by Jess Henley, UK She Magazine, August 2009, Photos by Cliff Watts, Scans by Yavanna and Leanne
Despite being born into rock'n'roll aristocracy, Liv Tyler, 32, has grown into one of Hollywood's most down-to-earth stars. Here, she talks to SHE's Jess Henley about the pain of divorce, shifting her baby weight and how she juggles her life as a single working mother
Walking into a Parisian hotel to meet Liv Tyler, the first thing that strikes me is how much more beautiful the 32-year-old actress is in the flesh. The stunning 5ft 10in stature, the flawless skin, the huge doe eyes and full lips; her photos really don't do her justice. Her hair is super-sleek, while her figure and long legs are honed to perfection - gone are the homely curves that gave Liv her famous girl-next-door persona. Instead, standing before me is a woman who has developed some serious va-va-voom - and she's so friendly! "How are you doing? Ooh I love your ring! Where did it come from?" she asks as she grabs my hand and clocks my £5 diamond ring. "Marc Jacobs? That's amazing. I do love big bold statement jewellery."
Dressed in a simple white shift dress - "I picked it up from a small Parisian designer yesterday" - and some killer Stella McCartney gladiator-style heels, it is blindingly obvious why Givenchy has chosen her to front its cosmetics over the last six years - and why she has just been signed up for another two.
Her renewed contract also marks a fresh chapter in an eventful life. One that began as a girl who didn't know who her real father was (singer Steve Tyler of US rock giants Aerosmith) for much of her childhood, and that saw her modeling at 14, then landing her first lead acting role at 16.
Today though, at the pinnacle of her career, Liv is sweeping aside the pain of her recent divorce from Leeds-born musician Royston Langdon, 37. (The couple met in 1998, married in 2003 at a private villa in Barbados and announced their split a year ago.) Instead, she is focusing her energy on her new single life and spending as much time as possible with her son Milo, who's now four. she admits that her life change hasn't been easy, and when Royston left their New York home she found it too hard to remain there without him and chose instead to relocate to California.
"It was very strange to have to pack up my whole life - my son, nanny and dog - and head over to LA," she says. "Although it is great having a fresh start, it was also daunting and scary finding a new home and a new school for Milo. It was a really tough time, but now I've got through it, it's made me realise I can get through anything. It's important to take those first few independent steps and now I have to focus on my life and my son and try and do the best job that I can."
Indeed, she is throwing herself back into work too. After taking a few years off to look after Milo, she is now working on the romcom The Romantics in which she plays the maid of honour to her best friend, who wonders if her own relationship with the groom is really over. "It's been great working alongside my friend Galt Niederhoffer, who wrote the book and adapted it into a screenplay. It's still a work in progress, but I've really enjoyed producing it with her." In June, she also started filming the psychological thriller 10A/10B, directed by Chul-soo Park.
Liv is refreshingly upbeat and confident about being able to juggle her career with spending enough time with her son - and she has made no secret of the fact that her most treasured role is that of a mother. "Milo is the greatest love of my life. Being a mother changes the way you think about things and it's true that your whole world becomes about your children."
The hardest part for Liv is having to be away from Milo when she's filming. "When he was a baby it was easier to have him on set and I'd spend as much time as possible with him, but now that he's older he needs school and continuity. He's started to understand that I need to go away and it's more obvious to him when I'm not there, which makes it more heart-wrenching."
Having worked since she was 14 - it was her role in the classic Empire Records (1995) that she describes as "One of the best experiences" she's ever had for its humour and relaxed atmosphere on set that kick-started her acting career. Her later portrayal of Lucy Harmon in Stealing Beauty, followed by her role as Bruce Willis' daughter in Armageddon cemented her status as a star, as did that soap sud scene in One Night at McCool's. But it was certainly the success of the Lord of the Rings trilogy that catapulted her to the A-list.
As the face of Paris-based Givenchy, Liv's modeling work makes a welcome change from her life in LA, and one that she thoroughly relishes. "I get loads of make-up to try, and who wouldn't love that? And it's great to have another job in my life aside from acting."
