Liv on Liv Free
by Peter Davis, Vs. Magazine, Fall/Winter 2010. Photos by Lasse Bak Mejlvang
Since making a pair of summer blockbusters two years ago, Liv Tyler, the elf princess in The Lord of the Rings films, seems to have vanished. But after an emotional divorce and a break from movie making, Liv Tyler is back - BOLDER AND BRAVER THAN EVER. She startles on screen playing drug addicts in two new films and shines as the first celebrity face of the new G-Star campaign. Welcome back Liv. We've missed you.
For the past two years, actress Liv Tyler has been M.I.A. - from the silver screen (her last films were The Hulk and The Strangers) and from the public eye. But now Tyler, movie star and rock and roll royalty, is ready to take back the spotlight with two new daring films and as the first famous face to star in photographer Anton Corbijn's G-Star campaign.
"I had what I call the year of healing," Tyler says, her soft voice almost a whisper. "It sounds so hippy-ish. I was trying to deal with all the emotional stuff." In 2008, Tyler got divorced from musician Royston Langdon, with whom she has a five-year-old son, Milo. "I made two films in a row and then I felt this need to come back and be a normal person and to a normal life and to just live, so I have more to give the next time. In the past couple of years a lot of that was personal stuff, divorce and going through all that and motherhood. I knew I had to deal with those emotions. I couldn't avoid them."
One way Tyler expelled the hurt and anger of a broken love life was filming the creepy, twisted horror film The Strangers. "I know it's kind of sick, but I really enjoyed being in that state every day so much," Tyler says of playing a woman who is taunted and tortured by a group of masked intruders in a remote house in the middle of the woods. "I had to be in that hyperventilating, crying, panic mode every day for a month and a half. It was very challenging. I'm quite a strong person. I'm tall and physically strong, but I'm also female. I never realized I would hurt myself a lot. I was covered in cuts, bruises and sores. It was so therapeutic to scream and cry that much and let it all out."
Audiences are used to seeing Tyler as the innocent, romantic elf princess from The Lord of the Rings films. In her next two roles, both shot in video with Hollywood's latest fad, the Red camera, Tyler is the opposite of a willowy beauty. In both the comedy Super, with Rainn Wilson and the love story/emotional thriller The Ledge, Tyler plays drug addicts. "It's a very different type of energy. I couldn't put Super down when I was reading the script. My part isn't necessarily funny, but the movie is very funny. My character is addicted to everything: heroin, alcohol. She's escaping the world in general. I'm excited and nervous to see it."
In The Ledge, which costars Patrick Wilson and Charlie Hunnam, Tyler is a recovering drug addict. Both projects were made in Louisiana where Tyler visited her godmother who lives in New Orleans. The speedy style of video re-booted Tyler's love of movie making. "It's so fast. I was raised looking at playback and taking our time. When you shoot on video, it's kind of like guerilla filmmaking. It was really liberating after not working for a while to go back and work in that way."
Tyler was raised as the daughter of rock star Todd Rundgren and Bebe Buell, then found out when she was nine she was actually the biological daughter of Aerosmith's Steven Tyler. Discovered by neighborhood friend Paulina Porizkova, she started working as a model in her teens and then broke out in Bernardo Bertolucci's 1996 film Stealing Beauty. "I didn't have a conventional upbringing by any means," she admits. "I was very responsible from a young age and very aware of everything around me. I had a tremendous amount of love around me, but I'd worry a lot."
Since becoming a mother, Tyler has grown in a myriad of ways. Milo is her best friend. "Since I've had Milo, I feel a lot lighter in spirit and more free and open to everything that happens in life. I've wanted to be a mother my whole life. I just love Milo so much. He's so smart and funny and just amazes me. He's not a boy or baby anymore. He's a young man. I really enjoy his company. You have those ideas when you're younger about how things should be or how they were with your parents. You don't want to do them that way and you do want to do them that way. And then you go on the journey of your life and things happen that you don't expect. There are bumps and detours on the road. I have grown to be excited about those things, the hard things and the good parts. I'm enjoying my life right now more than I ever have before."
A wild side of Tyler is unveiled in the G-Star campaign she shot with Anton Corbijn. When Tyler was just 16, Corbijn photographed her for the cover of Germany's Stern magazine in a rubber dominatrix top and a blonde wig. Tyler is thrilled to be working with him again. "I have such an appreciation for the fashion world," she says. "That whole process of taking pictures is so creative and intense. You come up with these characters and looks and shoot for a day or two and then it's over. It's completely the opposite of acting. I really enjoy having both those things in my life. G-Star is a really cool company to work with. They come up with all these ideas and make all these crazy things. They made a bicycle for me for my birthday. The quality of their things is amazing. They are so interested in discovering different types of people and having them as part of the family or an inspiration."
G-Star's hard-edged denim and leather aesthetic was new to Tyler, who usually wears girlish, flowery dresses. "I had never dressed like that in my life. It was really fun to embrace that side of me. It's influenced and changed my personal style - having that edge to things."
Tyler recently moved back to New York with Milo. She missed Manhattan, where she was born and raised. "I had a good time in L.A. but L.A. is always there to visit. I miss my friends, like my girlfriends Frankie Rayder and Summer Phoenix who lived across the street. But I'm definitely an east coast girl through and through." Fans of The Strangers are hoping for a sequel and Tyler says there is a script where her character appears for a few scenes, but nothing is happening yet. Content with being a mother back in New York, Tyler is taking life as it happens. "I wait until the things I fall in love with come along," she concludes. "I don't have any kind of plan. For my whole career I've always just tried to follow my heart."
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