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Cool gene queen

by Kim Lockhart, Sassy Magazine, April 1995. Photos by Lara Rossignol.

Liv Tyler has very cool genes. You already know all about her dad, Steven, Aerosmith's front man extraordinaire.
What you probably don't know is how cool her mom, Bebe, is.

Bebe is a former supermodel who now serves as Liv's manager, which is why we feel like we know her. In the process of setting up this interview, we talked to Bebe on the phone about four or five times. The first time she was cordial and wanted to know about the magazine. She also had two rules for writing about Liv:

1. Don't call her a model - "She hasn't done that in almost two years", Bebe said. "She's an actress and student".

2. And don't refer to her as Aerosmith's Little (fill in the blank) - "Aerosmith isn't responsible for her career, Liv is", she explained.

Those are the kind of rules we can live with. It was refreshing to hear of someone working to make a name for herself, not riding on famous relative's coattails. What we discovered is that Liv's just as cool as her genes.

Tell us about your new movie, Heavy.

It takes place in upstate New York and Shelly Winters owns this worn-down tavern. My character, Calli, drop out of college and goes to work there. Deborah Harry is a waitress, too, and Evan Dando plays Shelly's son. His character is kind of messed up, but we have a beautiful relationship. It's basically about their lives during that perid of time, but it's got an eerie vibe.

What was it like working with Evan Dando? Did you guys hit it off?
Evan's great. We're great friends now. They chained us to a bridge together on our first day of shooting so how could we not become friends? We still hang out together sometimes, but it's hard. I'm back in school now and into that having-to-get-up-early-every-morning routine. I hate that. I'm like hibernating bear. I just want to stay in my warm bed and play with my puppy Chiquita. It's funny because she looks like a mouse, but she prances around like a deer.

Heavy debuted at the Sundance Film Festival (a prestigious event in movie-land). What was that like?
I was very excited to be there, but it's weird to watch yourself on screen. I was miserable the first time I saw Silent Fall (her first movie, starring Richard Dreyfuss). I just sat there.

At this point, Liv's call-waiting beeps for approximately the fifth time.
Can you hold on a second? (She sounds perturbed. She goes to her other call then clicks back).

I hate that, don't you? I wish I was better at being mean to people. sometimes you just have to tell people to leave you alone, but it's so hard. Anyway, where was I? Oh, I was really scared to watch myself the first time. It's one thing to see yourself on a videotape or in a commercial, but to see yourself HUGE on this big screen... it's awful! I just sat there curled in a ball and chewed a hole in my thigh-high sock.

How did you start acting?
It's something I thought about for a really long time. I had just gotten an agent and read for Silent Fall, and I decided that it was something I really wanted to do. Then I got the part and I couldn't believe it.

Do you have a dream role or someone you're dying to work with?
There are a lot of people I'd love to work with: Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gary Oldman, Uma Thurman... just people I enjoy watching. There are so many people I admire.

How do you prepare for a role?
It depends on the part. (My character in) Heavy is kind of like me, so for that one, I just rehearsed and figured out how to play her. In Silent Fall, I did a lot of research on autistic kids and being sexually abused. I went much deeper into that character.

What's been the most challenging scene you've had so far?
In Silent Fall I had some really challenging scenes. I didn't know I was totally capable of doing what I did until I actually finished doing it. Every day is a callenge because you do it (the movie) in different sections. You're always using your mind.
Duet with dad? Nope, Liv's only musical aspiration is to play guitar

You're graduating from high school in June. Was it hard to stay in school while you were working?
Well, when I was working I had tutors, but I've been going to the same school forever...
(There's a tiny yelping noise in the background and Liv start giggling).

Is that your dog?

Yeah, she's prancing around trying to eat a piece of food right now. She's so funny. Anyway, my school sent work to my tutor and we'd work together during breaks. I was really nervous when I went back to school a couple of weeks ago. I couldn't sleep the night before. It was that first-day-of-school feeling. But when I got there it was cool... I mean I've knows these people since before puberty.

Do you want to go to college?
I wouldn't mind taking some classes at New York University (NYU), but there's so much I want to read and learn about for myself. I want to educate myself.

In your third movie, Empire Records (out thie summer), you play a record store clerk. What are the best albums of all time, according to Liv Tyler?
Gee, that's hard. I don't really concentrate on albums, I just like certain styles. I like the Rolling Stones... this band called The Flaming Groovies... I LOVE Sonic Youth... the new Hole album and I listen to a lot of blues.

OK, now I've got to ask about your dad. Is it difficult being so closely associated to him in the media?
It's interesting, I never thought it would be such a big deal. I guess it's an easy way for the media to identify me. But he's my father; I don't think of him like this big star. I spent half of Christmas out in the country with him and my brothers and sisters - they're the cutest thing in the world.

What are advantages and disadvantages of having famous parents?
I don't think of it as an advantage or disadvantage because I've been around it so long. I don't mind being linked to them, they're cool - I love my parents. And anyway, I can't control what other people think.

Last question: How would you describe yourself to someone who knows nothing about you, your mom, your dad or rock music?
Gee, I don't know. Liv, that's what I am. Just Liv. I have many different sides. I hate big crowds - I get all shy. I'm personal - I have just a few really close friends and my family.

You and your mom seem to be great friends.
I love my mommy. She's a great friend. For a while it freaked me out. You know, during that confused period when you're like 'Oh my god... I LIKE my MOM'. But then one day I woke up and realized this is my friend for life. It's just been she and I since I was born - we're a team. I remember when I was little and we were in Maine. My mom and I had matching cowboy boots. She would walk me to the school bus because it was a really long walk, and when it snowed we'd go sliding down the icy street in our matching cowboy boots and get soaking wet. That was fun.

So are you, Liv!
Liv and mommy