Avid J.R.R. Tolkien readers will no doubt be aware from her name that Tauriel, the elf to be played by Evangeline Lilly in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, is an original character being introduced to the film series by writers Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens and Guillermo del Toro.

Adding new characters into a film whose source material is as well-loved as The Hobbit always carries the danger of controversy, but in this case it probably can’t hurt to add a named female into the band of elf warriors, especially as we’ve been assured that Tauriel isn’t simply a love interest for Legolas.

Whereas the Lord of the Rings trilogy had Eowyn, Galadriel and Arwen all occasionally dropping into the plot to move things along, The Hobbit is a bit sparse on that front. Speaking very broadly, it’s about fifteen hairy men going on a road trip and encountering many more hairy men along the way (including the hairiest man of them all).

In keeping with Jackson’s onscreen vision of Tolkien’s elves, Lilly will also have her fair share of hair, but that won’t be the only thing that Tauriel will bring to the film. Speaking in an interview with Total Film, Lilly gave a few details about the character, starting with her age:

“She’s a very, very young elf. She’s only 600 years old, unlike Legolas who’s like, 1,900 years old and Thranduil who’s about 3,000 years old. She doesn’t have quite the wisdom and poise that those two boys do; she’s a little more… gritty. A little more spontaneous, passionate perhaps.

“To play this character I need to have a certain amount of grace. But I’m also supposed to be an absolutely ruthless, deadly killer.”

‘Graceful but deadly’ is a fairly accurate and concise description of the elvish fighting style, and a recent behind-the-scenes video of The Desolation of Smaug showed Tauriel fighting alongside Legolas and the rest of his warriors with a bow and arrow, against a group of what appear to be goblins (stuntmen with green bags on their heads, which was the method for creating goblins in An Unexpected Journey).

WARNING – MILD PLOT SPOILERS FROM THE HOBBIT BOOK FOLLOW

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Though Jackson has made a number of changes to the Hobbit trilogy, in order to include details from the appendices to The Lord of the Rings, there are at least two places in the films where Legolas, Thranduil and Tauriel are almost guaranteed to show up. The first is when Bilbo Baggins and the dwarves find themselves lost and starving in Mirkwood and repeatedly gatecrash elven parties in an effort to beg for food, eventually angering Thranduil to the point where he has the dwarves captured and thrown into the dungeons.

The elves come back into the picture during The Battle of the Five Armies, after Smaug is defeated by Bard the Bowman and the different races quickly descend to fight for a share of his treasure. Though Tolkien never specified whether or not Legolas fought in the battle, it’s not a stretch to believe that he did, since Thranduil is there to lead the wood-elves into battle, and where Legolas goes Tauriel will be likely to follow.

Do you think that Jackson is wrong to introduce new characters into the world of The Hobbit, or do you think that Tauriel simply gives a name to one of the many anonymous wood-elves of Mirkwood?

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug opens in theaters on December 13th, 2013, followed a year later by the final chapter, The Hobbit: There and Back Again, on December 17th, 2014.

Source: Total Film