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Liv on Hollywood Life
LiVing it Up!

by Michael Fleming, Hollywood Life, March 2004.

Though her reign as elf princess ended with the completion of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Liv Tyler is having trouble shaking herself out of Middle-earth.

Spending much of the last few years in New Zealand shows when she meets me in lower Manhattan and we walk to a bar where she can order a pint of pale ale - even though she's lust begun a post - New Year's diet. Tyler settles on an English cider, which she says is "like beer, but with a kick," and she doesn't miss a beat when we are interrupted by a woman who'd been watching us and waiting for a moment to approach. As she tells Tyler how big a fan she is, the woman leans over and rubs the actress' arm.

"I can't figure out what it is about me, but everybody touches me," Tyler says later. "People come right up and pat me, rub me, pinch me, Is it like I'm some kind of cute puppy to be patted? When they start drinking, they really get going, trying to stroke me, I'm like, what are you doing?"

The 26-year-old Tyler has been touching directors for years. Tyler is model tall, but her beauty is grounded by a sweetness that comes through in her breathy voice. Or the way that, despite being the spokeswoman for tho haute couture house Givenchy, she comes to talk wearing an old salmon-colored overcoat - and Chuck Taylor Converse sneakers that she calls her most reliable wardrobe staple because they don't make her seem intimidatingly tall.

Filmmakers have been hooked on Tyler since the 15-year-old made an audacious video debut in 'Crazy', the Aerosmith hit. it was a song sung by her father, Steven Tyler, who declared himself her dad when Tyler was 10 - she had been raised to believe her dad was another rock frontman, Todd Rundgren. Since then, the lot at directors who've fallen in love with the tall blue-eyed beauty with the generous lips include Bernardo Bertolucci, Robert Altman, Tom Hanks, Peter Jackson and Kevin Smith, who's made her the centerplece of his new film Jersey Girl.

Jersey Girl was the only film Tyler had time to make between Rlngs blockbusters. She also found time to marry longtime rock singer boyfriend Royston Langdon, 31, and buy and renovate an 1861 house in downtown Manhattan. She relishes the chance to be reappraised in a contemporary film and begins work on the Steve Buscemi-directed Lonesome Jim later this year, playing a single mother.

Smith has been arguing since last summer that Jersey Girl is not another Gigli just because Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez are in it. (J.Lo's character dies shortly after the film starts.) The director insists the pivotal role is the one played by Tyler, a woman who tries to heal the grieving young widower and his daughter. It's Tyler's second on-screen romance with Affleck, though Smith said he was hardly looking for an Armageddon reprise.

'I kidded Liv and Ben all the time about their decided lack of chemistry in Armageddon, but there is heat and a freshness between them in Jersey Girl,' Smith says. 'She is sublime and brought something to her performance that wasn't there when I wrote her character. Like the way she put this geeky little chuckle in every time her character delivers these tepid little zinger lines to Ben. It was insanely charming, made you fall in love with her, and though I am happily married, the whole movie I was saying I'd leave my wife for her.

MICHAEL FLEMING: Jersey Girl is your second teaming with Ben Affleck. All the attention has gone to the fact that Jennifer Lopez is in the film, and director Kevin Smith has spent an inordinate amount of time convincing people this is not Gigli 2. Was the Bennifer backlash evident during filming?

LIV TYLER: I'm no Ben and Jen expert. I mention I'm in Jersey Girl and everybody says, 'Give me all the dirt on Ben and Jen.' I'm the worst, I don't know any- thing. I didn't even see Gigli, so I don't know what all the fuss is about. I did Jersey Girl to work with Kevin.

Q: Had Ben changed much? All this Bennifer stuff must have hardened him.

A: When we made Armageddon, he was this skinny Bostonian who had to get in shape and be that sex symbol superhero Michael Bay wanted. I remember him coming to my trailer saying Michael made him stand there while they poured water over his naked torso. And Michael covered my tummy in oil for that animal cracker scene with Ben. It wasn't something either of us was used to. Ben is used to being a movie star now. I enjoy working with him. We have a chemistry that I haven't felt with another actor.

Q: You completed The Lord of the Rings as the most famous blockbuster trilogy princess since Carrie Fisher in Star Wars. Is there more pressure from the heightened fame?

A: I've always been paparazzi'd all over my neighborhood, and you just hope it's not when you're doing something like scooping your dog's poop. They've been there pretty much every vacation my husband and I have ever been on. Except when we got married, which we managed to pull off in complete privacy.

Q: Do you feel you're fair game?

A: Certain things come with the territory. I have no problem when people ask if they can take a picture, ask for an autograph. Lord of the Rings fans are fun because they always ask a question about the movie and there are certain facts I can share. The only pet peeve I have is when people don't ask, they just shove a camera in your face. You could be standing there, picking your nose. It's like you're some zoo animal.

Q: You seemed a surprising choice for an elf princess because you had such a contemporary persona. But you managed to convincingly play a Middle-earth character and made it feel like you existed in a dream.

A: Because of Arwen, most people now see me as a period creature. I've had people say, She's too ethereal for this part, and I say, That's because I was playing an ethereal character, thank you very much. I have to prove again that I'm a young, normal, goofy woman.

