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A Real Elf

Russian Premiere, February 2003. Scans by Kast, translation by Anya



"It's a bit strange - to talk with a stranger about yourself, and on what you like and don't like, in five minutes", considers Liv Tyler. But she speaks about the role of Arwen from The Two Towers willingly. Probably because she appears to understand Elves very well.

In The Two Towers you play the female elf who falls in love with a human being - Aragorn, who comes from a different world. Is it something close to you ? Was it difficult to portray such love ?
No. I liked portraying it. I mean the depth of the feeling, a role which is driven so much by loyalty and love. It was just overwhelming for me: when Arwen tells Aragorn something important for both of them, she splashes it out from the inside, in such a passionate way! A real expanse for the actor. I didn't manage to portray something so passionate before, with so many determined feelings.

What attracted you to this role ? The power of love ?
Yes. When I read the story of Arwen and Aragorn for the first time, it made me cry. It just turned me upside down. In the book, Arwen dies a short while after Aragorn, because her heart is broken. That is the end of this story. And such fine, refined idea! Arwen goes there, where she met Aragorn for the first time, and waiting for her death. She just lies and waits. And dies of sorrow. In our world, such powerful love is rare. People don't give the slightest chance for such love. But, probably, I think so because when I was a child, my family wasn't such. It is what I dreamt since I was a little kid. Yes, in some aspects I'm very romantic.

But the story of Aragorn and Arwen exists only in appendix of the book. Who possesses the idea to bring it to the foreground of the films - Fran Walsh ? (a scriptwriter of Lord Of The Rings and the wife of Peter Jackson, the director of film) or ? ...
Peter, the director.

What do you think, why did he do that ? Maybe it's only a commercial idea, to increase the amount of female characters ?
No, not at all. He just wanted to show Aragorn as a more real, convincing character. What would be the story if we didn't see this very significant side of Aragorn ? He has grown up with Elrond in Rivendell, he was always connected to Elves, and for that reason that is who he is. He has gone astray, instead of following his destiny and inherit the throne, as he is not ready for that. It is important to see the different sides of a character in order to understand all his doubts and fluctuations. That is possible only with the help of Arwen.

Is it true, that for this role you were voice-trained ?
True. Generally I like to imitate dialects, accents, to speak in other languages. It is cheerful in its own way. I had to speak with a classical British reprimand. I have also portrayed the South-American dialect in Robert Altman's Cookie's Fortune.

But you didn't speak the gibberish language of Elves before. Was there anything special in it ?
It is a real language, not gibberish, and it has been rather difficult for me. My dialect coach was literally on duty on the set. And if I was saying even one sound incorrectly, she would correct me and I should repeat it with the correct pronunciation. It was very serious. And sometimes nervously hard for me. Especially, when couple of days prior to the shootings they thought: "Oh, let's make it in Elvish!". By the way, the favorite joke of Viggo (imitating voice of Viggo Mortensen, who portrayed Aragorn's role, and laughing): "Please, let's play this scene in Elvish". Traitor! He knew perfectly well, that the one who should speak more in this language was me! (Laughs). But it was impossible to concentrate only on language. If I only spoke Elvish perfectly, it wouldn't mean anything. You know, it was necessary to play in Elvish as if I play in English.

Wait, If Viggo said "Let's play so and so" it means all film-making process was quite democratic ?
Certainly. Completely democratic.

Do you think it is OK ? You see, in the making of a film they drop so many different ideas at once ...
But at cinema it's always that way. I mean, it is a natural part of working with actors, and in the case of Lord Of The Rings it was especially appreciable. We, all the actors, had our own sights about our characters, and they were welcome. For example, I could get hooked on some ideas from the book and decide that they bring something new to my character and tell the director: "Can we change it ?" Viggo did that too, and quite frequently. We were covered with an amazing feeling of freedom as the scriptwriters and the director were open for actors' co-authorship, so to speak.

But it also means that the group had a lot of time.
I wouldn't say so. I can assure you, that one and a half years for shooting such three films is not a lot of time.

You have worked with the classic director Robert Altman in Cookie's Fortune. Now you are going to play in Jersey Girl by the well-known Kevin Smith. Peter Jackson is the director with his own special style as well.
All directors, as well as people in general, are different. The most characteristic one is Altman, his production looks like this: he collects a set of people in a group, acquaints with an affair - say, "You know that we are here shooting a cinema", - then sits in an armchair and looks at the event. And he always likes your ideas, in the sense that he really does love actors. He doesn't waste time on breaking you in order to achieve what he wants. I think he really likes to observe people. He collects the group with an insight of what exactly these people will bring by themselves, something curious. And wonderfully, everything occurs in that way. Nothing it is supervised, but then I've also found out: all was under control. And Peter on the contrary. Holds a hand on pulse of each trifle, enters into all details and observes all. He knows precisely what he wants, and what should appear on the screen as a result. It seems to me that the film is already shot in his head long before the shootings actually starts.

In The Two Towers you have very emotional scenes, for example, when you start to cry.
Oh, torture. (smiles) Just torture.

And what happens when you should start crying on the set ?
I try to put myself in a head of the character. To get out of my own body. To be lost in the one whom I should become. In this case it was not difficult, because I have lived with Arwen one and a half years.

The original scans (in Russian):