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Evangeline Lilly on the End of Lost

We’re down to the last five hours of Lost: Four episodes, which includes the two-hour series finale. Tonight’s installment, “The Candidate,” is an ensemble-focused one in which everyone’s favorite guilty-but-in-this-new-dimension-she’s-innocent fugitive from justice Kate Austen plays a major part. Vulture spoke to Evangeline Lilly to discuss not just the future of Kate Austen but, because Lost has officially wrapped, the future of Evangeline Lilly as well. Also, she answers a few Vulture commenter questions. Warning: A candid Lilly reveals a possibly major spoiler about Allison Janney’s guest role in next week’s episode.

Congratulations on wrapping the show. Is it weird that it’s all over?
Yeah, it’s surreal. It’s exciting, but it’s really strange. I’ve been preparing for it all year. I think I’ve been preparing for it for three years because we’ve known for so long — on our show we had the bizarre luxury of knowing in advance. I don’t know if there’s such a thing as ever having it feel normal. When you’ve been doing something for six years, then it ends … it’s surreal, but it’s wonderful. Sad and wonderful, all at once.

Even though you know it’s over, is there still a part of you that thinks, Okay, see everyone in six months for season seven?
Not so much. Mainly because we’ve been preparing for it for so long, so we knew that this was coming. I’m just not that person who, when I know something like this is going on, or I know something’s happening, or I know a big moment in my life is coming, I generally tend to just not let it come and go without really giving it its due. I spent my first six months this season desperately savoring every last second of being with this crew and being in Hawaii and all of that jazz. And then, once I had reached that point of feeling like, “Okay, I’ve savored, I’ve enjoyed,” I came to the last two months sort of just letting it go and looking forward and getting excited about what’s next. And that’s been wonderful, too.

So you enjoyed your time, but you’re ready to move on.
Yeah, I think we all are. I obviously can’t speak for the rest of the cast, but I think that’s the general consensus across the board — from cast to producers to crew. People are excited to try on the next chapter of their lives. This show is all-encompassing. We have had very little experience outside of the show during the last six years because it’s just so demanding; it requires so much of us. So, it’s exciting to have your freedom back, essentially.

And being in Hawaii, you were kind of stuck there.
Yeah, it’s like having to ask the teacher to go to the bathroom in class. It’s like, “Okay, that’s the most natural thing in the world, shouldn’t I just be able to go?” And that’s sort of how it is on our show. There is this feeling … not a feeling, but a literal rule that, in order to leave the island, we have to have permission from our elders — from our producers. And it would be nice to be an adult and have control of my life again and make those basic decisions on my own.

It’s been reported that you’re quitting acting. Is that blown out of proportion?
I’m assuming that story has been circulating for a long time because I’ve been talking about that for a long time. And, yeah, it’s true, I’m definitely planning on taking a break for a little while. I consider acting a day job — it’s not my dream; it’s not my be-all, end-all. So I’ll continue to read scripts and I’ll continue to keep my mind open, but it’s not something I’m pursuing with any kind of intent.

So acting is just another job for you?
It’s been definitely very different, I think every job is very different, but I think this one is particularly unique. But, yeah, I do think of it in that way. I think of it as a job; that’s what it is, it’s a job. It’s a job that’s all encompassing, unfortunately. It’s a job that has way too much effect on your life, which is one of the reasons why it doesn’t interest me. Because I’m interested in having a job, I’m not interested in having an entire lifestyle governed by what I do for a paycheck.

Kate’s flash-sideways character doesn’t seem much different from her regular-dimension self, except she claims she’s innocent. We’re assuming there’s more to this?
You know, I was assuming the same thing. I was sort of watching and waiting to see what would be the twist in the Kate flash-sideways story. It never came. It was interesting, I feel like on the island she became the standard by which mediocrity … not mediocrity [laughs] … normalcy could be measured. Interestingly enough, that had not been the case for the first five or four seasons. She became more like a stabilizing character. You know, a stable character who wasn’t off-the-wall and wasn’t presenting all of these crazy theories or mythologies. I guess, in a way, she’s sort of like a psychological anchor.

