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Liv on the Edge

by Jamie Diamond, Mademoiselle Magazine, August 1999

MIDWAY THROUGH LUNCH AT NEW YORK CITY'S GRANGE HALL, Liv Tyler - looking as poignantly perplexed as only a woman of her out-and-out beauty can - shyly leans forward to proffer a confession.

No, it's not about sex, drugs or rock 'n' roll, all of which she's been exposed to in spades and is quite immune to, thank you very much. It's about her inability to assemble a birthday photo album for her boyfriend, Royston Langdon of Brit band Spacehog. She's tried glue stick. She's tried two-sided tape. She's wracked her brain for solutions, but still the pesky pictures refuse to adhere to the paper. Please, do I know what to do ? And that's precisely what makes Liv Tyler so appealing - her lack of pretentiousness.

No matter that she's the daughter of Aerosmith's front man, Steven Tyler, and Playboy centerfold/party girl Bebe Buell. It's of little consequence to her, at the moment, that she rocketed to fame and fortune with such films as Stealing Beauty, Inventing the Abbots, Armageddon and Cookie's Fortune. She's a regular Jane and she won't stand on ceremony.
Pic from Mademoiselle
At 22, "I'm at funny age, I can't play 17 anymore and I'm not old enough to play more womanly roles"

Her naturalness shines through in her new movie, Plunkett and MaCleane, a hallucinogenically shot period picture (think British Tombstone set to a Trainspotting techno beat). Playing the blue-blooded, sheltered Lady Rebecca, Tyler can't help losing her heart to the roguish highway man who robs her - gently and with style, of course. Indeed, nothing about the 22-year-old Tyler is conventional, least of all the way she grew up. She always knew a rock star was her father. She just didn't have the right rock star. For the first decade of her life, her mom told her it was Tood Rundgren. Then, at age eight, she went backstage at a concert, took one look at Tyler - and later confirmed her suspicions that he was, if fact, her big badass daddy.

Like her father, Liv is tall (5'10"). And like him, she has a performer's flair for dramatic entrance, arriving at the Mademoiselle photo shoot aswirl in a floor-length skirt, with huge pink cashmere scarf teid around her long neck. Tyler is amused by her own gift for the gaudy and cracks up as she describes some of her favorite, too-fashion-forward moments. Such as the time she wore a blaringly red, quilted poof-dress to her high-school prom. Or when she showed up at her twenty-first birthday party in a ruffed, psychedelic-print Pucci pantsuit
("I also wore a funny straw hat with flowers all over it").

But one senses that Tyler's hilarity is a way of distancing herself - and the listener - from her past. As if she's saying:
Don't remind me about my adolescent shuttling between cousins or grandparents while my mom was struggling to get work as a singer - I'm here now, and I'm determined to be happy.

Try asking her an innocuous question about the age of her stepfather, Coyote Shivers, and Tyler replies elliptically, "I can't talk about this. Too many men". (The answer is, around a decade younder than her mom and older then Liv). Then she adds, "I can adapt to any situation I'm in. Maybe that's why I'm able to act". Continue ...

Liv's life: A Tyler Timeline
1977: Born July 1, and immediately on the move. Whan she's three months old, she's sent to live with her aunt in Maine. Three years later, her mom joins them. In 82', Liv is transplanted to Fairfaxm Virginia, to live with her mother's parents (her grandmother's an eminent Washington etiquette consultant).

1986: Meets Steven Tyler. "He'd just gotten out of rehab. I was eight years old and we'd driven to Boston to see Todd (Rundgren) play in a club; my father came to see Todd. I guess our meeting was an accident. He'd met me when I was a baby".

1988: Learns that Tyler is her father and meets half-sister Mia. "After I found out, I changed my last name to Tyler. I was a kid and I was honored".

1989: Liv enrolls at York Prep in New York City. "I liked school, but I was hyperactive and I'd get kicked out of class for speaking without raising my hand".

1992: Liv graces the pages of Mademoiselle as a model. "That was my first shoot ever. They cut my hair. They said they were just going to trim an inch and they took off three". Modeling "was weird for me, because I was chubby and had a perm. I wasn't capitalizing on my appearance so much as I was playing dress up".

1994: Along with Alicia Silverstone, Liv holds up a convenience store on the video for "Crazy", an Aerosmith hit song. Liv also makes her movie debut Silent Fall, as a molested girl who murders her parents and tries to seduce her shrink. "I'm too embarrassed to look at that scene now". A year later, she starts shooting Empire Records and Heavy.

1995: Graduate from high school. Four days later, she begins filming Bernardo Bertolucci's Stealing Beauty. "A lot of underage actors become legally emancipated and they asked me to do that. But what for ? So they could work me longer hours ? No, thanks".

1996: Films That Thing You Do!, U Turn, Inventing the Abbotts and find Joaquin Phoenix. (They end up dating for three years.) Then came 1998's Armageddon.

1999: With boyfriend, Royston Langdon of Spacehog, at the Besieged premire.

