Evangeline Lilly's Most Controversial Moments

Years before J.J. Abrams plucked Daisy Ridley from obscurity and made her a star, he did the same thing with another unknown actor by the name of Evangeline Lilly. According to Rolling Stone, Abrams had been stalling on casting the role of mysterious islander Kate in his soon-to-be-massive ABC series Lost, hoping that the right person would come along eventually. With just two weeks to go before the pilot shot, he saw Lilly's audition tape and knew that he'd been right to wait. The Canadian rookie was offered the part, and the rest is history. But how much do you really know about that history?

Lilly went on to feature in some huge movie franchises, but she's always been a reluctant star. She has spoken at length about how she's an "accidental actress" who doesn't see working in Hollywood as the realization of a dream. "I call it my day job," she told BuzzFeed, adding, "You know, it pays the bills. It's a great job. I'm grateful for it. But it's not my passion." Because she isn't bothered about playing the A-lister or maintaining a stellar reputation in Tinseltown, Lilly often says exactly what she's thinking, and her lack of a filter has sparked controversy on numerous occasions. Let's take a look at Evangeline Lilly's most controversial moments.

Did Evangeline Lilly cheat on her Lost co-star?

Evangeline Lilly and former Lost co-star Dominic Monaghan were reportedly in an on-and-off romantic relationship for a number of years. In 2007, rumors that Monaghan had proposed to Lilly in Hawaii (where Lost was filmed) started doing the rounds, but later that year the British actor was photographed "crying in another woman's arms" at a Los Angeles, Calif. restaurant (via Digital Spy). It seemed as though they were over, but before we knew it the Lost lovers were back together and wedding bells were in the air yet again. "They've been through break-ups and make-ups and feel that their love has stood the test of time," a source told the National Enquirer (via Digital Spy).

Of course, that wedding would never come to pass, and Monaghan left the show under dubious circumstances. The pair ended up splitting for good, and in 2014, we got to hear Monaghan's side of the story. Replying to a tweet that read "Evangeline looked unreal in The Hobbit, man oh man," he wrote: "Nah. I don't date cheaters." A storm inevitably ensued, but the actor insisted that he was telling the truth. "If I'm a douche because you don't like what I say that's not my concern," he wrote in a subsequent tweet, adding, "But I don't choose to lie on twitter. Truth hurts." Lilly didn't respond to Monaghan's tweets directly, but a few weeks later, in reference to a different relationship, she told Ocean Drive magazine (via E! News) that "forever promises" are not "realistic" in her "world." 

Evangeline Lilly clashed with Marvel over masculinity

Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is shaping up to be the most "inclusive" phase yet in terms of gender (per Vogue), with Scarlett Johansson finally fronting her own standalone Black Widow movie and Natalie Portman returning to the franchise to play a female version of Thor. Marvel was praised when it laid out its future plans at Comic-Con in 2019, but producers at the studio had already implemented change by this point. Or, at least, they had tried to. Evangeline Lilly became the first woman to have her character's name appear in the title of a Marvel movie when she starred alongside Paul Rudd in 2018's Ant-Man and the Wasp. According to the Canadian, producers were so keen to portray her as Rudd's equal that they ended up "actually disrespecting her femininity" in the process.

She was forced to intervene when she saw her original fight choreography, which was way too masculine for her liking. They had the Wasp fighting "like a dude" according to Lilly, and she knows why. "I think what happens in some ways is, unintentionally, male producers and directors and writers want to write stories that have women at the helm of them, but they've been writing the same stories for so long and those are male stories, so what they do is write a male story and put a women in the lead," she told The Sun. "To me, that's not correcting the problem sufficiently."

The set of Lost wasn't a paradise for Evangeline Lilly

Evangeline Lilly wasn't the cause of this controversy, but she was at the center of it. In an explosive 2018 interview on The Lost Boys podcast (via Variety), the Canadian star shared an uncomfortable experience from her time on the groundbreaking show. "In Season 3, I'd had a bad experience on set with being basically cornered into doing a scene partially naked, and I felt [I] had no choice in the matter," Lilly said. "I was mortified and I was trembling when it finished. I was crying my eyes out, and I had to go and do a very formidable, very strong scene thereafter."

When she was asked to undress for another scene during Season 4, Lilly "fought very hard" to have final say over it, but she was denied. "I failed to control it again," she told The Lost Boys. "So I then said, 'That's it, no more. You can write whatever you want — I won't do it. I will never take my clothes off on this show again.' And I didn't." In a joint statement, creators J.J. Abrams, Jack Bender, Carlton Cuse (above right) and Damon Lindelof (above middle) said that they were "deeply and sincerely sorry" about Lilly's bad experiences on the show. "No person should ever feel unsafe at work. Period."

