She made her mark with a breakout stint in the wildly popular TV series, “Lost.” Now, Evangeline Lilly is set to captivate big-screen audiences as she stars opposite Hugh Jackman in DreamWorks Pictures’ futuristic action-adventure “Real Steel.”
In this gritty, white–knuckle action ride, Jackman stars as Charlie Kenton, a washed‐up boxer in the near–future who, because his sport has been taken over by 8–foot steel robots, now lives in a world where he doesn’t fit in. With no fights and no prospects, Charlie is forced to hustle as a small–time robot fight promoter. He earns just enough money to survive by piecing together low–end “bots” and traveling from one seamy underground boxing venue to the next for whatever prizefight he can wrangle for his automatons. Just when things can’t become any more desperate and complicated, his estranged 10-year-old son Max (Dakota Goyo) suddenly and unwillingly comes back into his life.
In the movie, Lilly’s character Bailey is the daughter of Charlie’s former trainer from back when he was a young fighter. The two characters have known each other their whole lives. They may have had a crush on each other when they were younger, but the attraction isn’t just physical; it’s based on the fact that they know each other inside and out. They know what makes the other tick. Bailey knows Charlie better than anyone else and yet there’s a gravitational pull between them that is very much a subtext in the story.
Director Shawn Levy admits that he was already a big fan of Lilly and was thrilled that she accepted the role. “I marvel at Evangeline,” Levy enthuses. “I was crazy for her on ‘Lost.’ I was a big fan of that series. In ‘Real Steel,’ not only does she deliver in the big dramatic scenes between her and Dakota and her and Hugh, but also even when she was in a crowd of thousands of people reacting to the fights. In those tiny, short cutaways within the fight scenes she brings so much visceral, rousing energy. She was kind of an audience surrogate for us. She is so into it and so vested in what happens.”
Lilly was drawn to the role of Bailey after reading the script for “Real Steel,” which her agent had sent her. Lilly recalls, “I was so moved and so touched and it was so heartfelt and well written, I wanted the role.”
Aside from the great script, there was another factor that attracted Lilly to the project and that was the opportunity to work with Hugh Jackman. “A while ago, after seeing a movie called ‘The Fountain’ by Darren Aronofsky, in which Hugh Jackman stars, I told myself that if I ever had the chance to work with Hugh I would take it. He is so breathtakingly impressive in that film. So I decided, by virtue of the fact that he was attached, I had to do it. The bonuses were that the script was so darn good and Shawn Levy was directing.”
Lilly met with Levy to audition for the part and as soon as they were introduced the actress says she knew it was right for her to do the film. “Shawn is such a nice guy,” the actress says. “I always say he’s so ‘sparkly.’ He’s a man who’s happy and energetic and he has a really positive energy. I think in this industry it’s easy to fall into the trap of taking yourself too seriously and becoming very heavy-handed about the work that you do. Shawn couldn’t be lighter or more playful. He couldn’t be more collaborative, too, and so much fun.”
Opening soon across the Philippines in IMAX and regular theaters, “Real Steel” is a DreamWorks Picture to be distributed locally by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures International.