Liv Tyler's come a long way since cavorting half-naked with Alicia Silverstone -- at the tender age of 16 -- in her dad Steven Tyler's video "Crazy." Her Aerosmith-fronting father may have given her the leg up in Hollywood, but it's her long career (and, of course, her high-profile portrayal of Elf princess Arwen in The Lord of the Rings trilogy) that makes her famous now, nearly two decades later.
Tyler's recent choices have been a departure from Hobbit-sized productions. She's appeared in two films this year: Super, an indie co-starring Rainn Wilson and Ellen Page, and The Ledge, a philosophical thriller (yes, you read that right) with Sons of Anarchy star Charlie Hunnam -- both movies with smallish budgets and the kind of subtext you won't find in many Hollywood blockbusters.
We spoke to Tyler about The Ledge, an edgy post-religious love letter to morality for morality's sake written by the great-great grandson of Charles Darwin -- as well as American Idol and the increasingly slim chance she'll show up in The Hobbit.
The Ledge is a much smaller movie than some of your earlier choices, like Lord of the Rings. Do you prefer making indies? At the end of the day, making a movie is just making a movie, really. In this case, you're getting a chance to ... get these movies made that wouldn't necessarily be made in the studio system. Throughout my career, I feel like I've always acted purely on my gut as far as the scripts I've responded to.
This might be the first Secular Humanist movie I've ever seen. How much did the theme influence your choice to take this role? I was quite taken with all these different people and the layers of things that they'd been through. What you see is that everyone's clinging on to some sort of belief system to help them cope with their lives. [Writer/director] Matthew Chapman has super strong beliefs, but he did such a great job of showing both sides with such conviction -- and Patrick Wilson is such an incredible actor - I found, when I was sitting there observing them having those discussions, I could understand both sides, personally myself, quite clearly. This was something that I actually met with Matthew about 4 ½ years ago. It kind of came and went -- and then it sort of came together at the last minute. A couple of my friends happened to be working on it and I just thought, "Ya know, I just want to go to Baton Rouge next week! And I want to make this movie - this is an experience I want to have."
At this point, is there any chance of seeing you in The Hobbit? It's so funny you say that, because I actually wrote to my friend Ben, who works at Weta with Richard Taylor really closely. We've been exchanging emails and we're still friends, and I was like "Ben, you have to fill me in on what's going on!" And I feel embarrassed because everybody keeps asking me all these questions, and I was like, "I better call Fran and Phillip and see what's going on." I really don't know anything. At all. Other than I wish I was in them. Bring [my son] Milo to visit New Zealand for a while.
Did you watch your dad on American Idol? I didn't get to watch every single one, but I watched a lot and I went to visit one day -- it was so fun to see the whole thing. It was kind of like a normal movie set. There were three little trailers for them in the back, but then you'd go into that studio and it's this huge, crazy, amazing thing. It's a little bit smaller when you're actually there, but there's an energy and excitement to it that's so real. I was with my girlfriend when that boy – Scotty? The one who won?-when he came out. I was watching and some were really amazing and some were okay, and he walked out and I got goosebumps from my fingers to my toes instantly. He has such a star presence and I didn't even know who he was. I just thought, "Wow, when people say someone has 'it,' or whatever that thing is, he really has that." It was really powerful. I asked so many questions. I was like, "How do they dress themselves? Are there stylists? Do they have to buy all their own wardrobe?" I was really surprised - I think there's a hair and makeup team, but they are responsible for all of that stuff.
Has anyone ever hit on you with a reference to animal crackers? I never remember, really, when people hit on me. I can't ever tell... I don't know! I've definitely gotten a lot of animal cracker jokes in my lifetime, probably as many as I got liver jokes when I was a girl. I get asked to speak Elvish often, though that seems to be dwindling in the past couple of years, but maybe there will be a resurgence.