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The Real Liv Tyler

by Melissa Thompson, Seventeen, June 1996. Photos by Grey Zisser. Scans by Carly.

With a slew of flicks in the bag, Liv Tyler has a career that's hot, but she couldn’t be more cool out it. Rather than hanging in Hollywood's fast lane, she lays low in New York City by kicking back with her family and collecting clothes.

When Liv Tyler was 5, she wanted to grow up to be a firefighter - that was her idea of excitement. As if her life weren't exciting enough. After all, she practically grew up in trendy New York City clubs and backstage at concerts with her rocker dad. Aerosmith Steven Tyler, and her model-turned-musician mom. Bebe Buell. And never mind that she spent hours jamming on a little plastic guitar and being out rock lyrics into a homemade mike (the wooden tip of her four-poster bed). "Back then, I don't think I really give performing much thought," says Liv. "It was just what you did." But by the time she hit her teens. Liv's fantasies of firefighting, fizzled (surprise, surprise) and she took up modeling, which led to music videos (she was Alicia Silverstone's partner in crime in her dad's 'Crazy' video), which led to acting.

A lot of acting. After her film debut in Silent Fall as a zombie-like killer ("Oh that was so wonderful," she gushes), she made Empire Records, which was about hanging out in a record store ("Oh, eccch," she volunteers). They both bombed at the box office, but that didn't hold back Hollywood producers from casting her in more movies. She has a small film (due out any minute now) called Heavy, opposite Lemonheads sweetie Evan Dando. She stars in this month's Stealing Beauty as a girl who blossoms into a woman when she spends a summer in Italy. And this fall she's in That Thing You Do, a Tom Hanks - directed film about a rock band (costaring How to Make An American Quilt hottie Jonathan Schaech).

"When I got the lead in Stealing Beauty, I thought, Oh, this is very scary," admits Liv. "I kept thinking. An entire movie about this young girl? Why would someone want to come and se me do a whole movie?" Well, let's just say that Liv isn't exactly hard to look at. She's beautiful and sexy, but in an oddball way. Like she's almost perfect, but something in her face suggests she's real, unlike a supermodel whose flawlessness seems unreal. "I was an ugly little girl," says Liv when asked about her looks. "And I still live in her body. I still feel ugly. Everybody has their moments."

Liv ugly? This is the same girl who's taken superhot photos for Rolling Stone, Details and the British magazine The Face. In fact, you'd probably guess that her party rep rivals, say, Drew Barrymore's. But Liv never performed professionally as a child, and she spent plenty of time out of the music world, like in quiet Maine, where she lived for several years. (And it doesn't hurt either that she now lives in New York City with her mom, away from the tension of Tinseltown.) Turns out the sex-kitten photos are more about fantasy than reality. "People think I have this incredible life," she says, "that I am constantly meering guys who want to take me out. But I never see guys - I work all the time. Besides, all men - even if they're 80 years old - are boys! The thing I'll never understand about men is the chase thing. That game is so boring."

So who docs me turn to when she needs a little support? "The women in my family," she explains. "We are all very strong. When I'm sad or down, when I want to lay my head in someone's lap, that's who I go to."

Hear family gal pals, it turns out, also share one of Liv's true passions: shopping. "I'm such a bag lady," she says with a laugh. "I collect lots of crazy stuff, like vintage clothes. I'm so old-fashioned-at least in my mind. If I had my way, I'd wear corsets and gowns everywhere. I just got these beautiful lace-up boots with square toes that are from 1912." Where does her affection for all things vintage come from? "Well," she admits, "I've always loved to play dress-up. I remember wearing my mom's clothes when I was younger and grooving out." Definitely a performer from the beginning Guess you can't argue with genes.



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