Interview with Evangeline Lilly

Home > Press Box > Interview with Evangeline Lilly

Evangeline Lilly is the very definition of glamorous, on red carpets in gowns by Alberta Ferretti and Catherine Deane – yet spends much of her time with hairy-toed dwarves or on deserted islands. For our interview, she arrives looking characteristically radiant in a sharp, fitted black suit - her long, dark locks gone and replaced with a chic, short bob.

I've always liked short hair on women,” she says brightly, “I think it's cool. I would have done it earlier but I was contracted to keep it long for Lost and for a cosmetic endorsement campaign!”

Oh the politics of image, it seems.

“For many of my projects there are stipulations about how you look, so you do get used to it after a while. I do sometimes crave the days when I can go to my stylist and say ‘just do this’, or ‘I fancy a change’, but usually that’s something I have to run past someone else!

“But I do love my hair, and it’s arguably the most versatile thing a woman has in her locker, after all, so it deserves care and attention!”

We’d met with Lilly to discuss hair, of course, though also to Hobbits. Back for the second instalment of the franchise, The Desolation of Smaug, following Peter Jackson’s Unexpected Journey, the actress, 34, plays Elf Tauriel in the new film – a part Jackson wrote into the screenplay and not from Tolkien’s original book (not without controversy – but more on that later). It was a part that convinced her to come out of ‘retirement’.

Lilly gave birth to her first child, a son named Kahekili, with boyfriend Norman Kali in Hawaii in 2011, and acting took a backseat. “I thought I was done with acting. I was like, 'I am a mum now, this is my life now and this is what I am going to do.' And I was just totally happy and content with that.

“I don't know if there is any other role in all of the world that could have got me to do it just three months out of labour… to start working, to start doing stunts in another country, for a year. But it was a Woodland Elf in The Hobbit and there was just no way I could say no!” she says.

“I had so much fun, and all of my experiences surrounding it, doing press and whatnot, have been a really different experience for me than it was when I was working on Lost

It was of course Lost that shot her stardom - she spent six years on the drama between 2004 and 2010, without ever being totally happy.

“Well, with The Hobbit, it was the first time in 10 years that I actually realized I like acting” She laughs. “If it had been a bad experience I may have never done a film again.

“But this experience and Real Steel really brought me back round, you might say. Those two films were so collaborative and so relaxed and just such a wonderful experience, that I am now like, 'Oh let's just see what else is out there. Let's see if there are any other wonderful things out there that I can have fun doing.'”

She read The Hobbit at young age, and so the part was irresistible, but admits to having never finishing the Lord of the Rings, letting the films fill her in.

“When I was a young teen, The Hobbit was my favourite book. Actually, when I read The Lord of the Rings trilogy I put it down with about 50 pages left in the book and I never picked it up again. I just didn't want it to end. I refused to finish the book because then it would just live on in my mind forever. And then later on, my sister ended up reading it and she told me, 'It's such a good thing you stopped reading it early because the end is devastating!'”

Born in in Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta in 1979 and raised in British Columbia, she was discovered by a Ford Models agent as a teenager and landed several TV commercials and nonspeaking parts in TV shows such as Smallville and Kingdom Hospital.

Lilly appeared in The Hurt Locker in 2009, and then post-Lost in Real Steel, in 2011. She was married to hockey player Murray Hone, for a year from 2003, and from 2004 to 2009 she dated Lost co-star Dominic Monaghan.

Despite her fine fashion sense, Lilly has always considered herself a bit of a tomboy – but she’s hung that up now: “I'm in my thirties now; I can't afford to be a tomboy now – my bones won't allow it!

“But I do love being in my thirties. There is less scrutiny. From my hair to my make-up to my dress sense, you are allowed to do things without unfair criticism; you can be so much more expressive about image and style. I think a woman's prime is from 30 to 50. I think those 20 years are the best years of a woman's life and I'm happy to be in them,” she says.

She admits she’s getting more used to fame, but still isn’t entirely comfortable with it. “I try very hard to create a world where it doesn't exist. I like being a normal person, living a normal life and it took me a long time to figure out how to do that,” she says. “For the first couple of years on Lost, I was just floundering, not knowing what to do or how to deal with it. I was very stressed and very unhappy and I wanted to quit, but I'd signed a contract.”

She also tries to avoid those diehard fans who are unimpressed with Peter Jackson’s reinvention of the classic novel – like adding new characters.

“Every once in a while, something trickles through where I will be talking to somebody online who will say, 'Just ignore everything they are saying about you.' And I think, [gasps] 'What are they saying about me?!' Because I don't seek out negative press, it's just terrible for your mental state of being.

“So I spend my time when I go online to discuss my character. I will go to my fan sites, I will go to my Twitter page or my Facebook page and I will engage the people there who appreciate me!”

And there are lots of those…

Written by Anthony Pearce 

Editorial supplied by Interview Hub 
Images courtesy of Shutterstock Images 

Signup to our Newsletter