Evan­ge­line Lilly

SFX - - Ant-Man - Words by Joseph McCabe Por­trait by Chris Ni­cholls

Evan­ge­line Lilly never set out to be an ac­tress, book­ing her first gigs as a means of pay­ing her col­lege tu­ition. But af­ter work­ing as an un­cred­ited ex­tra on shows like Smal­lville and Tru Call­ing, she found a call­ing of her own, and a le­gion of fans, af­ter be­ing cast as fugi­tive- turned- hero­ine Kate Austen; a role she played through all six sea­sons of TV’s phe­nom­e­nally suc­cess­ful Lost. Af­ter tak­ing some time off to have a baby, Lilly saw her big- screen ca­reer blos­som with her turn op­po­site Hugh Jack­man in Real Steel and as elf war­rior Tauriel in di­rec­tor Peter Jack­son’s Hob­bit movies. A new­comer to the world of comic books, Lilly joins the Marvel Uni­verse with this sum­mer’s Ant- Man, in which she plays Hope van Dyne, the daugh­ter of Henry Pym and Janet van Dyne – best known to fans as the orig­i­nal Ant- Man and Wasp. Hope van Dyne isn’t quite as well known as some of the other char­ac­ters in the Marvel Uni­verse. Was the chance to de­velop some­thing new part of the role’s ap­peal?

Yeah, def­i­nitely. What I re­ally took my cue from was [ orig­i­nal di­rec­tor] Edgar Wright. Of course Hope van Dyne has roots in the comics world, but she wasn’t a fully f leshed- out char­ac­ter. Edgar had a very spe­cific vi­sion for her. I re­ally liked the idea of this fe­male char­ac­ter who was very se­ri­ous, very cold and de­tached, but ca­pa­ble of any­thing. There’s a bit of am­bi­gu­ity to her. Is she a good per­son? Is she a bad per­son? There’s a lot of ques­tions that sur­round her. I love the chal­lenge of try­ing to play that am­bi­gu­ity. I hope like hell I pull it off [ laughs]. OC­CU­PA­TION: Ac­tress BORN: 3 Au­gust 1979 FROM: Fort Saskatchewan, Al­berta, Canada

G REAT­EST H ITS: The Hurt Locker, Lost, Real Steel, The Hob­bit: The Des­o­la­tion Of Smaug, The Hob­bit: The Bat­tle Of The Five Armies

R AN­DOM FACT: Lilly’s first book, the chil­dren’s fan­tasy The Squick­er­wonkers, was pub­lished last year. The de­but vol­ume in a new se­ries, it’s il­lus­trated by Weta Work­shop’s Johnny Fraser- Allen. Did Hope change once Edgar left the pro­ject and Pey­ton Reed took the helm?

When the split hap­pened, I was just start­ing to work with Edgar, say­ing, “Okay, what about her heart? What about her emo­tions? What about the bag­gage she’s been car­ry­ing around her whole life hav­ing been raised by these two crazy su­per­heroes?” Be­cause I was work­ing through some of those is­sues hadn’t signed my con­tract. I was very hon­est with Marvel that I would not sign if I didn’t feel com­fort­able with the next per­son that they brought on board to re­place Edgar. So when Pey­ton came on, he and I had a very fast and fu­ri­ous con­ver­sa­tion up front. I said, “It’s re­ally im­por­tant to me that she be very three- di­men­sional and that we not get stuck in a kind of comic­book pro­to­type of a woman. How do we find room in this al­ready very jam- packed script to bring out those mo­ments?” The things he was able to of­fer were mean­ing­ful. Pey­ton was a re­ally great di­rec­tor to work for as a woman and work with on my fe­male char­ac­ter. Hope’s a unique hero­ine in the Marvel Cin­e­matic Uni­verse in that she be­gins by train­ing Scott Lang to be­come a su­per­hero.

Yeah, I was ex­cited by the con­cept of the role when I first read it be­cause of that as­pect. She re­ally is a re­luc­tant men­tor. She’s a bit­ter, an­gry woman; who, de­spite her­self, is work­ing to help some­one who she thinks is an idiot [ laughs] come into him­self and fig­ure out how to rise to the chal­lenge that is be­fore him and be­come Ant- Man. I love that re­luc­tance. Of­ten I think I’ve played char­ac­ters who were tough but they’re very gen­tle and car­ing. It was ac­tu­ally fun for me to try on a char­ac­ter who was ac­tu­ally very cold and of­ten im­pa­tient and kind of rude [ laughs]. She’s an orig­i­nal to the Marvel Uni­verse, and of course I’m thrilled to be in good com­pany with Scar­lett Jo­hans­son as one of the kick- ass fe­males in this uni­verse. And I’ve heard the re­ac­tions that have come back from test groups, that women walk away from watch­ing this movie and there’s sort of this won­der­ful sat­is­fac­tion where they’re say­ing, “Well, it’s about time,” that they feel rep­re­sented. I’m hon­oured to be able to play a role where women, their au­then­tic­ity and their strength, are be­ing rep­re­sented in the su­per­hero uni­verse. Would you like to see Hope even­tu­ally take on the man­tle of the Wasp and join the Avengers?

I would love to see that… Hope’s a very, very ca­pa­ble, in­tel­li­gent, and, to a cer­tain ex­tent, lethal woman; even in her own right, with­out any su­per­hero pow­ers. There is that el­e­ment that she is the Wasp’s daugh­ter, and a chance to cre­ate that is fun. As far as the plans for her go­ing for­ward… I think ev­ery­one who signs on with Marvel has to sign a multi- pic­ture deal. I’m just cross­ing my fin­gers that that turns into some­thing, that they ask me back and that I have to do

more movies [ laughs]. Were you ex­posed to much of the Marvel Uni­verse when you were grow­ing up?

None at all. I had no in­ter­est in comic books grow­ing up. Be­cause it just didn’t seem like my kind of thing. But one of the things I’m learn­ing through my ca­reer is that of­ten things that don’t seem like my kind of thing turn out to be my kind of thing. What I recog­nised is that... When I was a lit­tle girl I was re­ally into fan­tasy, but I don’t think I ever iden­ti­fied with that. Some kids in school wear that as a badge – it’s within their iden­tity, they’re sci- fi/ fan­tasy nerds. I was never that kind. But look­ing back on the things that I loved, I loved fan­tasy. So it is re­ally fun for me to get in­volved with projects where I get a chance to slip into worlds where the rules

of nor­mal hu­man liv­ing don’t ap­ply [ laughs].

Ant- Man opens on Fri­day 17 July.

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