ANGELINA Jolie, star of the film Tomb Raider, revealed yesterday that she once tried to hire a hitman to kill her.

The 26-year-old actress said she had been contemplating suicide, and felt that her being killed would have been easier on her family.

She told the Internet Movie Database (imdb.com) it had been during a ''rather bleak'' time in her life when she had come close to suicide.

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Rather than taking her own life, she decided to hire somebody to do it for her and went in search of a hitman.

''This is going to sound insane but there was a time I was going to hire somebody to kill me,'' she said.

''The person spoke very sweetly to me, he made me think about it for a month. And after a month other things changed in my life and I was surviving again.''

Jolie, who plays a computer character figure, Lara Croft, in the new film, claimed having herself murdered would have been an easier burden for her family and friends to bear.

''With suicide comes all the guilt of people around you thinking they could have done something,'' she said. ''With somebody being murdered, nobody takes some kind of guilty responsibility.''

The revelation is the latest bizarre episode involving the Oscar-winning actress, daughter of Jon Voight, also a film actor.

She is married to Billy Bob Thornton, a heavily tattooed and five-times-married actor and director who believes he is the reincarnation of Benjamin Franklin, one of America's founding fathers.

Before they became a couple, she was married to another actor, Jonny Lee Miller, and at their wedding ceremony wore black leather trousers and a white shirt with his name painted on its back in her own blood.

She now wears a chain with a vial of her new husband's blood around her neck.

The former model has a collection of knives and claims to have an interest in mortuary science, dreaming as a child of becoming a funeral director before following her father into acting.

She learned to kick-box and took weapons training for her role as Lara Croft, the hit computer game character, and travelled to Iceland and Cambodia to film scenes for the movie.

Jolie plays a globe-trotting archaeologist, in the Indiana Jones mould, in the film which was mostly shot in London.

''Every day was like attempting an obstacle course, and I had to do it as her, with her confidence and her sense of fun,'' she said. ''To my surprise, I found that was in me, and I loved it.''

The actress won her Oscar for best supporting actress in Girl, Interrupted, playing a suicidal mental patient.

Meanwhile, Sir Anthony Hopkins is in talks to play Dr Hannibal Lecter, the infamous cannibal killer, for a third time, according to reports.

The 63-year-old actor has been asked to play his most famous role again in an adaptation of the original book about Hannibal, Red Dragon, Daily Variety reported.

Earlier this year, he reprised the role in Hannibal, which came after he first played the character in The Silence of the Lambs, winning an Oscar for the part in 1992.

Daily Variety said the film studio which made Hannibal is already adapting Red Dragon into a film script, using the same writer who wrote the script for The Silence of the Lambs.

The story introduces Hannibal when he is arrested for the first time by a former FBI agent who almost became one of his victims.

It has already been made into a film, called Manhunter, released in 1986 and starring the Scottish actor, Brian Cox, as Dr Lecter.

Sir Anthony took over the famous role in 1991 when he acted alongside Jodie Foster.

Hannibal has proved a hit around the world, with the film so far taking almost #180m at box offices, a success which puts it on a par with The Silence of the Lambs.

Director Brett Ratner is also in talks to direct Red Dragon and is likely to be paid #2.8m for the project.