Home -> Articles -> I've NEVER been rebellious... but I long to be
I've NEVER been rebellious... but I long to be
by Emine Saner, Red Magazine, December 2006. Scans by Levenia
With a background as chaotic as Liv Tyler's, you'd expect her to be a wild child. But the world's most famous elf reveals how marriage and motherhood has brought stability to her life.
You don't usually imagine Hollywood stars ever having to do something so mundane, but today Liv Tyler has a dentist's appointment. For the past seven months, she has been wearing a brace called Invisalign, a kind of see-through gumshield, on her top teeth. So - and what a relief this is - it would seem she's not totally flawless. 'I'm not perfect at all,' she says, and laughs. 'I'll be finished with it today and I'm so thrilled. I had braces when I was a little girl but one tooth at the front was starting to stick out. Even my grandmother was like, "Honey, what's going on with your tooth?" It's a lot straighter now.'
It's just a bit of fine-tuning after a couple of years largely out of the public eye. After the birth of her son, Milo, now nearly two, Liv decided not to go back to work immediately. Instead, she enjoyed being at home in New York with her son and her husband, Royston Langdon, 34, a musician.
The couple have been together for eight years. Theirs seems a very stable relationship - unusual among Hollywood circles. Her friends include Drew Barrymore (who has had two divorces) and Kate Hudson, who recently announced that she and her husband, musician Chris robinson, were separating. Did Liv's father ever try to put her off marrying a rock star? 'No, I don't really ask my dad's advice about love,' she says emphatically.
This is the first interview Liv has done in ages. Over the past couple of years, she has had small parts in films and is the face of Givenchy, which has kept her on billboards and in beautiful clothes, but only now does she feel the time is right to start taking on bigger projects. 'I'm actually nervous,' she says, and sounds genuinely pained. 'I can't remember the last time I did an interview; I have a bit of a headache. I'm a little bit spaced out, so please bear with me.'
This is how Liv Tyler seems to be - polite, self-deprecating and grounded. She is eminently sensible, perhaps because her parents are two of America's most notorious rock 'n' rollers. Her father is Steven Tyler, the Aerosmith frontman (though she only found out he was her real father when she was 11), and her mother is Bebe Buell, the former model and singer. With parents like that, there wasn't a lot Liv could do to rebel. She never skipped school and, unlike a lot of celebrity children, she didn't have a problem with drink or drugs ('I've never had an addiction problem of any kind, other than cigarettes at times,' she says. She even describes a glass of wine as 'an occasional guilty pleasure').
'There was a period when I was into hip-hop and I was like a home girl,' she says. 'My poor mom was having a nervous breakdown because she was a total rocker. But I've never been that rebellious. In a way, I long to be. I have girlfriends and I see that in them and I enjoy it when I'm with them, but it's not who I am. I constantly remind myself, "relax, have fun, you've nothing to worry about".'
I'm wary of this piece turning into a sickening slush fest, but I just can't help but like Liv. I suspect a lot of women feel the same. She's phenomenally beautiful without being intimidatingly, overtly sexy. She seems more normal than most stars - she lives in New York, not Hollywood - and is married to a Northern English lad, whose mum taught her how to make Yorkshire puddings.
She talks in a dreamy, soporific whisper, and seems wise beyond her 29 years, which is perhaps not surprising given how much she has packed into her life - a happy but chaotic childhood crowned by finding out at the age of 11 that her real dad wasn't rocker Todd Rungren, the man she believed to be her father; modelling at 14, acting at 16, married with a baby by 27.
After a few unsuccessful films at the beginning of her career, director Bernardo Bertolucci cast Liv in Stealing Beauty. It caught Hollywood's attention, but it wasn't until Armageddon that she had her first commercial success, playing Bruce Willis's daughter. Then came the role which made her a global star - Arwen, the elf queen in the The Lord Of The Rings trilogy. After that, at the peak of her career (so far), she decided to take two years off to have a baby.
'I didn't think it was a risky thing to do,' she says. 'But in retrospect, it kind of was. At the time, I didn't think anything of it. Most women, when they have a baby, are back in shape three months later. I didn't even start to lose a pound until I stopped breast-feeding, when Milo was about nine months old. All my life I had dreamt about having a child and I wanted to experience it fully. So that's what I did. But I'm paying for that a little bit as I'm having to reintroduce myself to Hollywood.'
While lots of new celebrity mothers compete to see who can snap back into shape the quickest after giving birth, Liv refused. pictures appeared of her looking tired and puffy, as though this was unforgivable. New mothers didn't care, though - at last, a famous woman was showing what it was really like!
Liv admits to it not being easy. 'I didn't gain that much weight when I was pregnant. I exercised and was healthy, but it was also the first time since I was 14 that I wasn't on a diet. When Milo was born, I was slimmer than I was six months later because I was more hungry while breast-feeding than I've ever been in my entire life - like a wild animal, ravenous. Until I stopped, I just couldn't even think about my weight.'
Now, she's back in shape - not LA super-skinny but sensibly slim (around a UK size 12). 'I'm so happy I can fit into all my clothes again. It was the worst when I couldn't do up my trousers - the most humiliating, horrible feeling. On top of that, every time I walked out of the house, there was some jerk taking my picture.'
The weight might have been hard to shift, but you sense motherhood comes easy to Liv. 'I love it so much,' she says. 'I've never felt so good about anything in my entire life.' Has it changed the way she feels about work? 'On the one hand, it bring out this feeling of, "Oh God. I've got to provide for my family." Something I didn't feel when it was just myself. And because I took that break, I have a new kind of drive for work. I'm really excited about getting back to it. But on the other hand, I can't bear the thought of not seeing him all day. That's difficult.'
