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Liv on Happenings
Article at Happenings magazine

by Karen Butler, Happenings, March 2004.

Actress Liv Tyler says starring in Kevin Smith's contemporary comedy 'Jersey Girl' was a welcome change after five years of working on 'The Lord of the Rings' trilogy.

"I loved everything that we were doing (on 'The Lord of the Rings') but I did long for a sort of goofy, laid-back acting experience," the 26-year-old former model said. "And I would dream, 'Wouldn't it be nice to be firing off dialogue with somebody in a diner scene?' I actually kept thinking that! And them on my first day at work on 'Jersey Girl', there I was, sitting in a diner."

'Jersey Girl' is a heart-warming, hilarious movie that reunites Tyler with her 'Armageddon' co-star Ben Affleck, a frequent Smith collaborator. 'Jersey Girl' is the first of Smith's six films to address adult themes like family, work and marriage, and also his only film to date that does not feature appearances by foul-mouthed character Jay (Jason Mewes) and his 'hetero-life mate' Silent Bob (Smith).

In the film, Affleck plays Ollie, a single dad and widower, who loses his high-profile job in Manhattan, moves into the New Jersey home of his grumpy father (Carlin) and takes a blue-collar job working for the town of Highlands. Tyler plays his love interest Maya, a bubbly graduate student who works in the local video store and befriends Gertie, his adorable 8-year-old daughter (Raquel Castro).

"I was used to three hours of hair and makeup, and wigs and ears and costumes, and I was speaking with an English accent," explained the actress who played elvish princess Arwen in 'The Lord of the Rings'.

"There were so many elements outside of myself that made that character. So, suddenly when I was just being kind of normal, contemporary girl without all those things, I felt so vulnerable and didn't really know what to do at first," she continued. "It took me a little while to adjust. Also, with 'The Lord of the Rings', a lot of things were done in post-production, so I'd act things out on a blue screen and they would air-brush me, and add things in and so that feeling of always knowing that I could trust Peter (Jackson) and that what I was doing right then and there wasn't necessarily what was going to go into the movie to suddenly, of course, in this, it's just what you're doing then and there."

Asked if she was surprised by what departure 'Jersey Girl' is from Smith's previous works, the daughter of Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler admitted she wasn't 'hugely familiar' with Smith's work before she read his latest script.

"I had seen 'Dogma' and 'Chasing Amy', but I was kind of just more intrigued because people love Kevin so much," she said. "Even my agent was like 'Oh, my God! There's this new Kevin Smith film and they've offered you the part!' So, I was really just sort of intrigued and I guess I definitely was surprised because it wasn't exactly what I would have expected."

"I found the script to be really moving and I was really touched by it and I just initially thought. 'Wow! What a brilliant part this is for Ben!' I thought it would be a really good part for him," Tyler recalled, adding that working with Affleck again after six years was a great experience.

"It was really nice to work with friends," she noted. "You've already gone past that sort of initial nerves and fear and it just made it great for us to just sort of dive into everything. It's interesting because out of all the actors I've worked with. I feel particularly comfortable with Ben, like we have some sort of special chemistry. I don't even know what chemistry means or where it comes from, but it feels really natural for us to act together."

Another reason Tyler took the job was because the liked bow intelligent, direct and interesting her character, Maya was. "I just really liked the fact that she was well-rounded and wasn't just the stereotypical romantic-comedy character," she said.

One of the film's most memorable scenes features Tyler, Affleck, Carlin and Castro singing a show-stopping song from the grisly musical 'Sweeney Todd', for family night at Gertie's Catholic elementary school.

"The first thing we ever did was we all sort of got in a room together and we rehearsed it with this guy... and we couldn't stop laughing, and we recorded it in a recording studio before we ever acted it out, which was sort of bizarre because I was just sitting in a room with Kevin with these headphones on being totally over the top," said Tyler, who confessed she would love to appear in a full-blown musical. "It was really fun. It was really a good way to break the ice for all of us."

So, did working with a cutie-pie like Castro awaken any of Tyler's maternal instincts? The newly married actress, who works with the children's charity UNICEF, said "no", but that is only because she has dreamed her entire life of having her own family.

"I adore kids," she said. "I've always (wanted kids). I can remember being six years old and knowing I wanted kids and a family. I'm definitely looking forward to having a family, I don't have any kind of master plan. I'm definitely enjoying working right now. I'm really enjoying being married and I'm looking forward to having kids in the next couple of years, but not tomorrow."

Tyler said her generally level-headed decisions and thirst for stable family life have come as something as a surprise to her parents, particularly her hell-raising rocker dad. "In a way, my dad is always more surprised by me and the decisions he was making at my age were horrible. He always says to me: 'Where did you come from? Who are you?' But I've really learned a lot from the mistakes that they've made and they really paved the way for so many people, and I really admire that. I still, to this day, go to see mu father play and I can't believe how beautiful and amazing and talented he is."

Asked to elaborate on what it is about her lifestyle that shocks her dad, Tyler replied, "I've been a pretty consistent working woman since I was about 14 years old."

"And I've never been particularly rebellious and I'm married and I love my husband and I have a home. I'm just sort of establishing building blocks and creating a foundation for my life," she said.

Born in Manhattan, but raised by her mother in Maine for most of her childhood. Liv Tyler began her career as a model when she was 14 and launched her acting career in the mid- to late-1990s with a string of acclaimed performances in films including 'Stealing Beauty', 'That Thing you Do!' and "Inventing the Abbotts'. After working steadily for several years. Tyler took a bit of a break before signing on to join the cast of 'The Lord of the Rings'. As 'Jersey Girl' seems to be catapulting her back into the limelight, Tyler said she is trying not to take celebrity and all its highs and lows to seriously.

"It's such an up-and-down roller coaster, the whole celebrity thing," she noted. "And all the feelings that come along with that of having a lot of people pay attention to you, then not pay attention to you and like you and not like you and, absolutely, that affects your feelings and makes you feel insecure at times, that's just natural. I think as a performer of any kind, those are natural feelings. Even at my most successful. I think I might not ever work again."

"But I just try to keep working," she added. "And I also try to enjoy my life during those times and try and not worry too much during those times."



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