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Interview with Actress Liv Tyler

by Nobuhiro Hosoki, Hosokinema, July 2011.

This may have come up already, but, I'm just curious to know if it was a coincidence in Super, you played a recovering drug addict who left her husband for someone else, and in this movie, there's similarities there, so was that just a coincidence?
That was a complete coincidence.

And what was it about this particular character in The Ledge that you really responded to?
I actually met with Matthew Chapman, the director, almost four years ago for the first time and read the script and just had never really read anything quite like it before. I was very intrigued by the characters and their flaws and all the things that they were sort of going through. They tried to get the movie made and sort of years later it all came together at the last second and I happened to be friends with Charlie, and one of my best friends was the cinematographer. They all sort of went to make the movie, and I suddenly felt very left out, like oh God, The Ledge, Shana, wait. And then Matthew kind of heard that I was asking about it again and wrote me this beautiful letter saying that I'd always been his vision for this character and would I get on a plane and come to Baton Rouge and make a movie with them? And I packed my bag and kind of left I think four days later, and kind of just jumped off the ledge myself. It was a very small budget, very few days to shoot, and was a lot of material to get done in that short amount of time.

How was it working with Charlie professionally, being that you were already friends?
He's very thoughtful, kind of a standup guy, he's really raised very well, he's English stock, and he is really just a kind of good man. He's very considerate of everyone around him and very hard working and cared a lot about this project and worked for a very long time very closely with Matthew to kind of get this made and all that stuff.

When your first read the script, did you like your part right away?
Yeah, I was very intrigued by her and especially at that time had never played a part like that before.

Are you talking about the duality of the character, like having to repress that wild side of you?
Just the complexities. As a younger woman, I might not have understood them in the way that I kind of, I just also I think the thing that resonated so much with me after having made this film was that this idea that in life we are so quick to judge others, like ‘oh what he's wearing,' or what he believes in, and ‘that's weird,' you know. You have all these thoughts about people, but yet you really have no idea what someone has been through and who they are and life is long and complicated and a lot of things happen and particularly with religion and politics, our beliefs, some people have very strong beliefs, and you might not always understand them, but I recognized in my character and in myself just whatever went on in that month in Louisiana that we are all just trying to cope in life and find a way through good and bad situations. Those beliefs that these characters have, I mean, Evan has the belief that he has, because of loss and pain that he's been through, maybe he's lost a belief in something bigger than himself, cause he's so hurt, and then Patrick's character has the sort of opposite thing, where he's put all his focus and attention and sort of redeeming himself through this religion and I don't know, I found it quite, it changed how I'm, I'm not as quick to judge people in the same kind of way.

It's interesting, the film changed you in some way.
A little bit. Well, it opened my eyes for sure.

When you play someone who's so over the edge, I would think that it stays with you after the film is over, and he said his children, his family helped him get over that, how was that with you, did you keep a character with you?
Yeah, I mean coming home from filming is always intense, not only because of being another person playing a character, because you are working so intensely and nothing else exists in your world but making that movie, so when that's over, you definitely feel a sense of loss or readjustment for sure. And it does take awhile to shed being in that head space of somebody else all the time. It's also really exciting and great to be done with it and move on.

It was such an intense, it's an intense, heavy role, at the end of the day, did you guys just cut up, try to lighten the mood, because it was so intense?
We just didn't have any time because we just had, I think we shot this film in less than a month, so we would work and work and work and work and work, (laughs) and then go home and there was a lot of dialogue and a lot to do each day so we would generally go home and memorize lines and go back to work. I like to go to the bar at the corner and have a whiskey on the rocks when I could and listen to the jukebox which was great, down in the little town of Baton Rouge, but yeah, we didn't do much letting our hair down.

The character has a lot of cool, non-verbal things that you do.
I do? (LOL)

Yeah, you shoot some good looks in this movie, and I was just wondering, does the director tell you about stuff like that or?
It's not that calculated. I mean, I am the character and I'm just observing the situation and so whatever happens, happens. I mean I might have an idea sometimes about something specifically I want to do, look number 31, but generally it's not really that thought out.

You mentioned that you were on a very tight shooting schedule and you didn't have a lot of time to decompress. But without giving away any spoilers, it's a very dramatic, emotional scene in this film, involving your character. What kind of direction did you get to prepare for that, because really there's an emotionally wrenching scene not only to watch, but I'm sure just to play that.
Yeah, actually, to be honest, Matthew and I did not get on that day. I kind of screamed at him, not screamed at him, but I got angry at him at one point of the day. Because the shooting schedule was so tight, I sat bound to a chair with a thing in my mouth, literally for probably about six hours, and didn't get a close up until they said oh, sorry, we have to wrap now, and this day is over, and I had maybe a minute to do all that performance, like imagining him jumping and all these things that happened, and it was so rushed and so not kind of fair in a way to me, and I was really mad about that.

