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Liv Tyler, Divine Beauty

by Marc Lambron, Madame Figaro, August 2005, Translation by Sophie and Adrienne

She has a real and a clear look of an elven princess. A model and a young mum, the American actress is a model of freshness. The face of Givenchy, whose perfume she promotes with marvel, Liv will star in Jersey Girl along side Ben Affleck.

We can say a many things about Liv Tyler, but she says it all. She was born in the pantheon of rock, she worked with the director of Last Tango in Paris and portraited a character in The Lord of the Rings, the cult book of the old hippies, become the adoration subject of 2000's teenagers. When Tom Hanks directed her in a film, it was to give her a Sixties girl role. As much of pasts has concentrated on a so pretty head could to slow the dragon-fly, but she pace up a landscape of fashion too where she crosses the pretty chimeras and the dreams of love. Like we will see, the conversation has spanned over a definition of sexiness, the difference between Humphrey Bogart and David Bowie, protein shakers, a spank given by Robert Altman and the effect of hard rock on babies. For the conversation in the bedroom of a big Parisian Hotel, Liv Tyler conveniently suggests to use the bed. She tapes the pillow, sits down with crossed legs - charming. If I wrote for the English press, the title would be: "In bed with Liv Tyler".

Thank you for having us here. I will be able to say without lying that I have shared a bed with Liv Tyler.
Without lying and without being ambiguous [laughs]

Without being ambiguous, we are alone. I would like to ask you, what strikes you about French women, when you are in Paris, compared to American women?
It is said that French women are very chic, and it's true because they avoid the overloading. They know to carry an elegant jewel with a neutral bottom, or to blur the make up if the hair is blazing. American women tend to light the headlights, which I call the Texan armour shield. Nails, bags, shoes, everything must glitter. French women are more relaxed. I prefer to see the skin of a woman rather than her mask.

How is it to feel sexy?
It's very personal. For me, for example, high heels make me tower over the crowd and feel giant. When the focus is on me I become nervous. I feel sexy when I can walk anonymously in a crowd with Converse All Stars shoes and blue jeans, because that defines freedom.

You are registered in this hotel as Rundgren. We know it was Todd Rundgren, a famous rocker and companion of your mother, the model Bebe Buell, who rasied you, until you learned that your biological father is Steven Tyler, the singer of Aerosmith. Do princesses of Rock 'N' Roll have two names?
Todd Rundgren is famous for being a magician of sounds. When I was a little girl, there was in his house of Woodstock near New York, a turret in which he installed his computers, a new thing for that time, and I climbed to see the good wizard who worked on his tapes. He raised me, he paid for my studies. Even if he's inevitable, even if he's full of humour, I think Todd has more misunderstanding than planned the time when I have known that it was not my father. Today, I consider Todd Rundgren and Steven Tyler with equity like my two fathers.

You're married to Royston Langdon, of the band Spacehog. He's a rocker too.
The press says it a lot, and it's true that he emanates an incendiary impression on the stage, particularly with his powerful voice, but in the life he's a gentleman, very calm. I don't see him like a typical rocker.

All the same, your friendship with the son of Keith Richards, the son of John Lennon or the daughter of Paul McCartney, that looks like a club of the second generation...
Marlon Richards, I know him through his wife, Lucie De La Falaise, who was my best friend in New York, and I'm the godmother of their daughter. They live now in England. Sean Lennon, he's a friend of my husband. Stella McCartney, I met her through common friends and on account of her job in the fashion industry...

While the generation of your parents had a certain tendency for self destruction in their 20's, we get the impression that you're on the side of preservation.
I think that we are more responsible than our parents at the same age. If I had been born in a conservative family, I could have directly gone in the stretchers. As I grew up in a tumultuous background, I quickly understood that I was the only book keeper in my life. I sometimes wish to have more freedom. My New Year resolution was to be less anxious, try to enjoy the present. My childhood was easy, but more importantly - I was loved.

Watching your father on the stage and your husband in a concert, is it the same thing?
It's comparable on one point: I know them very well in the day to day life, and the stage transforms them, exalts them. Probably as they discover me as a new character in the cinema. In fact, the different incarnations make you fall in love with the same person all the time. I do admit that I'm very more impressed by musicians than actors. I see Humphrey Bogart as a man and David Bowie as an idol. I'd turn red if you let me eat with Prince, while Robert De Niro seems normal to me. In the cinema, there is a sense of security - if you mess up on one take, you can always start over. On the stage, we have a man alone in front of the crowd, in total implication. That is what I feel when I see my father or my husband performing.

