The actress shares her Formula E experiences and passion for driving as she celebrates the season finale in New York
Liv Tyler and Formula E CEO Alejandro Aga arrive at New York ePrix
In New York at the grand finale of the current season of ABB FIA Formula E, just hours before Jean-Eric Vergne is crowned world champion on Sunday 15 July, Tempus is chatting to the electric motor sport's newest convert. The weekend boasted the championship's first time in the Big Apple, and for actress Liv Tyler it was a sight to behold as the temporary track wound through her much-loved neighbourhood of Red Hook, Brooklyn, the Manhattan skyline lending a powerful backdrop to the event.
Tyler joined Formula E's founder Alejandro Agag at the event, where last year's champ Lucas Di Grassi went head to head with British driver Sam Bird to claim first place and narrowly miss out on a second championship title. Although it was her first time at Formula E, the motorsport is well loved by Tyler's contemporaries, including her former Lord of the Rings co-star Orlando Bloom, Avengers star Chris Hemworth and Leonardo DiCaprio.
Attended by celebrity guests including Patrick Dempsey, former Tempus cover star David Gandy and actress Natalie Dormer, Tyler later hosted a star-studded 1920s style soiree to celebrate the season's close. The speakeasy-themed party featured music from DJ Izy, a synchronised swimming performance, and drinks including Absolute Elyx Moscow mule cocktails and Mumm champagne to celebrate the success of its drivers.
Tyler also shared in their success, having challenged Dempsey on the track in a Formula E race car before the event began – and becoming the first celebrity not to crash in the attempt. "[Liv] did great," said Agag. "Chris Hemsworth and Orlando Bloom both crashed on their lap, Patrick Dempsey crashed today in the straight – but she didn't crash at all."
Sharing what life is like in the Formula E fast lane, Tyler tells Tempus about her experiences on the track, driving with her famous father Steven Tyler, and why she is on a minimal-waste mission.
Liv, tell us what it was like to drive a Formula E car round the track? It was wild! It was amazing, it all happened so fast. They stuffed me in the car and I got really claustrophobic, it was a little bit scary that moment, when you can't hear or see, But once you're out it's incredible and you feel completely free and safe. I took one corner and just for a second I spun out a little bit, but then I finished okay. I grew up partly in Maine where we did a lot of go-karting, I would always drive tractors, golf carts and cars. And then from doing films and working with so many stunt people, I've had to learn how to drive properly for those occasions and so it sticks with you, things like taking corners. It was fun
Liv Tyler becomes the first celebrity to successfully complete a Formula E lap (left) and poses with electric car (right)
What attracted you to Formula E? I didn't know very much about it, but I'm very interested in the electric aspect of it, and how they're changing what the industry is doing. It's incredible. I always love learning new things, and so when they asked me to be a part of it, originally I wanted to go on a trip – because they have races all over the world – but I was filming so I couldn't, and then it worked out that the last race was going to be in New York, and I was born and raised here, and I thought it would be really fun to be part of it here.
Is the environmental aspect of the Championship part of its appeal for you? It's everything. In life you get asked to be a part of things sometimes and you just think, 'I really want to have that experience, meet these people, and learn about all the innovative amazing things that they're doing'. It's an education for me, at least in my life that's how I pick my films and projects, and so I really wanted to be here and meet everything and get to have that experience. I'd never been to a race before.
What do you think of the New York track? I was so surprised – I didn't realise how it would look. It's like my son Milo's video games, where you're in the actual streets, it was amazing. I didn't actually look at any of that when I was going around the track, of course. This neighbourhood, Red Hook, my friend [artist] Dustin Yellin lives here and owns a place called Pioneer Works, and I've been coming here with him for about 15 years. So much of my life has been spent in this neighbourhood, so when I got here today I was like, 'Wait! I know where we are – that's Dustin's house!' It's the best – the drivers have his ping pong table [laughs].
Your father, Steve Tyler, has a huge passion for cars. Is that something you feel you've inherited? He has some cars, yeah. I grew up more with my granddad and uncle, and they were the ones who took me on the tractor – we had a John Deere Tractor – I've driven with my dad a little bit, which was super fun. He likes motorcycles too, though I get a bit scared on them, but we go close. He has a house on a lake, so he's taught me how to drive a boat and I'll go out with him. But yeah, my dad likes toys. He definitely likes a lot of toys.
What kind of cars do you prefer? I'm really not a big car person, to be honest. I've had one car for 15 years, which I love and I call a 'her'. She's fantastic and has never let me down. I don't like to waste or dispose too much of things. I hate how people can just buy new things and throw the old one away so easily. Though I'd love an electric car – I live in Los Angeles for a couple of years and I rented an electric car, though it was just at the beginning of the trend in electric cars. I'm not a big car person but I've always loved driving.
Liv Tyler with Formula E founder Alejandro Agag and actress Natalie Dormer at her 1920s themed afterparty