By Saska Graville, The Sydney Morning Herald, December 15, 2003.
Looks, talent, personality and the chance to kiss Aragorn. Liv Tyler really does have it all, writes Saska Graville.
Someone should tell Liv Tyler that it's bad manners to win all the lucky draws in life.
For starters, unlike many other starlets, she can actually act. Add to that peachy good looks and a couple of infamous rellies (rocker dad Steven Tyler, groupie mum Bebe Buell) to ensure plenty of colourful column inches and you have the perfect credentials for a modern-day superstar.
Oh, and she's nice. Journalists at the recent Lord Of The Rings launch in New Zealand were amused to compare how down to earth Tyler was compared to her co-star Orlando Bloom.
While Tyler was sweetness personified, let's just say Bloom should lighten up a bit on the luvvie stuff and not take himself quite so seriously! Oh and another thing, Tyler gets to screen kiss the man most women would happily battle a dozen orcs for: Viggo Mortensen's Aragorn.
The girl has it all.
As elf princess Arwen in The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King, Tyler brings old-fashioned romance to a movie dominated by danger, tension and the epic struggle of good against evil.
And, of course, she gets her man. (To say how and why would be giving too much away.)
This third instalment in director Peter Jackson's The Lord Of The Rings trilogy marks the end of an era for Tyler.
"It was a completely life-changing experience in so many different ways,"
she said of the lengthy New Zealand shoot. "I'm not sure that anything like it will ever present itself again."
Filming the three movies concurrently meant that Jackson's cast was in for the long haul, moving their lives to Wellington and committing to his extraordinary and ambitious vision of Middle-earth.
For Tyler it's been the project of a lifetime.
"I remember the first time Peter called me and he said, 'If you want to come and do this you've got to just take the leap and trust me.' And that's really what we had to do,"
"As an American actor, used to things being so much more fast-paced and on schedule, I learnt a lot about trust, about patience and not being so judgemental.
"I will forever approach things differently because of that."
As any Tolkien obsessive will point out, Jackson has bumped up the character of Arwen from bit player to a lead for the big screen.
"This is going to make me look bad,"
Tyler said, laughing, "but she was a marketing thing to get the studios interested. Peter knew he needed money and obviously if there was a female character there could maybe be a big actress.
"But they'd written the script not really having committed to her or developed her. I found that very difficult when we started filming because I couldn't find the character.
"I was depressed because I felt like there was something wrong with me."
Initially Jackson had Arwen as an elfin warrior, fighting alongside the Fellowship in key battle scenes.
"I was doing all this physical stuff but I wasn't feeling connected to her,"
said Tyler, who boasts of beating fellow elf Orlando Bloom (Legolas) at archery practice.
"And that [connection] is all I know how to do. I'm not trained, so it's more of an internal thing for me."
Luckily for Tyler, after just two days of frustrating filming the decision was made to take Arwen away from the battlefields and make the character more passive.
"From that moment on I was so liberated and excited,"
Tyler said. "I instantly fell in love with her and who she was. At times it was hard though, because it wasn't a very big part any more and I didn't have that much to do."
It was also hard for the self-confessed fidgeter to slow down to a dreamy elfin pace.
"God, sometimes I just wanted to scream and not be so composed,"
she said. "I'm always using my hands and dancing around the room and laughing. I'm not still at all. It was hard to figure out how to convey things and not seem like maybe I wasn't doing anything at all and was just a crap actress!"
It was also a challenge in the storytelling to keep the sense of love and longing between Arwen and Aragorn alive when they are rarely on screen in the same scene. "How do we connect these two characters who are on opposite sides of the world and make them still invested emotionally in their love relationship?"
Again, to explain too much would be to ruin the plot, but suffice to say that Jackson finds a way and the solution is more than enough to satisfy any fan of good old-fashioned romance.
"Ultimately I think it all worked out really well,"
Tyler said, "but it was a hard process getting there."
Which leads us back to that screen kiss with Aragorn. How did it feel to be romanced by one of the sexiest big screen heroes of recent times?
she protested. "It's not like 'Woo hoo, I get to kiss Viggo today.' "
But she does admit to sharing Arwen's romantic streak. "I'm a hopeless romantic with everything,"
she said. "Not just in love but with my friends, with travel, with animals, even with food."
Which is good news for Mr Liv Tyler, British rocker Royston Langdon, whom she married on St Valentine's Day 2001. "Married life is beautiful,"
she said. "I'm feeling in a really comfortable, good place in my life. Right after we got married we moved into a new house [in New York] that we'd been rebuilding for two years. I'd spent so much time being really excited by it that it was actually all a bit overwhelming for me.
"I had a little identity crisis. I thought, 'Aaaargh, I'm a grown up and I'm married and I have this huge house and I don't know what to do.' But we've been living there for a few months and I love it. We have a King Charles spaniel puppy, and I feel so lucky."
A big house to fill and a puppy? Could we be hearing the patter of tiny Tyler feet sometime soon?
"I've always wanted to be a mother,"
Tyler said. "I love children and I think they bring such a level of peace to your life.
"I'm really mothering to everybody anyway. I would start [having babies] now but as an actor I feel a little - I don't know if paranoid is the word - in the world today there's so much focus on career and opportunity and work, and less focus on family.
"As actors we have all these incredible opportunities and there's this little voice in the back of your head that says, 'Oh my God, you have to take this opportunity because it might not ever come up again, you might not work again.' "
It's an unlikely scenario. Tyler is, to use the technical term, hot. Bloom jokingly described "fighting guys off with a stick when Liv was around". She was, as he put it, "the hot chick who was in hot movies so we [himself and the hobbits] were like bodyguards!".
Tyler is refreshingly appreciative of her A-list minders. "Every movie I've ever done I've been the only girl among the guys,"
she said. "I get loads of attention. I love my boys!"
But as for her pin-up status? "It never seems real, that kind of stuff!"
Just all part of the perfect movie star package.