You started as a model, but the movie which made you known to a wide public was Stealing Beauty, by Bernardo Bertolucci. How did you handle working with the director of The Last Tango in Paris as a teenager?
It was a stronger experience than I had when shooting, I almost beg Bertolucci to work with me again, which won't happen. For me, he is of the generation of my favorite director, Fran├žois Truffaut. I have been dazzling at 16 years old by Les Quatre Cents Coups and Jules and Jim, the beauty and the poetry of the camera movements of these directors. A lot of people say, with a mere nothing of condescension, that I'm a nice girl. But like I have braved two or three things in my short life on this planet, I think to be strong enough, and it's this game between two willpowers which pleased Bertolucci. Like he wanted more nudity in the movie, I had a little fight with him. There is a scene where I pose for a painting under a tree, he wanted two breasts out of the dress, and I gave him only one. [Laughs]. I shouldn't do Maria Schneider in The Last Tango in Paris, I'm not that comfortable with my body for such a thing.

To be directed by Robert Altman in Cookie's Fortune, does it leave you some memories?
Yes, because he's a director who loves to create controlled and uncontrolled situations at the same time. He can film with the camera on the shoulder of actors who play among them, as a stage of a theatre, and he captures moments nearly improvised. That was disconcerting to me, and I asked him to reassure me about my acting, and finally he gave me a slap on the buttocks saying: "Shut up and don't think too much." A manner of telling me that everything is OK...

Obviously, all teenagers know you interpreted the elf princess in the Lord of the Rings. Can you, like in the film, speak the language of elves again?
No, I can only say a few lines of the dialogue. The shooting in New Zealand was strong, I was homesick, and it staggered for months, so I made round trips. At the same time, it's the thing the most near of a team work that I have made, find again the same people, almost the same office all the two months. Now, I want to return in New Zealand, for the calm and the intensity of landscapes.

You've been the face of a famous French house of perfume for two years. Are you Very Irresistible Woman?
Here, it's another type of a princess, with less elves and more pleasure. [Laughs]. When I was 14, Paulina Porizkova took photos of me with gloves, pearls and a bun, inspired of Audrey Hepburn in the movie Breakfast at Tiffany's. It's an amazing coincidence to be able to come back to the house which has the name of Hubert de Givenchy, the man who designed the dresses for that film.

What does the word "sophistication" mean for you ?
Here too, for me, it's an interior note, a way to be in harmony with your skin.

When have you been happiest?
Being optimistic, I have had many happy moments, but the happiest was the birth of my son. He was born at four o'clock in the morning. My room looks out over the East River and the sun was coming up, I was tired and I saw my husband with the baby in his arms. This picture...

What is the big rocker Steven Tyler, now grandfather, like when he sees his little grandson?
He cries.

Have you ever tried different kinds of music on your son?
Yes, Milo is six months old. Incredibly, the album "Harvest" of Neil Young calms him. He likes his father's songs. But he bawls when he hears hard rock...

Your son, Milo, came with you to Paris. What's the state of mind of his mother?
I feel so rusty. Last week I was in high heels for a night out in New York. There were photographers everywhere and I didn't know how to stand or what to do with my hands. I stopped breast-feeding Milo a few weeks ago and I walk around with protein shakes in my bag. This is terrible when you like French cuisin...

How do you live in New York?
I was born there, my son too, it's my city. We've bought a house in the Village with the idea of living in a little community. The only downside is there are more and more paparazzi in my neighborhood. When you try to protect the time you spend with your child and cameras are trailing you, you sometimes feel like you are being spied on. I love the city but I feel less free now.

Do you consider moving to Hollywood?
Certainly not. It's always exciting to go to Los Angeles, but the cinema industry has a representative under each paving stone. When you think you found a small and quite restaurant... two producers come to sit with you. For me, it's associated to a professional world. And to the danger of quickly becoming obsessed with yourself.

What is your next movie?
It's a movie where I have to play a virtuoso violinist, so I have to master the violin in two months. [Laughs]

What's your idea of bliss?
A bath with candle-light and a CD of Chet Baker.

What natural gift would you have liked?
Playing a musical instrument or knowing how to write. I don't find the ideas, I can only interpret them.

What's your favourite quality in other people?
It's the authenticity. I love to be surprised by people who are themselves.

What's your biggest indulgence?
It's the money that I spend for my house.

Can you dance Waltz or Tango?
No, somebody should teach me.

When is the last time that you cried?
When Milo was one month old. We wanted to look after Milo ourselves for the first eight weeks without an assistant. I came across one British childcare manual for new mothers. There was a strict timetable: get up, nap, feed. I tried to follow it for a day and nothing worked. I collapsed in tears of my husband. You can't control everything, especially not a child's rhythms.

What's the difference between the young girl that you were and the woman that you've become?
I have dreamed for many years to get married and be a mother, in my own house. Now, I live in a house with a man and a baby. It's normal to want to play adult, but when it actually comes, you've not changed inside. Honestly, I almost think that time does not exist.