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Liv Tyler is More Than Meets the Eye

by H.B. Forman, The Sop, July 6th 2011.

On the surface Liv Tyler looks timid, fragile and sort of kitten-ish. So much so that you just want to wrap your arms around her and protect the beautiful young actress. True, in her black sweater, white floral print cotton blouse, black mini-skirt and strappy black leather open toed stilettos, with her hair loose and flowing, she is a stunner.

But the tall, stunning blue-eyed young woman, mother (of a young son, Milo), daughter (of American Idol judge Steven Tyler) and actress is much more than meets the eyes.

The soft-spoken actress, who first captured everyone's hearts in famed Italian director Bernardo Bertolucci's Stealing Beauty, is a graceful and romantic soul, with a good deal of common sense.

The love child of former rock groupie Bebe Buell and Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler, is a devoted friend, fiercely protective mom and dedicated actress. It is these character traits that keep her in a positive mood, despite martial strife. It is this positive attitude that she hopes to pass on to the light of her life, her six-year-old son Milo, (with rocker ex-husband Spacehog bassist Royston Langdon.)

Today, the 27-year-old Liv, a former cover model known for her pouty lips, is relaxing after an exhausting time making the dramatic thriller The Ledge. From IFC Films, The Ledge is a race-against-time thriller, revolving around the opposing philosophies of two men embroiled in a complicated love triangle with a beautiful woman, played by Liv Tyler. This battle escalates into a lethal battle of wills. The Ledge is a nuanced character study of love and conviction that will force viewers to ask themselves how far they would be willing to go for what they believe in.

As a modern woman, Liv has never had to sacrifice herself for the man she loves, but she adds that,
"I definitely feel every emotion as I'm portraying it. I don't have to take experiences from my own life to be in the character. I try and do the opposite - and just stay in the feeling of who that person is that I'm playing."

Despite her calm exterior she says she is a born worrier, who also takes on the problems of her close friends.
"I think it's just organic for me. I have an amazing need for everybody around me to be happy, particularly the people I love and care about. And because of that I can take on the worries of others, too. I worry in a good way - trying to solve other people's problems."

The director of The Ledge, Matthew Chapman, said although Liv wears conservative clothing and almost no make-up, definitely downplaying her beauty and sensuality, he believes it makes her even more appealing to the men in the movie and to the film's audience. "Liv has never been more beautiful. I prefer women who have a little experience in their face," the director said. "She's looking more beautiful and more interesting than every before. You can see in this performance that she's an actress who is going to have a very little career. It was her choice for the character make-up played down and the clothes a good and brave choice."

Chapman recently said that he believes her role in The Ledge was ground-breaking. "Liv Tyler is going to win some awards for this - her performance is so subtle in such a difficult role. Her reaction to what's going on around her - object of desire, the person everyone wants to save in their own right. She's torn. It is one of the greatest performances of her career; every one is saying this not just me."

How do you feel about your dad Steve Tyler being on American Idol?
Liv Tyler: I keep saying how it surprised me. I mean; he surprises me all the time. Just as a person, you know? I find him magical, and crazy. And honestly, the biggest feeling I had about that whole thing; is just that I feel so proud of him as a person.

What do you mean by that?
LT: Because as a family, we had a really rough couple of years. And it was not easy. And he pulled himself out of a really hard place. And really worked hard at it. And I know it wasn't easy for him. And for Idol to come up and present itself to him, for him to be brave enough to take that experience at his age to do something completely new and different - he was ready for it. And I see him really happy right now.

Has he changed since he became an American Idol judge?
LT: Yes. Definitely. He's really filled with light. And it's so sweet to see the world kind of discover his personality for the first time. Because, that's the part that I know so well. And it's been amazing. Because people know his music. But I didn't even know that they didn't know that part of him, you know? So yeah!

Have you read your father's autobiography?
LT: I started to read his autobiography. But it's a funny thing, reading your parents' autobiographies, I have to say! My mom has a book too. And it's just one of those things where you really, as a human, want to know more about your parents. And how they see things, and things that have happened to them. But as 'the child of,' there are certain things that maybe ignorance is bliss! You don't want to...It's a complicated experience, kind of. Reading a book like that, by your parents.

Was this a fun character for you in The Ledge, since it's always the other way around that the husband is cheating on his wife? But this time it's you cheating on your husband.
LT: I never thought of it like that! I didn't have that thought once. Did you have that thought?

Of course!
LT: Ha!

