Actress And Director Angelina Jolie
"Unbroken" director Angelina Jolie arrives at the 20th Annual Critics' Choice Movie Awards in Los Angeles, California January 15, 2015. Reuters/Kevork Djansezian

Angelina Jolie had to undergo a drug test every day to star in the 2001 mega hit “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider.” Film studio exec Sherry Lansing has revealed in her new biography that the A-list star had practically begged her for the titular role.

Lansing, the former CEO of Paramount Pictures and a powerhouse in Hollywood, recalled how Jolie got the role that would propel her into stardom in “Leading Lady: Sherry Lansing and the Making of a Hollywood Groundbreaker.” According to excerpts in the book, shared by The Hollywood Reporter, Jolie’s wild child image was a double-edged sword. It was perfect as selling point of the film but it also made studio execs worry about her leading a multimillion-dollar project.

Jolie, who was just 24 and was not a major star yet, had questionable reputation in the early 2000s. She was rumoured to have had used drugs and had been in an odd relationship with her brother, James Haven, among others.

Lansing’s concern about Jolie’s reputation increased when Jolie’s father, Jon Voight, and family friend Jane Fonda called Lansing to warn her that the young actress was “extremely fragile.” And so she sent “Tomb Raider” director Simon West to Mexico to meet Jolie, who was working on the thriller “Original Sin.”

“She said: ‘Look, I want to do it, but I know what my reputation is, and I’ll do anything you want to prove that I’m worthy. I’ll be reliable, and I’ll turn up, and I’ll work hard,’” West recalled. “She said, ‘I don’t care if the studio wants to drug-test me every day.’”

And so Paramount Studios had her undergo drug tests, both urine and blood tests, every day. Jolie passed, but studio execs were still concerned and so had put a team around her. They had staff to get the actress into shape and to give her spiritual and psychological support.

There was also drama between a film producer and a guy hired to supervise Jolie, but that was eventually resolved when the latter was fired. With the guy out, Jolie shone.

“In the dailies, she was riveting,” Lansing said. “She took what might have been a cardboard character and added a layer of mystery and emotion and humanity.”

“Lara Croft: Tomb Raider” was a commercial success. It earned US$274 million (AU$356 million) in the box office, which prompted the studio to create the sequel, “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider – The Cradle of Life,” in 2003.

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