Evangeline Lilly accused feminists of trying to be men

Evangeline Lilly doesn't mind being typecast as a "kick-a** chick" in Hollywood, so long as the character she's playing has layers. She looks for roles that embody the full spectrum of femininity — but that doesn't mean she's a feminist. The Canadian sparked another controversy when she was doing the promotional rounds for 2014's The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, offending supporters of feminism with her comments. "I'm very proud of being a woman, and as a woman, I don't even like the word 'feminism' because when I hear that word, I associate it with women trying to pretend to be men, and I'm not interested in trying to pretend to be a man," Lilly told HuffPost. "I don't want to embrace manhood, I want to embrace my womanhood."

As you can imagine, the actor's comments didn't go over very well with, well ... feminists. Writing for Bustle, self-identifying feminist Allyson Koerner said that Lilly's opinions were not only confusing, but also damaging. "Her bashing of the word 'feminism' is disappointing, because it's a word seen by some as 'bad' and means that women are man-haters, and that's not the case at all," Koerner wrote. "Saying feminism equals women trying to showcase their manhood is shining a poor light on an equality issue that we females should be fighting for together." Bust also rejected Lilly's definition of feminism and claimed that the actor was misinformed about the movement.

A stunt coordinator on Lost allegedly harmed Evangeline Lilly out of spite

In another controversy that came to light years after Lost ended in polarizing fashion, Evangeline Lilly went on record as saying that a stunt coordinator deliberately hurt her after she defied his wishes. The Canadian actor likes to do her own stunts whenever she can, and when a scene that involved her character falling from a tree came along, she wanted to be the one falling (attached to a harness, of course). According to Lilly, the "misogynistic" coordinator wanted a member of his team to perform the stunt, and when she insisted that she be allowed to do it, he apparently made her pay for it.

Speaking alongside a panel of stuntwomen in 2018, Lilly said that her arms were left with "open wounds" that were "oozing" after this stubborn stunt coordinator refused to let her wear protective moleskin wraps for the scene. He reportedly made Lilly redo the stunt with bare arms several times over, with every take causing more injury. "I felt it was him saying, 'I'm going to put you in your place for standing up to me,'" the actor said (via Deadline). "It was either cow to his power or hurt myself. I was in my 20s then. Now, I would probably back down."

Evangeline Lilly trashed Hollywood hypocrites

According to Evangeline Lilly, Hollywood wasn't "glorified" in her home when she was growing up. Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta is a long way from Tinseltown, and Lilly never expected to end up there. She held various job titles before landing her breakthrough Lost role, including oil-change technician, flight attendant and Bible-camp counselor. She only started doing commercials for a bit of extra cash, but one thing led to another and before she knew it she was the face of the most popular TV show of its day. Lilly went from Alberta girl to A-list star almost overnight, but she remained the same person.

In a typically candid interview with Women's Health, which took place during Lost's original broadcast run, Lilly threw some major shade at Hollywood with the following comparison: "In high school, people wanted to find the worst in me. I was a good student, I was good at soccer, I was vice president of the student council, I was a pretty girl. It was easy for people to look at me and say 'F**k you.' That's what happens in Hollywood. People are like, 'I want to hate you, because everyone else seems to love you.'"

Lilly briefly retired from acting when Lost wrapped in 2010, but she couldn't say no when director Peter Jackson asked her to join the cast of his second Hobbit movie, 2013's The Desolation of Smaug.

The Hobbit controversy wasn't entirely Evangeline Lilly's fault

Peter Jackson had to work hard to find Evangeline Lilly when he decided he wanted her in his Lord of the Rings prequel trilogy. "I had a baby, I was writing scripts, I had a quiet little life," Lilly told The Hollywood Reporter. "I had no contact with Hollywood at all." She only said yes because she knew Jackson through her ex-boyfriend Dominic Monaghan (who played Merry Brandybuck in the LOTR movies) and because she's a fan of Tolkien's world, but there were plenty of other fans that weren't exactly enthused about her casting. The backlash didn't have anything to do with Lilly herself — it came about because her character wasn't in the book form which the film was adapted.

"There are forums that are rife with angry discussion," Lilly told the Winnipeg Sun after being cast as the Wood-elf, Tauriel. "I kind of like it. It's fun that people are so passionate about Tolkien's work, that there's great controversy over this small addition." She did fan the flames a bit when she unwisely called The Hobbit a "two-dimensional" story as she tried to justify the inclusion of her character, further risking the ire of fans. "The Hobbit didn't include female characters at all," she said during an interview with SFX magazine (via E! News). "What [the filmmakers] have done is all in perfect keeping with Tolkien's world, while adding a third dimension to an otherwise very two-dimensional story." 

Social distancing didn't initially appeal to Evangeline Lilly

Evangeline Lilly caused widespread outrage in March 2020 when she revealed that she was refusing to self isolate amid the COVID-19 outbreak. On the same day that San Francisco went into effective lockdown and California announced that it was going to spend up to a billion dollars on coronavirus relief, Lilly wrote on Instagram that it was "business as usual" for her. "Just dropped my kids off at gymnastics camp," she replied in a comment (via Page Six). "They all washed their hands before going in. They are playing and laughing." The comments section exploded with angry responses, but Lilly stood her ground. "Some people value their lives over freedom, some people value freedom over their lives," she fired back. "We all make our choices."

