Many actors whine about how grueling moviemaking can be, but after watching Liv Tyler in the new thriller The Strangers, she's not kidding when she calls it, "The most physically and emotionally demanding thing I've ever done."
The feature debut of writer/director Bryan Bertino, The Strangers finds Tyler paired with Scott Speedman (Underworld) as a couple arriving at an isolated vacation home where Speedman's character hopes to celebrate after proposing marriage. Tyler's character has disappointingly turned him down, but the night only gets worse with the arrival of three masked visitors who begin to taunt the couple for no apparent reason. Minimally horrific, the scares of the picture hit in how believable the entire scenario, which takes place over only a few hours, seems.
Speaking on the phone earlier this week, Tyler, who hasn't waded in this genre before, says, "After taking two years off I had all this stuff inside of me I wanted to get out and this was the perfect place for me to do it. It was actually kind of therapeutic for me in a way."
Well, the three soulless killers put Tyler's character through the ringer, and she received the bruises, blisters and scrapes to prove it. She recently had dinner with Bertino, during which he let her in on a sad, little discovery he'd made while editing the film.
Tyler recalls, "He said, 'There is one thing I gotta tell you and you're probably gonna kill me. After having gone through all that pain in the movie you probably could have worn shoes. No one would have known.'"
Laughing in retrospect, Tyler adds, "The thing that was funny was that I never really hurt the bottoms of my feet. I had these blisters or burns on the top of my feet from dragging my feet on the hardwood floor. I had one that lasted for about a year and I remember looking down and when it went away I was like, 'Wow, I guess I'm healed from that experience.'"
With The Strangers release next week and The Incredible Hulk coming out almost immediately after, Tyler finds herself in the middle of a major promotional tour. Having had a sneak peek at the new "Hulk" before our interview (more on that in the next column), I asked the 30-year-old, who plays Betty Ross in the flick, to clarify her character's role in the film, which has little to do with Ang Lee's 2003 Hulk.
"[Bruce Banner] comes back and they basically go off on this road trip together in search for a cure," Tyler says. "Bruce is really suffering and he feels really afflicted. He feels safe with her and she amazingly protects him in some kind of way. When he becomes the Hulk she always goes forward and says to him, 'Bruce, can you hear me?' She's frightened, but she knows that's Bruce inside of that monster."
Praising director Louis Leterrier and co-star Edward Norton (who worked on the screenplay), Tyler is happy the buzz has started to turn more positive as more and more people see the finished product.
"It's nice, in a way, that there hasn't been a load of hype about it. It's really different [from] the other film," Tyler says. "I'm not saying it's better or worse, but the story is completely different."
Tyler recently announced she was separating from her husband, musician Royston Langdon, and volunteered that, because her life has been "a little bit hard lately", she's not rushing to get back to work.
"I've just been spending a lot of time with my son, which is my great passion and really my whole life," Tyler says. "I just want to get through promoting these movies. It's so weird that it happens they are both coming out within two weeks of each other. It's been a little bit of a whirlwind for me."
As Tyler is obviously learning, sometimes the best of times come at the worst of times.