Evangeline Lilly has reflected on the time she decided to shave off all her hair in a “transformative” moment she later shared on Instagram.
In an interview with 9Honey Celebrity, the Lost alum said she was going through a period of change in her life and it felt natural to shed her hair in the process.
“I was going through a really transformative time myself where I was shedding some old pain and trauma, and trying to step into a new life and light and freedom,” the 42-year-old recalls.
“On the superficial level, I always wanted to shave my head since I was a teenager and Sinéad O’Connor did it. I always just thought that was a cool look on a woman,” she laughs before adding on a serious note, “And then in a more cathartic sense and emotionally it was also a letting go, and just like a release and it felt so freeing.”
As fate would have it, 12 months after picking up the razor, Lilly was cast in Aharon Keshales’ new drama South of Heaven, in which she was able to fully embrace her new look while in character.
“I think a lot of people mix them up and think, ‘Oh, she did it for the role.’ But I didn’t,’ she says. “I shaved my head a year before we did the film.”
South of Heaven also stars Jason Sudekis, who plays an ex-con who is released from prison after serving 12 years for armed robbery. Upon his release, he reconnects with his girlfriend Annie (played by Lilly), who is now dying from cancer, and vows to give her the best final year of her life.
Previously playing kickass roles in the groundbreaking series Lost, as well as strong female characters in films such as The Hurt Locker and Ant-Man, Lilly was delighted to go back to basics and play the raw and very real Annie.
“I felt like I could just come into a scene and take a big deep breath, centre myself and just relax and be,” she says. “When I’m playing these tough characters, I have to come to set all relaxed and cool and then pump myself up and do some push-ups and run around and get my sweat on and my intensity up.
“So it was nice to play a character and sit back and find that peaceful place inside and work from that peaceful side instead of working from a place of intensity.”
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Lilly also loved working with Sudekis, who took on a more serious persona on set to get into character as a reformed criminal.
“It was such a surprise. He was so method and so serious, it took me completely off-guard — it was not what I expected,” she admits. “Of course, I expected was much more of the kind of goofy, silly, lovable, charming Jason Sudekis that we all know and love from his previous work, so even Aharon, the director, was surprised and we had to do a 180.
“It actually changed the tone of the film, and we pivoted and found different ways to express Annie and also different ways to approach scenes based on what Jason was bringing.”
The co-stars got along so well on and off set that Lilly felt more comfortable filming a bedroom scene with Sudekis than in any other intimate scene she’s filmed before.
“I would say out of all the scenes I’ve ever done, where I’ve had to do physical intimacy with a man on screen, it was probably the one where I felt the most rehearsed, the most confident, the most at ease, the most relaxed,” she tells 9Honey Celebrity.
“I think it was partly because the scene was well-written in the end and it felt really true and authentic and partly because Jason is such a consummate professional and gentleman and very, very trustworthy. And partly because of my own personal growth and the work I had done within myself in previous years to really know how to assert what I needed in that scene.
“In the end it did, it felt magical when you’re really in a moment and things are really working. It’s like the molecules of the room change and everyone in the room can feel it. It was such a beautiful scene.”
South of Heaven is now available on DVD and to rent or buy across all digital platforms.
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