Elf fac­tor

Evan­ge­line Lilly couldn’t pass off the chance to star in TheHob­bit:The deso­la­tionOf Smaug.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - MOVIES - By Gina Mcin­tyre

IT wasn’t so long ago that Evan­ge­line Lilly was one of those stri­dent J.R.R. Tolkien fans wor­ried that Peter Jack­son’s movie adap­ta­tions wouldn’t cap­ture the po­etic soul of the fan­tasy she so loved as a child grow­ing up in Canada.

“I was a bit of a Tolkien purist be­fore Peter Jack­son made the Lord Of The Rings tril­ogy,” the ac­tress said re­cently. “I was adamant that I wouldn’t see those films be­cause there was no way that any­body was go­ing to be able to re-cre­ate what I had imag­ined in my mind on the screen. I ended up be­ing dragged to it for a big fam­ily Christ­mas thing and couldn’t be­lieve how ac­cu­rately he had por­trayed ev­ery­thing that I’d ever imag­ined.”

Now Lilly is hop­ing that fans will be just as pleas­antly sur­prised by her Wood­land elf Tau­riel, who makes her de­but as the first Mid­dle-earth char­ac­ter not in­vented by Tolkien in The Hob­bit: The Deso­la­tion Of Smaug.

The sec­ond in­stal­ment in the planned three-part adap­ta­tion of the land­mark 1937 chil­dren’s novel, The Deso­la­tion Of Smaug sees good-na­tured hob­bit Bilbo Bag­gins (Martin Free­man) con­tinue his jour­ney to­ward the Lonely Moun­tain to as­sist a com­pany of dwarfs in their quest to re­claim their lost trea­sure, which was stolen by the sin­is­ter dragon Smaug.

The group en­coun­ters the crea­tures of the dark for­est Mirk­wood, where Lilly’s Tau­riel re­sides, and even­tu­ally, the great lizard him­self, who speaks with a sil­ver-dag­ger bari­tone fur­nished by Bene­dict Cum­ber­batch.

“I had to learn how to spin my knives and make the knife work look fancy, and ob­vi­ously how to use a bow and ar­row,” Lilly said.

“The good thing with the bow and ar­row is that I never ac­tu­ally had to use an ar­row. I used a bow and an imag­i­nary ar­row and they CGI in the ar­rows af­ter­ward so I look like a badass.”

The char­ac­ter grew out of the de­sire to in­tro­duce more fe­male en­ergy into the story – The Hob­bit has no fe­male char­ac­ters to speak of – ac­cord­ing to Philippa Boyens, who wrote The Hob­bit scripts with Jack­son and Fran Walsh (Guillermo del Toro, who was once set to di­rect the movies, also has a writ­ing credit).

Best known for her work as the tough but sen­si­tive Kate Austen on the meta­phys­i­cally twisty se­ries Lost, Lilly said she had been toy­ing with the idea of early re­tire­ment when she re­ceived the call from Walsh and Boyens to gauge her in­ter­est in por­tray­ing the cap­tain of guards in the El­ven king­dom of Mirk­wood.

“I was laid up in bed hav­ing just given birth to my first child and I was ac­tu­ally still not mo­bile,” said Lilly, 34. “They of­fered me the role and I couldn’t say no.”

With her fiery auburn hair and reck­less spirit, Tau­riel is unique among the Elves that Jack­son pre­vi­ously has brought to the screen. She doesn’t have the same royal lineage as Cate Blanchett’s Gal­adriel or Or­lando Bloom’s Le­go­las, and she dis­plays more vul­ner­a­bil­ity than is cus­tom­ary for the higher be­ings.

That gave Lilly a chance to put her own stamp on the species.

“She had to be a bit more gritty, a bit more pas­sion­ate than what you’d seen be­fore,” the ac­tress said.

“It was ac­tu­ally great to have that lit­tle bit of free­dom to play with her and not have my per­for­mance from be­gin­ning to end be stoic and ethe­real.” – Los An­ge­les Times/McClatchyTri­bune In­for­ma­tion Ser­vices

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