Transcript: ‘The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug’ world premiere press conference
Press: Hi. Evangeline, I read that you are ready to retire. You just had a little baby when this came and sort of changed your life. Can you talk about that? It seems like such a crazy idea and also about the character of Tauriel – how you see her exactly having this longing for a dwarf and for Peter and for Philippa – this has been sort of controversial creating a character that wasn’t in Tolkien, if you could talk about how you knew you might piss off some fans but you felt the movie was worth it.
Evangeline: Um, I’m distracted by this, so I have to get it off my chest before I answer your question. Are there any Wolverine fans in the audience (some press raise their hands) lots of them. Anyone who knows, who remembers in the first Wolverine film, Wolverine’s brother? Yeah? Can you stand up and turn around. [Laughs] No, you! You! Yeah in the…yes! Stand up and turn around. Does this guy look [laughs] Wolverine’s brother? I mean not when you smile, you’re too friendly but when __ serious face, he really looks…look! See, that’s it, right there. Right? Sorry, it’s just been distracting me all afternoon.
Press: So you’re supposed to speak about your alleged retirement.
Evangeline: Retirement, yeah. What’s so strange about retiring at 30? I think that’s most people’s dream. That’s…that’s…I was. I had retired into what I thought would be a life of quite motherhood and writing and didn’t really plan on taking any more acting gigs. It had been about at least five years since I had taken a meeting or engaged in a new project. I just was sort of off the grid so to speak.
I was so far off the grid that when Pete, Fran and Phil were trying to find me to get ahold of me about this role, they couldn’t reach me and somebody on their production team just coincidentally used to work with my partner so he got a text message one day saying “Peter Jackson is trying reach Evangeline. Do you think she might be able to pick up the phone please?” So they did eventually get a-hold of me and of course because The Hobbit was my favorite book as a little girl and the Sylvan elves were my favorite characters in the book and it would be a dream come true to play one, I jumped at the opportunity.
I picked up the phone very quickly. And then they said, your character is not in the book and I took great pause as a great fan of Tolkien. I kind of gulped and went: waaaaa..what? Everyone is going to hate me. And 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 and that… like we all knew we were going to come into some sort of…Philippa: I remember that phone call and I remember that moment where I said, ‘And the love story.’ You know, there was this moment… it’s not a conventional love story and you were like – right, okay and um with a dwarf. And there was silence. And then I went ‘Really, but hang on I’m going to send you his photo, its Aidan Turner, so it’s okay!’.
Evangeline: She did!
Philippa: I did and then you went: okay. I can (handle) that.
Evangeline: She did. She goes: ‘He is soooo handsome.’
Philippa: Yeah, you’ll wait and see.
Evangeline: But also at that moment when she said there’s a love story, and you guys might not remember this, Phil might not remember this, but I agreed to the job under one condition, one condition – and they agreed to the condition and that condition was in place for two years. The condition was: I will not be involved in a love triangle. Right? Because any of you who were fans of Lost, I’ve had it up to here with love triangles and sure enough I come back for re-shoots in 2012 and they go, ‘We’ve made a few adjustments to the love story.’
Philippa: Yeah, that was a (missed words) that was genuine. It really wasn’t a triangle. It wasn’t. But what happened was when we saw it playing and just that look – that first look between Kili and Legolas, you know, that kind of exchange and looks, it was so perfect that we were like — and it was interesting with Legolas because one of the things that we were trying to do was he hates dwarves in The Fellowship of the Ring. There’s this animosity, there’s this whole kind of — that had to have come from somewhere. What was it about? And we wanted it to make it a little bit more emotional than just – I don’t like them.
Evangeline: And that played well. That played well.
Philippa: And then also I said to her when you did come back and you went oh no God, and then I said hang on – Orlando bloom, Aidan Turner. You’re caught between the two of them. I’m sorry. What’s the problem?
Press: I love this idea of you having to convince your actors that their plot lines are okay. You know? Is that something you have to do a lot?
Philippa: With Tauriel and because – Evangeline is not joking. She is a huge Tolkien fan. You were concerned and we understood that but we did explain where some of that came from – the relationship between Gimli and Galadriel, that was a kind of a very pure but sort of interesting love and also the idea that — that feminine energy that was lacking because professor Tolkien actually wrote fantastic female characters, he just didn’t write one for The Hobbit and you understood that immediately and you were brave.
Evangeline: And I think to his defense, Tolkien was writing in 1937. You know, the world is a different place today and I keep repeatedly telling people that in this day and age to put nine hours of cinema entertainment in the theaters for young girls to go and watch and not have one female character is subliminally telling them you don’t count, you’re not important and you’re not pivotal to story. And I just think that they were very brave and very right in saying we won’t do that to the young female audience who come and watch our film. And not just the young female audience but even a woman of my own age, I think it’s time that we stop making stories that are only about men especially only about heroic men and I love that they made Tauriel a hero.
Press: Sort of a small expansion of that. One of the things that exists in any large fandom is fan fiction and it seems like in some ways Tauriel is the quote unquote fictional character. Is that in some ways a tribute to the fandom?
Philippa: Women are huge fans of these films. It’s wonderful. You know, right from the Lord of the Rings there was this immediate engagement of women. You know there’s this notion that it’s a genre for boys, you know, dungeons and dragons or something like that but you know I’m living proof that that’s not true. I’ve always loved these stories. I think they spoke to me. The characters of The Hobbit especially speak to me – Frodo and Bilbo of course – and when you meet these young women, you do the red carpet and everything, things like that, and they talk to you, you understand that that passion for the storytelling that they’ve received that is going to create a new generation of young writers – young female writers – and I think we’re starting to see that now coming through. The way that fantasy is being used and one of the things that women, I think especially enjoy or relate to is that professor Tolkien attempted to make these stories real; that they feel real, like a history. They read like a history. This exists and this was true. And Pete is, I think, a genius at sort of making these films feel real even though you have a giant fire breathing dragon, that he’s a real character – a real being.Posted in Aidan Turner, Benedict Cumberbatch, Characters, Crew News, Dean O'Gorman, Director news, Evangeline Lilly, Headlines, Hobbit Book, Hobbit Cast News, Hobbit Movie, Hobbit Movie FAQ, J.R.R. Tolkien, Luke Evans, Martin Freeman, New Zealand, Peter Jackson, Philippa Boyens, Richard Armitage, The Hobbit, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Tolkien on December 6, 2013 by MrCere