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Just when you think you're sorted, Life throws you a curve ball...
by Francesca Babb, Grazia, March 2010
Two years ago, Liv Tyler seemed to have it all - great career, fab husband, gorgeous son. Then, suddenly, she broken-heartedly announced her divorce and retired from the public eye. Today, the ethereal beauty tells Francesca Babb what happened during her 'missing' years, and why she's finally ready to return to the spotlight
We might as well get this out the way early on. I love Liv Tyler. Love her. Ever since she sashayed round that pole in a video for her father's band in 1993 (Freud, eat your heart out), I've loved her unreservedly. I loved her when she made good film choices (Armageddon), I loved her when she made bad ones (Jersey Girl), I loved her when she eschewed Hollywood's most handsome to marry a boy in a band from Leeds. I loved her even more when they split up and I thought she might need a friend. I love her because she's beautiful, sweet, and in the most imperfect of Hollywood ways, completely perfect.
So Liv's absence from the public eye for the past couple of years has been a problem for me. After the release of 2008's The Incredible Hulk and The Strangers, and the split from her husband of five years, Spacehog's Royston Langdon, Liv appeared to disappear. There was the occasional sighting in the front row of fashion week, or an appearance at an event to support her friend Stella McCartney, but for the most part, she seemed to be going incognito.
But - thank God - that self-imposed exile appears to be over. She's fronting a campaign for G-Star jeans, the reason for our chat today, and is currently in Louisiana filming a new movie, Super, alongside Kevin Bacon and Juno's Ellen Page.
'I'm always working!' she laughs, when I ask where she's been. 'But I took a lot of the past two years off to be with my son and I was going through a lot of personal changes. I love being a mum and it was important I got to spend those years that are so precious and will never come back again with my son Milo [now five].'
The time off seems to have been good for Liv, now 32. When the split happened, you could feel her pain in interviews. 'You go through a couple of weeks where you think "Oh, I'm OK, I feel better," and then suddenly, out of nowhere, it hits you again,' she said at the time. Nowadays, following a move to LA, far away from the family home in New York, her approach is philosophical. 'I feel grateful for the life lessons that I've learnt,' she says. 'I definitely feel like I've grown up a lot and I've gotten to know myself in a new way. Life's interesting, it's filled with surprises and, just when you think you've got it all figured out, it throws you a curve ball. Scary as it is, it's also kind of amazing. It's not easy, but that's what friends are for.'
Her friends, she says, include her family. Her father, of course, is Aerosmith's Steven Tyler, and mother, former model Bebe Buell. 'I speak to my grandmother, my mother, my godmother and my father about everything,' she says. 'Sometimes you lose your way or forget what's going on, but when you speak to someone who knows you so well, it helps you to see clearly.'
Liv is, in fact, calling from her godmother, film producer Susan Hoffman's house, in New Orleans, where she's descended during a break from filming. 'We went to my friend's bar last night,' she says. 'Only in New Orleans on a Sunday would there be an outrageous, punk-rock, cabaret show. I started thinking, maybe I should move to New Orleans to do cabaret at One Eyed Jacks. I'm a carnie at heart,' she laughs, using the American slang for funfair worker. 'The other night filming, we were in the middle of nowhere, and the sun was setting and I was walking through mud to get to hair and make-up, and I felt so happy living that sort of carnival life. Living in a little trailer and getting all messed up. I appreciate all the simple pleasures of it.'
The other thing bringing a smile to Liv's face is Milo, and you get the feeling having her 'little friend' around has been an enormous source of comfort. 'They say the most amazing, crazy things that stop you in your tracks,' she laughs. 'You sort of swoon and write them down and tell all your friends. This summer, we shot the G-Star campaign in Paris and we shared a bed together in the George V hotel in this beautiful suite. Then we took the tunnel from Paris to London and stayed with friends in the countryside and went on this amazing adventure together. He was the best travel companion I've ever had.'
As for room for other men, Liv's been linked to British actor Charlie Hunnam (of Queer As Folk fame), and, if you believe the internet, almost every man she attends a yoga class with. But it's not something she's ready to talk about. She can't be short of admirers though: Liv Tyler is one of those rarest of women that both men and women seem to agree on.
'I do feel pressure,' she says of the effort to conform to the Hollywood ideal. 'I watch what I eat - I try to be balanced, but not to be strict all the time. When it's the holidays or I'm not working, I want to cook beautiful meals and eat them with my son and enjoy life. I like to have a beer and, I can't deny it, it's nice to live a little. Then, before I have something coming up, maybe I'll do three days where I'll just make juices and smoothies and soups and eat a lot of vegetables.'
As famous as she is for her films and her family, Liv's also something of a style icon. Her favourite designers, she says, include Lanvin and Stella McCartney, and when she's not shopping online, she's often in cult boutique Opening Ceremony. 'The most worn thing in my closet...' she muses. 'My pyjamas? Jeans and a striped top and a blazer is a very good look for me, but I also love to wear cute little dresses or rompers with tights and my Converse or my little Lanvin black flats. I'm pretty obsessed with rompers at the moment.'
Her approach to red-carpet dressing is laid-back. 'Sometimes, it's just a matter of ending up with the dress that fits and looks best on you,' she smiles. 'The truth is, in my personal life, I don't think about it too much. I have the sort of things that I feel comfortable in every day and I'm obsessed with wellies. It only rains for about half an hour in LA, so I go to my appointment wearing them and then I come out and the sun is shining and it's a desert and I've got my Wellington boots on.'
The move to LA does not seem a permanent one; born and bred on the East Coast, Liv certainly seems more suited to life back home. 'I'm an Eskimo,' she laughs. 'I grew up in Maine and New York, so even the climate of LA feels strange to me. It's a whole other way of life; the landscapes and the seasons and the experience. It's been really interesting and an adventure. I don't know that I would want to live there forever but it was just a nice change for a while.'
It's a change that seems to have done wonders for her. After taking a little time out, spending time with her son and her friends, she seems ready for a return to the spotlight. Welcome back Liv, we've missed you.