Instead of hiring an entourage of nannies, Hollywood A-lister Liv Tyler is going it alone. Cue one British childcare manual in her dustbin and a new mother who is finding it hard to remember her own name...
Ever had that feeling you can't remember how to type when you've had time off work? Liv Tyler, Hollywood actress and mum to eight-month-old Milo, is experiencing that 'oops, I've forgotten what to do' feeling right now. She's been off the social radar for over a year and this is her first interview in 18 months.
Thrown back into work mode, Liv is tripping over herself to apologise for not being as lucid as she'd like. 'What they say about your brain cells going out of the window when you have a baby is true. You get stupid and flighty. Gwyneth said she couldn't remember her movie lines after she had Apple.' (That would be Gwyneth as in Paltrow, one of Liv's closest friends in the UK; Stella McCartney is another.)
We're in Paris where Liv - the daughter of Aerosmith hellraiser Steve Tyler and 1960s groupie Bebe Buell - has just been launched as the face of Givenchy's new Very Irresistible perfume. And the 5ft 10in Lord Of The Rings actress, who's never felt comfortable towering over the crowd in stiletto heels, is having trouble being the centre of attention again.
'I feel so rusty,' she apologises. '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. When people are looking at me, I'm not comfortable.'
It's not just having a camera lens trained on her that's causing Liv, 28, anxiety. New mum separation angst also looms large. 'You're so in love with your baby that when you go out, you're like, "Oh, I miss him! What's he doing? Maybe we should go home,"' laughs Liv.
The actress and her Yorkshire-born husband, Spacehog singer Royston Langdon, have turned their backs on the usual A-list entourage of nannies. 'We wanted to look after Milo ourselves for the first eight weeks,' says Liv. 'I came across The Contented Little Baby book by Gina Ford. There was a strict timetable: get up, nap, feed. I tried to follow it for a day and nothing worked. I collapsed in tears on my husband. you can't control everything, especially not a child's rhythms.' But even Gina Ford couldn't ruin the experience of motherhood for Liv. 'My happiest moment was the birth of my son,' she says. 'He was born at four o'clock in the morning. My room looked out over the East River and the sun was coming up.'
However, there is a downside to A-list motherhood. Liv's appearance came under fierce strutiny when an unflattering picture of her pushing Milo in his pram prompted speculation she was pregnany again. For the record, she isn't; she just hasn't been killing herself to lose her baby weight in the usual celebrity timeframe of four weeks (two, if you're Victoria Beckham). 'I stopped breast-feeding Milo a few weeks ago and I walk around with protein shakes in my bag,' she says. She has also called on the services of celebrity trainer David Kirsch, who works with Heidi Klum, Sophie Dahl and Linda Evangelista.
To escape scrutiny Liv has the perfect hideaway. No, we don't mean a villa in Barbados or Valentino's yacht. Husband Royston is from Leeds and when visiting her in-laws Liv takes refugee in her local British legion. 'Whenever I go to Headingley to see my husband's parents, we pay a visit,' she says. 'They're all old men who have absolutely no idea who I am. It's great.'
But when she's sick of Yorkshire pudding and onion gravy, Liv's a stalwart New Yorker. 'We've bought a house in Greenwich Village with the idea of living in a little community,' she says. 'The only downside is there are more and more visitors in New York since 9/11 and quite a few paparazzi in my neighbourhood. 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.'