Karen Schoemer, ELLE Magazine, May 2001
She would like to smoke ?
It's a no-smoking restaurant - please, let him bring her an ashtray.
WITH A CENTERFOLD MOM AND TWO ROCKER DADS - NOT TO MENTION AN ETIQUETTE-EXPERT GRANDMOTHER AND AN ACTIVIST AUNT - SUPERNATURALLY PRETTY LIV TYLER HAS LEARNED TO GET ALONG WITH EVERYONE. ESPECIALLY THE CAMERA.
Liv Tyler is getting the royal treatment. She's sitting in Da Silvano, a swank Tuscan eatery lower Manhattan and one of her favorite hometown hangouts,
and the heavily accented culinary paramour who owns the place is practically blowing her kisses. She feels a bit chilly ? No problem, he will close the transom above the door. She is curious about the fish of the day ? He will run to kitchen and fetch a sample plate.
It's not hard to understand the besotted fellow's behavior. Tyler is cuter than a diamond studded button. She wears a salmon-pink, butterfly-print Laure BELLE blouse with a loose lace collar, jauntily paired with vintage dungarees and worn sneakers. Her hair is pulled into a slightly tousled French twist;
a stray brunet lock, too short to tuck behind her ear, brushes her cheek.
That gregarious mouth, a hand-me-down from her famous dad, Aerosmith singer Steven Tyler, bears not a smudge of lipstick.
Ensconced in a storefront window looking out on Greenwich Village, she's a better advertisement than a neon sign.
What's weird is Tyler's way of handling the attention: Instead of being aloof or indifferent, she acts really nice in return. Silvano approached the table and mumbles, "Do you love me ?" Tyler gazes up at him and says demurely, "Yes".
Silvano explains that his restaurant is putting together a cookbook, and he'd like his photographer to snap her picture for inclusion. "Oh", she says, disappointment flickering, "there's a favor involved."
But she quickly acquiesces. The photographer comes over and sets up a light. Tyler hastily consults a purse mirror.
"Do I have eggplant in my teeth ?"
she whispers anxiusly.
"Oh my God, I do."
The photographer raises his camera, the light flashes, and - click! In that split second she is transformed, smiling graciously, eyes dancing, her skin so radiant it seems lit from within. Movie-star magic rocks.
There are exceptionally pretty girls, and there are good actresses, but Liv Tyler, twenty-three, is a whiz-bang combination of the two.
Over the past few years she's quietly proven herself to be one of the most interesting faces on the screen. Her specialy is romantic heroines and objects of desire,
but within that framework she's shown an impressive range: the gawky-gorgeous virgin of Bernardo Bertolucci's Stealing Beauty, the incorrigible tomboy of Robert Altman's Cookie's Fortune,
the tarnished all-american sweetheart of James Mangold's Heavy, In Peter Jackson's forthcoming Lord of the Rings trilogy, a Star Wars-scale spectacle based on J.R.R Tolkien's classic tale of wizards, hobbits, and goblins, she pertrays Arwen the elf princess, spiritual love force to the male lead, played by Viggo Mortensen.
What helps set Tyler apart from starlet pack is her extraordinary naturalness, her ability to convey the sense that she loves being in front of the camera and hopes it loves her too. She acts without angst, as is deep inside she thinks it's a marvelous scam, a jig that she hopes won't be up anytime soon.
Her current excellent adventure in movieland in One Night at McCool's, a twisted caper produced by Michael Douglas. It follows the bumblings of three men (Matt Dillon, Paul Reiser and John Goodman) who fall for the same voluptuous con artist, played by Tyler. She vamp in up with abandon: In one scene she dons a tight dress and orgasmically washes a car while bawdy music plays.
"We were in East L.A. in the most horrible nighborhood,"
"They gave me a bucket and a sponge and some soap, and I just had to do it. It was so over the top, I felt like I was making a Playboy video."
Despite her flamboyant parentage (her mom, musician/model Bebe Buell, was Playboy centerfold in the '70s), Tyler claims that overt displays of sexuality don't come naturally.
"I saw McCool's once, and I was really embarrassed,"
"I mean, imagine if you had to watch your-self sucking Matt Dillong's finger in a room full of two hundred people, You'd have a heart attack."
