This may be the latest of one hundred or more links you've clicked today. However, if you would permit us a moment, we'd like to shine a little light on the girl who shines a lot of light in Aragorn's life. The elven enchantress and vanquisher of Ring Wraiths; she who is Arwen, Liv Tyler.
Upon greeting Ms. Tyler one might note her demure manner. She's polite and composed. And then there's that essence that makes her portrayal of Arwen resonate. A stature. An elegance. Elvish qualities, I suppose.
On this afternoon of press interviews for The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, she arrives for the interview feeling less than 100%. "I think it's one of those 24-hour things," she says. But she is starting to feel better. She speaks softly.
Having recently completed work on Kevin Smith's Jersey Girl, Ms. Tyler is in the midst of a busy travel schedule for premieres of The Two Towers in New York, Paris, London, and Los Angeles. (Good work if you can get it.)
"I've spent a whole month just desperately hard-workingly," she says with a laugh, "trying to get my outfits together for all these premieres! It's hard work! By the time I've gotten through the third one I'm just spent."
And after the premieres, and the release of The Two Towers, it's home for the holidays. "The holidays are really important me," she says. "I like to be with my family."
Now we mind our Q's and A's and discuss with Ms. Tyler, among other subjects, the evolution of her character, Arwen; shifting gears from The Lord of the Rings to Jersey Girl; and playing opposite Viggo Mortensen.
Q: Last year, the word was we'd see more of you in the next film, The Two Towers. You weren't in it as much as we were expecting you.
TYLER: I'm not. (She laughs, and explains) A lot of times what's happening to me in that situation is people, I guess maybe because I'm more famous, people put lot of pressure on me, and say, "Oh, your part's so small. Is it going to be bigger in the next one?"
I always say to them that I'm playing this part and she's not thoroughly in the film. She's consistently there all throughout the three, but it is what it is. I think people want me to say that it's going to be more, and that's hard for me sometimes because I don't really know what to say to that.
Q: Well, she becomes more interesting in the third one, I guess, because trysts are finally made.
TYLER: Yes, but don't expect the movie to suddenly become all about Arwen. You know what I'm saying? It is a long story to tell.
Q: Was it an interesting character for you to play throughout the process?
I don't want to say it was a more difficult for me than it was for everybody else, but I went down to New Zealand originally to play a totally different character. And it was really hard, because I wasn't allowed to talk about that for so long, and everybody was asking me. Saying, you know, "Is Arwen going to be a fighter?" And all of these things. The original character of Arwen that was written and scripted was completely different.
Q: How so?
TYLER: She was much more present in the journey with the fellowship. It was not the character that she was in the book.
I was in New Zealand for a long time and preparing for fight sequences. All of these kind of elaborate things. And the more I did that stuff the further we were getting away from why they cast me and what was true of Arwen. And we all realized that. And they realized that. And we went back into the book and in to the appendix. And kind of reshaped it.
I think originally that [screenwriters] Fran [Walsh] and Philippa [Boyens], when they were really looking at this character, they wanted her to be a strong character. She is a strong character, but they were trying to figure out how to incorporate her into the film to be a strong character. And maybe they kind of thought, "Oh, well if she's a fighter she's strong." And over time they realized that you don't have to put a sword in a woman's hand to make her seem a tough. That's little actual makeup of who Arwen is, and her sheer will and strength and love for this man was strong enough. (She blushes.) That was a lot of talking.
Q: Oh, not at all. How was it for you being, well, you and Miranda Otto, the only female presence on the set?
TYLER: Well, there were a lot of women in the crew, for sure.
But I do remember when [Miranda] first arrived I was really excited that there was another actress who was down here now. And to see what her costumes were like. (She laughs.) What her hair was like. You know, to watch her act. I love to observe people and watch them. And I just, you know, kind of watched her.
Miranda is very nice. I didn't and to hang out with her very much off set though.
Q: Was it hard to be away from home? I know you've talked about being away from home...
TYLER: I think it was because of the nature of my character being so all over the place.
I didn't go down there and have, you know, three other boys that I was going to hang out with, you know, as with the Hobbits. They have this, you know, they had their thing going on. And though they treated me so well. They were so lovely to me.
I guess I felt like a little bit of an outsider, which was good because so did my character in a way. It was kind of good for me to go through that; not be able to be a part of everything because Arwen isn't either.
Q: For Arwen's voice, which is rather captivating, was it your choice to bring your voice down to a lower register? Or was that Peter Jackson's idea?
TYLER: That's something that happened kind of naturally, actually, when we were doing the ADR.
I had definitely tried to speak in a low voice throughout the whole thing, just because Kate's voice is naturally quite like that; it's really commanding, and powerful. And I think we realized when we were doing all of the ADR and stuff because, I am a lot younger than she is Array; or, I'm not a lot younger than she is Array; that suddenly when I brought my voice down to that register, it gave Arwen a kind of timelessness. She could be of any age.
In a way, it kind of just adds some depth to Arwen. It was like the icing on the cake. When I read a line kind of with that voice, it was like, wow! That really made a big difference.
Q: From The Lord of the Rings you went to work on Jersey Girl, which is obviously a completely modern story. Something of a change after all the work on The Lord of the Rings...
TYLER: It was great.
On my worst days on The Lord of the Rings, when I was like so uncomfortable Array; my dress swayed so much and my ears were itching Array; I would think: I just wish I could just do a scene with another actor in a diner where we were just talking. And on my first day on Jersey Girl I was sitting in a diner with Ben Affleck, talking. It was a really weird moment because I kind of went, wow! Because that was what I wished for, for just that relaxed quality.
Q: How was that experience working for Kevin Smith on Jersey Girl?
