Evangeline Lilly on becoming a ‘wild’ Elf for her trip to Middle-Earth in ‘The Hobbit’

Evangeline Lilly should have been huge coming out of “Lost.” I’m still trying to wrap my head around how Hollywood dropped the ball with this one. From the start of the show to the bitter end, Lilly was one of the people whose work kept me coming back week after week.

Her character is sure to be polarizing among Tolkien fanatics. Tauriel seems to me to fit well into the world that Peter Jackson has spent five movies now building onscreen, and I like that she represents a wilder, darker sort of elf than we’ve seen in the films so far. We discussed that and the physicality of the role she’s playing, and what became evident is that she is having the time of her life.

And why not? She’s playing a strong character who ends up front and center for a big chunk of this film. What I’m curious to see is how fans react to a character who was invented completely by the filmmakers. This something that hasn’t really happened before with these films. On “Lord Of The Rings,” Jackson had to make hard decisions about what material did or didn’t make it into the final films, and he had to cut whole characters and plot lines. Even so, he ended up with something like a ten hour final film when all is said and done. This time around, he’s gone the opposite way, expanding instead of condensing, and there’s quite a bit of time and attention paid to the way Tauriel fits uneasily into her place in things as part of the kingdom of the Wood-elves.

In particular, there’s the introduction of a possible love story between her and Kili (Aidan Turner), one of the dwarves. It’s a pretty big gamble by Jackson and his co-writers Philippa Boyens, Fran Walsh, and Guillermo Del Toro. If it pays off, you end up more invested in the fate of these two characters during the events of the third film, and if it doesn’t, then it just becomes this annoyance you have to sit through to get back to the actual story.

I like Lilly’s work in the film, and I love just how giddy she seems to be playing the part. Here’s hoping this gets Hollywood talking in a way that “Lost” didn’t and that there are many more starring roles for her in the future.

“The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug” is in theaters everywhere on Friday.