PARK CITY, UTAH-In The Ledge, Liv Tyler uses her beauty, and that famous mouth, to honor a population of abused and oppressed women who really all want the same thing: to be loved. ELLE caught Tyler at the Sundance Film Festival to find out how she went about discovering her character, Shauna.
How do you choose a role? LT: I've been doing this since I was a teenager and sometimes I don't feel like I fully understand the business and how it all works. They're offering you things and then you do something great and then you do a few more of that same kind of thing. I've done all sorts of different kinds of movies, but I was really just following my heart with the group of people I wanted to work with, the director, the film, everything.
ELLE: Does your upbringing help you navigate the industry? LT: I grew up around musicians and the way I saw my step-father, Todd Rundgren, approach his work is so different from how the career of an actor is supposed to go.
ELLE: Why did you want to take on The Ledge? LT: With this, I literally felt like I was jumping off a ledge. The cinematographer, Bobby Bukowski, is one of my best friends and he was living with me at the time. He left to go make the film and when he got to Baton Rouge, Matthew [Chapman, the director] wrote me a beautiful letter.
ELLE: So the letter convinced you? LT: Charlie [Hunnam] was in and [Patrick Wilson] was in. [Patrick] and I had always wanted to work together. So, I was being asked to get on a plane and come to Baton Rouge in one week. Never in my life, have I just said "Yeah, fuck it. I'm going to go to Baton Rouge next week, and I'm going to play this part." And then, of course I got there and I was like, "What have I done?"
ELLE: Why? LT: It was a really hard shoot. The characters are so well-rounded and so interesting, but we did not have very much money to do a tremendous amount of work.
ELLE: Are you interested in playing different characters? LT: God that's so funny because I always feel like I [play] the sad, unhappy one dealing with all these issues.
ELLE: What connected you to this one? LT: I just really related to her. As a woman-as a strong and very independent woman. I've always taken care of myself and some part of my family. I've been working since I was thirteen and I'm a mother now. I've been through a divorce. All these things have happened in my life, but I still feel quite vulnerable sometimes.
ELLE: Charlie Hunnam's character says to you "You're strong, you're smart, you're beautiful, why do you still need someone to take care of you?" How do you relate to that? LT: There is some part of that that I find fascinating. I feel it even in my own life sometimes. [I think to myself] of course, I can do everything, I can take care of Milo and me, and everyone and have a career. But then there are days that I don't feel strong enough or brave enough to take care of myself.
ELLE: What do you think of the new judges on American Idol? LT: I [watched] in my living room with my girlfriends and I had goose-bumps the whole time. I thought they [Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez] were so good together. I don't really know much about it, but on a human level, I found the whole process quite compelling. And I liked how involved they were. I cared about their opinions because they are artists.