Home -> Articles -> I learned morals from 'groupie' mum
I learned morals from 'groupie' mum

by Garth Pearce, The Sun, February 21st 2011

LORD Of The Rings star Liv Tyler, 33, has a mother who also found fame. Singer Bebe Buell, 57, a former Playboy model known for romantic links to a succession of rock stars, lived with musician Todd Rundgren when Liv was born. But Liv was fathered by Steven Tyler, lead singer of American rock band Aerosmith. She now lives in Los Angeles, from where she has filmed big-budget movies such as The Strangers and The Incredible Hulk. Liv has a son, Milo, six, from her marriage to English musician Royston Langdon. They are now separated. Her latest film, thriller The Ledge, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January. Here Liv tells GARTH PEARCE the valuable lessons her mother taught her.

"MY mom taught me to watch out for men. Be careful when they tell you things. She was never a man basher. She just wanted me to be aware of what may be said and done.

My mom had a reputation, which was simply untrue. She was often described as a "rock groupie" but she brought me up carefully, in an old-fashioned way. In fact, she is a very moral person who is in love with music.

We lived in Portland, Maine, which was far away from Hollywood - which I hated at first when I lived there for a time in my late teens. I was brought up to think that Todd Rundgren was my father but was told by my mom, when I was about ten, that it was in fact Steven. It sounds complicated but we never fell out over the situation and we always had a good relationship as I did with Steven, too. My mom was even my manager for a time and was very careful about who I went with and who I met.

I am an old-fashioned woman. I did not go to parties and get off with men. I spent my money on furniture rather than on nights out. I am a sucker for romance. Flowers and champagne or dinner being cooked for me. There was all that talk about a "star being born" at the time of earlier films like That Thing You Do! which was directed by Tom Hanks, and Stealing Beauty (both 1996). But I knew enough to know that was not the case.

If my mother looked at me and told me I look pretty to her, then that is something completely different. The truth is that many of my pictures were airbrushed and even reversed, some times. I know the reality.

On my first big film, Stealing Beauty, I knew the director, Bernardo Bertolucci, was the king of love scenes. He had a scene in which my character loses her virginity, with candlelight and lots of nudity. I thought, for young people, it would be more realistic if it was awkward and fumbled and there were clothes in the way. He was angry at first but after much discussion, he finally did it my way. Thanks to my mom, I felt I had the confidence to make such suggestions. The only way I can speak about virginity is on a personal level and I do not want to do that. It depends on the person. Some girls say: "Oh, I want to get rid of it" as if they have something to throw away and they have set a date. I have also heard stories about women who never have. Sex is a beautiful, wonderful thing but it is all about the right person.

My mom, who influenced such views on life, also helped me in my biggest part, Arwen, in the three Lord Of The Rings films which took three years to make. She had been a big fan of the books when she was a child and gave me copies of them. She said: "You must play this role." When I finally saw the results I was blown away by them. The films were beautiful and incredible and had the mark of director Peter Jackson all over them.

My mom named me after the Swedish actress Liv Ullman. I got to meet her once at the Cannes Film Festival. We took a photograph together and she said: "Send it to Sweden, with just my name on it and I will get it." I loved the thought that you could just mail an envelope, marked "Liv Ullman, Sweden" and she was so well known in her own country that it would find her.

But I have never been so easy with fame myself. I liked New York because everyone moves so quickly and no one really notices. But in Los Angeles it can be terrible. You can be followed in your car and you think you are losing your mind. Or someone will take a photograph of you in the supermarket. How scary is that? I have never just wanted to be in movie after movie. My mom has influenced me to think that personal life is more important than work. That thought has sustained me."