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Liv Tyler Interview

James Roberts, Virgin.net, April 5th, 2001


For the first time since she shot to fame as Bertolucci's "muse" in Stealing Beauty, Liv Tyler looks set to fulfil her potential. She's currently playing a voluptuous femme fatale in the jaunty thriller One Night At McCool's, and will soon be seen as Arwen, an Elven woman forced to fight, in all three of the Lord Of The Rings movies. Virgin.net caught up with her...

I saw One Night At McCool's the other week...
[Pensively] "Did you like it? Did you laugh?"

[Blustering] "Er, yeah, it was... enjoyable. It seemed to go down well with a lot of people and got a round of applause at the end..."
"How many people were there?"

It was quite a big screening. About 800, at a guess.
"How many? Holy s**t! And people were applauding? You guys [the English] are usually the most cynical of all. You know, it's a funny movie. At the time I took it, I had taken a year off. You know, there aren't that many scripts which are all about a female character. I had that in Stealing Beauty, but most of the scripts I read are all about the guy, and then there's a girlfriend or a wife. It also opened a lot of doors inside me, and I just felt so free. I discovered another part of myself."

Do you mean because your character is very sexy? After all, you're usually quite reticent when it comes to screen sex and nudity...
"Yeah. But a lot of the stuff wasn't in the script - the director [Harald Zwart] came up with it on the spot. Like the car washing scene [in which a wet, soapy
Tyler rubs down an automobile in loving slow-motion]. He suddenly showed me the scene of the woman washing the car in Cool Hand Luke, and I was like 'Oh God, do I have to?'. But I just did it in one take and they put two or three cameras on me. I was more shocked by it when I watched it in slow motion on playback."

But it must take a lot of confidence to act that sexily in front of an entire film crew?
"Oh God, not just confidence. It was really hard because she's so unlike me. I just wouldn't do that, so it was definitely hard to do."

Your timidity may come as a surprise to some, given you're the daughter of Steve Tyler and Bebe Buell, and grew up immersed in the rock'n'roll lifestyle...
"I've always been the way that I am. I'm very private. I'm normal like everyone else. It feels nice and it's exciting if people like me. But then to me it's the job. I live with the real me every day, and I have no illusions about what my real life is compared to that."

So what made you take the part? Even if some of the steam was added later, it must have been clear from the start that your character was a hot prospect?

"Well, you never get to see her as she actually is, you only get to see her through other people's points of view. That's what I liked about it. And I didn't feel she was just doing these manipulative things to hurt people. I felt she completely believed every story she came up with and every scheme she planned. She wasn't malicious, just selfish."

Talking of being manipulative, she does wrap every bloke in the movie round her little finger. Do you really think men are that easy to control?
"No! [Long pause] Well, some of them, maybe, but certainly not the ones I hang out with."

I know you've just finished the back-to-back shoots of the Lord Of The Rings trilogy. What are you up to now?
"Well I've just watched the Oscars! It's so funny to watch everyone's outfits and just be really bitchy!"

Do you think the Academy Awards have credibility?
"I just think it's really funny and entertaining. I mean, I don?t necessarily take them really seriously - I don't even think a lot of really good films get seen. But I don't think that's what it's about.

"I mean, how amazing was Ellen Burstyn in Requiem For A Dream? Especially as she was acting with herself most of the time. I don't understand how a performance like that can't win. I was so affected by that movie that I had to turn it off. I felt as if I was on drugs and my heart was about to leap out of my body."

Your old flame Joaquin Phoenix was up for Best Supporting Actor? Were you cheering him on?
"Yeah, but I didn't think he was gonna win. But did you see him? He was so cute and he was with his mom!"

Are you still friends? "We're really good friends. He's got such a big family and I was so close to them - and still am. Especially one of his sisters, who is one of my best friends."

OK, Oscars aside, what have you been up to these last few weeks? "I'm just here in New York, at home, recovering from the last year of doing Lord Of The Rings. I'm reading lots of scripts but I haven't found anything that I like."

And how was Lord Of The Rings?
"It was really hard, being employed for a year - but also amazing, because I was getting paid the whole time! Also, at least I went back and forth. A lot of the other actors were in
New Zealand for the whole time. I'd come back to New York for two months and just be myself, then go back."

Along with Armageddon, this must be the biggest film you've done by some way...
"I didn't think of it as a big film. It wasn't glamorous. When I did Armageddon, we had sushi for lunch every day, and my trailer was as big as a yacht. A lot of extra money was going towards making everyone feel comfortable and spoiled the whole time. This didn't have that. It was really just the bare essentials."

Have you seen any completed footage yet?

"Peter cut together 35 minutes for us to see before we all left, and I was completely blown away by what I saw. More than anything I was just in shock by how beautiful the performances are. That's the focus. It's the same with the book - the characters are the most important part. Not the effects but the people."

So is it going to be as huge as everyone's expecting?

"I don't know what everyone's expecting, I just know it's going to be an amazing film."