Evangeline Lilly first catapulted to fame as one of the stars of the smash ABC-TV series Lost, where she played Kate Austen for six years. Once the series ended its run, Lilly took a few film roles in pictures like The Hurt Locker and Real Steel, but stepped back from acting a bit to concentrate on motherhood and writing her first children’s book, The Squickerwonkers.
She came back to features a couple of years ago with a vengeance, however, playing the Elf Tauriel in the second and third installments of The Hobbit and then landing the role of Hope Van Dyne, daughter of Hank Pym and Janet Van Dyne, in Marvel’s new Ant-Man. Speculation has run rampant that Hope will follow in her mother’s footsteps and suit up as the Wasp, but Lilly herself was unsure of what the future holds for her character when we sat down recently to discuss Ant-Man.
You took a break for a couple of years, and then you came back and went right into big projects like The Hobbit and now this. Do you feel comfortable coming back to work and jumping into these big movies?
It certainly wasn’t in the plan, but it has been really surprisingly fun. Working for these big franchises, on these big projects, that are so fantasy-driven…you know, the grind of it is that you have to work with a lot of CGI and a lot of unknowns, and a lot of the time the scene that you’re working on is not the screen that ends up on the screen, but the fun of it is this world creation and the liberties that you can take as an actor in existing in these worlds, and then the fans. The fans are so devoted and fanatical and excited and passionate. I’ve been lucky enough to work on, you know, projects pretty much throughout my career that pull from the same fan base, so you know, those Comic-Con geeks, they’re my peeps (laughs).
Hope Van Dyne comes from an alternate universe in the Marvel comics so there’s not a lot for you to draw on and not a lot of baggage. What appealed to you about her and was it fun to come in with almost a clear slate?
I really like the clean slate. I have to say, I learned that playing Tauriel, that it’s actually an incredible freedom. Because not only do you have the chance to collaborate with the writers and the director to create something unique and original, but you also don’t have the pressure of somebody’s vision in their mind of what you’re supposed to be. And I think that, you know, you face that when you’re playing iconic characters like Hank Pym or Scott Lang or the hobbit. So with Hope, I just invested in essentially learning more about Hank Pym and Janet Van Dyne. ‘Cause I feel like, once you understand a person’s parents, you understand the person.
How was working with Paul and how much of those fight scenes did you get to do yourself?
We did pretty much all of it — and the stuntpeople did it — and then we’d pair off, so it’d be me and a male stuntperson and then Paul and a female stuntperson, and then Paul and I…it was just a big hodgepodge of collaboration, putting the shots together and using what was usable. So what was great was that we got a shot at it all, we got to try everything.
You’re signed for multiple Marvel movies and we sort of get a sense in this movie that Hope is going to be around…do you know where you’re supposed to go next? Have they let you know?
No, I’m still in the dark and I’m excited to find out. I’m with the fans, going, ‘C’mon, tell me what’s going on!’ I do hope that I get to keep going — punfully intended — because I had such a great time working on this movie. Marvel are a surprisingly collaborative and intimate company to work for. They’re big and they’re successful, but they haven’t lost their roots at all. They’re really, really still just a bunch of comic book geeks having fun doing what they love.
Real quick, are you working on a new book?
I am, actually. I’m working on the second Squickerwonkers book, and I’m working on my first adult novel trilogy. So that’s an undertaking! (laughs) That’s been taking up the majority of my time — all of my time — since I wrapped on this film. I have no idea when it will come out, but I’m working hard at it.
Ant-Man is out in theaters July 17.