Playing an angry female elf

Playing an angry female elf

LOS ANGELES - Tolkien purists might want to look away now.

The film-makers behind The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug have taken a fair bit of artistic licence in their second adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's 1937 fantasy epic, conjuring up a character - the female elf Tauriel - who does not exist in the book.

Evangeline Lilly, the 34-year-old Canadian actress who plays her in the movie, tells Life! this was done partly to make up for the absence of female characters in The Hobbit.

She says director Peter Jackson and his production team also realised how dull it can be having just male characters on screen.

Speaking to reporters in Los Angeles earlier this year, Lilly mounted a spirited defence of their decision, which has enraged some fans of The Hobbit and Tolkien's The Lord Of The Rings series.

"There are many aspects to why the film-makers created her, but one of them is that there are no women in the book," says the actress best known for playing a plucky plane-crash survivor in the television series Lost (2004-2010).

"I think that in 2013, it would be really unfair to women and girls to make nine hours of cinema without a single woman in it," she says of Jackson's The Hobbit trilogy.

"I don't mean to challenge Tolkien, but he wrote these books at a time when women didn't need to be a part of the story because they weren't important to life - at least, that's how men viewed them.

"Women have fought very hard to be recognised, and what message would you be sending to that 10-year-old girl who sees the movie and comes out thinking, 'I have no part in that story'?"

During post-production, everyone from the film's editors to the sound department also saw how monotonous it could be with an all-male cast.

"They were like, 'We're so glad to do your scenes, we're so tired of looking at stinky ugly dwarves. When you ladies - meaning myself and Cate Blanchett as the elf Galadriel - show up on screen, we go, 'Thank god'."

But the actress knows that many diehard fans - the sort who peruse Elvish dictionaries and geek out over other minutiae from Tolkien's universe - will not approve.

"There are people who struggle with it because there are purists out there who want to keep Tolkien exactly as he is."

She says she respects that but, as a "huge fan" of Tolkien herself, she thinks the addition of Tauriel makes for a better film.

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