Evangeline Lilly said in a new interview with Esquire magazine that she was well aware she’d ignite controversy by posting photos on social media from an anti-vaccine mandates rally in Washington D.C. The “Lost” and Marvel star faced backlash in January 2022 after participating in the rally, which she joined in support of “bodily sovereignty.”
“I believe nobody should ever be forced to inject their body with anything, against their will, under threat of violent attack, arrest or detention without trial, loss of employment, homelessness, starvation, loss of education, alienation from loved ones, excommunication from society…under any threat whatsoever,” Lilly wrote on Instagram at the time. “This is not the way. This is not safe. This is not healthy. This is not love. I understand the world is in fear, but I don’t believe that answering fear with force will fix our problems. I was pro choice before COVID and I am still pro choice today.”
Lilly now told Esquire that she asked herself “about 600 times” whether or not she should post photos from the rally. She remembered thinking to herself, “I know the beast that I’m attacking. I know that I have a little pebble and there’s this fucking Goliath giant. If I shoot this pebble, it’s going to wake the giant.”
“I just wanted people out there who were struggling because they were under severe pressure to do something they didn’t want to do to know that they weren’t alone,” Lilly said looking back at her decision to post. “And to know that there were people who actually felt they had a right to say no.”
It wasn’t the first COVID-related controversy that Lilly had to face. She made headlines at the start of the pandemic in March 2020 after a post about refusing to social distance and quarantine, adding, “Some people value their lives over freedom, some people value freedom over their lives. We all make choices.” The actress eventually apologized.
“My direct and special apologies to those most affected by this pandemic,” she said in a statement. “I never meant to hurt you. When I wrote that post 10 days ago, I thought I was infusing calm into the hysteria. I can see now that I was projecting my own fears into an already fearful and traumatic situation.”
Through it all, Lilly said her Marvel role as Hope van Dyne / Wasp was never in jeopardy. While she did not address the vaccine rally or COVID controversies by name, Lilly said on the “Happy Sad Confused” podcast that Marvel has never told her how to live her personal life.
“They’re very respectful,” Lilly said. “In fact, I’ve had direct conversations with them that I have instigated and they’ve always said, ‘That’s not our business. That’s not for us to tell you how to live your life or what opinions to have.’ And I actually even got a really supportive phone call from [‘Ant-Man’ director] Peyton Reed at one point and just saying like, ’Just so you know, there’s some rumors spreading about Marvel ditching you or canceling you. And that didn’t come from Marvel and that didn’t come from us, so just ignore that.’”
“Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” is now playing in theaters nationwide.