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Film Interview: Liv Tyler

By Izumi Hasegawa, Buzzine, April 2011.

The Super Star Opens Up About Her Upbringing and Raising Her Son, Milo

Beautiful actress Liv Tyler returns from The Incredible Hulk after a three-year hiatus to play a drug-addicted stripper in new action comedy Super, starring Rainn Wilson and Ellen Page as faux superheroes. Liv sat down with Buzzine to talk about her unconventional upbringing with musicians, and her childhood obsession with the Hulk and Batman & Robin.

Izumi Hasegawa: This is a very interesting project to take on. Rainn [Wilson] was saying you were the perfect person to play a drug addict stripper because, even when your character goes bad again, it's still hard to not love you. How did you see the character, and what drew you to the role?
Liv Tyler: The initial draw for me always is something as a whole more than just the character; it's the filmmaker, it's the story, and I read the script and I just loved it. I thought it was really well-written. I was really compelled by the characters and what they go through, and it made me laugh my ass off. It was wrong and right, and I was really moved by the story of it and liked the character a lot, but it was more about wanting to be a part of the whole thing. I knew that Rainn and Ellen [Page] were attached, and I'm always really drawn to ensemble things where I get to work with actors that I really love. I watched Slither, and I thought it was very well-directed. I could see that, for not very much money and what it was, and it was [James Gunn's] first film. The actors were directed really well, the details, everything about it had all the things that only a really good director can pull off. I was excited to do it. I always have this weird thing in my life--I think it's because I grew up around musicians and not around actors--but I was so used to seeing everyone in my life that were musicians. They would work very hard for a chunk of time on an album, locked away in a barn and coming home at 6:00 in the morning, and then they would put that record out and go out into the world and play that music, and then they'd come home for a while and be a human again until they were inspired to do their next work. It's sort of affected me in my life where I don't want to just work on movie after movie after movie and be away all the time, so before I did this I hadn't worked since The [Incredible] Hulk--I think it was like a year, and I was like, "Okay, I'm ready to find something I want to do again." I was reading, and this just came up and I was really excited that it was what it was; that it wasn't a big studio movie shooting in L.A., or that it was this tiny million-dollar little 24-day thing that everyone was doing because they loved the story and were passionate about it. It was something that I felt I needed in my life at that time--to take that challenge, something I'd never done before, and I was excited about it. Fuck, that was a long answer.

IH: How was working with this cast?
LT: It was amazing. We didn't get to spend that much time together, but I love Ellen, and we've continued to have a friendship. I really think she's a beautiful, beautiful, special person. Rainn too. We all just naturally hit it off and fell into our places and really enjoyed getting to work together a lot on this thing. It's nice to get to see them again when we do.

IH: Your character, Sarah, seems to love Rainn's character, Frank, but she goes to the other guy instead. How do you see this relationship?
LT: Sarah is motivated by her addiction to leave Frank; I don't think she's in such a vulnerable place in her life as you are when you've become newly sober or go through any kind of treatment. You feel better and you're like, "Hey, everything's great! I'm going to do this, I'm going to do that!" It's a disease, addiction, and you have to really change your life. I think she's trying to live this new life, and of course she loves Frank and feels incredibly loved by him; they have a special connection, but she's still drawn to go to the darkness and to go out. She gets a job at a bar because she can handle it, but she really secretly wants to maybe have a drink, and next thing you know you've had a drink and a cigarette, and you're moving on out with a drug dealer. So I don't think it has to do with love or not; I think she's a little bit of a lost soul and she's trying to find herself.

IH: What is your definition of love?
LT: There are so many different kinds of love. You feel love for your child, love for your friends, love for your lover; I mean, it's very different, the different kinds of love and what you're willing to do in those situations. It's very powerful. Romantic love is absolutely terrifying because you're so intimate with someone, you're so vulnerable to them; but the love that you share with your child is completely different--it's so powerful and strong. There are so many different kinds of love. Family love...

IH: Within this movie, I think Frank comes into Sarah's life at a time when she needed him and it was a good fit, but then at the end, it switches where she came into his life for a reason or a purpose. In a similar vein, do you think that people can come in and out of your life for a reason?
LT: Definitely. It's so funny, I always remember my mom, when I was a little girl, saying to me, "Everything happens for a reason," and we'd had some weird, big, scary not scary but intense things happen. I didn't have a very conventional upbringing, and I always remember really thinking about that and what that meant, and going back and forth about how I felt about that. I think, now that I am a little bit older and I've been through so many experiences myself, I would say that everything that you go through in life makes you who you are. Whether it's good or bad, it happens for a reason. Depends on how you deal with things.

IH: Were you prepared for how cold it was going to be in Shreveport?
LT: I don't remember. It was really cold, but they had to be outside a lot. Ellen and Rainn had to do a few scenes where they were outside all night, and Ellen was in a bra and so brave. I didn't have to do that. But it was really cold, yeah. It was especially weirdly cold for Shreveport, but I'm from Maine, so I'm kind of used to the cold. But it's no fun when you're shooting at night on a movie and it's really cold. Especially if you don't have a lot of clothes on. I think Rainn was pretty warm in his little suit, though.

IH: He said it was like being naked.
LT: Oh yeah, because of the Lycra.

IH: It's spandex.
LT: It gets kind of warm in there, though. A little sweaty and hot sometimes.

IH: He said that it smelled bad, but it didn't generate any heat.
LT: Oh wow, interesting. They could have made it with wetsuit material--neoprene or something.

IH: Were you a comic book fan growing up?
LT: I'm trying to remember. I know I did read comic books because I had them, but I just don't remember being obsessed about comics or anything. And then I had such a weird, campy... I was obsessed with The Incredible Hulk, but the TV show, and I would watch it with my mom. Or Batman and Robin but the TV show, and things like that.

IH: No Halloween costume?
LT: Superhero Halloween costume? I don't know; I'll have to ask my mom. I don't remember. That's a good question. I think I might have been a weird version of Catwoman this year, but that was complicated. It just sort of happened. It was totally [for] fashion reasons because...I was making a cabinet for Milo, and I printed off all these online black and white images, weird bat images, and then it's called Decoupage, and one of the images I found was this amazing, beautiful woman's face who was the Italian 1950s Catwoman or Batwoman. She's so beautiful. All she does is have this hat, so I had this hat made, and then I wound up being her for Halloween.

IH: You said that, between projects, you need to recharge. What hobbies do you like to do during that time?
LT: I don't really get to have hobbies. I don't ever really get to recharge that much, just because being a mom is full-on all the time. I just mean that being on a movie set is not normal life by any means, and for me, I need to come back to being a normal human in between those experiences for a little while. And that's personal to me of whatever I am doing in my life at that time.

IH: Have you found your next project yet?
LT: I don't know. I'm looking. I'm not sure yet what I want to do. I'm reading a lot.

IH: I saw something that said The Strangers 2...
LT: Everybody keeps asking me about that, but they've been talking about it for 300 years. No, I'm not dead, actually. I don't know what they're doing. It's so weird because they've been talking about it. Bryan Bertino is not directing it, though, but they've [been] going on and on about it forever, and it's not happened. They say it will; they've left it a little bit long now.

IH: What genre do you want to pursue next?
LT: I want to do everything! I don't like to answer questions like that just because then I always see it in print somewhere, like, "I want to do..." and I'm like, "Whoa, I didn't say that!" But of course, as an actress, I want to do all sorts of different things and play different kinds of parts. All sorts of things, not one specific thing.