TYLER: Oh, it was great. It was hard for me to adapt at first because I only had... It was the first thing I had done since The Lord of the Rings, so I was always kind of like reflecting on it, "Oh yes, when I was working on The Lord of the Rings" ... and a lot of my stories were so different from everybody else. They would kind of look at me like (she mimics a puzzled expression and laughs).
Q: Kevin, no doubt, being a Lord of the Rings fan, must have instigated some of that...
TYLER: Yes. He did tease me.
Q: Do you have a career perspective on these Lord of the Rings films? You've done many smaller things and now you're in this trilogy that's so huge, and which years from now they'll probably still have stories from being told; stories about The Lord of the Rings.
TYLER: Yes. Right.
Well, I think for me [choosing a film] is more of a feeling than it is necessarily a strategy, and I kind of take it one day at a time. I mean, I have been in films like Armageddon and That Thing You Do and reasonably sized films. And I haven't done only independent movies. So, I think for me, I guess when I'm picking things, I'm thinking about the material and the script and the director and sort of the whole package in the way.
I certainly have had opportunities to be in big movies that have been successful, or maybe not turned out that successful. Usually I just listen to my gut about those things. Because I don't want to just be in a movie because it makes a lot of money. I'm so lucky. I haven't had to do that. I'm making money doing what I really like to do.
Q: How do you deal with the whole fame thing? Like, for example, people expect you to have this big role in this movie. Is it hard for you to deal with whole celebrity aspect of your life?
TYLER: The fame thing... Well, I don't live a life where I'm always being taken care of and driven around in cars and, you know... I don't. But I do know some actors that do, and they're a lot more famous than I am, so maybe they need that kind of protection.
But personally, when I'm not doing this, I get in the car with Roy [Langdon, lead singer for Spacehog] and I drive up to my country house, and I go for walks in the woods, and I cook dinner. I hang out with my friends. I just, you know what I mean, do normal things because that's what I like to do. So, I think everybody's different.
Q: Roy... You're engaged?
TYLER: (She laughs) Are you from People Magazine? Who is from People Magazine?
(As it turns out, one of the journalists at our table is from People Magazine.)
The one girl.
Q: Is there a date at all?
TYLER: (With a coyness) I'm not going to tell you. We are engaged, and we're madly in love.
Q: With Viggo Mortensen, you have great chemistry onscreen.
TYLER: Thank you very much.
Q: Can you talk about that? What does he bring to the performance?
TYLER: Viggo really brought an intensity to this character that was really important for this part to really show the layers and levels of this person. He's been raised by the Elves, and he had to be this Ranger. You could easily put a lot of different labels on him but he keeps getting more and more interesting, there's so much there to offer.
He really has that intensity and that depth in his eyes. And his Array; how do I say this? Array; the way he is kind of just so present. He just shows up and he was going to be this character and he just went for it. He never complained. He never gave up. He just went for it.
Q: Did that help you as an actress, to have a partner in a scene like that?
TYLER: Yes. Definitely.
Viggo is really funny because is he loves the Elvish and all the kind of hard, challenging things. He loves that. He wants more of that.
Q: Now, how is your Elvish coming along?
TYLER: (She laughs, and sighs.) Proper, thank you.
Q: You seem to enunciate it very well.
TYLER: Thank you. Are you an Elvish speaker too?
Q: Oh no. But it seems like it would be harder to memorize those lines than a normal line.
TYLER: Yes. It's very hard.
Q: The third film, The Return of the King. In speaking with Peter Jackson and other cast and crew, it appears this one is their favorite. Any thoughts on the third film? Have you seen any bits of it?
TYLER: I haven't seen it. Of course I'm looking forward to it. But I haven't seen anything.
Q: But you guys have to go back and do additional things pretty soon...
TYLER: We all have to go back. We all have to go back to do anything post which is all the ADR.
Usually on movies they kind of come to you to do that. But on this, everything is set up there. They have all the editors, all the facilities. So, we all go there to do everything.
Q: Is there any one thing you're particularly looking forward to about going back to work on the third film?
TYLER: I guess probably seeing my friends that work on the movie, who I don't get to see except when I'm there. I miss them.
Q: Since you guys are talking about wardrobe a lot, out of all three films, what was your favorite piece?
TYLER: Oh my goodness! One of my favorite dresses from [The Two Towers] was this incredible dress that you don't even see, because they're in this tight on my face. (She puts one hand below her chin and the other above her head, as if framing a close-up.) But it was this incredibly beautiful red velvet dress that [Costume Designer] Ngila [Dickson] got the fabric for in Paris and it was like a gazillion dollars. It was this incredible, like (she motions to her own red shirt) much deeper than this, like a wine-colored red, velvet braid. It just was so beautiful. But they only used the close-ups so you don't see it.
Q: Talking about wardrobe, does your dad give you any fashion advice?
TYLER: No. But I give him a lot of fashion advice. (She laughs.)
Q: You think he needs it?
TYLER: Sometimes he does, yeah.
He called me when he was going to win a best rock fashion award. He said, "What should I wear?"
I said, "Something chic."
I always tell him he should wear like a simple black suit. And he did! He looked gorgeous.
Q: You saw The Two Towers for the first time a week ago...
TYLER: Yes. I've just seen it once, and I'm saving myself for the New York premiere tonight. I can't wait to see it again because the first time you see it's just kind of like so overwhelming. But I really can't wait to watch it with a New York audience, my favorite movie-going audience.
Q: Why a New York audience?
TYLER: Because they participate so much.
I remember last year at the York premiere, it was like every time a new character came on the screen everybody cheered and clapped and it was so powerful. They didn't just sit there kind of silent, like you can hear like a needle dropping. They were really happy and excited! When I had the whole scene with the Wraiths they cheered. When Viggo chopped off the orc's head they cheered. I love that. It's great see people who are being moved by and responding to the film.