Tauriel isn’t only a fierce warrior; she has a softer side, too. “She will definitely have a love story,” Lilly says. “I can’t give away too much about it. It’s not a huge focus but it is there and it is important and it does drive Tauriel and her story and her actions.” Will that romance involve Orlando Bloom’s Legolas, by any chance? Lilly won’t say definitively one way or the other, but she does offer this much: “Tauriel’s relationship with Legolas is significant. They’ve known each other since they were children, and Legolas’ dad, [Elven king] Thranduil, has a soft spot for Tauriel and sees something very special in her. So if you grow up side by side, and your dad has a very special spot in his heart for this young woman who’s a fantastic warrior, I think it’s hard not to notice her.” She laughs. “That’s probably as much as I can say.”
Lilly is well aware that some Tolkien purists will be skeptical about the introduction of a new character. “I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that there are going to be people who will totally hate Tauriel, think that she shouldn’t be in the movie, that it’s a betrayal of Tolkien, and no matter what I do it won’t be right,” she says. “There will be everything between that and people who adore her and think it’s such a fun thing to have added to the film. I kind of got prepped for that being on Lost, because we had avid fans who were really extreme in their feelings about the show and its characters. But I think if anyone knows how to respect Tolkien, it’s Peter, Fran and Phil. And Tauriel fits perfectly in that world.”The film hits theaters on 13 December.