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A Charmed Liv

Josh Rottenberg, InStyle, February 2004



Right at home on the rugged Wyoming range, the hottest elf in movies (sorry, Will Ferrell) bonds with buffalo, dishes about her eccentric family and brand-new marriage, and reveals her secret for how to succeed in show business ... without really trying

"Can we just take a moment and digest where we are ?" Liv Tyler asks, a coke in one hand, a glass of tequila in the other. "In the middle of nowhere in the mountains ? This is so incredible!" Where we are, exactly, is Jackson Hole, Wyo., at a place called the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar, a Wild West-theme drinking establishment with antique spurs and arrowheads displayed in glass cases, and sad songs about whiskey and heartache on the jukebox. Tyler is on her second (or is it third ?) round, but you can't attribute her excitement to just a light buzz or the heady effects of the high altitude. The thing is, she seems to find a lot of stuff incredible. In fact, Tyler uses the word to describe everything from her current favorite rock band, The Kings of Leon, to a documentary on Native Americans that she watched the night before on the Discovery Channel. Her capacity for exuberance is infectious and kind of, well, incredible. You'd have to have a heart of concrete to not want to be having as much fun right now, in this very moment, as she looks to be having.

That Tyler is still going this strong this late in the day is impressive in itself. The actress, who is thousands of miles away from her new husband, British musician Royston Langdon, 31, and their home in New York City, woke up at 4:30 this morning so she could spend the entire day standing ourside in the freezing Rocky Mountain air getting her photo taken. If Tyler were the kind of star who demands round-the-clock, climate-controlled pampering, this might have been a terrible hardship. Instead, it was a veritable joy. "I was sitting in a chair in the snow, wearing a Cavalli dress, and the sun was rising over these huge snowcapped mountains," she says, her ice-blue eyes brightening again, as if she's calling up some favorite childhood Christmas memory. "It was zero degrees. There were buffalo running around! And elk! It was incredible."

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At the moment, Tyler is sitting, cowgirl style, at the bar - in place of regular stools, this place has leather saddles on posts. It's close to impossible to sit on one of them and not look ridiculous, like Billy Crystal in City Slickers, but Tyler, in a thermal top and jeans, her hair casually tossed up, is game to try. "I don't know if I could go on a date like this though," she says, clutching the bar for support and laughing. "I feel vulnerable."

At 26, Tyler is riding as high as ever in Hollywood. Her role as Arwen, the immortal elf princess who falls in love with Viggo Mortensen's Aragorn in the blockbuster Lord of the Rings trilogy, has cemented her status in the top ranks of under-30 movie actresses. Tyler returns to a more earthly part in the upcoming Jersey Girl, as a video store clerk who helps Ben Affleck move on and find love again after the death of his wife (Jennifer Lopez). Topping it off, the actress, an ardent fan of high fashion, was recently hired to become the face of legendary French design house Givenchy, a role once filled by Audrey Hepburn. "I feel hungrier than I ever have to find work I'm really passionate about," Tyler says. "I feel like I've been holding a lot in for a long time, and I'm ready to let it out."

Tyler has taken an unconventional route to stardom. On the heels of her breakthrough role at age 19 in Bernardo Bertolucci's 1996 film Stealing Beauty, many predicted that the leggy ingenue with the pillowy lips would be on the fast track to becoming America's Sweetheart. But with the exception of the big-budget asteroid flick Armageddon, Tyler has charted a quirkier course, favoring movies like Inventing the Abbotts and independent films such as Cookie's Fortune over glossier fare. She has never taken an acting class, doesn't like to rehearse, and squirms at the idea of taking schmozzy Hollywood meetings. "My career has never been a calculated thing," she says. "I wouldn't know how to live like that. I just follow my heart."
"Liv has a really strong sense of self," says her Lord of the Rings co-star and fellow elf Orlando Bloom. "She does what she does because she loves it. There's no ulterior motive in it. She's very pure like that."

