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Actress Evangeline Lilly says role in The Hobbit
Actress Evangeline Lilly says role in The Hobbit

Actress Evangeline Lilly says role in The Hobbit

Evangeline Lilly revealed to reporters, at a recent Los Angeles event, that The Hobbit was one of her favorite books as a child, and that she was thrilled when asked to play a part in the new movie The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.

Evangeline said: “I came out to New Zealand and started work when my son was only three months old.”

“So I was in the throes of nursing and trying to recover from my 30 hour labour, and I was focused inwardly.

“I was in that nesting time.”

The shoot has inspired the ex-model, whose breakthrough was as the lead character Kate Austen in JJ Abrams’ Lost, from 2004, to carry on acting.

She said: “The Hobbit was so positive. I had so much fun and all of my experiences surrounding it have been a really different experience for me than it was on Lost.

“For the first time in 10 years, I actually think I like acting.

“This might be fun and I actually might want to do more. If it wasn’t for them pulling me out of bed and saying you are coming and working with us, I might have retired at that point, I may have never done a film again.”

Evangeline took to playing the 600-year-old ruthless and rebellious elf with gusto. She wanted to do the wirework stunts herself but wasn’t allowed and employed a language coach so she could learn Elvish.

But then it was no wonder. Evangeline was a massive fan of The Hobbit, claiming it was her favourite book, even though she didn’t finish reading The Lord of the Rings, putting it down with 50 pages left.

She laughed: “I refused to finish the book, ’cause then it would just live on in my mind forever. And then, later on, my sister ended up reading it and she told me, ‘It’s such a good thing you stopped reading because the end is devastating’.”

She admits that because she was such a big fan of the books she didn’t want to watch the Lord of the Rings movies, which starred former boyfriend Dominic Monaghan, who played hobbit Merry. They met when they both starred in Lost after he’d finished making the epic trilogy.

She said: “I refused to see the first one when it came out. I was ‘No way, nobody will do those books justice. Nobody’. I wanted to protect the images that I had in my mind.

“I ended up going because my family went as a Christmas outing and I would have been the only person who wouldn’t have gone.

“I was so amazed that everything I saw was what I had envisioned.

“So once that happened, Peter earned the title of the ambassador of Tolkien’s work for me. Therefore, when I was asked to play an elf in The Hobbit, I was like, ‘Oh my God’, because the Woodland Elves were my favourite characters. I dreamed when I was a little girl of being a woodland elf.”

Fans of the Hobbit will know that Tauriel doesn’t appear. The character was created to be head of the Elven guard by director Peter Jackson and his producing partner and wife Fran Walsh – to flesh out the elves of Mirkwood Forest and to add another female character to the story, which is dominated by males.

While she was in make-up, putting on her red wig to start shooting the film, Evangeline re-read The Hobbit.

She said: “I was shocked at how simple it is. As a kid, it seemed like a really complex, interesting, difficult story to read.

“I went back and I was like oh it’s a kid’s book, a real – forgive me Tolkien, may you rest in peace – kind of boring for adults story.

“And it doesn’t have a lot of twists and turns in the plot and there’s very little character development and it made me realise why Peter had made the decisions he made, about characters and expanding storylines and basically complicating the story.

“It would have never survived in the adult film world if it was left the way it was in the book.”

Evangeline based her new character a little bit on Tinker Bell – the fairy from Peter Pan. She said: “When I think about Tinker Bell, she is this delicate, beautiful, sensual, little nymphette but she’s also powerful and scary and you wouldn’t want to get on the wrong side of Tink.

“She’s a strong little feisty thing.

“I am a huge fan of the Lady Cottington’s book of Pressed Fairies and those are nasty little things. That book is a bit naughty.”

The actress sees Tauriel as representing the Woodland Elves, who JRR Tolkien talks about in the 1937 The Hobbit book but doesn’t highlight one character. You would think with a completely new character, the actress would have free rein rather than the famous characters of the book such as Bilbo or Gandalf.

She said: “I think that I had the tightest leash out of anybody with them, because they knew exactly what they were after and I completely relied on them.

“Because I couldn’t go to the book and take my own interpretation, I had to listen to what their interpretation was.

“But it also gave me incredible freedom because you don’t have in your mind how Tauriel should look, or act, sound or behave.”

Tauriel is very different to the Lord of the Rings elves. She’s a commoner, which means she’s shorter and doesn’t have the blonde hair and blue eyes but red locks and green eyes.

While Legolas and the other elves in the Lord of the Rings helped men to defeat Sauron and his army, Tauriel and the Woodland Elves in the new film are out for themselves and defending their realm against orcs from the Dol Guldur area.

She said: “I do a lot of killing, Tauriel kills a lot and it was great fun slaughtering orcs.”


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