Exclusive Profile on Evangeline Lilly!
Although Evangeline Lilly is a proud Canadian, LOST wouldn’t have been the same without Kate. For our latest exhibition, "The Vilcek Foundation Celebrates LOST," Evangeline shared with us her thoughts on visa issues, Canadian values, and the ways that her global-trotting background influenced her portrayal of Kate. For more information about the exhibition, running through June 5th, please visit our website at www.vilcek.org.
Evangeline Lilly almost didn’t make it to the set of LOST. The actress, a native of Canada, hadn’t yet received her work visa when production was set to begin on the pilot of the series in 2004. The show’s casting directors scrambled, looking for backups in case Lilly couldn’t make it to Hawaii in time. In the end, the visa arrived, and Lilly got to the set ⎯ a day late. It was close.
Thankfully for Lilly, the visa did come, as her part on LOST quickly became the star’s breakout role. The actress had already played bit parts on Stephen King’s Kingdom Hospital, Smallville, and Judgment Day. She had also appeared in several TV commercials and spent time as a model. After LOST, the actress became a global sensation, along with the show. Lilly was named a breakout star by Entertainment Weekly, and even earned a Golden Globe nod. It was a far cry from Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta, where Lilly was born, and Abbotsford, British Columbia, where she later moved.
But Lilly said she still adheres to the values that her family instilled in her as a youth. “My family members are wonderfully down-to-earth, true-to-their-roots Canadians,” she said. “They stand behind my happiness, not my fame, nor my income, nor my status. They don’t care if I’m a TV star or a grease monkey, as long as I’m happy. I believe that Canadian culture, in general, is more well-grounded in this way than American culture is. ‘Stardom’ and ‘fanfare’ are less influential in Canada.”
Before LOST, Lilly’s background spanned cultures, careers, and continents. Her global travels have meshed well with the diverse focus of the show. The actress spent time in the Philippines doing missionary work, and after graduation frequently traveled. She also dabbled in various jobs ⎯ working as a waitress, changing oil on big rigs, and working as a flight attendant.
That by-the-bootstraps background jibes well with Lilly’s LOST character, Kate Austen, who similarly manages to forcefully take charge of her own life. But where Kate has serious family issues, Lilly remains grounded by her Canadian roots, and her family, which still resides in the Great White North. “This mind-set, this foundation, this support that my family and my Canadian roots have afforded me, have carried me through one of the hardest experiences of my life,” she said.
“My family have been my rock, my heart, and my accountability for the past six years, and I credit them for the joy that I find in this show today. If it weren’t for their loving support and clean detachment from ‘Hollywood,’ I don’t know if I would have been able to come out the other side of LOST as happy and healthy as I am today.”