Why did you choose this movie?
LT: I was just intrigued by the characters, and all their flaws. And just the things they were going through. And I was asked to get on a plane, and come to Baton Rouge to make the movie. So, I packed my bag and...kind of just jumped off the ledge!

Very funny.
LT: And I was very intrigued by this character, I'd never played a part like that before. Just the complexities. That's a long answer! But that's why I did the movie! And what also struck me, is how in life we're so quick to judge others. Like, 'oh look what he's wearing.' Or what he believes in. Or, that's weird. You know, you have all these thoughts about people. But yet you really have no idea what someone has been through, or who they are. And life is long and complicated, and a lot of things happen. And particularly with politics and religion, our beliefs. But I understand in my character and in myself, we're all just trying to cope in life. And find a way through good and bad situations.

Did you take this complicated character home with you?
LT: I don't know, after this movie, I'm not as quick to judge people. So the movie changed me, a little bit. It opened my eyes for sure. But it does take a while to shed being in that head space of somebody else. And it's also really exciting to be done with it! And move on.

How did you wind down during filming in Baton Rouge, from all that intensity?
LT: I liked to go to the bar on the corner, and have a whiskey! When I could. And listen to the juke box, which was great. But there wasn't much time to let our hair down.

What did you think of the idea Charlie Hunnam - playing your secret lover in the movie - boasts about. He says that he can seduce women just by putting a flirtatious erotic idea in their heads, and then letting it simmer in there and grow into an obsession.
LT: I hate these questions! I hate talking about what pertains to me.

Well, not you personally.
LT: The idea of that? Well that would depend upon the situation. It depends on who the man is!

Do you think that it's all just a male fantasy?
LT: That's interesting! That's very interesting. You'll have to ask the director! He wrote that, so obviously he believes that. But sometimes that happens in life. You meet a man and you have chemistry with them, and it's unexplainable. But I think that can be quite scary. Yeah...

And there's a lot of cool nonverbal stuff that you do in The Ledge.
LT: I do?

Just some of those looks, and expressions.
LT: Thank you! But it's not that calculated. I mean, I might have something specific I wanted to do at times. Like look number 31! But in general, it's not really that thought out.

Did you know that your character's name Shauna, means 'beautiful' in Hebrew?
LT: I did not know that. I didn't do my homework! Wow...

And have you ever seen the movie Milo?
LT: I have not.

It's about a magical little boy. And you have a son named Milo.
LT: I do! I'll have to look into that. When I get home!

What about the bondage scene, where you're tied up nearly naked with that ball gag in your mouth. That was intense.
LT: To be honest, Matthew [Matthew Chapman, the director] and I did not get on that day. And I may have screamed at him! Not screamed at him, but I might have gotten angry with him at one point that day.

How come?
LT: Because I sat literally for six hours bound in that chair, with that thing in my mouth! And it was so not fair in a way, to me. I was really mad about that!

So you were literally tortured, to do that scene!
LT: Yeah! But with a small movie like this, there's no such thing as overtime. Or, you have to walk away. So it's really hard sometimes.

But you started out making blockbusters...
LT: ...And now I'm on Video On Demand! Yeah, films like this one and Super have been great. Before that, I did The Hulk, and then took a year off. And with The Hulk, we had all the money in the world. But to make a movie like this, there's a thrill to test yourself in this way, and see what you can get done.

Speaking of The Hulk, are you going to be involved in The Avengers movie? Or am I going to get killed by Marvel for asking that?
LT: I don't know! I don't think so. I probably would know. But I'm not sure. I think...Yeah; I can't answer that. I kind of know something! But I...can't say it!

In your stint as a hotel maid in The Ledge, did you get to learn how to make the perfect hospital corner with the bed sheets?
LT: I didn't have much time to practice that. So no, I just kind of...winged it!

Well you looked like you did a nice job!
LT: Thank you! I did want to go there and spend a day watching a maid make a bed. But it didn't happen.

What's coming up for you next?
LT: I'm not sure what movie I'm going to make. I just have been so not focused on making movies in the past couple of years.

Why is that?
LT: Because I've been through like a lot of personal stuff. Not like a whole lot of personal stuff! I've been with my son, and we moved to LA. And then we moved back to New York. And he just started kindergarten this year. So I didn't even read a script, honestly, for the past five or six months. Because, I didn't want to be tempted to go away and work. And I knew that I couldn't leave him. So I was having a hard time getting back into work. You know, I had to get used to being the parent of a kid in school. And you know, create some stability for him. So I'm just now getting to focus and read a lot. And I have a couple of things that I'm attached to, that I'm hoping about. But I'm just not sure exactly what's happening. But we'll see!