She has done a film called Reign Over Me, with Adam Sandler and Don Cheadle, about a man who loses his family in the 9/11 attack. Due for release next spring, Liv says she has a small part in it.
She started shooting her next film, the thriller Strangers, in October; Liv is the lead. It means months spent away from home, but Liv's husband has been staying with her when he can. 'He has his own career so he has to go back and forth,' she says. Royston, who is from Leeds, was in a band called Spacehog that broke up in 2002. His latest band, Arckid, is still relatively new and their first gig was recently held on a Manhattan rooftop. About watching him play, she says, 'It was amazing. All our friends and family were there, it was very special. I just felt so proud, really proud. He's had a rough few years. It's hard being a musician and it takes a long time to get a band together, write songs, then see if it works.'
At the moment, it is Liv who is the breadwinner. Is Roystong ever threatened or jealous of his wife's success? 'No, not at all. He's incredibly supportive and has never been jealous in that way, ever. That's why I married him - because he's so loving and supportive, and not ashamed or embarrassed of me. But sometimes, when we're walking down the street and paparazzi are following us, he'll walk across the street,' she laughs.
The couple met through friends and got married in the Caribbean in 2003. 'I've been in love with the same guy for eight years,' she says. 'I was thinking about it the other day - I'm more head-over-heels in love with him at the moment than I ever have been. He just surprises me every day with his character and the kind of person he is. He's an amazing father and that's the sexiest, most attractive thing ever.'
She says she has worked hard to create a stable, settled life for herself - the opposite to how things were when she was growing up. Her mother, Bebe Buell, was the inspiration for Kate Hudson's Penny Lane character in Almost Famous. It feels dismissive to call her a groupie - she was more than that. A true rock chick, her boyfriends included Mick Jagger, David Bowie, Iggy Pop and Rod Stewart. And, of course, Steven Tyler. When Bebe found out she was pregnant, Tyler was in the grip of drug addiction, so after Liv was born, Bebe put her on-off boyfriend rock star Todd Rungren's name on the birth certificate.
Liv met Steven Tyler at an Aerosmith gig when she was eight, but it wasn't until three years later when meeting Tyler's older daughter, Mia, that it dawned on her that they looked so similar they must be related. She confronted her mother, who told her the truth.
'I definitely had a bit of a chaotic upbringing. I didn't live in one household all the time. I lived with my mum sometimes; I lived with my aunt sometimes; I lived with my grandmother sometimes. I never lived with Todd or my father but I would visit them. I lived in Virginia; I lived in Maine; I lived in New York. On one hand, it made me a chameleon - it's easy to adapt to different situations, which is probably good for me as an actress. But I do want the opposite for my life. I've worked so hard to create stability and something that I can always rely on. The lucky thing for me was that I was incredibly loved by everyone in my family.'
If finding out about Steven Tyler was a blow, she doesn't show it. I wonder if having her own child has put things to rest. 'It opens your eyes to what it must have been like to your parents.' Like forgiving them? She pauses as if to say she doesn't have anything to forgive them for. 'It's more that you have these "Aha-I-get-it-now" moments, once you're going through it yourself.'
She lost contact with Rundgren for a while, but now the whole extended family is close and she sees them as much as she can. 'But I'm so ridiculously in love with my own new family, so when I do have any free time, I want to be with my husband and son.'
Would she ever come to the UK to live? She has lots of friends in London, including Stella McCartney and Kate Moss. 'I think about it all the time, I'd love to. I love England. In London, we could have a house with a garden - you just don't have that in New York.'
But for now, New York is home. Liv has friends in LA and she is still in touch with a lot of the people she worked with on The Lord Of The Rings, including the director, Peter Jackson. Now she's throwing herself back into work, she is bound to be spending more time there. I don't think she'll have to work as hard to 'reintroduce' herself to Hollywood as she thinks. But now, she has a dental appointment. I've made her late but she's too polite to hurry me up. Off Liv goes, to be made just a little bit more perfect.
LIV TYLER ON...
Beauty This is such a cliche, but beauty really comes from within. To me, there is no definition of beauty, but when you can see someone's spirit coming through, something unexplainable, that's beautiful to me.
Love How do I know when I'm in love? I just get that tingly feeling all over.
Ambition I'm not one of those women whose every day is filled pursuing, following or trying to get somewhere. But if it's something I really believe in and love, I'll do anything to get it.
Herself I've been going through a lot of changes. After having a baby, I've been working on myself a lot this year - exercising and dieting. I've also had a bit of therapy. I'm just trying to be as open as I can to everything right now.
Family I definitely want more children - but not right now. I'm keen to get back to work.
Fame Because I'm the second generation of all that stuff, it's always been a part of my life. The people I admired most were always the ones who were the most curious about life, the most real. I try to remember that.
Fashion I see all these girls, and every time they leave the house they wear something new. As a mom, forget about it. I'm more practical about clothes now, but I love to go shopping. I think Alexander McQueen is a brilliant designer. I love Olivier Theyskens, Alber Elbaz at Lanvin and Stella McCartney. I like one-stop shops, like Barney's in New York.
Happiness I'm a pretty happy person. It's the little things and not necessarily all those big successful moments that people think would make someone like me happy. This weekend, I went to stay in the country with my son and I spent every minute outside with him, running around. Those moments, just being with him, I feel like my heart's full.
Laughter My husband makes me laugh a lot. And my son. All my boys make me laugh.
The future I'd love to have a house in the country. I also hope that I can have my family and still work, too.