In J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit not many elves are mentioned by name, especially in regards to female elves. It was interesting to find out how Evangeline Lilly, who plays Tauriel – an elven character that is completely made up and Orlando Bloom who plays Legolas – while not made up does not make an appearance in the book The Hobbit, have to say about their characters in Peter Jackson’s upcoming film The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. io9 was invited to the set to talk with Bloom and Lilly about their characters. This is an abbreviated version of the interview.
(The interview is pretty in-depth and extensive and the actors have a lot fo insights into what went into these characters for the films and why they were added. To read the entire interview with Lilly and Bloom go to io9.)
You’re playing a character that’s not in the book, so I’m curious if you could just talk a bit about your perception of her and her character.
Lilly: It would be my pleasure. Because of course, that is the greatest source of my anxiety on this film, is that I’m going to be lynched. I was a die-hard fan of these books before the films ever came out. And when I say die-hard, I wasn’t the person who could speak Elvish, but I really loved them. And I wasn’t actually going to see the original films, because I didn’t think it was possible that a film could represent the books appropriately. So I was protesting, and I wasn’t going to see them. And then my family all took a jaunt together, the entire family, to see the movies, and were like, “What, you’re just going to stay home?”
So I saw the movies and was thoroughly impressed that Peter Jackson managed to make my vision of the book come to life, as well as my sister’s and my father’s, and my aunt’s and my uncle’s, everyone’s. It seemed to somehow pan across everyone’s vision, even though we all knew we had to have had different visions of the books.
So when I got called and was told, “We’d like you to do The Hobbit”, which was my favorite of all of them when I was a kid — “And we want you to play a character that’s not in the books”, I gulped and hesitated, but then I went, “These guys know this world, and they represent this world so well, that I actually think they’ve earned the right to have a little play.” And I think that for this character in particular, she becomes sort of the embodiment and representation of the Wood Elves, which Tolkien talks about at length in all of his books. And in this book in particular, he just doesn’t introduce you to any of them. Well, you can’t have a movie with a group of people that are significant players in the story, that push forward the plot, without introducing at least one or two of them. You have to meet them. So I think that they just recognized that. And they could have made it a male Elf, but we have Legolas, and nobody needs to have to compete with that. So I think doing a female Elf in the Woodland realm was a bit safer, because we haven’t met one of those yet.
And also, I think this book is really, really alpha, it’s very male-driven. It’s all male characters, and they ended up — In the book, there’s not one female character. And if you watch a film from beginning to end, with no women in it, it’s really difficult. I don’t know if any of you feel this way, but it’s like eventually, you see a woman come on screen and you go, “Oh, thank God!” You just sort of need a break from all this testosterone, which happened, I think, in one of my films, The Hurt Locker. I was in it for like five minutes, and people were like, “You were in that movie!” And I was like, “Well, kind of.” And they were like, “No, you were!” ‘Cause they needed a woman!
How is Tauriel different from the Elves we’ve seen in the previous movies?
Lilly: My character is different from all of the Elves you’ve met before, in that she’s really young. And I keep telling journalists this because I’ve really focused on that in my performance. I’m trying to distinguish her from all of these incredibly sage and wise Elves that have lived for thousands of years. She’s only 600 years old, she’s just a baby. So she’s a bit more impulsive, and she’s a bit more immature. I think she’s more easily romanticized by a lot of things.
Can you tell us a little bit about your character’s look and costumes?
Lilly: Yeah, I love my character’s look. One of the great pleasures of working in Middle Earth is you get to be another being. Most of us are not playing human beings. So I have these — I got sat down when I first arrived, to try on my ears, to decide what my ears would be. And I was presented with three beautiful sets of ears, and they said, “Well, we’ve got the small, the medium, and the large. Which one would you like to wear?” And right away, they went, “Probably not the large.” And they sort of shuffled them aside, and went, “But we think the small and the medium would look great on you.” So we tried them on, and I was like, “Yeah, they’re kind of okay. Can I just try the large?” So we tried the large, and I was like, “That’s it!” I love them, they’re huge! I have these huge, pointed ears. They’re like three times the size of Orlando Bloom’s ears. And I think he has ear envy. I love my ears.
