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Liv Tyler - Q&A

James Ryan, Details Magazine, April 1995. Photo by Ellen von Unwerth.

She's sexy at seventeen. You know what we mean

You started modeling at fourteen, after Paulina Porizkova took pictures of you and your mom. What did you dislike most about modeling ?
People touching you and taping your breasts. It's an invasion.

Now you're acting. Is it therapy ?
Definitely. It makes you crazy because you have to forget about yourself and leave your body to completely become someone else. Everybody is their own universe. That's what's great about acting; You learn to respect other people because you can understand them.

You play a seventeen-year-old Harvard-bound virgin in Allan Moyle's Empire. Is that typecasting ?
Not in the slightest. When I was offered the part I was like, "Why do I have to play the little rich girl ?" She's miserable because of all the pressure to be perfect, thin, pretty, and get A's.

Are you closer to the blue-collar waitress you play in Heavy ?
Definitely. The naive, warm, loving side of Callie is something that I've always had. I'm fighting that, though. In this business you can't be that way because they take it for something different. You can't welcome everybody into your life, because they're going to want to fuck you over.

Or just fuck you.
Exactly. It sucks.

While we're in that ballpark, was it more fun to seduce Richard Dreyfuss in Silent Fall or make love to Evan Dando in Heavy ?
Neither. I was a nervous wreck when I had to seduce Richard. I kissed him like I would kiss anybody, and they said, "Very good effort, but it's not going to make it. You have to lick his neck." They made it seem really grotesque. And Evan was so terrified because he hadn't acted before. It was funny ...

Have you ever tried to pick up a guy ?
When I was little I had a crush on a boy named Gaylon. He had red hair. I would ask him out every day and he always said no. Now I like tall, skinny guys with messy hair - like bed-head. I'm looking for someone I can feel comfortable with and who can be my best friend, my partner in crime.

What do you find beautiful about men ?
They don't have to put makeup on to look great.

What's your least favorite teen trend ?
Ace of Base.

What's the worst part about high school ?
Teachers have all this power over you. And girls are mean.

What can a seventeen-year-old do to change the world ?
You can't tell people what they should do because they'll rebel against it. All you can do is voice your opinion. I don't know if I want to start doing it now or wait until I have a bigger voice.

What disturbs you most when you pick up a newspaper ?
The environment. We didn't have snow until February in New York and I missed it. Poor Mother Nature is really confused and freaked out. Her cycle's not happening and she's not ovulating. And she doesn't know what to do.

What books are you reading now ?
I'm supposed to be starting Moby Dick for school, but I'm not. I'm reading this book Bastard Our of Carolina, which is really good. When I was little I hated to read. I was so hyperactive and I had such a bad attention deficit. I was such a tomboy. I played with Barbie dolls but I'd cut their hair, make new clothes for them, and set up camp outside.

Do you have a favorite smell ?
Those smells that remind me of home. I can smell my dad from a mile away. I can smell it whenever he's worn my clothes. He has this ambery smell that just melts into him.

Steven Tyler wears your clothes ?
I wear his, actually. We wear exactly the same size in jeans. I borrow his clothes all the time.

Where do you go shopping ?
I like used clothes. I just like to wear clothes that have holes in them and have life. New clothes are scary. When I see young kids with ironed jeans and perfectly tucked-in T-shirts, I get a little scared. I want to throw something on them: Here, have some dirt.

What's your favorite room ?
My dressing room. I like to take a bath and listen to Billie Holiday albums. I burn incense and candles too. Lighting is very important.

What do you see when you look in the mirror ?
Zits, circles under my eyes.

Were you an ugly duckling growing up ?
I had braces and permed hair and I was chubby until a couple of years ago - the biggest dork in the world. I had my first kiss when I was fourteen. Everybody else had kissed. I was like, "What am I supposed to do ?" Between twelve and fifteen I had all these older men hit on me.

Like friends of your dad ?
No way. I don't think they'd even try it. My daddy would kick their ass.

Have you played the Aerosmith interactive guitar computer game ?
No. All that stuff scares me. I don't want to see my child sitting in a room with a cap on in this other world.

Do you share your mother's penchant for musicians ?
I appreciate musicians, and there are lots and lots of sexy musicians, male and female. But it is not a lifestyle... I mean, who wants your man all over the world all the time surrounded by thousands of screaming women ?

What type of music do you like ?
Rock 'n' roll. The Ramones, the Beatles, the Flamin' Groovies, the Velvet Underground, and Lee Grat - he did the Batman theme. I have it on my answering machine.

Does your mom still tuck you in at night ?
Sometimes. Yeah, I must say she's always tucked me in. Every night before bed I used to beg her to sing me "Communication Breakdown." That's my favorite lullaby.