Perusing Pixels is a photo diary of my expedition through the Tomb Raider series. Use the links to the right to find a particular game or level, or see below for the latest post.

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Thursday, 9 July 2009

Lara's Voice: Shelley Blond

[UPDATE, 14/9/12 – Reader Lula wrote to me with this correction for the following post:

“Just wanted you to know you said in one of your blogs (2009) that Shelley Blond only did the voice for the first Tomb Raider game, and that the sound bites (grunting, groaning, dying, jumping etc.) was done by a member of staff.  To correct you, if I may...she did do all the sound bites too.  My uncle was one of the session engineers for the original game and he confirmed that he worked on the 5 hour session and they used her voice for it all.  Even took her sound bites with her permission and used them on games 2 and 3 as well.  But just sound bites, no dialogue…they asked Shelley for the next games too, but she couldn't do them…”]

Shelley Blond was the first woman to voice Lara Croft. She only stuck around for one game, and according to one of my books (or the internet, I can't remember), Shelley only provided the dialogue; Lara's various grunts and groans and death sounds were voiced by a member of staff.

Short though her stint as Lara was, Shelley was the first and as such created a standard for Lara Croft voice actresses which...well, no, actually, no real rules have ever been set for Lara's voice with the exception of "sound a bit posh". And Shelley doesn't even manage that very well, leaning more towards middle-class suburbian than daughter-of-a-lord, and definately less what-ho-jolly-hockysticks compared to later incarnations (Keeley Hawes, I'm looking at you).

I sound quite harsh here actually, and I don't mean to be. Shelley Blond is my second-favourite Lara, out of the four women that have voiced her (five if you count Angelina Jolie's movie interpretation, which I don't). She's warm and likeable, although at the same time you get the impression that she wouldn't hesitate to pop a bullet through your head if you gave her any lip.

Somebody on the tombraiderchronicles.com forums once said that Lara appears a complete sociopath in this game, killing whatever got in her way in cold-blood and appearing entirely uneffected when people around her died. But I think this is just because the gameplay in Tomb Raider contrasts so harshly with the character in the cutscenes; the one that seems sincerely sorry that you may be inconvinienced by the crates in her hall. Couple them together and you could be forgiven for thinking that Lara's got a personality disorder.

Those who would like to see what the original Lara looks like will have to find the first episode in the third series of Peep Show, which Shelley appears in.

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