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Tyler never even planned to be an actress. When she was growing up in Maine, New York and Washington, D.C., she says, "my mother always used to tell me I was such a drama queen and I was going to be an actress. And I was like, 'Really ? I want to be a singer!' I would rock out in my bedroom to Janis Joplin and Motley Crue."
Tyler's not just a rock fan or a rock wife - she rocks by birthright. Her mother, Bebe Buell, is a singer and former Playboy model who dated Mick Jagger and Rod Stewart. Throughout Liv's childhood, she thought her father was rocker Todd Rundgren. It wasn't until she was about 9, when Buell introduced her to Aerosmith lead singer Steven Tyler at a concert, that she learned he was her real biological father, the source of those famous lips. "I had no idea who he was at first," she remembers, laughing. "My mom pointed at this man standing at the bar, and I said, 'Oh, my God, is that Mick Jagger's son ?'"

Having grown up seeing "so many kinds of relationships," Tyler says she initially wasn't sure she wanted to get married. "I knew I wanted love in my life, but I didn't really believe in marriage in a lot of ways, because I don't believe in divorce," she says. "But as soon as I met Roy, I thought about it. You just know when he's the one." After five years together, Langdon (formerly of alternative rock group Spacehog), whom she'd met through friend Summer Phoenix, proposed. "He was very romantic about it," she says. "He called my dad and asked his permission, which my dad loved." Tyler and Langdon took their time planning their dream wedding. "Roy and I are very shy people in a lot of ways," Tyler says, "so the most important thing for us was that it was really intimate." They decided to have two weddings: a tiny candlelit ceremony last March at a beach house in Barbados and, a month later, a bigger one for about 100 guests in New York, at which friends and family, including Tyler's parents, Langdon's brother Antony, and singer Evan Dando, took turns singing.
"It was an incredible experience because my mother, Todd and Steven had never been in a room together before, and Todd and Steven had never met," Tyler says. "I have really close relationships with all of them, but together they have a lot of unresolved feelings. I'm a Cancer, and I always want everybody to be happy, so it was hard for me. But in the end it was beautiful and a nice healing moment for all of our families."

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With the nuptials behind them, Tyler and Langdon turned their full attention to the arduous renovation of a four-story town-house in Manhattan. "It was a totla fixer-upper," she says. "Like that Tom Hanks movie, The Money Pit. You think it's going to be done, and then ...." She trails off with a let's-not-even-go-there eye roll.
"When you think of Liv, you think glamour, but she's really not a glamour girl," says Jersey Girl director and writer Kevin Smith. "Her big concerns during production were things like whether or not to get a washer and dryer in her new house - not really the stuff you talk about with glamour-pusses."

Tyler has always envisioned having a big family. "My whole life, I've been like, 'I want to have five kids!'" she says. "I can't wait. I mother everybody anyway." For now, she's content being mom to a puppy she and Langdon recently bought, a cavalier King Charles spaniel they named Neal.
Tyler drains the last of her drink and reaches inside her shirt to adjust her bra. "Sorry," she says with an unselfconscious giggle. "I have a tag situation going on." Outside the Cowboy Bar, night is falling, but Tyler is getting her third wind. The last item on her day's agenda is to buy a pair of Ugg boots to take back home. "Shopping!" she says excitedly. "Fashion!"

She slips her long arms into the sleeves of her red down parka and prepares to head out into the frigid mountain air again. "Are you drunk yet ?" she asks. "I'm a little tipsy. Being out in the wilderness all day ...." She lets out a high, breathy sigh. "It's been a good day." Incredible, you could say.


Editor's Note:
Imagine having a 4:30 A.M. call for a photo shoot on the open range outside Jackson Hole, Wyo., with temperatures near freezing. Most of us would make a bee-line for the Chap Stick - if not the snooze butoon. Yet somehow our cover girl made it all look easy (and gorgeous). By the end of her first trip to the Equality State, Tyler was sending cards to family and friends on the East Coast praising the great outdoors. "She looked like she belonged," says photographer Ruven Afanador, thus giving the term "ice princess" a new (and improved) meaning. -Suzanne Zuckerman InStyle - February 2004