Q: What was the hardest thing about that whole experience?

A: Arwen went through so many changes, in the original scripts, Arwen fought with the elves at Helm's Deep. She was along for the whole trip, and there was this love triangle with Aragorn and Eowyn. Peter initially used that love story as a selling point. So I went to New Zealand and spent two months preparing for these very elaborate fight scenes - but didn't shoot them. So I got very frustrated. I'd shoot one day and then wouldn't have anything to do for a couple of months, while Peter tried to figure out what to do with the character. The boys were there every day for a year and a half, and I went back and forth and felt a bit left out. I tried to use that disconnection as a focus for how Arwen would be feeling, because she was out of it, too. I still feel excited when I watch the film, but there were times I thought I couldn't take it anymore.

Q: Was anyone particularly helpful in cheering you up?

A: I spent a lot of time in the makeup trailer with Viggo Mortensen, Orlando Bloom and Bernard Hill. The Hobbits were off in another trailer, which was funny because Elijah Wood was always blasting his music. There was a private door and then a separate room with Ian McKellen in it. Quite a combination - these screaming Hobbits in the front and Ian Holm in the connecting room.

Q: So you bonded with Viggo and Orlando, both of whom are poised to become big stars.

A: Viggo is still a mystery to me, even though we shared the most intimate scenes. He worked all the time, and I only ever had one meal alone with him and that was after the last pickups we did over the summer. Orlando was my first friend because we lived really close to each other in houses along a cliff overlooking the sea in New Zealand. He would swim and surf every day, and we did training camp together, archery and horseback riding.

Q: You found time to get married last year, and buy a house and get a dog. What was the biggest adjustment?

A: There wasn't one, really. We'd been together for five years. We bought this home before we got married and we've been renovating it, restoring it to its original 1861 state. I'd never done anything like that before.

Q: Have you become obsessed with design and decor?

A: I don't know if I'd call it obsessed, but it has been a huge part of my life. Now we have to decorate. Roy is good at making a room feel like home, just by putting down a carpet or moving a chair. I got good at knowing what I wanted with design and architecture. My mother just told me that when I made my first chunk of money from acting, the first thing I did was to go to ABC Carpet and Home on Broadway to buy a lamp and a couch. I was 16, and instead of clothes. I wanted furniture. I guess I have a nesting instinct.

Q: What's more fun: going on the road for rock'n'roll or going on a film location?

A: The music world is way more fun. There's just not as much responsibility. Though Peter is a huge Beatles fan, and he compared our recent two-week world promotional tour to the Beatles'. Every time we landed in an airport, there were thousands of girls screaming for Orlando. It's probably the closest thing to knowing how my dad feels.

Q: Was Roy intimidated, having to impress one of the world's biggest rock stars?

A: Roy hadn't been a huge Aerosmith fan. I started playing the music for him because I find it so inspiring, especially the older stuff. But my dad is not at all intimidating or standoffish. He's warm and friendly and comes right over and hugs and kisses you. He's just like a big kid.

Q: Everyone knows that your mom didn't tell you he was your father for the first decade of your life. Did it take you a long time to feel comfortable with him?

A: I grew up my whole life thinking Todd was my father, and I still have a huge loving bond with him and his family. I have that with Steven, but it's different because I didn't spend my whole life with him. I did feel a connection, though, the second I met him. You hear stories of finding out they're siblings. There's truth to that. I had no idea who he was when I was introduced to him one night after one of Todd's shows in Boston. I was completely mesmerized by him, as he was by me. I was totally moved by him even though I didn't know he was my father. I was only eight years old, just imagine having much strong feelings at that age, to be so taken with someone.

Q: It's obvious you got the generous lips. Did you inherit Steven Tyler's pipes?

A: Well, I love to sing. I love musicals. When I saw Chicago, I was on the edge of my seat the entire time, as if I'd never seen a movie before in my entire life. I've seen it 5,000 times. I remember being a kid and seeing Sweet Charity and Cabaret and being floored. I'm a huge Bob Posse fan. My dream is to be in a musical. My mother used to tell me all the time as a child that I was such a drama queen that I had to be an actor, but I didn't want to be an actor before all this happened; I wanted to be a singer.

Q: You just spent a year in gorgeous New Zealand, but it was for work. What's your favorite place to travel for pleasure?

A: I like to vacation someplace hot like the Caribbean. I grew up in New York and Maine, so being on the beach is very exotic. I've got a major traveling bug right now. Since we got married and bought this house, settled and made this commitment, all I want to do is travel.

Q: You've said in the past that people come at you wanting you to be rail-thin. Is it that big a problem?

A: There is pressure for actresses to be perfect. You get criticized for being too big or too skinny. It is quite unhealthy, and I try not to focus on it. My whole life I've been an 8 or a 10, and that's not a big size at all. I'm 5'10". Most people I know who are that tall are 12 or 14. I only ever go up about five pounds or so, but people write about it like it's something. The one thing everyone asked me about at the Return of the King junket was some report that I'd gained 28 pounds after wrapping the movie. That is so much! I'm exactly the same size as I was when I finished the movie. I exercise, eat really well. I've been really health - conscious my whole life. But I won't do anything unhealthy or have an eating disorder. I'm an actor, not a supermodel.



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