"But she seemed to take it with a grain of salt. She said, 'When I'm with Grammy, we dress up and go to garden parties. With Aunt Annie, I help at the soup kitchen, And when I'm with Mommy and Daddy, it's rock and roll.' She had put everything into prespective."
Tyler grew up amid wildly contrasting influences. Her mother, a textbook post-'60s rock 'n' roll rebel, wasn't always able to support her daughter. So Liv bounced around between family members. Her early years were spent with an aunt, Annie, an advocate for the homeless in Portland, Maine;
during first and second grades she lived with her ultra-conservative grandparents in Washington, D.C.
"My mom was struggling, and she couldn't manage everything,"
says Tyler without resentment.
"Which I understand."
Other family members were more concerned.
"We always wondered if she was being damaged internally,"
says the grandmother, Dorothea Johnson, an etiquette consultant.
Liv confronted her mother, and ther truth spilled out.
But she had other challenges coming, Tyler had grown up believing that her father was actually art-rocker and producer Todd Rundgren. Buell, pregnant at twenty-one after a fling with Steven Tyler, turned to her previous, more stable boyfriend and asked him to function as Liv's parent. (Tyler never actually lived with Rundgren - his home-studio spread in Woodstock, NY, was one more cool house to visit.) Liv would eventually suss out the truth on her own.
When she was around nine, she met Tyler backstage at one of Rundgren's concerts, and went home obsessed. It was just another rock-star crush until a year or so later, when Liv went to an Aerosmith concert and bumped into a girl who looked just like her: Mia, Tyler's daughter from another relationship.
"She handled it incredibly well - like she seems to handle most things,"
"In fact, I think she thought it was rather neat to have two fathers."
To this day, Tyler maintains an appreciative attitude toward her unconventional family.
"I've been lucky to be so loved by everybody,"
she says. She has a kind of exuberant-pal relationship with Steven Tyler. They share clothes and laugh about their
"tiny little chicken legs."
As for Rundgren,
"I can't believe he was that big of person to be my father, when he knew I wasn't his child,"
"We're very close now; it's nice to have that."
They're actually really talented, and they're going on all these auditions, and it's not quite happening. If that had happened to me, I don't think I would have done this. I feel really grateful - and I don't mean that in a cheesy way. But I feel like [acting] found me."
When Liv was about twelve, she and her mother moved to New York City. Two years later, she began modeling, and was so successful that she dropped out of school. At sixteen, having never taken an acting class, she landed her first film role, in Bruce Beresford's psychological thriller Silent Fall. (Her mom was her manager for the first four years of her career.) Acting was just something Liv fell into, but she clearly had a knack.
Maybe it was all those years of loving, and being loved by, such different family types;
She had an uncanny adaptability, a power to intuit what people needed from her, and a profound desire to please.
"It all happened very quickly for me,"
says Tyler of her career.
"I literally got my first part like a month after I had an agent. I have friends that I watch really suffer.
Tyler is a director's girl. She forges deep bonds with her directors, trusts them completely. Altman ?
"He's so cute, Bob,"
"He's so loving and wonderful to me."
"The second we looked into each other's eyes, I just knew - it was an immediate kind of love there."
That trust, and affection, is reciprocated.
"She's just a marvelous actress,"
"Very serious, very prepared, and very professional. I am crazy about her."
And Bertolucci speaks about her with rapture:
"You really souldn't miss the freshness and truth and sincerity in somebody as young as Liv was,"
"Liv Tyler was blossoming in front of the camera."
After lunch, Tyler gather her things toghther and walks out into the New York rain without an umbrella.
She's carrying a little canvas bag with a picture of a fawn on it that she bought for twenty bucks at a flea market ages ago. Her friends keep telling her it's time for a new purse.
"But I love this,"
"When it's dirty, I just throw it in the wash."
She's heading toward the apartment she shares with her fiance, Royston Langdon, the vocalist/bassist for the band Spacehog. Passing a playground, she points out a bright green corkscrew slide.
"I've always wanted to go down that slide,"
she says with a giggle. It's one of those spontaneous, almost too-cute-for-words Liv moments.
How could you not be crazy about her ?