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Evangeline Lilly Talks Tauriel, Ear-Envy, and Is Generally Delightful
by Susana Polo | 2:46 pm, October 17th, 2013
As a huge fan of Tolkien and a strong skeptic on the ability of any film to capture the books, Evangeline Lilly has been very open, since her casting was announced, about she’s nervous about fans who cling very tightly to ideas of canon in adaptation. She nearly didn’t go to see The Fellowship of the Ring because she felt it couldn’t capture the books, and understands fan skepticism. But she wants everybody to know that if she was won over, other folks will be to.
She told Collider:
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!”
…Fran and Peter and Philippa [have] read everything: The Silmarillion, and all the extra that Tolkien wrote about the world and the land. And I think they have just absorbed so much of it, that they have taken elements of different female Elven characters throughout Tolkien’s work, and they have amalgamated those things into one character, which is Tauriel.
I think her point about needing characters to personify the Wood Elves is a good one, and that’s aside from my firm belief that a modern adaptation of The Hobbit must deal constructively with the fact that it has exactly zero named female characters. And I love the attention Lilly has paid to her character as a fan steeped in Tolkien’s universe: “[Tauriel]’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.”
Or maybe I’m just a D&D person at heart, and easily swayed by actors who think deeply about fantasy races. But then I think Lilly’s story about choosing her prosthetics is pretty great too:
I got sat down when I first arrived, to try on my ears, to decide what my years would be. And I was presented with three beautiful sets of ears, and they said, “Well, we’ve got the small, the medium, and the large. Which one would you like to wear?” And right away, they went, “Probably not the large.” And they sort of shuffled them aside, and went, “But we think the small and the medium would look great on you.” So we tried them on, and I was like, “Yeah, they’re kind of okay. Can I just try the large?” So we tried the large, and I was like, “That’s it!” I love them, they’re huge! I have these huge, pointed ears. They’re like three times the size of Orlando Bloom’s ears. And I think he has ear envy, I love my ears.
You can read the entire interview with Lilly, including her practical wardrobe and frustration with not being allowed to do wire stunts, at Collider.