And how I can get away with that is I have this wig that’s down to my knees. It’s a massive head of hair, and it’s almost shocking red. It’s sort of auburn red, but it’s a red wig. And so, my hair is kind of big and it’s very noticeable. And I have what we joke around with on set, we call it my ‘IHS’, which is my Iconic Hair Shape, and it’s this big, beautiful, lustrous curl that runs down my back. So I could get away with having really big ears, because there was nothing that was going to distract you from the hair.
And then otherwise, because I’m a warrior, because I’m not a princess, as with most — well, both of the female Elves we’ve met in Middle Earth up to now — I don’t wear all of the glorious gowns that they wear. I don’t have all the layers and the chiffon and the silks—I’m in very practical, military clothing. I’m the head of the Elven Guard, so I spend most of my time in the movie slaughtering Orcs and Goblins, which is great fun. Although, hair down to your knees can get a bit troublesome when you’re flying around killing Orcs and Goblins. So yeah, I wear the military garb of the Woodland Elves.
Next, we spoke with Orlando Bloom, who talked about his return to Middle Earth and the different side of Legolas we’ll be seeing in Mirkwood:
What was your reaction to stepping back into this world the first day?
Bloom: It was sheer joy. It was also a little bit of, “Oh, my word.” This is 10 years later, I’m 10 years older and how’s this all going to work? I quite literally was like, “Can I just try on my old costume just for posterity of it all?” It was amazing that Pete was back at the helm of this movie, and it was amazing that I got a call to say we would love you to be a part of the film. I was just full of excitement. I was obviously like, “Ooh! This is going to be interesting to make the transition as an Elf being ten years older as myself, as an actor, going in to playing a character that would be younger, but as Elves are kind of ageless anyway we’ve managed to bridge the gap.
Is there much difference between Legolas in The Hobbit, versus Legolas in Lord Of The Rings? In terms of his personality and development.
Bloom: No. Not masses. Essentially the Woodland Realm Elves, which is where Legolas is from, and my father being Thranduil, the king of those Elves, are a particular type of Elf as described by Tolkien to be… I’m not going to quote him correctly, but they are different from the Lothlorien and the Rivendell elves. They’re more militant if you like. Legolas in Lord of the Rings was sent as a bridge from his people into the world of dwarves and humans and wizards and everything else.
This is an introduction into the Woodland Realm Elves. Obviously we meet my father, Thranduil, who is a very powerful and strong character who is very particular in his vision of who the Elves are, who the Woodland Elves are, specifically. They are kind of, like I said, a militant group, the Woodland Realm Elves. So I think that the opportunity that Pete and Philippa and Fran and the writers and Pete saw was to create — I think there was a desire for Legolas to come back. They felt that the fans would appreciate seeing Legolas in the Woodland Realm, and there was an opportunity to create a father-son, a prince versus king dynamic that would be interesting and serve the story.
Knowing how successful The Lord Of The Rings trilogy was, and also the fact that Legolas isn’t actually in The Hobbit, and you mentioned the excitement, but was there ever any hesitation on your part about taking a role in this film?
Bloom: Not after I had spoken to Peter. Their ideas, which I have explained, were made to clear to me about how it could be made seamless and effective. Not after I’d had that conversation. It was definitely something that anyone would think. There’s a big love for these books and these films and these stories. I think in the hands of Peter, the fans, I would hope, would feel rest assured that he will deliver a movie that will both entertain and enjoy and will be in keeping with Tolkien’s vision of the stories. They never stray at all from Tolkien’s vision of what the world is, and for me it was exciting to think of returning to Middle Earth and to be a part of something. This is Pete in his element, doing what he does best. So it was just very exciting.
Again, for the entire interview, go here.
victorialadybug (V. A. Jeffrey) is a fantasy and science fiction author. She also loves music, art, history, cooking, baking, fermenting stuff, comic book movies and nearly anything Tolkien related. Her biggest writing inspirations are Shakespeare, Frank Herbert and, of course, J.R.R. Tolkien. You can find her at: mymiddleearth.com and at Epistle Publishing.