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Liv on the cover of Seventeen
Liv Tyler - She's Real

Atoosa Rubenstein, Seventeen Magazine, January 2004. Scans by Taylor and Autman Elf

What we love about Liv is that despite all her fame, she's not so different from us

Liv Tyler may be an international film star, but the best way to describe the 26-year-old's vibe as she bounces into Grange Hall, the Greenwich Village restaurant where we meet for lunch, is sweet. Not boring sweet, mind you. More like precocious-little-girl-wearing-bunny-ears-and-a-smile sweet. No make-up and so fresh. But it's not just about her looks. Liv exudes a wide-eyes openness that makes you want to hug her; protect her fiercely, and be her best girlfriend. But enough gushing - I just wanted you to know all that before I told you the more obvious background information I should mention to be complete.

Liv's latest on-screen role is the Elf princess Arwen in the latest, and last, installment in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, titled The Return of the King (in theatres December 17). The first time we saw her was in 1994 in the Aerosmith Crazy video; Liv was all of 16. But she had an inside connection to get that gig - her father is legendary Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler. As the story goes, her mom, Bebe Buell, raised Liv to believe she was the daughter of rocker Todd Rundgren, until Liv learned the truth when she was 10.

But Liv's tired of retelling that old story. These days she has her own family, having married her longtime boyfriend, 31-year-old Royston Langdon, former lead singer of Spacehog. Together they have an adorable cavalier King Charles spaniel, Neal; a new house; and a lot of love. I asked Liv what she wanted to talk about (for a change) instead of prying into her personal life. Here's what she said ...

As far as my personality goes, I grew up in such an eccentric world. My mother and my father and Todd were always sort of, I don't know if wild is the right word, but they were definently very different from your normal mom and dad. Very creative. And I didn't always live with them. My mom struggled sometimes, so I lived with my grandparents or my aunt. I had a very interesting and diverse support system around me, all these different family members. I always felt very loved, though it was difficult to be moving around to all those different places. I think they probably all wanted me to feel loved, and so they made me feel realy good about myself.

People write the most outrageous things. I once did an interview for a very beautiful, large fashion magazine, and the writer was a man, and it was right after September 11, and I was feeling emotional and vulnerable. The journalist said witin the first 20 minutes of the interview, "So I want to talk about your weight problem. A very famous editor once told me that if you could stay skinny, you'd be bigger than Gwyneth Paltrow." My heart just stopped. I was like, I don't want to be Gwyneth Paltrow. I want to be me. I love Gwyneth for what she is, but I was really enraged after the fact, because that really affected me. That was a really irresponsible thing for him to say, because I don't have a weight problem and I never have, and just because I don't starve myself and I'm not a size four at 5'10" doesn't mean that I have a weight problem. I just felt like, what a rude and horrible thing to say. He interviewed one of my girlfriends, Kate Hudson, for that piece as well, and he asked her basically the same thing about me, and she just like tore him a new hole. She was so great!

I'm overwelmed completely by the images and the media about myself. Even in my position, it makes me feel totally bad about myself. It makes me question things. I mean, I went through a period where I was so depressed recently, for like a month. I was just going through a really hard time when we moved and all these, like, major changes in my life, and I had to force myself to stop reading magazines and to stop just being in any way aware of everything that's being thrust at you all the time.

The photographers wait and then they catch you. It's always the days when it's 8 in the morning and I'm going to walk the dog or I have a pimple or a thick white shirt that makes me look chubby-that's when they're there. I was walking the dog one day and I was wearing overalls because I was doing housework and I was on my period and I wasn't caring. I wasn't thinking about the 'celebrity image'. And they drew an arrow to my stomach, saying, "Is she pregnant ?". It's just so weird.

My model advice in life is just always try to be as much youself as you can, and as authentic as you can, because there's something special about everybody. When I was a kid, I was huge. I was this tall (5'10") and weigh as much as I do now, when I was like 12, 11 years old. All my friends came up to here. (She points to her chest.) So probably in some senses I didn't get picked on as much because I was like a monster. But as I got older, girls used to be so mean to me.

The whole world revolves around Neal. What's great is that since we moved into our new neighborhood, when I walk the dog, I'm Neal's mom. I'm not Liv Tyler at all. So everyone's like, "Hi, Neal. How are you today ?" Nobody knows my name. It's great. I'm totally anonymous. It's all about Neal.

My whole life, in a way, I tried to be different than my parents. I was always very grateful to have the upbringing that I did and all these incredible people and creative energy around me, but I also longed for some kind of normalcy in my life. I was always so aware of the mistakes my parents made. They were drug addicts and having affairs and shagging everybody and going out. I was so aware of that, that my dream as a little girl was to have a family and children and animals and someone in my life who was my friend and my partner. Marriage wasn't necessarily a big part of that, or a priority. It was just to be close to someone, to really share something with someone. So I spent a lot of my life working toward that. And now that I finally got married and we built our house-everything that I ever wanted is in place.

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