Though her reign as elf princess
ended with the completion of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Liv Tyler is
having trouble shaking herself out of Middle-earth.
Spending much of the last few years in New Zealand shows when she
meets me in lower Manhattan and we walk to a bar where she can order a
pint of pale ale - even though she's lust begun a post - New Year's diet. Tyler
settles on an English cider, which she says is "like beer, but with a kick," and
she doesn't miss a beat when we are interrupted by a woman who'd been
watching us and waiting for a moment to approach. As she tells Tyler how
big a fan she is, the woman leans over and rubs the actress' arm.
"I can't figure out what it is about me, but everybody touches me," Tyler
says later. "People come right up and pat me, rub me, pinch me, Is it like I'm
some kind of cute puppy to be patted? When they start drinking, they really
get going, trying to stroke me, I'm like, what are you doing?"
The 26-year-old Tyler has been touching directors for years. Tyler is model
tall, but her beauty is grounded by a sweetness that comes through in her
breathy voice. Or the way that, despite being the spokeswoman for tho haute
couture house Givenchy, she comes to talk wearing an old salmon-colored
overcoat - and Chuck Taylor Converse sneakers that she calls her most
reliable wardrobe staple because they don't make her seem intimidatingly tall.
Filmmakers have been hooked on Tyler since the 15-year-old made an
audacious video debut in 'Crazy', the Aerosmith hit. it was a song sung
by her father, Steven Tyler, who declared himself her dad when Tyler was
10 - she had been raised to believe her dad was another rock frontman, Todd
Rundgren. Since then, the lot at directors who've fallen in love with the tall
blue-eyed beauty with the generous lips include Bernardo Bertolucci, Robert
Altman, Tom Hanks, Peter Jackson and Kevin Smith, who's made her the
centerplece of his new film Jersey Girl.
Jersey Girl was the only film Tyler had time to make between Rlngs
blockbusters. She also found time to marry longtime rock singer boyfriend
Royston Langdon, 31, and buy and renovate an 1861 house in downtown
Manhattan. She relishes the chance to be reappraised in a contemporary film
and begins work on the Steve Buscemi-directed Lonesome Jim later this
year, playing a single mother.
Smith has been arguing since last summer that Jersey Girl is not another
Gigli just because Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez are in it. (J.Lo's character
dies shortly after the film starts.) The director insists the pivotal role is the
one played by Tyler, a woman who tries to heal the grieving young widower
and his daughter. It's Tyler's second on-screen romance with Affleck, though
Smith said he was hardly looking for an Armageddon reprise.
'I kidded Liv and Ben all the time about their decided lack of chemistry in
Armageddon, but there is heat and a freshness between them in Jersey Girl,'
Smith says. 'She is sublime and brought something to her performance that
wasn't there when I wrote her character. Like the way she put this geeky little
chuckle in every time her character delivers these tepid little zinger lines
to Ben. It was insanely charming, made you fall in love with her, and though
I am happily married, the whole movie I was saying I'd leave my wife for her.
MICHAEL FLEMING: Jersey Girl is your
second teaming with Ben Affleck. All the
attention has gone to the fact that
Jennifer Lopez is in the film, and director
Kevin Smith has spent an inordinate
amount of time convincing people this is
not Gigli 2. Was the Bennifer backlash
evident during filming?
LIV TYLER: I'm no Ben and Jen expert. I
mention I'm in Jersey Girl and everybody
says, 'Give me all the dirt on Ben
and Jen.' I'm the worst, I don't know any-
thing. I didn't even see Gigli, so I don't
know what all the fuss is about. I did
Jersey Girl to work with Kevin.
Q: Had Ben changed much? All this
Bennifer stuff must have hardened him.
A: When we made Armageddon, he was
this skinny Bostonian who had to get in
shape and be that sex symbol superhero
Michael Bay wanted. I remember him
coming to my trailer saying Michael
made him stand there while they poured
water over his naked torso. And Michael
covered my tummy in oil for that animal
cracker scene with Ben. It wasn't
something either of us was used to. Ben is
used to being a movie star now. I enjoy
working with him. We have a chemistry
that I haven't felt with another actor.
Q: You completed The Lord of the Rings
as the most famous blockbuster trilogy
princess since Carrie Fisher in Star
Wars. Is there more pressure from the
A: I've always been paparazzi'd all over
my neighborhood, and you just hope it's
not when you're doing something like
scooping your dog's poop. They've been
there pretty much every vacation my
husband and I have ever been on. Except
when we got married, which we managed
to pull off in complete privacy.
Q: Do you feel you're fair game?
A: Certain things come with the territory.
I have no problem when people ask if
they can take a picture, ask for an autograph.
Lord of the Rings fans are fun
because they always ask a question about
the movie and there are certain facts I can share. The only
pet peeve I have is when people don't ask, they just shove a
camera in your face. You could be standing there, picking
your nose. It's like you're some zoo animal.
Q: You seemed a surprising choice for an elf princess
because you had such a contemporary persona. But you
managed to convincingly play a Middle-earth character and
made it feel like you existed in a dream.
A: Because of Arwen, most people now see me as a period
creature. I've had people say, She's too ethereal for this part,
and I say, That's because I was playing an ethereal character,
thank you very much. I have to prove again that I'm a young,
normal, goofy woman.
Q: What was the hardest thing about that whole experience?
