by Lisa McGarry

Evangeline Lilly

With Lost’s fifth season of action-packed mystery and adventure about to be released on DVD, we talk to Evangeline Lilly – who stars as Kate Austen in the award-winning drama – about rumors of her departure from the show, working with Josh Holloway and what exactly is in store for the survivors of Oceanic Air flight 815…

What can you tell us about season five of Lost?

EVANGELINE LILLY: This season, Kate has been defined by the fact that she has left her son. That decision is so unfathomable for any mother. To have raised a child from the age of six months to three and a half years and then consciously choosing to walk away is such a huge decision that it is felt throughout the rest of the season. Kate never departs from that moment when she left him. She can’t. She’s stuck there. She goes through a season of ups and downs and adventures and trials, but ultimately her head is always at that moment where she left her son. That’s all she’s thinking about and all she cares about. She’s very singularly focused, which gives her determination. It gives her a strength that she hasn’t had in the past where she had no goal and no end game. She has one now.

What used to drive Kate forward?

EVANGELINE LILLY: She used to be driven by the two men in her life: Jack and Sawyer. I had always hoped the writers would find a purpose for her outside of them – and they have. Her purpose this season is serving her son in the best way she knows.

Have you enjoyed working on the show this season?

EVANGELINE LILLY: I’ve had a lot of fun because it’s been a long time since I worked with Josh Holloway [who plays Sawyer]. He and I are good friends, so it was exciting to see him again and it was exciting to have this reunion on the show.

What did you make of Kate and Sawyer’s reunion?

EVANGELINE LILLY: I was nervous because I didn’t want anything to undermine Kate’s character. I didn’t want to see Kate coming back to the island and falling in love with Sawyer again after three years of having a relationship with Jack. I was very nervous that would happen and I didn’t want to have to try and justify that because I’m the person who has to make that believable. But the writers didn’t do that. I think it’s a very intense thing for both Kate and Sawyer. I don’t think Kate realized he was even alive. The last time she saw him, he had jumped out of a helicopter and was swimming in the ocean to an island that disappeared minutes later. For all intents and purposes, Kate thought he was dead.

Do you want to see Kate settle with Jack or Sawyer?

EVANGELINE LILLY: I am not rooting for either one. I have to be careful on this show not to commit myself to any ideas because the writers change things all the time. If I was really invested at this point, five years into the show, I would have had so many phone calls to the writers screaming, yelling and crying. I would’ve spent hours pleading, “This can’t happen and I won’t do it. I refuse.” I learned very early on that I have to keep a blank slate. I have to wait and see what the writers have in store for Kate and then go with it.

Are you happy with Kate’s character development?

EVANGELINE LILLY: I am. I think it’s fascinating to see her go from someone who is seriously independent and cares only about herself to someone who will sacrifice everything and anything for another tiny, beautiful, little human being. I think it’s a very strong arc and I think it’s a huge change in television. Normally, they don’t want characters to change because they want the audiences to be able to tune and recognize people they are familiar with. They take so many risks on our show. They change people all the time, which is true to life. How many of us stay static for more than 24 hours?

What changes can we expect for Kate in season five?

EVANGELINE LILLY: Kate is still growing and learning, but I don’t think you will see any drastic changes like the one we saw from season three to season four when she became a mother. I don’t think they will ever find that degree of shift for the character again.

Is there any truth in the rumor that you’re leaving Lost?

EVANGELINE LILLY: Why on Earth would I want to leave the best female role on television? I’m happy on the show and I have no reason to want to go anywhere. That rumor started because the world is bored and they need a little drama, so they make things up. That’s it. It’s very simple.

Why do you think Lost is so successful?

EVANGELINE LILLY: I think there are a lot of reasons for its success. It’s a layered show and there are so many characters to follow, so you never get bored. If you don’t like one character, you’re going to like another. Lost covers such a wide range of entertainment venues, too. It’s a hospital show, a legal show, an adventure show, a sci-fi show and a soap opera – and you’re left with all these cliffhanger mysteries. You have all these questions answered. There’s a lot going on.

What do you plan to do after the show finishes?

EVANGELINE LILLY: After the show is over, I would love to take a year off and visit France. I’d love to travel around the country and paint, write, eat cheese, drink wine and live the provincial life. However, as I get closer to the end of the show, the window of possibility always starts to squeeze. You dream these wonderful ideas but then you realize it’s not going to work, so I don’t know if it will happen or not. I’m fairly in love with France, though. I have a minor imaginary love affair with the country, so any chance I get to be there is wonderful.

Do you want to take a year off because you’ve worked so hard for the last five years or are you taking time off for yourself?

EVANGELINE LILLY: It’s both of those things. Lost ground me to a pulp in the first two years. I was so tired and so spent that I couldn’t imagine how I could keep it up for six years. It’s a different story now. Things have changed. I’ve gotten used to the industry. I think you develop a rhythm and a pace – and you get more apt at what you’re doing. I was running around like a headless chicken trying to keep up when the show started filming, but now I don’t feel overworked at all, so I don’t know if I need a year off. However, I do feel that I’ve had to devote so much of my time and creative energy to this show that I would love to be able to concentrate on other forms of art that I like to dabble in. I love all forms of art, but I don’t have time for any of it right now. Maybe I will have time when the show finally finishes?