[ COVER STORY ]
PHOTOS COURTESY OF ABC /
COMPOSITE BY DAVID SWANN
Welcome to the jungle: from left are Emilie de Ravin, Yunjin Kim, Evangeline Lilly and Maggie Grace.
Evangeline Lilly, Yunjin Kim,
Emilie de Ravin and Maggie Grace
extend common bonds even
after filming stops
Evangeline Lilly has a warning to a boy from her Kailua neighborhood who occasionally collects souvenirs from her clothesline.
"I don't know who he is or if he knows who I am, but when I catch him, I'll beat the living stink out of the kid," promises the star of ABC's hit series "Lost."
"I love fun, funky intimate garments, and I have a lot of them, or had," Lilly said during a break in a fashion shoot for US Weekly at the Kahala Mandarin Oriental Hotel. "I don't have a dryer, so I hang all my clothes outside to dry."
While Lilly was working, a girlfriend of hers from Vancouver, B.C., saw the lad "stealing my underwear off the clothesline."
"He'd better return everything or I'll tell his parents. And if they're on eBay, he's going to have to buy them back!"
Like Lilly, who plays Kate on "Lost," her castaway co-star actresses -- Yunjin Kim (Sun), Emilie de Ravin (Claire) and Maggie Grace (Shannon) -- said they felt like survivors upon arriving in Hawaii.
"None of us came here knowing the place or anyone," said Kim, 31, a respected actor in her native Korea. "So the cast, out of need, became very, very close very, very fast. Real castaways of sorts.
"What I didn't imagine was that we would all get along so well. That's lucky. It would have been hard to be here without friends and family and not like each other."
Kim's eyes are closed so Hawaii makeup artist Bryan Furer can apply some mascara. She sighs.
"Actually, we may hang out a little too much," Kim confesses. "We cling to one another. Every Wednesday, we go to the actor's house whose flashback is on the show that night to have dinner and watch.
"We cheer each other on, and when we see a great scene, we'll clap or go give each other hugs and kisses."
American audiences by the millions are watching the weekly hour-long drama, making it the biggest new hit of the fall season and placing it in the overall top 10.
During eight hours of photo shooting and interviews, the actresses make dozens of quick changes in a packed Mandarin Oriental suite. Through it all, the quartet happily obliges.
"They're a dream to work with," Furer says later. "I've had some (actresses) who look at what the girl next to them is getting done, then they suddenly want that look. These women are direct, trusting, respectful and leave their egos at the door."
Each shares a love of Hawaii's natural beauty and outdoor activities: hiking, kayaking, swimming and surfing. The "Lost" cast is so connected that most, including stars Matthew Fox and Dominic Monaghan, live near one another in Kailua, although Kim chose a Waikiki condo.
"I love Kailua," Lilly says. "It's like this lovely and mellow surfing village."
Romantic interests do not figure into feelings of isolation.
Kim says she's "seeing someone" in Korea, but her tone suggests marriage is not in the offing; de Ravin has a boyfriend in Australia who she sees in L.A. or Oahu occasionally; Grace and Lilly emphasize they're solo.
"I don't have time right now or the mental and emotional energy," says Lilly, who doesn't believe in "male friends, ever, because they always get the wrong idea.
"Men are men. The guy is interested in getting you in bed, putting a ring on your finger, always something other than friendship. Men are practical creatures; they're bright but they're after something.
"I'm an all or nothing kind of girl. When I'm with someone, I'm with someone for a long time, and it's very serious. I don't casually date."
She admits she's picky.
"There are very few men who I'm attracted to, and (reporters) are always teasing me about all the great-looking guys on 'Lost,'" Lilly says. "I play the game and say how great and sexy and handsome they are, but honestly, I come across a man who I'm really attracted to about once every five years.
"I like men who can laugh at themselves. I don't go after pretty boys."
DE RAVIN is the only one rarely recognized in public. "Everyone thinks I'm actually eight months pregnant like my character," she says. "That's pretty cool!"
Even so, she has no idea when her "Lost" character will give birth, and is anxious to get it over with.
"That thing I have to wear is bloody huge. I'm ready to explode. ('Lost' creator) J.J. (Abrams) better not be keeping me pregnant for another three years because of some weird thing on the island."
The relative anonymity of working in Hawaii is a major plus for the actors.
"Hawaii is a place where it's easy to be alone if you want to be," says Grace, who celebrated her 21st birthday here in September. "I do a lot of hiking -- sometimes by myself. It's quite calming."
She has also surfed a few times in Waikiki and once at Haleiwa. Her eyes brighten when she recalls the first time she stood up on the board.