It sounds like you miss when the show was about a plane crash. It’s not really about that anymore.
Oh, for sure! It was almost frustrating at times because I’m so not a sci-fi watcher. The mythology to me was not nearly as interesting as the emotional story of these characters. So sometimes I’d get frustrated and feel like I wanted to see more of that. I wanted to see these characters and their emotions and what they were going through. I was also very interested in the notion of the survival aspect of our show. And, again, that sort of became very secondary. I miss the days when just, “What are we going to eat?” was an issue. I guess it’s a perfect parallel to mankind: very John Locke, very old-world capitalist philosophers. You go from the basic necessity of survival to the more complicated dynamics of culture and community. When it became more complicated than just the basics of survival, it was frustrating for me. I loved the simplicity. I’m the kind of person who, if I were living in another time, if I had to pick any time, I would probably be a pioneer. I just love the simplicity of what it means to work hard with your hands — to eat and survive.

We see that Allison Janney’s going to be on the show next week, in the episode about Jacob and the Man in Black.
I think that she played Mother Earth.

We’re guessing you didn’t share any scenes with her, then.
No, but I think I met her in the trailer and she was absolutely lovely.

She was great on The West Wing.
Oh, is that what she’s from? I don’t watch TV. When people at my house try to talk about TV I’m like, “Ah, I have no idea what I’m talking about.”

We have some questions from Vulture readers. NYBelle wonders why you feel the writers had Kate flip-flop between Jack and Sawyer so much?
I think the writers used it as strictly a tantalizing tool. I really believe that was a strict manipulation of the audience to try to draw in the women, really. The female audience that watch soap operas are die-hards, and they’re valuable demographics. So I think our writers are looking to make sure those people who wouldn’t normally be interested in the mythology would continue to turn in. [Laughs.] That’s probably not the answer they want to hear.

Haunt Fox noticed that only Kate, Desmond, and Jack have showered on the island. How bad do you think the other islanders smelled?
So that’s not really a question, right? [Laughs.] More a joke? I mean, obviously we’re not islanders. We all smell like normal civilians who shower every day.

Though, those are the only three characters we’ve seen bathe.
Really? We’ve seen Sun bathe!

Ah, good point, yes we have. Okay, Lolo1450 was wondering if you have any real-life nicknames, like Kate has Freckles?
Sure. I probably have plenty if you were to survey the different people in my life. But I’m not telling anyone because they’ll start using them and it will drive me crazy. There’s nothing more frustrating than when fans use a nickname. That’s like people you don’t know using names from people that you’re intimate with. Like if my mom has a nickname and a fan finds it out and starts using it, that’s creepy.

Jerri_Blank wonders how you managed to steal your scenes in The Hurt Locker with very little screen time.
I didn’t know I had! Well, thank you, Jerri. That’s very sweet.

Alexandra Martell, Exotica, and many more want to know what you put in your hair. And they want to know brand names.
[Laughs.] Well, right now I use L’Oreal products in my hair. Hmmm, I should go look in my shower and see what they’re called. I ought to know what they’re called being I’m a spokesperson for them [laughs]. I always forget. Hang on … I’m walking through my kitchen to the bathroom. So it’s called Everstrong. Everstrong shampoo and conditioner.

CandiceMarshall is wondering if there is a scene involving Kate that you wish you could rewrite?
Yeah, there are. I often would have liked to rewrite some of the stuff that was passed between Kate and her beaus. You know, her romantic leads, her men. I have a hard time separating Kate from Evangeline. So, unfortunately, when they write things I think, I would never say that. Or, I would never do that. Or, that’s ridiculous. Then, instinctively, I want to change it because I want to make it what feels real to me. Which is not acting, you know? That is trying to play yourself out onscreen. So it’s kind of a ridiculous way to think, but, unfortunately, I tended to be that way.

There is this one scene that I stand by that if I could have chosen or written it, it definitely would have gone down differently: the scene where Kate watches Jack carry a meal over to Juliet at the survivors camp. They sit down together and eat and they’re laughing and talking, and then Kate subsequently goes to Sawyer’s tent and ravishes him. I feel like it was a cheapening of the character. I feel like she was always an emotionally confused women between these two men, but she was never that manipulative sexually, I don’t think. I feel like that was something that if I could have rewritten it — and I tried to work with the producers on that one; I tried to change so at least it wasn’t a cut. It could have been Kate seeing Jack then maybe a couple scenes go by, time goes by, and then you see her go to Sawyer’s tent. It ended up being a direct cut and that she literally went in a snit, and was in a pout, because Jack was playing with another girl and she went and seduced Sawyer. I didn’t dig that. I would have rewritten that.

Evangeline Lilly on the End of Lost