Thanks to consistently playing tough, independent, ass-kicking women, it's easy to imagine that Evangeline Lilly spends her down time climbing mountains or big-wave surfing, but the truth is she's actually a very gifted writer. She's written a truly delightful and sophisticated children's book called The Squickerwonkers, and the easiest way to pitch it is to say were it a movie, it'd be right at home alongside the likes of Coraline and ParaNorman.
Lilly will be making several appearances at the upcoming San Diego Comic-Con to promote her first book and ahead of that we had the pleasure of chatting with her about the creation of something that's been incubating inside her since she was a kid herself, and the need to give kids smart, stimulating material. If you're a parent, trust us, and put this book on your radar.
We will save The Squickerwonkers portion of the interview until the week of Comic-Con, but since this site is called Movies.com, we naturally had to ask about that side of her career and what it's like working on big movie projects that she can do now that she couldn't while working on Lost. And just to head anyone off, when it came to her hypothetical involvement in Ant-Man, she had to plead the fifth because she's not cleared to talk about if she's even in the movie.
Movies.com: When working on a project like The Hobbit, where you put in work for a long period of time then have to step away for a big gap, is there a sense of loss of control over your work?
Evangeline Lilly: It's a bit unnerving as an idea. Like on The Hobbit, I felt I only really got into Tauriel and the hang of playing her on the last week of production, and so you reach this point where you finally get into a groove and think you're finally getting how you play them as second nature, and then they say "Okay, now go away and come back in a year and start again" and so you worry about how you're going to step away, live another life, and then step back in again.
It was unnerving to me to know that was the notion of it, but once we came back to do reshoots... it's like with Squickerwonkers... I think the incubation time actually makes it easier and more natural. I'd gotten more familiar with the character over the time that we were away, so when I came back I actually found it easier to step into the role than even on the last week of production. It was a very pleasant surprise because I expected it to be really f***ing hard.
Movies.com: Because of this incubation period that seems to be a theme with you, are there projects that interest you now that didn't interest you years ago?
Lilly: Yes, definitely. That's happening all over the place for me. For the time I was working on Lost, I wasn't really interested in doing anything else. I was so overwhelmed by the sudden success and the incredibly grueling work hours and the press tours and the craziness of life as a television actor. I wasn't interested in anything. I really kind of turned away. I never went to L.A. to take meetings because I wasn't looking, and so there were projects, for example, there are genre projects where I just thought, oh no, because they were so sci-fi and I was already working on Lost and so I just kept saying "Not interested, not interested." If anything, I wanted to do quiet little indies.
And now those bigger genre projects are more appealing to me because I've got the room and the energy for it because I'm not being completely drained by the nine-to-five of television and doing a massive genre piece. I'm much more open now. I'm still really focused on my writing, and I'm still taking each gap between projects to make sure I have time to hone my writing, but when the right thing comes along and I can establish that it'll be fun, I can kind of dive in head first now where before I couldn't.
Movies.com: Does being involved with big projects with big mysteries fans want to know, like Lost, interfere with you as an actress? Is it a distraction?
Lilly: Because I'm a personable person and enjoy talking to people, most of the time interviews are genuinely enjoyable for me and I like having conversations with people. I don't like the fact that I have to be a hard nose and say, "Don't ask me that question." It makes me uncomfortable because it's much easier to just answer questions and have an actual conversation. So that's a bit of a price.
When it comes to the actual acting, there are a million things where you go, "Come on, just give me my goddamned script so I can prepare for my role" and no one will give you anything because they're terrified it will leak. And it makes you go "Arrrrgh!" because it's like, how am I supposed to do my job if you don't give me material?
Some productions are better and worse than others I've worked with. Even on the project Real Steel that I did with Hugh Jackman, it was top secret and no one would give me the full script. So I'm very used to it because pretty much everything I've worked on has been genre and been like that. Once you get there, though, you realize you've been whining, but really you have to trust the people like the writers and editors and directors who it's all up to, anyway.
The Squickerwonkers Vol 1 will be on store shelves November 18, 2014, but if you're at the upcoming San Diego Comic-Con you can meet Evangeline Lilly and get a special edition, signed copy early. We will post more info about that with the Squickerwonkers-centric part of our interview closer to Comic-Con.
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