'Lost' Star Evangeline Lilly Joins 'The Hobbit'

The actress is heading to Middle-earth to play a "new character" in the cinematic prequel to Lord of the Rings

Lost's Evangeline Lilly is moving from the jungle to the forest! The 31-year-old actress, best known to audiences as fugitive castaway Kate Austen, will play a woodland elf in The Hobbit, the upcoming two-part prequel to The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Director Peter Jackson announced the casting news over Facebook on Sunday.

"Evangeline Lilly will be playing a new character -- the Woodland Elf, Tauriel," writes Jackson. "Her name means 'daughter of Mirkwood' and, beyond that, we must leave you guessing!"

The only thing Jackson is willing to spill about Lilly's character: She has "no romantic connection to Legolas" (the Elf played by Orlando Bloom).

The announcement of this character will no doubt be controversial among fans of J.R.R. Tolkien's original book -- which has zero female characters. In an effort to stop Middle-earth from being a boys-only club, Jackson is deliberately adding roles for actresses to the script, including a re-appearance by Cate Blanchett as Galadriel. Saoirse Ronan was long rumored to be playing another elf named Itaril, but she revealed in May that she had turned the role down because of the intense commitment. (The Hobbit cast has already begun shooting in New Zealand, where they will continue to work for over a year.)

Mysterious though it may be, this new role should be a welcome comeback for Lilly. The actress has been lying low since Lost ended, spending time with production assistant boyfriend Norman Kali and their new baby boy, born in May.

Ironically, Lilly's her last serious boyfriend, Lost costar Dominic Monaghan, was one of the original Lord of the Ring hobbits. Fortunately, she won't be stuck Down Under for a year with her ex: Monaghan has said it's unlikely he'll appear in the new films, except perhaps in a brief cameo. How do you say "phew" in Elvish?

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