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Evangeline Lilly Talks 'The Desolation Of Smaug,' Playing Tauriel & Saying No To Tank Top-Wearing, Tomboy Characters

The Playlist By Todd Gilchrist | The Playlist December 12, 2013 at 11:02AM

Since playing Kate for six seasons on “Lost,” Evangeline Lilly has become a virtual standard-bearer for midriff-exposing tomboys. But that’s also the reason you haven’t seen her in as many roles since: she has a few stipulations that characters must meet in order for her to consider playing them, including no tank tops, and perhaps even more crucially, no love triangles. But as a massive fan of J.R.R. Tolkien’s novels, Lilly thrilled at the chance to join the cast of Peter Jackson’s adaptations of “The Hobbit”—even if the character was completely original, and as she soon discovered, finds herself in a love triangle.
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The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug

Your character has this great, tender relationship with Aidan Turner’s character. How much time did you spend together on set, and then given the differences between them, what did you determine motivated the attraction between them? Do they share something we don’t yet know, or is it just a matter of you two being understandably very attracted to one another?
(laughs) Well, first of all, to answer how much time I got to spend working alongside him, the answer is not enough. Aidan was a total delight to work with. He is a happy, passionate, generous guy, and generous actor and co-star, so I looked greatly forward to all of the scenes I had to play with him. 

And then as far as the attraction between them or whatever is that sparkle or that chemistry that you can see, that I really believe is that they’re both extremely passionate beings. He is passionate about his people and his heritage and their legacy, and he has an exuberance for life. He’s a kind of slightly reckless, energetic, sparkly young dwarf, and she is a passionate elf. She is extremely passionate about justice, as the head of the Silvan guard, she’s passionate about her culture, and the forest and nature and her connection to it—and the innocence and the precious purity of nature and protecting it. And I think that, even in human beings, probably the most attractive thing in another person is passion, and I think passion can cross over racial divides—which is essentially what Tauriel and Kili are dealing with, a racial divide. I mean, it’s a species divide, but it’s the same idea—they have a prejudice against each other when they first meet, and very quickly I think their passions overtake that prejudice.

You mentioned that the only stipulation about taking the role of Tauriel was that you didn’t want to be in a love triangle. After having played Kate on “Lost” for six seasons, do you have any other things that you did not want to do again, or that might be deal-breakers when you’re looking at roles?
Yeah, very much so. It would take a lot, it would take a pretty darn impressive project for me to play a kind of tank top-wearing, tomboy girl, woman. I don’t want to say I’m bored with that because that might be a bit too extreme, but I just feel like I have exhausted that part of my performing life, and I really enjoyed the feminine element of playing Tauriel, because it was such a departure from playing Kate. That’s not to say that I’m not looking for roles with strong women—I think that’s always what I’m looking for—but I think strength comes in all different shapes and sizes, and I’m interested mostly at this point finding roles where I can demonstrate the kind of strength that comes out of softness and vulnerability and passion and compassion. Because I actually think that’s a more distinctly female brand of strength that has often been associated with weakness, and I love the idea of debunking that myth—that being vulnerable and passionate makes you weak. I think it makes you infinitely stronger than somebody who is maybe violent and powerful.

Given the complexity that you brought to this character, what is the thing that you’re most looking forward to seeing brought to life in the final film?
There’s a couple of things I’m most excited about seeing in the next film, but I would give away the plot if I said them. But one of them I’m very much looking forward to seeing is the final scenes in the Battle of the Five Armies, because when we shot those scenes, I really and truly gave it every ounce of everything I had. I was a puddle on the set floor when those scenes were finished, when that week of work was finished. I had nothing physically, mentally or emotionally left to give because I’d spent myself. So when you put that kind of effort into something, it’s hard to wait to see the end result—you want to see if it paid off. And that’s how I feel about the final scenes in the Battle of the Five Armies.

"The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug" opens on Friday, December 13th.

This article is related to: Interviews, Interview, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Evangeline Lilly


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