When Peter Jackson announced that The Hobbit was going to be a trilogy, everyone instantly thought 'but isn't it just one book?' Jackson then made the revelation that he would be using the appendices which explain a lot of what happened 'off-page' as it were, to bridge the gap between 'The Hobbit' and 'Lord of the Rings'.
Naturally this meant that things would be included that fans who loved The Hobbit wouldn't be familiar with, that certain events would be fleshed out and expanded upon, that characters would need to be added.
Whilst we saw some of these changes in action during 'An Unexpected Journey' such as the increased importance of Thorin Oakenshield, the inclusion of Azog, the film's primary antagonist and much greater emphasis placed on the Necromancer, leading to scenes with Radagast and the White Council, the most important change is perhaps still to come.
That's right! Unlike most of Jackson's changes In 'Desolation of Smaug' we will be introduced to a character purely of Jackson's creation that has never existed at any point in J.R.R Tolkien's literature. That character, who will be appearing for the first time, among other new characters such as Bard the Bowman, is Evangeline Lilly's, Tauriel. So what do we know about Tauriel so far?
We know that she is a female elf residing in Mirkwood as head of King Thranduil's Elven Guard. This makes her a kind of female counterpart to Lord of the Ring's Legolas, who we know will be returning in 'Desolation'. We also know from the video Peter Jackson uploaded onto Youtube of his March 2013 Live Event to preview 'Desolation of Smaug' that she will be in many a fight scene killing orcs and goblins alike, as well as perhaps squaring off against the first movie's main villain, Azog. (One can only hope!)
Evangeline Lilly who everyone will know from her time in television series 'Lost' has shed some light on Tauriel in a recent interview with Totalfilm. Lilly describes Tauriel as an 'absolutely ruthless, deadly killer'. She adds,
"She's a very, very young elf. She's only 600 years old, unlike Legolas who's like, 1,900 years old and Thranduil who's about 3,000 years old. She doesn't have quite the wisdom and pose that those two boys do; she's a little more… gritty. A little more spontaneous, passionate perhaps."
This passion seems to lend some support to the rumours circulating that Tauriel will have a possible romantic sub-plot, not with Legolas, but with Kili, one of the dwarves. In fact Being Human's Aidan Turner, who plays Kili, has even hinted at this in his short interview in a TotalFilm magazine feature
"Kili's part has been expanded from the novel; as well as chasing treasure, he's also pursuing female elf Tauriel. But is he setting his sights too high? 'I guess he knows nothing can ever happen,' he explains. 'She's about 20ft tall and he's only two!"
Reaction to Tauriel has been mixed, with many people feeling that Jackson is unnecessarily deviating from the books just to add in some sex-appeal, which a romance sub-plot would seem to suggest. Fans of the book are also not keen on anything that seems like an unnecessary deviation from J.R.R Tolkien's text.
However others can see why Jackson has made the decision to include her. Because without Tauriel, the Hobbit trilogies would only have one other female character in Cate Blanchett's Galadriel, which would make the gender ratio incredibly unbalanced. After all it is a film based on 13 hairy men going on an adventure!
Tauriel isn't set to make her onscreen appearance until December, but that hasn't stopped anyone from discussing the controversy her character's inclusion has caused. But what do you think? Is Tauriel just there for some unnecessary sex appeal? Or is this rightfully addressing the gender balance by giving The Hobbit a strong female character?