ‘Warcraft’ and ‘Skylanders’ – both had a video game background. What kind of challenges do you think there are adapting a video game to the big screen?
I think the biggest challenge is finding the balance between satisfying the gamers that play the game and a regular audience who have never played it before and trying to meld those two worlds together. Not many are successful of that, because it either does one or the other. With ‘Warcraft’ the gamers loved it, my wife played ‘Warcraft’ and loved it but people who don’t play the game were really confused because the introduced the characters so quickly. But then there’s also successful ones, ‘Tomb Raider’ is successful because it follows the lines of the game but the story drives people into it and I think we’re really successful in making this intimate story about her journey and transformation from a girl to a woman and becoming this warrior.

Alicia Vikander plays Lara Croft, what was she like to work with?
She brought a lot to the role, she was very integral in changing script points, changing dialect and making it more her own character, but also, she was so focused on this movie. I guess there’s a lot at stake for her because it’s the first time she’s done a big action movie that’s all focused on her. In previous movies, she blossomed in her roles but she wasn’t the focus of those films, whereas now the focus is on her, I think she knew that and powered through it. When I arrived on set, she was already pumped, she was physically a different person to what I had seen on screen before, all of that training affected her mentally for sure, she was really strong and firm.

You’ve been shooting your hit TV show ‘Badlands’ in Ireland – how has that been so far?
I love it, shooting in Ireland changed the whole show completely because of the locations, I mean there’s so many beautiful locations within a half hour of Dublin City centre. We’re out at Powerscourt and in the Wicklow mountains and out at the coast, all these amazing locations within a half hour from each other. We’re able to make very cinematic, movie-like scenes for a TV show, it’s very unexpected and changed the whole show completely and that’s why season two was such a big success I think.

TOMB RAIDER is at Irish cinemas from March 14th