Evangeline Lilly spent six seasons stranded on an island evading smoke monsters, polar bears, and other dangers on the show "Lost." But those threats pale in comparison to the orcs, trolls, and dragons of Middle Earth.
Lilly is currently in the midst of shooting "The Hobbit," director Peter Jackson's return to the world from the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy. She'll be playing an elf named Tauriel, a character not found in J.R.R. Tolkien's original book.
I was able to speak to Ms. Lilly on the phone from her home in Hawaii about her last film, "Real Steel," which is now available on DVD and Blu-ray. But I did get the chance to ask her about her work on "The Hobbit," and she said that preparing for the role has been different than anything else she's ever done before.
"I'm a fairly spontaneous actor," Lilly said. "I like to keep things fresh and real and alive. And therefore, I don't do a lot of prepping." She told me it was J.J. Abrams -- the co-creator of "Lost" and director of its first episode -- who taught her "the art of letting go." She said, "I think I was over-studying like an eager student when I first started on 'Lost.'"
Working on "The Hobbit," though, has radically changed how she readies herself for a role. "I can't just be spontaneous, because there is nothing natural about being an elf," Lilly said. "It's not human, so I have to study to learn what it means to be this other creature."
This means Lilly has had to train to walk, talk, and, of course, fight like an elf. She said, "So, on top of my stunt training -- which I need to learn how to be proficient with the bow and arrow, and with daggers, and in fighting orcs that are, you know, ten feet tall -- I also have to learn the language of Elvish, and I have to learn an RP [Received Pronunciation] neutral English accent for when I speak English." When you add in learning to move and gesture like an elf, Lilly figures she has spent "four times as much time preparing as I do actually shooting."
"The Hobbit" will be released as two films, one in December of 2012 and the other a year later. Lilly told Entertainment Weekly that she'll only appear briefly in the first film, and will have a greater part to play in the second. She said her role has been expanded from the original script she read: "There's a lot more for me to do now, which is a lot of fun, but it's a little more pressure."
Just how Evangeline Lilly looks as an elf is being kept under wraps, but we do have a new online exclusive photo from the film. It features Martin Freeman (TV's "Sherlock") as Bilbo Baggins, the younger version of the character played by Ian Holm in the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy. He's surrounded by the dwarves who will accompany him on his grand adventure. "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" hits theaters on December 14, 2012.
Watch the first trailer for 'The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey':