by Emma Sloley, Flare Magazine, January 2009, Photographs by Cliff Watts, Scans by Theschnauze
After a roller-coaster year, star and single mom Liv Tyler is forging ahead and living life - her way
What a difference a year can make. The first time I met actor, model and style icon Liv Tyler was in New York City at the end of 2007, where she was greeting fans and press in her role as Givenchy spokesperson. She seemed radiant that day - ebullient - her joyful laugh ready to burst out at any moment. Her life read like a Hollywood fairy tale: a happy marriage to British musician Royston Langdon (of Spacehog); blissful motherhood courtesy of the couple's first child, Milo; and acting career back on track after a short self-imposed hiatus; her lovely face plastered all over the pages of the world's glossy magazines for the blockbuster fragrance Very Irresistible Givenchy.
Fast-forward 12 months. I'm speaking to Tyler again, this time by phone. She's recently moved from New York out to Los Angeles, son and dog in tow. As most readers know, Tyler and her husband announced their separation in May 2008 after five years of marriage, and the woman I talk to today seems subtly different from the one who held court in NYC a year ago. She comes across as quieter, more thoughtful, a touch more world-weary. Somehow more grown-up.
"I'm here for a little while, trying it out," she says of LA. When I ask if she's enjoying the move, she laughs. "Oh, I'm 100 percent truly an East Coaster, in every way. I love New York.". And she seems wistful about what she's missing back home. "I'm sad I'm missing the seasons; fall is my favorite time of year."
The absence of autumnal beauty notwithstanding, it seems part of the impetus for moving was to provide Milo, 4, with the kinds of outdoorsy experiences that are hard to come by in Manhattan. "I've been going with Milo to this beautiful place that's two hours outside of LA," Tyler explains, "where you go kind of fancy camping in these beautiful cabins and tents." I remark that Milo must be thrilled, and she laughs. "My son is hysterical: all he ever says is, 'Mommy, when are we going back to New York?'"
The other reason for the move is so Liv can get back to work. Her most recent roles were in The Incredible Hulk (filmed in Toronto, a city she said she "never wanted to leave") and The Strangers, both of which did good business at the box office last summer.
"I'm ready to start reading scripts and I'm going to meetings and thinking about working again, which I'm, really excited about," she says. "I've not even really read a script in the past few month, I've just been going through a lot of personal stuff and trying to take care of Milo. A lot of changed have been going on and I've been a little distracted."
That's about the closest Tyler will get to discussing the marriage breakup, but it's clearly been a challenging year. She says she's stopped reading magazines over the past few months. She finds the blogosphere and its attendant obsession with the minutiae of celebrity "so disturbing and unhealthy." She's reading more books and has cut back on shopping. "It's been so fun and liberating," she says of the new regimen, "because I don't want to be tied down to all this consumerism and caring what everybody else thinks."
She comes back to a subject she touched on last time we met. "I feel like technology has taken over so much; everybody's always texting and emailing. There's never a time when you can get away from people - they can find you all the time. And everyone need time away."
The evolution of this "it" girl from her first modeling gig at age 14 hasn't been only an emotional one. Her personal style has evolved, too, from quirky bohemian to sophisticated and soigne - a transition that could be attributed partly to her close association with Givechy. (The company even coyly references this change in the campaign for the release of Absolutely Irresistible, the new fragrance for which Tyler is the face: "Today, this adorable star has become a woman" goes the ad copy.)
"I love working with them," Tyler says happily of the iconic French fashion and fragrance house. "They fly me to Paris and I enjoy going to the couture shows. Frenchwomen have a kind of cool edge; they're not decked out in hair and makeup. I like Chalotte Gainsbourg and Lou Doillon and those girls, how they just scrape their hair back into a bun and throw on some wild outfit and a little blush.
I like to see people authentically showing their character."
Although she's no slouch in the style stakes herself (her recent decision to cop her Rapunzel-long dark hair into a tousled shoulder-length bob perfectly captured the beauty zeitgeist), Tyler proclaims she isn't exactly a red-carpet natural. "When I was a kid, the cool people would go to events in their Converse and jeans. There weren't really paparazzi; there wasn't mass interest and consumption. It's kind of fun when you can have a stylist for those big events and someone who can bring you a bunch of options you can try, but I could never be that person who does that all the time."
When I ask in which ways she's changed from that young girl who stole so many hearts in her breakthrough 1996 in Stealing Beauty, she paused before answering. "I feel like I'm always evolving and changing," she says. "Whenever you think you've got it all figured out, life throws you a curveball!" I can almost feel her trying to find the balance between her natural optimism and the fallout from a difficult year, made all the more arduous by being lived out in the public eye.
"Life is so interesting," she says eventually. "When you're young, there's such an innocence. You have plans and dreams and hopes, then you start living those things and there's, you know, losses and sadness and beauty and all there amazing things that happen."
While she breezily admits to "not having all the answers," Tyler also seems determined to stay open to life's myriad possibilities, be that movie projects, new loves or the dream she currently treasures, of one day getting "a farm or something in the country where I could have animals and a garden."
She credits this craving for wholesome country life to her own unconventional upbringing. "I grew up in Maine, and Todd [Rundgren, her stepfather] live in Upstate New York, and my dad [Aerosmith's Steven Tyler] lives in Massachusetts, so I grew up in nature and being outside, and that's really important. I want Milo to have that; I want the best for him. I want him to feel loved and safe and I want him to know his mommy and daddy are always there for him. In life, I think there's only so much planning you can do because you never really know what's going to happen."
Wait a moment more and her optimism (a la Doris Day), which is now steeped in life experience, penetrates the discussion once again: "Whatever will be, will be."