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Evangeline Lilly on playing new 'Hobbit' elf Tauriel: 'I did have to hesitate and go, 'Whoa, people are going to hate me'

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The Dec. 13 opening of part two in Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy, The Desolation of Smaug, is still weeks away, but some die-hard J.R.R. Tolkien devotees have already been grumbling for more than a year about the invention of a brand-new character for the film: a female elf warrior named Tauriel, played by Evangeline Lilly. At least one person involved in the film totally understands how they feel: Lilly herself.

As a kid growing up in Canada, Lilly tells EW in this week’s cover story on Smaug, she fell in love with Tolkien’s classic 1937 novel The Hobbit (the elves were her favorite characters) and became a true-blue Tolkien purist. In fact, she was such a hard-core fan of Tolkien’s books that when the first film in Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy opened in 2001, she refused to even see it at first. “I was like, ‘Nobody is going to bring to life the books that I read in the way they came to life in my mind so I don’t want them touched,’ ” she says.
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