Mommy Dearest "People portray me as this innocent girl who grew up in a rock 'n' roll environment. Yes, my mom was always in bands and I'd see her play. When you grow up around that, you get used to it. I don't see my parents as rebels so much as different. But basically, it was just my mom and me - which is a different dynamic from mother and father and child. Mom was tough, I always told her where I was and I had to be home at a certain time. She wouldn't let me watch violence in films or on TV, but nudity was okay. Somehow I understood what sex was without a birds-and-bees talk".

Daddy's Little Girl "At ten I was a metalhead. I loved Motley Crue, Skid Row and Black Sabbath. I had a spiral perm that made my hair look like Shirley Temple's - I didn't know what gel was, so I couldn't do anything with it!"

Looks back with tenderness, not anger
"I love snorkeling, swimming underwater and doing somersaults"
Lolita's Revenge "I didn't have my first kiss until I was 14 and had my braces off. I was just getting into hip-hop, and I was totally overdeveloped, had vreasts already and was at least two or three feet taller than other kids in my class. If someone teased me, I'd just ... (she maked the international hand gesture for "Get lost"). But I looked older than I was - whenever I was out with my friends, grown men would talk to me and I'd have a normal conversation with them about life and they say, 'How old are you ?' and I'd say, 'Thirteen', and they'd be terrified. I got a kick out of that.

Sex, Blank, Rock 'n' Roll "I wasn't around drugs myself, but knowing what my father went through made it impossible for me to ever be interested in drugs. I love wine - being in Italy for Stealing Beauty, I learned a lot about wine. But if I get too drunk one night, I don't want to drink for another month. Except for cigarettes, I don't have an addictive personality. [Laughs] Well, I'm a little bit addicted to shopping."

On Men, Marriage and the Big-Picture Plan "It's hard to say what attracts me to someone. It could be a simple thing, like the way a guy moves or smiles. I don't fall for a 'type'. I never really dated and the two significant relationships I've had just happened. They were magic and were meant to be. Everyone says how wonderful it is to be married - and I'm not saying I won't do that, I'd love to - but at the same time, I've got really strange feelings about it. I would not have to be married to have a child. I used to think the time to get married would be when you were 40 or older and you already had children and had made it through the rough time with your lover. Then marriage would be your reward."

How She Got Bitten by the Bug "In the old days, not only did you take acting lessons, you studied singing, dancing and posture. But I come from a different generation of actors. I started out modeling, did a couple of film auditions - one for The Professional - and I got interested in acting. When I was cast in my first film, Silent Fall, I had no experience. The first scene I did, I was supposed to come down the hall and steal J.T. Walsh's gun. The assistant director said, 'There's your mark', and I said, 'What's a mark ?' But when I made my second film, Heavy, I felt comfortable and connected to my character. I thought: 'I love this!' I found what I was meant to discover. 'With my job, I have to put aside my own emotions. Something massive could be happening and I might be upset, but I have to act all day. It takes discipline. For good luck, I wear my own shoes. So underneath those formal gown I wore in Plunkett and MaCleane, I had my sneakers on."

A Goddes ... of Domesticity ? "I'm a great cook. And men love that. They're always so amazed. I made my boyfriend a tuna fish sandwich yesterday and he was like, 'That is the nicest-looking sandwich I've ever seen'."

Fear of Flying "Whenever I fly I bring my teddy bears Sean and Drew. My boyfriend and I bought them last year at Harrods. I always rescue sad and lonely teddy bears. When I was little I had tons of stuffed animals. My mom said before I got into bed, I put every animal in my room to sleep. I'd even lay down my little troll dolls and cover them up. I used to be scared of the dark but I'm not anymore."
Liv's stuff
"Liv Tyler is hands down the most beautiful woman in the world. She's also beyond that, She really listens, really looks at people. She takes her time" - Julianne Moore, Liv's co-star in Cookie's Fortune

Following in Father's Foorsteps ? "As a kid I thought I'd be a singer. I'm still obsessed with music. I love to hear bands play. The last CD I bought was Elvis Costello and Burt Bacharach. When I'm at home I listen to Etta James, Billie holiday, Sam Cooke and Al Green. But I also love really funny Sid Vicious album and I love rock 'n' roll. and Spacehog, obviously."

Up Close and Personal

Liv gets a bit cheeky with her glamorizer Jeannine
When Mademoiselle senior fashion editor Stacy London fainted (from mild dehydration) a few hours into our New York City cover shoot, Liv was "so understanding!" Stacy says". "She told me about the time she'd fainted in front of Glenn Close and Reobert Altman while filming Cookie's Fortune. She was so afraid they wouldn't think she was a professional". Yeah, right. Liv, who has been at this acting thing since she was 14 years old, was the consummate pro at out cover shoot, and also when she sat down with West Coast editor Jamie Diamond do discuss her (in)famous parent, "the business" and her very first kiss. "She's the most beautiful girl on the planet", says makeup artist Jeannine Lobell, who rubbed creamy blush on Liv's lips and cheeks and applied camel shadow to her eyes. At the shoot, Tyler - who will be seen in the forthcoming Plunkett and MaCleane - jammed to the Rolling Stones and posed in a pair of pink ballet slippers and an eye-catching Prada dress made of tulle and mirrors. "She absolutely loved the look!" says Stacy. She even got to keep the shoes: Designer Sonia Rykeil presented the fab footwear to the actress after the shoot.