The Canadian star went on to suggest that going into self isolation and locking down cities "in the name of a respiratory flu" was madness. All of this was too much even for some former co-stars. Fellow Lost alum Maggie Grace decided to get involved, calling her one-time colleague's stance "concerning" in a comment (per Page Six). "There's no need to panic, but at the same time this is about all of us — the vulnerable, the immunocompromised, older folks," Grace said. While she didn't mention her by name, Game of Thrones star Sophie Turner also appeared to call Lilly out over her comments. "I don't give a f*** about your freedom," Turner said.

Evangeline Lilly's coronavirus apology didn't exactly win people over

Ten days after Evangeline Lilly drew widespread condemnation for refusing to self-isolate amid the coronavirus pandemic, the actor returned to Instagram to apologize for her controversial post and the "dismissive, arrogant and cryptic" silence that followed it. "Despite my intense trepidation over the socioeconomic and political repercussions of this course of action, PLEASE KNOW I AM DOING MY PART TO FLATTEN THE CURVE," Lilly wrote, confirming that she and her family were now in isolation at home, following new instructions from authorities to do so, which she claimed were not in place at the time of her original post. "I want to offer my sincere and heartfelt apology for the insensitivity I showed in my previous post to the very real suffering and fear that has gripped the world through COVID-19."

Some applauded Lilly for her apology, but many others just weren't buying it. "While everyone makes mistakes it took ten days for you to admit you were wrong," one unimpressed user replied, while another criticized Lilly for "saying it was just a flu when there were people dying" from the virus. Some alleged that Lilly was only apologizing for her comments because she didn't want to lose her Marvel gig — We Got This Covered sources reported that the studio was seriously considering parting ways with the Wasp actor in the wake of her coronavirus controversy.

A bowling night got downright boorish thanks to Evangeline Lilly

The Lost cast caused its fair share of controversy when the show was shooting in Hawaii. Michelle Rodriguez (Ana Lucia Cortez) and Cynthia Watros (Libby Smith) were arrested for DUI "within minutes of each other" in 2005 (per The Smoking Gun); Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (Mr. Eko) was booked for driving without a license and disobeying an officer in 2006 (though the charges were later dropped, TMZ reports); then Daniel Dae Kim (Jin-Soo Kwon) was taken in on suspicion of drink driving in 2007. Lilly never had any trouble with the local police, but that's because she got away with her crime — the actress admitted that she urinated in public.

"One night, we had all gone bowling," the actor told Rolling Stone in 2005. "Most people left, so it was myself, Matthew (Fox), Jorge (Garcia) and Dominic (Monaghan), three goofy, out-there guys." According to Lilly, she and her cast mates started daring each other to do stuff after they left the bowling alley, and she wasn't going to back down. "Jorge turns to me and says, 'I'll give you twenty dollars if you pee in that garbage can.' Thirty seconds later, I've got my pants down and my bum hanging into this garbage can, and he has to give me twenty dollars. I don't have a lot of inhibition." You can say that again!

Evangeline Lilly stole a precious moon stone from the Hobbit set

Evangeline Lilly's Hobbit experience wasn't smooth from start to finish (she revealed to Yahoo! that she wasn't happy when producers went back on their promise not to put her character in a love triangle), but on the whole, she remembers it very fondly. "I had a wonderful time making that movie," she told The Hollywood Reporter. "One of the highlights in my life was living in New Zealand for that year and being a part of that family." Naturally, she wanted to take a keepsake home to remember her time on set, so she made up a lie.

Speaking to The Sunday Times, Lilly revealed that she managed to nab "a black moon rune stone" that had been used in the film, a stone that director Peter Jackson apparently had his eyes on. "I pretended to drop it on a stony beach and we looked and looked for it, but really I had slipped it into my pocket," Lilly admitted, adding, "Peter was not pleased." You would think she would know not to steal considering she's been the victim of theft herself — a teenage boy was spotted swiping underwear from her washing line during her Lost days.

Evangeline Lilly shaved her head in front of shocked fans

In November 2019, Evangeline Lilly shocked her Instagram followers when she posted a series of videos that ended with her shaving her head. Many assumed it must have been for an upcoming role, but the actor confirmed that she did it purely for "fun" in the comments section (per The Sun). It wasn't exactly a Britney Spears moment, although Lilly has admitted that she suffered from some serious mental health issues in 2019, revealing that she felt "alone and unseen" during a "rough year" that pushed her to breaking point.

"I struggle deeply with feeling that all I ever am is what I feel everyone else wants and needs me to be," she posted to Instagram in 2020. "Publicly, I hid and made light of my deepest traumas and laughed in the face of my most profound pain. Until, last year, I broke." Things only started to get better when she reminded herself that she was only human. "I was left with no choice but to accept that I am limited or carry on down a road of perfectionist denial that would inevitably kill me." Here's hoping she carries on down that path of acceptance in the years to come.