"I did it by myself without an instructor and then rode my first head-high wave. That was a fluke; it didn't look that big when I started paddling."
The downside was "big, awful black-and-blue bruises" on Grace's hip bones where they rubbed against the surfboard.
"Sooo ugly," Grace said. "Not exactly the best thing for bikini shots."
It didn't make much difference to producers, since all the actors get cuts and bruises from trudging and running through the jungle for "Lost." Grace's tanned legs have a half-dozen quarter-size bruises this day.
"There are a lot of things I want to try here, like parasailing and hang gliding ... but there's this clause in our contract that basically says we can't do any death-defying activities," says Grace, who bungee-jumped in New Zealand a few years ago.
THEY DO ENJOY quieter moments. Lilly loves portrait painting and visits Honolulu street fairs and celebrations alone.
"When you're by yourself, you can observe the world much better," she says. "When you're with someone, you have to interact."
How Lilly, 25, got the "Lost" role is the stuff of Hollywood legend. The Alberta-born actress was living in Kelowna, B.C., three years ago when she was approached by a Ford modeling agency scout. It wasn't the first modeling agency that approached her.
"I planned to work in international relations, so I wasn't interested one bit," she said.
The scout gave her a business card, but she didn't call until months later while attending the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. A friend asked her if she feared success.
"The acting business scared me because I believed it's such a corrupt, immoral industry. I just didn't know where I would fit in."
After doing some modeling and acting in Stephen King's "Kingdom Hospital," Lilly got the "Lost" part by sending in an audition tape. Abrams asked her to test for ABC executives in Los Angeles, the final stage of casting, and she got the part.
"I still wasn't sure, but thought, OK, let's see where this goes," Lilly says. "I know it was a blessing and an amazing opportunity, but I actually thought this wouldn't be a good situation for me."
But while filming the pilot, she "fell madly in love with acting."
"The show is such a family environment," she said. "I didn't find the Hollywood horror like some people told me I would. I was surprised by how happy I was acting before a camera."
Her life the last six months has been "a whirlwind" with "a lot of scary changes," she said.
"Sometimes this feels like a wonderful dream, sometimes a terrifying dream," she said. "There's this beast in motion that I have no control over. This industry is a beast that can eat you up if you allow it to, especially if you're a female."
There are many times when the actors participate in day-long publicity and photo shoots.
"I'd just finished an intense three weeks of filming one of Kate's episodes, then had to fly to New York to appear on 'David Letterman,' then come right back to work," Lilly said.
There also are pressures on young actresses "to be thin, beautiful, perfect and always put forth just the right image," she says. "See, I have this big noggin, so I wear my hair a certain way to hide it. And my ears stick out, so I wear my hair down. I think about that more now."
The four agree they must always be aware of compromising their ideals.
A few weeks ago, a reporter asked Lilly the names of family members, which she insisted remain private.
"A few weeks later, (an editor) called to say they wouldn't run the story if I didn't give them that information, so I told them not to run it," she said. "In those situations I say to myself, if I wasn't in the entertainment business, what would I do? And whenever I feel myself slipping, I call home."
KIM HAS BEEN a star for years, establishing herself in Asia with the film "Shiri." Still, she's astounded that Abrams wrote "such a great role, specifically for me. What a great compliment."
Hawaii allows her to be mostly anonymous.
"We don't feel the heat of the show out here, and with so many Asians I pretty much fit right in," she said. "Someone just starts talking to me as a regular person about totally unrelated subjects to the show; maybe it's the spaghetti sauce or the weather. Then, as they leave, they may say, 'By the way, I like your role on 'Lost.'"
Grace, who came to Los Angeles at age 16, describes locals "as mellow about the Hollywood thing."
"It's a different kind of recognition because the person may have a friend who works on the show, so they mention that," she says. "No one makes a big deal out of us."
The big deal for the actresses is exhaustion from the show's physical demands. Kim treats herself to massages or soaks in the condo's sauna; Grace likes a hot bath surrounded by scented candles; Lilly paints; de Ravin's choice is "definitely a shower."
On weekends the cast often heads to Fox's beach house.
"When we're hanging out there ... Matthew is so comfortable with us that he's always nude," Grace says. "He's comfortable with his body."
Grace jokes that she's seen more naked men on this series "than in my entire life."
"I guess you can count that as another positive about being in Hawaii," she said.
"All the girls will go skinny dipping too," Kim says. "But we have to get all the guys to do it, too. We have some beautiful men on this show."
Lilly shakes her head, looking like she's ready to call home: "I've heard those whispers, but you can count this Canadian girl out."
An ABC spokesman said "Matthew will not be surprised" by his cast mates' comments: "His fellow castmates are quite vocal about his nudism!"