|The Hobbit film series character|
|Created by||Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh|
|Portrayed by||Evangeline Lilly|
|Aliases||Daughter of Mirkwood
(Tauriel translated into English)
|Species||Elvish (a Silvan Elf)|
Tauriel is a fictional character from Peter Jackson's feature film adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit. The character does not appear in the original book, but was created by Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh as an expansion of material adapted from the book, and first appears in the second film in that trilogy, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, released December 13, 2013. She is a Woodland Elf whose name means "Daughter of Mirkwood", and is the head of the Mirkwood Elven guard. She is played by Canadian actress Evangeline Lilly.
Lilly was nominated for several awards for her performance in The Desolation of Smaug.
The character Tauriel does not appear in the first film, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, released in 2012. She first appears in the second part of the trilogy, The Desolation of Smaug, released December 13, 2013. Prior to the decision to have three films instead of two, Tauriel was described as having a more substantial role in what was then the final film, The Hobbit: There and Back Again, which had been planned for release in 2013, but was finalized as the third part of the trilogy, to be released in December 2014.
In The Desolation of Smaug, the hobbit Bilbo Baggins, and thirteen dwarves, while traveling to Lonely Mountain, pass through the black forest of Mirkwood, where they are attacked and captured by giant spiders. The spiders are then attacked by the Wood Elves, led by Legolas and Tauriel. Tauriel in particular saves Kíli by killing a spider that was attacking him, but the Elves subsequently take the dwarves as prisoners for trespassing on their land. During the dwarves' imprisonment, Tauriel forms a romantic bond with Kíli. It is later mentioned that Tauriel is a talented warrior and was therefore made leader of the Mirkwood border guards. Legolas, the son of Mirkwood's Elven king Thranduil, is shown to be attracted to her, as she seemingly is to him, but as she is a lowly Silvan Elf, she does not believe herself worthy of him, and similarly, Thranduil does not consider her to be a proper match for his son.
When the dwarves escape with Bilbo's help, the pursuing Elves are attacked by orcs, during which Tauriel again uses her fighting skills to save Kíli, though Kíli is struck in the leg with an orc's arrow, which Tauriel later learns from a captured orc is a Morgul-cursed weapon and will slowly kill Kíli. Just before Thranduil seals off his kingdom upon learning that an evil entity has returned and is amassing great power in the south, Tauriel goes after the dwarves by herself. Legolas follows, and initially tries to convince her to return, but when Tauriel refuses, saying that the Elves are part of Middle Earth and that the impending war must eventually involve them, Legolas joins her pursuit.
After acquiring provisions at Esgaroth, the dwarves leave for the Lonely Mountain, but leave Kíli, Fili, Bofur and Oin behind due to Kili's injury. By the time Tauriel and Legolas reach Esgaroth, the dwarves are being attacked by orcs. They repel the invaders, and Tauriel uses her knowledge of herbs and elvish medicine to heal Kíli's wound, saving his life once again. Upon recognizing his feelings for her, Tauriel appears greatly touched and seems to be developing feelings for him as well.
Conception and casting
In 1937 J. R. R. Tolkien published the fantasy novel The Hobbit, whose plot centres on a group consisting of Bilbo Baggins, Gandalf and thirteen dwarves, who go in search of a treasure guarded by the dragon, Smaug. During the course of their travels, they enter the black forest of Mirkwood, where they find themselves in the dungeons of the Silvan Elves. During the climactic Battle of Five Armies at the end of the story, the dwarves, men and elves band together to fight an army of goblins and wargs.
Although the character Tauriel does not appear in this story, she was created to be the head of the Elven guard by Peter Jackson and his wife and producing partner Fran Walsh, in order to expand the world of the elves of Mirkwood Forest, and to bring another female to the cast, which is otherwise dominated by males. The character is a Silvan Elf, which means she is of a much lower order than the elves that had previously been seen in The Lord of the Rings film series, and holds a lower social status than characters like Arwen, Galadriel, Elrond, and Legolas. A Woodland Elf, her name has been translated as "Daughter of Mirkwood".
