Liv Tyler has been going out a lot lately: the Vanity Fair Party, the Oscar awards ceremony, fashion shows and champagne receptions... Her tall, voluptuous silhouette has been seen out and about in sublime haute couture outfits, as she flashes her stunning smile alongside the likes of Lou Doillon, Charlotte Gainsbourg, and Karl Lagerfeld. A most certainly obligatory social whirl for the girl who's recently embodied pretty princess Arwen in the mega Lord of the Rings trilogy and become Givenchy's stunning new figurehead.
At an age when some starlets are only just embarking on shy movie debuts, Miss Tyler has already lived several lives: video clip maven, model, rock princess, actress, muse... A varied career served as much by her exceptional beauty as her intriguing background.
Much has already been put to paper about her bohemian childhood on planet "sex, drugs and rock'n'roll," about the wildness of her biological pa, Steven Tyler, the charismatic lead singer of hard rock band Aerosmith. About the escapades of her mother, Bebe Buell, too - an ex- Eileen Ford model, "Playboy pin-up," and "full-time groupie" who managed to notch up countless rock stars on her list of conquests. Among others: Rod Stewart, Elvis Costello, Mick Jagger and Todd Rundgren. It was the latter, the Utopia group's singer, who was a father to the young Livonia, born in New York in 1977, and whom she assumed to be her real dad until the age of 9. This by now rarely-mentioned biographical saga nonetheless strongly contributed to the emergence of the "new Baby Doll," revealed in Bernardo Bertolucci's steamy opus, Stealing Beauty, which could have been lifted straight out of a Jean-Marie Rouart novel. In it, Liv plays Lucy, a young American virgin who goes to Tuscany to join friends of her mother, who has committed suicide. She unconsciously looks for a father figure among this bunch of ageing esthetes, the whole lot set in an atmosphere of meticulously sublimated incest.
She was only 19 at the time, but already had something of a career as a "pop model" behind her. She was a professional model at the age of 13, on the cover of "Rolling Stone" at 15, and went on to shoot a couple of music videos with her dad's band. Spotted for her performance in one of them, she managed to land her first roles in the indie movie circuit and got herself noticed in James Mangold's Heavy, an art-house movie that was well-received at the Sundance festival and screened in Cannes during Director's Fortnight. And, the rest is history! Hailed "eighth marvel of the Croisette" in 1996, which marked the 50th anniversary of France's film fest, the girl that the "maestro" Bertolucci had described as "instinctively phenomenal" stole everyone's hearts. Tall - 1m80, with legs right up to her neck, diaphanous skin, a full-lipped, sexy mouth and intense turquoise blue eyes, Liv Tyler was immediately likened to Liz Taylor for her magnetism and animal-like approach to acting, especially as their names are so similar. But it was above all the young actress' candor and sex appeal that everyone found so striking. A "Lolita fatale," a perverse ingenue, a glamorous nymphet... such was the veritable garland of oxymorons attributed to this girl, considered a perfect combination of all male fantasies rolled into one. Yet, more mature than other girls her age and visibly determined to keep her head on her shoulders, Liv insisted to whoever was willing to lend an ear, that she didn't see herself as a top model, nor even as a sexpot. Naturally, she'd always wanted to be famous, but she now wanted "to concentrate on her career as an actor." A wish that Hollywood's wizards promptly granted, with a wave of their magic wands. Initially contracted by Tom Hanks, then Woody Allen, she then played in Pat O'Connor's Inventing the Abbotts, swiftly followed by rough-and-ready Oliver Stone's U-Turn.
Yet, even though she'd shot five movies within the space of three years, these had been far from memorable. Limited to "pretty thing" roles (in rebel teenager mode), and dubbed "rock child of the moment" on account of her hard to shake off family history, by the age of 20, the "baby star" seemed, to be showing signs of fatigue. Her visions of "Movieland"? She claimed to be shocked by the weird people she met, day in day out, more often than not self-obsessed "sharks." What about the press? "There are always bastards out there, trying to catch me out. Reporters who think they have every right, especially the right to delve into my private life..."
On that note, precisely, rumor had it at that time that she was involved with Joaquin Phoenix (brother of permaturely deceased actor River), with whom she successively featured in O'Connor and Stone's movies. A liaison that turned out to be true, but which definitely broke up three years later, when rumor had it this time that Liv was having an affair with Bruce Willis, the cause - again according to certain tabloids - of his divorce with Demi Moore... True enough, in the meantime, Liv Tyler had played the king of testosterone's daughter in Armageddon, her first role in a billion-dollar blockbuster. It was a surprising change of track that the actress justified by saying: "I knew that I would have to play in a movie of that kind sooner or later. So, when I saw that Billy Bob Thornton, Ben Affleck and Steve Buscemi had agreed... I decided to go ahead!" Still, though she now admits that shooting it was "the pits," she made up for that by playing in Martha Fiennes' period drama Onegin, simultaneously.
Again hailed as the darling of the Cannes Festival for her performance in Armageddon, Liv above all experimented with the new areas of freedom that huge box-office hits open up in Hollywood, allowing careers to take off and broadening the scope of the roles an actor is offered. She subsequently acted in movies directed by Jake Scott (Ridley's son), Milos Forman and the great Robert Altman himself in Cookie's Fortune. Special mention must go, however, to One Night at McCool's, a film produced by Michael Douglas in 2001, in which she excelled in a positively lethal character part.
Beyond a shadow of doubt: seeing her constantly dressed in miniskirts, and flaunting brazenly provocative necklines... You'd have to be blind not to notice that Liv Tyler has sure as hell, grown up! At 24, and more staggering than ever, she's with Royston Langdon, Brit band Spacehog's bass-player, and - under the direction of Peter Jackson, is revving up for the role of the beautiful elf princess Arwen, in love with King Aragorn, who's played by Viggo Mortensen. Lord of the Rings many month-long shoot, its mega dollar earnings, international success and the Oscars are well behind her... At present, Liv is touted as one of Hollywood's 30 most sought-after potential leading ladies. Moreover, she's just married her fiance, and bought a house in New York where she cultivates the simple life, light-years away from any rock'n'roll cliches - going so far as to claim she wants five kids!
Rebelling against tinsel town's lollipop-thin diktats, and thumbing her nose at all those who promise her more roles if she loses a little weight, this beauty replies that she likes her curves. And, some think she's quite right. Givenchy has hit the nail on the head, selecting her as the famously chic brand's number one muse, representing the freshly updated image of its "Very Irresistible" perfume, as well as its makeup range. Recently photographed by Mario Testino, Liv Tyler clearly seems to be following in the footsteps of Audrey Hepburn, the muse originally picked by the late Hubert. Her disarmingly zingy natural charm indeed work wonders! As do the generosity and enthusiasm she reportedly showed when she met Dean Hepburn (Audrey's son), agreeing on the spot to become UNICEF's transatlantic ambassadress.
Bernardo Bertolucci foresaw that she had the makings of "a leading actress, as long as she chooses her roles well." A piece of advice that Miss Tyler insists is her priority today, swearing only to be interested in the quality of the directors and actors she works with. Proof of this? Since Marce (the date of its US release), she's been seen alongside Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck in Jersey Girl, a dramatic comedy shot by Kevin Smith, and she'll also be starring in Lonesome Jim, the latest movie by cult underground filmmaker Steve Buscemi.
To someone who once asked her how she saw life, young Liv replied, as... "a walk in a garden filled with flowers, with candy." Flower child, or candy woman? Whatever - at 26, life definitely appears to be turning into a bed of roses, for Liv Tyler!