Thursday, October 17, 2013

Evangeline Lilly on playing Tauriel in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug


Above, Evangeline Lilly as Tauriel in Peter Jackson's adaptation of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. If the name Tauriel doesn't ring fairybells in your head it's because the character never appeared in Tolkein's book.  According to Lilly Jackson and screenwriters Fran Walsh and Phillipa Bowen created the character, having 
taken elements of different female Elven characters throughout Tolkien’s work, and they have amalgamated those things into one character, which is Tauriel.” 
Thanks to Collider's interview with Evangeline (LOST) Lilly for clearing that up; it's been way too long since I read the book to remember.  Lilly talked with Collider - very frankly, it's a fun read - about being initially freaked out at playing a character that didn't appear in the book.  
You’re playing a character that’s not in the book, so I’m curious– If you could just talk a bit about your perception of her and her character.
LILLY: It would be my pleasure. Because of course, that is the greatest source of my anxiety on this film, is that I’m going to be lynched. I was a die-hard fan of these books before the films ever came out. And when I say die-hard, I wasn’t the person who could speak Elvish, but I really loved them. And I wasn’t actually going to see the original films, because I didn’t think it was possible that a film could represent the books appropriately. So I was protesting, and I wasn’t going to see them. And then my family all took a jaunt together, the entire family, to see the movies, and were like, “What, you’re just going to stay home?” So I saw the movies and was thoroughly impressed that Peter Jackson managed to make my vision of the book come to life, as well as my sister’s and my father’s, and my aunt’s and my uncle’s, everyone’s. It seemed to somehow pan across everyone’s vision, even though we all knew we had to have had different visions of the books.
So when I got called and was told, “We’d like you to do The Hobbit”, which was my favorite of all of them when I was a kid– “And we want you to play a character that’s not in the books”, I gulped and hesitated, but then I went, “These guys know this world, and they represent this world so well, that I actually think they’ve earned the right to have a little play.” And I think that for this character in particular, she becomes sort of the embodiment and representation of the Wood Elves, which Tolkien talks about at length in all of his books. And in this book in particular, he just doesn’t introduce you to any of them. Well, you can’t have a movie with a group of people that are significant players in the story, that push forward the plot, without introducing at least one or two of them. You have to meet them. So I think that they just recognized that. And they could have made it a male Elf, but we have Legolas, and nobody needs to have to compete with that.
So I think doing a female Elf in the Woodland realm was a bit safer, because we haven’t met one of those yet. And also, I think this book is really, really alpha, it’s very male-driven. It’s all male characters, and they ended up– In the book, there’s not one female character. And if you watch a film from beginning to end, with no women in it, it’s really difficult. I don’t know if any of you feel this way, but it’s like eventually, you see a woman come on screen and you go, “Oh, thank God!” You just sort of need a break from all this testosterone, which happened, I think, in one of my films, The Hurt Locker. I was in it for like five minutes, and people were like, “You were in that movie!” And I was like, “Well, kind of.” And they were like, “No, you were!” ‘Cause they needed a woman!

Is your character much different from the other Elves in the story?
LILLY: My character is different from all of the Elves you’ve met before, in that she’s really young. And I keep telling journalists this because I’ve really focused on that in my performance. I’m trying to distinguish her from all of these incredibly sage and wise Elves that have lived for thousands of years. She’s only six hundred years old, she’s just a baby. So she’s a bit more impulsive, and she’s a bit more immature. I think she’s more easily romanticized by a lot of things.
BTW, in the piece Evangeline Lilly tells us she is hardly ever on set and complains about the lack of set time and stunt work opportunities in the film saying  
LILLY: I haven’t been put on a wire in the stunt hangar, let alone on camera. They won’t put me on a wire. Yesterday, I was doing stunt training, and they went, “Well, there’s a lot of wirework in this one.” I went, “Are you going to put me on a wire?” And I get this lip service, they go, “Well, maybe if we…” And they talk for so long about it. Then at the end of it, I go, “Wait, am I on the wire, or am I not on the wire?” And they just walk away!
She sounds pretty annoyed, doesn't she? 



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