And make-up is in her blood. "I learned everything from my mother and grandmother. They were both models and natural beauties so I would watch and learn from them." Her mother is the former Playboy Playmate and rock muse Bebe Buell, while her grandmother Dorothea Johnson is the author of The Little Book of Etiquette and founder of the Protocol School of Washington. Both were huge influences when she was growing up and taught her how to make the most of herself.
At 32, and with her gorgeous wrinkle-free skin, ageing is understandably not something that concerns her - despite the pressures of youth-obsessed Hollywood. "I don't worry about it at all. In fact, I am curious as to what it'll be like. Ageing is part of life and it is a beautiful process we need to embrace. Botox is something I really struggle to understand and, to be honest, the idea of it scares me... having a needle in my face? No thanks!"
So how about the new svelte body? What prompted the Gwyneth-style physical overhaul? She admits to initially turning to exercise as a way of helping her soothe the pain of her marriage break-up. "It made me fall in love with exercise again and was a great avenue in which to channel my energy. When I'm working I'm naturally more slim as I'm so busy it keeps the weight off, but my body changed a lot when I had Milo."
She adds that she really struggled with losing the baby weight after Milo was born. "Even though the baby is out, you're still large and, despite what other people say, it's not something that just drops off - believe me! It was such a challenge to get fit again. I had to lose nearly 30lb, so it took a lot of discipline - and it wasn't something I'd ever had to do before."
Now she trains with fitness guru David Kirsch in New York (who she has been reportedly dating since the pair were seen kissing after an intimate lunch), and in LA she tends to follow Tracy Anderson's 'Method', which is a combination of dance-cardio aerobics with Pilates. "It's great fun and you end up doing moves you never thought you could. I'm also forced onto the rowing machine sometimes, which is hard work and I don't like it much at all. But it definitely gets results and is good for the whole body."
Liv loves clothes, but prefers to dress herself rather than have the obligatory celebrity stylist on tap. A fan of her close friend Stella McCartney's collection, Liv explains it's the classic simple pieces that she's drawn to and she wears Stella's designs a lot. "There's something about them. You can just throw on a sweater over jeans and a T-shirt and instantly look effortlessly chic."
Having spent the afternoon with Liv, it's clear she means it when she says she's a woman in control and knows what she wants. Her dream is eventually to buy a place away from the city and surround herself with a growing herd of children. She confesses: "I can't wait to live in the country somewhere, on a farm with chickens, animals and lots of babies, but at the moment I'm really loving life and its whole diversity."
Liv's Top Beauty Products
"I can't go anywhere without Givenchy Phenomen'Eyes, £18.11 - it makes my lashes look so full and luscious. For a subtle day look, I love the new Prismissime Eyes colour palette in Poetique Browns, £32.79. I've definitely got a thing for corals at the moment, especially Vernis Please! nail varnish in Sweet Coral, £11.75, and Rouge Interdit Shine lipstick in Poetique Camelia, £17.62. And whenever my skin needs a boost of hydration, I treat it to Plasti-Scult Lifting and Firming Mark, £41.10.
Liv on Life &...
... on discovering her real father was Steve Tyler"I turned to my mom and said, 'He's my father, isn't he?' and we went out under a tree and talked and cried for two hours."
... on her relationship with her mother"It was hard for me as a kid, because I was definitely sad and angry that I didn't have this 'Perfect mommy' thing. But now I have a lot of empathy for her. I mean, going through everything that I've been going through the last couple of years, I really understand..."
... on Royston and their break-up"It brings up a lot of issues - you might feel like a failure or there is something wrong with you. You can't run away - you just have to deal with it."
... becoming a mother"After having a child, that physical feeling of going from being a girl into a woman is really something. When you carry a child and give birth, you do feel like a woman for the first time in your life. It is phenomenal."
... Lord of the Rings"That was four years of our lives going back and forth to New Zealand - and every Christmas we'd go and promote it. It was amazing, but when that was over I felt a little empty and wanted to be a normal person for a while."