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The tinfoil-hat-inspiring intrigue that was Lost has now been wrapped for over five years. Yet, in some interesting food for thought, it seems that the fate of the popular sci-fi/mystery series was oddly tied with the long-running sitcom, How I Met Your Mother. Cobie Smulders, who went on to star in HIMYM, claims she was close to landing the role of Lost’s wayward convict-turned-island-survivor, Kate Austen.
Speaking to E!, Smulders discussed a connection with fellow Canadian, Evangeline Lilly, who landed the career-altering role of Kate on Lost. However, it seems that both actresses were up for the key role. According to Smulders:
[Evangeline Lily and I] were both testing for Lost. She owes a lot to me because I went in and I bombed the audition. [laughs] And she was like, ‘Thank you!
There was an especially ironic element to this story, as it saw then up-and-coming actress Smulders lose out this critical dramatic part to Evangeline Lilly, a model with a resume consisting of only a handful of uncredited walk-ons. It seems that a friendship had bloomed between the two based on Canuck kinship when Lilly first arrived in L.A. Smulders showed her around town and even provided her with a place to stay for a time. Yet, with that bit of beneficence, she may have cost herself the critical role of Kate on Lost. Sure, there’s probably a level of levity in the situation, seeing as things more than worked out for Smulders, but the story is hardly a parable for Good Samaritanism.
Interestingly enough, the coincidences seem only to continue regarding each actresses’ individual roads to their success. Smulders parlayed her HIMYM fame with her notable role as the ingenious, ass-kicking agent Maria Hill in the ultra-lucrative Marvel Cinematic Universe films like The Avengers and sporadically on the television offshoot, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. Coincidentally, Lilly, like Smulders, will soon be part of the MCU when she plays Hope Van Dyne in this summer’s Ant-Man.
Thus, it seems that one fateful audition over a decade ago over a role in what would become one of the 2000's most popular series would ultimately send two connected Canadian actresses on the divergent paths that could ultimately lead to a unification of some sort on the big screen. At least, that all depends on what the events of Ant-Man have in store for Lilly’s Hope Van Dyne character.
It’s difficult to say how a potential run by Cobie Smulders as Kate would have affected the lead dynamics on Lost. The love triangle between Kate, Matthew Fox’s moody doctor Jack Shephard and Josh Holloway’s roguish reprobate Sawyer that proved so central to the show required a version of Kate that was both powerfully willful, yet susceptible to ill-advised flights of fancy. Whether Lilly was successful in pulling off that dynamic remains a debate for the ages. Whether Smulders would have been able to pull that off will likewise remain a mystery. Now, do we dare imagine a scenario with Evangeline Lilly as Robin on HIMYM?