So, you were literally tortured...
Yeah, but I'd spent the whole day kind of, I didn't have to stay like that, I did for Patrick because I wanted to be able to be fully present for him but yeah, it was, making movies this small, when you really don't have a lot of time, it's really hard because at the end of the day, all the creative people want to make the best movie possible, but where the money comes from and the producers, yes they want to make the best movie, but they also want to make the cheapest movie possible. And I don't mean that in a critical way, it just is what it is. Like there's no more money, so when you have hit the 10th hour or 12th hour, there's no such thing as overtime or you have to walk away and it's really hard sometimes because if you didn't get to finish everything that you wanted to or realize everything that you wanted to let it go, was really hard.

What do you think talking about that now in terms of independent films? The fact that, this was made at a super low budget and it's become more affordable for people to make it, cause you started out in blockbuster films and now...
Look at me now. (LOL) I'm on video on demand. No I'm kidding. (LOL)

Do you find films like that more challenging and more striving to keep the art alive?
Well it's interesting because a lot of these films might not get made if they weren't made in that form. And so that's great because a lot of these interesting projects are getting to actually happen which I really enjoy and it was really fun for me to make this and to make Super because I think the last film I had done before that was The Hulk and then I'd taken a year off and I hadn't worked in, it was really interesting to instead of, on The Hulk we could go to double time and triple time and shoot for 24 hours if we wanted to and had sort of all the money in the world to some extent. So to make a movie like this where everyone is in it for the passion of the project in a way, it's kind of thrilling a way too to think, okay, you've got this much money, these people, and this many days. Go. There's a thrill in that, to sort of test yourself in that way and see what you can get done.

As a follow up to that, with The Hulk are you going to at any point be involved in The Avengers movie, or is Marvel going to kill me for asking that?
I don't know, I don't think so, I probably would know about it if I was but I'm not sure. I think, yeah, I can't answer, I kind of know some things, but I can't say.

Did you learn the secret to making the perfect hospital corner working in the hotel?
Again, I didn't have much time to practice that, no, I just kind of winged it. (LOL)

You did a nice job, even if it took an hour.
Thank you. I did want to go there and spend a day with a maid and watch her make a bed, it didn't happen.

What surprised you the most about your dad being on American Idol? Have you had a chance to read his autobiography?
I started to read his autobiography. It's a funny thing reading your parents biography.

I read it. He has great things to say about you.
My mom has a book too and it's just one of those things where you really as a human, want to know more about your parents and want to know the way they see things and things that have happened to them, but as a child of, there's certain things that, maybe ignorance is bliss, it's a complicated experience kind of reading a book like that about your parents.

But most people don't get the opportunity to read a book about their parents.
Yeah.

What surprised you the most about him being on American Idol?
I can't say it surprised me. I mean, he surprises me all the time, just as a person. I find him magical and crazy and I honestly, the biggest feeling I've had about that whole thing is I just feel so proud of him as a person, because as a family we had a really rough couple of years and it was not easy and he pulled himself out of a really hard place and really worked hard at it and I know it wasn't easy for him and for Idol to kind of come up and present itself and for him to be brave enough to take that experience and at his age to do something completely new and different and he was ready for it and I just see him really happy right now. Really filled with light and it's so sweet to see the world kind of discover his personality for the first time, cause that's the part that I know so well, and it's been amazing because people know his music. But I didn't even know that people know that part of him, so yeah.

Did you see this one part in a sense that you were cheating on your husband, when it's always the other way around.
I never thought of it like that. I didn't have that thought once. Did you have that thought?

Of course. (laughter) What's coming up for you?
I'm not sure what movie I'm going to make, I just have not been so focused on making movies in the past couple of years, because I've been through a lot of personal stuff, not like a lot of personal stuff, I've been through, and with my son I mean we went to LA and then we moved back, and he just started Kindergarten this year. And I didn't even read a script honestly for about six months, cause I didn't want to be tempted to go away and work and I knew that I couldn't leave him and had to get used to being a parent of a kid in school and create some stability for him so just now, I'm starting to really focus and read a lot, and I have a couple of things that I'm attached to that I'm hoping, I'm just not sure exactly what's happening.