Hobbit 2 - Director Peter Jackson with Evangeline Lilly
The Hobbit Desolation Of Smaug - Director Peter Jackson with Evangeline Lilly who plays Tauriel ©2013 Warner Bros

If you are a JRR Tolkien fan, you’re not going to recognize Evangeline Lilly‘s character in Peter Jackson‘s The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, because it’s not in the novel.

Lilly portrays Elf warrior Tauriel, who is the Captain of Thranduil’s (Lee Pace) guard, whose path crosses that of the Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) and the thirteen Dwarves as they continue their epic quest to reclaim the Lonely Mountain and the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor.

Peter Jackson and Evangeline Lilly spoke of the Hobbit 2 , which opens on December 13th.

Can you talk about making The Hobbit three movies instead of two? What character benefited the most from that decision?

Hobbit Desolation of Smaug - Director Peter Jackson
Hobbit Desolation of Smaug – Director Peter Jackson ©2013 Warner Bros and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Peter:  That’s an interesting question. I don’t think any character really benefited from that decision. We didn’t really change a lot. We made that decision after we had shot most of the film.

It was a decision based on what we had shot and we just thought, ‘We’re going to have to somehow cut a lot of the stuff out or we can reshape it.’ Then we did 10 weeks of shooting this year, for the second and third films.

I was also acutely aware that when this cycle of releasing a movie is done, you are going to end up with six films, The Unexpected Journey being the beginning and Return of the King being the end, and we just wanted it to feel like it was the same filmmakers going through.

You were semi-retired, what was about this that lured you back?

Hobbit Desolation Of Smaug - Evangeline Lilly
The Hobbit Desolation Of Smaug – Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly) ©2013 Warner Bros

Evangeline:  I had retired into what I thought would be life of quiet motherhood and writing, and didn’t really plan on taking any more acting gigs. Because The Hobbit was my favorite book as a little girl, and the elves were my favorite characters, it would be a dream come true to play one, so I jumped at the opportunity.

Then they said, ‘Your character’s not in the book.’ As a great fan of Tolkien’s, I went, ‘What? Everyone’s going to hate me.’ But it didn’t take long for them to completely convince me that it was the right thing to do and it was a good idea.

Peter: People always ask about Evangeline’s character, Tauriel, and why we felt the need to create her. In The Hobbit novel they are captured by the elves and they escape in the barrels, and it’s a memorable part of the book, but you can’t have a scene in a film that’s a memorable scene and have just one person as the elf.

We wanted three elf characters who were all different,  characters that have conflict with each other and have different agendas.   Elvenking Thranduil (Lee Pace), Legolas (Orlando Bloom) and Tauriel are all on different flight paths, which makes for a much more interesting narrative.

Were there any other changes you didn’t like?

Hobbit Desolation of Smaug - Evangeline Lilly
Hobbit Desolation of Smaug – Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly) ©2013 Warner Bros and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Evangeline: When they said, ‘There’s a love story,’ I agreed to the job under one condition. And that condition was in place for two years. The condition was, ‘I will not be involved in a love triangle,’ because anyone who is a fan of Lost [knows] I’ve had it up to here with love triangles.

Sure enough, I come back for reshoots in 2012 and they go, ‘We’ve made a few adjustments to the love story.’

What kind of training did you do for the role?

Evangeline: I went through five different types of training. I did weapons training, stunt training, movement training, dialect training and language training. In the weapons training there were two different weapons, I had double daggers and a bow and arrow. Believe it or not, I used to teach archery to little kids –

Peter: I didn’t know that –

Evangeline: Yeah, Peter didn’t know that. At a kids’ camp when I was a teenager I used to teach archery, but I’m not a good marksman. I think that one of the great gifts of CGI and working in the imagination is that you can imagine that you are much more talented than you really are.

And if you can imagine it then it can appear as so with Peter Jackson’s magic CGI brush.

What did you think when you first saw yourself on the screen as Tauriel?

Evangeline: I’m a real Tolkien geek and I had dreamed about being an elf since I was a little girl, so there was an incredible amount of satisfaction and dream-realization when I first got to see myself as an elf. Just the actual visual was very exciting.

Peter: I look at her here and I find it a bit strange, because I’m much more used to hearing her voice and looking around and seeing the red wig and the ears.

The actors walk on set ready to go and they go home at the end of the day, and I’m not used to seeing them as humans. It’s rather disturbing.

The movie ends on quite a cliffhanger. Peter Jackson was asked if it was challenge to figure out where to end the film? Click here to listen to his reply.

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Evangeline was asked about her impression of Tauriel? Click here for her comments.

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Judy Sloane

Judy is Film Review Online's regular Los Angeles based reporter.