Interview : Liv Tyler
Movies.ie, August 2008
Liv Tyler talks about 'The Strangers', returning to 'The Hobbit' and her massive salary.
She made her name back in the mid '90s with Bernardo Bertolucci's Stealing Beauty but Liv Tyler is best known for playing Arwen Evenstar in the Peter Jackson helmed Lord of the Rings trilogy. Since then Motherhood has become Liv's title role, having given birth to son Milo back in 2004. Now, four years later, she's returning to the big screen in horror pic The Strangers. Tyler plays Kristen, wife to James (Scott Speedman). The newly wed couple return to their family's secluded vacation home after attending a friend's wedding reception. There, the pair are confronted with the horrors of a house invasion from three masked strangers, who are clearly there to borrow more than just a cup of sugar.
HERE we talk to Tyler, daughter of Aerosmith's frontman Steven Tyler, about the film, returning to acting and her take on the upcoming Hobbit movies.
What's it like being in a movie where your salary is most of the budget?
"God, that's so not true! Are you serious?"
That's what the director said.
"Well, that's a huge lie. It's not about the budget of a movie. It's about an amazing, wild, wacky collaboration of a bunch of gypsies, making a movie - no matter how big or small. Like I just did The Hulk, and it's the same thing. You know, there was a lot more stuff to blow up, and to take time doing it. But the catering wasn't any better! But it's the same experience no matter how big or small."
What made you want to make a horror movie?
"I read it and I had not worked for a couple of years because I had a baby. I had this stack of scripts and I was just drawn to it. I did not know what kind of movie it was when I picked up the script and I could not put it down again. I just fell in love with it. I know that's a strange thing to say about a horror movie - but I did. I was just riveted - not by the fact it was a scary movie but more by how rare and detailed the relationship was between the couple."
Did you ever feel truly scared in The Strangers? Especially when the bad guys have those freaky masks on?
"Oh yeah. I mean, all the time. Absolutely. That's what is so real about The Strangers. Like you'd be in bed at night trying to relax, and all of a sudden you hear a noise and you go, what was that! And you wonder, are you brave enough to go check or not. Imagine if you went to look, and there's a person in a mask standing in your living room, with a butcher's knife!"
Was it hard acting opposite people wearing masks?
"They did not want us to see them off set without the masks on. I think they came in to the situation and they saw we had been working so hard and they would just hear these noises and this howling, screaming and crying coming from the set. SO by the time they got there they wanted to be really respectful and not bother us. But we were like 'Hey lets have a beer! Get those masks off!'
What did you draw on to play a victim in a horror movie?
"There's a story about my stepfather, Todd Rundgren, that I would often think about. We used to live in Woodstock. Two people broke into his house there in the 1970s. And they tied up him and his girlfriend - who was pregnant with my brother Rex at the time - to a chair. They were held at gunpoint. And I think one of them pistol-whipped Todd, which was horrible. And I don't remember what they did. There was nothing really stolen, and there was no real reason. But things like this happen a lot, you know. And often they are very random. And sometimes there are family members."
As an actress, how do you get ready for the big emotional scenes?
"There were times if I did not feel panicked before a take that I would go for a run. We were in this abandoned warehouse and we would sprint and run for our lives and get out of breath until the point we were almost sick. It was very real. When they did the test screening they had to cut down the ending because it was almost too real and too much for a lot of people. This was, I think for both me and Scott Speedman, hands down the most incredibly challenging but amazing tremendous experience ever. It was physically challenging but also emotionally challenging too. In films like The Incredible Hulk you are really flying on a wire or there is really someone there for you to interact with but in this movie it was just us alone in this house. Getting to that level of fear every day was exhausting."
What other horror movies did you watch to get into the spirit of acting in a movie like The Strangers?
"I watched Rosemary's Baby and Halloween. And then this weird, dodgy movie where the characters get kidnapped and taken to the country, and they're like naked. When I was a kid, I was pretty obsessed with horror movies. It was my favourite thing. But then I remember watching Texas Chainsaw Massacre for the first time and I was like, okay. I'm done with horror movies! It really scared me, so much."
What kind of feedback have you had about the film so far?
"I have a few actor friends who have also read that script and now they come up to me and say 'I cannot go up to my house in the country anymore because every time I do I think of that script. I still cannot get it out of my head. It is that idea where we have that experience all the time of when we are home alone - or with other people - and we hear a noise outside It can happen in the city, in the country, wherever. But in this case it explores what if you hear that noise, get up out of your bed to go and see what it is and you really do see somebody standing there and how you would react to that. I think everybody can relate to that. I think everybody feels scared being alone while walking out to their car at night and the fear that somebody might jump out at them."
Now that you've whetted your appetite, would you do horror again?
"Of course! I would be thrilled to have this experience, equally if not better, again. But life doesn't work that way. Hopefully you just get to choose things that you feel passionately about."
So what's up next for you, and what do you want to do in this business that you haven't done yet?
"Wow...Um, I would love to do a musical. That's like the dream of my whole life. I always wanted to be a singer. Or get to sing! I haven't been able to do that, and I would love to do that."
Any thoughts on The Hobbit? Are you going to be in it?
"It's so funny. I got asked about a few things the other day, and I got so misquoted. The internet today is so bonkers. I don't know much about it, but I'm glad they're finally going to make it. I just can't wait to see it."