In June 2011 Peter Jackson announced that actress Evangeline Lilly, who was known for her portrayal of Kate Austen in the ABC drama Lost, was cast in the role. Lilly, who had been a fan of Tolkien's books since she was 13, expressed some trepidation at the reaction of Tolkien purists to a character that does not appear in Tolkien's written works, but stated that creating the character for the adaptation was justified: "I believe she is authentic, because Tolkien refers to The Woodland Elves, he just doesn't talk about who they are specifically… [Peter and Fran] know that world so well. They’re not going to create a character that is not true to Tolkien's world." Nonetheless, following the June 12, 2013 release of the first trailer for the film, many fans expressed dissatisfaction with the creation of a character that did not originate in the original book.
As head of the Elven guard, Lilly says of Tauriel, "She's slightly reckless and totally ruthless and doesn't hesitate to kill." Lilly also describes Tauriel as a nonconformist, explaining that as a result of her relative youth among Elves, she is brash and impulsive, tending to rebel against the established social order of the Elves. Lilly explains, "She's only 600 years old, she's just a baby. So she's a bit more impulsive, and she's a bit more immature. I think she's more easily romanticized by a lot of things." However, she also has a "softer side", and her character arc includes a love story. Though she and Legolas first met as children, and their relationship is significant, her character's romance is not with him. Lilly has revealed, however, that Legolas' father, the Elven king Thranduil, is fond of Tauriel, and "sees something very special in her". Lilly accepted the role under the condition that her role in The Hobbit would not include a love triangle. When she was called back into production for reshoots following the decision to split the story into three films instead of two, she was told that such a plot device would indeed be added to the story.
In addition to the red wig she wore to effect Tauriel's knee-length red hair, Lilly, when given a choice of wearing small, medium or large prosthetic ears, chose the large ones, which are three times the size of the prosthetics Orlando Bloom wore as Legolas, though Lilly believed that the length of her hair would distract attention from the ears. In terms of costuming, unlike previous female Elves who were noblewomen that wore complex formal gowns, Tauriel is a border guard and soldier, and therefore wears more pragmatic Elven military garb. The character is proficient in a variety of weapons, but mainly wields a bow and two daggers, weapons that are also used by the character Legolas, who also appears with her in The Hobbit films. Lilly employed a stunt coach for action scenes. Although Lilly requested to do the character's wirework herself, on account of her experience doing her own stunts on Lost, that work was performed by a stunt double. Lilly also employed a language coach in order to effect the Elvish language.
Filming of Tauriel's scenes began in September 2011 in New Zealand, and was expected to last a year. Lilly stated that she enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere of the set, and the familiar experience of filming with a male-dominated cast, which was reminiscent of her work on Lost and The Hurt Locker. However, she noted that the experience of having had her first child in May 2011 made aspects of filming the fighting scenes more strenuous than expected, commenting, "Recovering from labor is like recovering from a full-body injury, and I didn't realize to what extent that was true until I started training for elf fighting. My hips don't move like they used to move, my back doesn't move like it used to move, my shoulders are sore every day. But it's fun."
Reception and cultural impact
For her performance as Tauriel, Evangeline Lilly was nominated for the Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actress, the Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress in an Action Movie, the Empire Award for Best Supporting Actress, and the 2014 Kids' Choice Awards.
Fan reaction to Tauriel's appearance in The Hobbit films, and to other changes made by Jackson in adapting Tolkien's book for the screen, were parodied in the song and video "Who the 'ell is Tauriel?" by The Esgaroth Three.
In Mad magazine's parody of The Desolation of Smaug, writer Desmond Devlin emphasized the similarity of the setting in which actress Evangeline Lilly's character was placed with that of her character on Lost. Devlin, who had begun a running joke of alluding to Legolas (called Legolamb in the parody) being effeminate in the magazine's parodies of the original Lord of the Rings trilogy, also used Tauriel to return to that gag, as well as reference Tauriel's lack of canonicity.
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