A: Arwen went through so many changes, in the original
scripts, Arwen fought with the elves at Helm's Deep. She was
along for the whole trip, and there was this love triangle with
Aragorn and Eowyn. Peter initially used that love story as a
selling point. So I went to New Zealand and spent two
months preparing for these very elaborate fight scenes - but
didn't shoot them. So I got very frustrated. I'd shoot one day
and then wouldn't have anything to do for a couple of
months, while Peter tried to figure out what to do with the
character. The boys were there every day for a year and a
half, and I went back and forth and felt a bit left out. I tried
to use that disconnection as a focus for how Arwen would be
feeling, because she was out of it, too. I still feel excited
when I watch the film, but there were times I thought I
couldn't take it anymore.
Q: Was anyone particularly helpful in cheering you up?
A: I spent a lot of time in the makeup trailer with Viggo
Mortensen, Orlando Bloom and Bernard Hill. The Hobbits
were off in another trailer, which was funny because Elijah
Wood was always blasting his music. There was a private
door and then a separate room with Ian McKellen in it. Quite
a combination - these screaming Hobbits in the front and
Ian Holm in the connecting room.
Q: So you bonded with Viggo and Orlando, both of whom are
poised to become big stars.
A: Viggo is still a mystery to me, even though we shared the
most intimate scenes. He worked all the time, and I only ever
had one meal alone with him and that was after the last
pickups we did over the summer. Orlando was my first
friend because we lived really close to each other in houses
along a cliff overlooking the sea in New Zealand. He would
swim and surf every day, and we did training camp together,
archery and horseback riding.
Q: You found time to get married last year, and buy a house
and get a dog. What was the biggest adjustment?
A: There wasn't one, really. We'd been together for five years.
We bought this home before we got married and we've been
renovating it, restoring it to its original 1861 state. I'd never
done anything like that before.
Q: Have you become obsessed with design and decor?
A: I don't know if I'd call it obsessed, but it has been a huge
part of my life. Now we have to decorate. Roy is good at
making a room feel like home, just by putting down a carpet
or moving a chair. I got good at knowing what I wanted with
design and architecture. My mother just told me that when
I made my first chunk of money from acting, the first thing
I did was to go to ABC Carpet and Home on Broadway to buy
a lamp and a couch. I was 16, and instead of clothes. I wanted
furniture. I guess I have a nesting instinct.
Q: What's more fun: going on the road for rock'n'roll or
going on a film location?
A: The music world is way more fun. There's just not as much
responsibility. Though Peter is a huge Beatles fan, and he
compared our recent two-week world promotional tour to
the Beatles'. Every time we landed in an airport, there were
thousands of girls screaming for Orlando. It's probably the
closest thing to knowing how my dad feels.
Q: Was Roy intimidated, having to impress one of the world's
biggest rock stars?
A: Roy hadn't been a huge Aerosmith fan. I started playing the
music for him because I find it so inspiring, especially the
older stuff. But my dad is not at all intimidating or
standoffish. He's warm and friendly and comes right over and
hugs and kisses you. He's just like a big kid.
Q: Everyone knows that your mom didn't tell you he was your
father for the first decade of your life. Did it take you a long
time to feel comfortable with him?
A: I grew up my whole life thinking Todd was my father, and
I still have a huge loving bond with him and his family.
I have that with Steven, but it's different because I didn't
spend my whole life with him. I did feel a connection,
though, the second I met him. You hear stories of
finding out they're siblings. There's truth to
that. I had no idea who he was when I was
introduced to him one night after one of
Todd's shows in Boston. I was completely
mesmerized by him, as he was by me.
I was totally moved by him even though
I didn't know he was my father. I was
only eight years old, just imagine having
much strong feelings at that age, to be so
taken with someone.
Q: It's obvious you got the generous lips.
Did you inherit Steven Tyler's pipes?
A: Well, I love to sing. I love musicals.
When I saw Chicago, I was on the edge of
my seat the entire time, as if I'd never seen
a movie before in my entire life. I've seen it
5,000 times. I remember being a kid and seeing
Sweet Charity and Cabaret and being
floored. I'm a huge Bob Posse fan. My dream is
to be in a musical. My
mother used to tell me
all the time as a child
that I was such a drama
queen that I had to be an
actor, but I didn't want
to be an actor before all
this happened; I wanted
to be a singer.
Q: You just spent a
year in gorgeous New
Zealand, but it was for
work. What's your
favorite place to travel
A: I like to vacation
someplace hot like the
Caribbean. I grew up in
New York and Maine, so
being on the beach is
very exotic. I've got a
major traveling bug right now. Since we got married and
bought this house, settled and made this commitment, all I
want to do is travel.
Q: You've said in the past that people come at you wanting you
to be rail-thin. Is it that big a problem?
A: There is pressure for actresses to be perfect. You get criticized
for being too big or too skinny. It is quite unhealthy, and
I try not to focus on it. My whole life I've been an 8 or a 10,
and that's not a big size at all. I'm 5'10". Most people I know
who are that tall are 12 or 14. I only ever go up about five
pounds or so, but people write about it like it's something.
The one thing everyone asked me about at the Return of the
King junket was some report that I'd gained 28 pounds after
wrapping the movie. That is so much! I'm exactly the same
size as I was when I finished the movie. I exercise, eat really
well. I've been really health - conscious my whole life. But I
won't do anything unhealthy or have an eating disorder. I'm an
actor, not a supermodel.