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- James Roberts Interview -
(Career)

I saw One Night At McCool's the other week...
[Pensively] "Did you like it? Did you laugh?"

[Blustering] "Er, yeah, it was... enjoyable. It seemed to go down well with a lot of people and got a round of applause at the end..."
"How many people were there?"

It was quite a big screening. About 800, at a guess.
"How many? Holy s**t! And people were applauding? You guys [the English] are usually the most cynical of all. You know, it's a funny movie. At the time I took it, I had taken a year off. You know, there aren't that many scripts which are all about a female character. I had that in Stealing Beauty, but most of the scripts I read are all about the guy, and then there's a girlfriend or a wife. It also opened a lot of doors inside me, and I just felt so free. I discovered another part of myself."

Do you mean because your character is very sexy? After all, you're usually quite reticent when it comes to screen sex and nudity...
"Yeah. But a lot of the stuff wasn't in the script - the director [Harald Zwart] came up with it on the spot. Like the car washing scene [in which a wet, soapy Tyler rubs down an automobile in loving slow-motion]. He suddenly showed me the scene of the woman washing the car in Cool Hand Luke, and I was like 'Oh God, do I have to?'. But I just did it in one take and they put two or three cameras on me. I was more shocked by it when I watched it in slow motion on playback."

But it must take a lot of confidence to act that sexily in front of an entire film crew?
"Oh God, not just confidence. It was really hard because she's so unlike me. I just wouldn't do that, so it was definitely hard to do."

Your timidity may come as a surprise to some, given you're the daughter of Steve Tyler and Bebe Buell, and grew up immersed in the rock'n'roll lifestyle...
"I've always been the way that I am. I'm very private. I'm normal like everyone else. It feels nice and it's exciting if people like me. But then to me it's the job. I live with the real me every day, and I have no illusions about what my real life is compared to that."

So what made you take the part? Even if some of the steam was added later, it must have been clear from the start that your character was a hot prospect?
"Well, you never get to see her as she actually is, you only get to see her through other people's points of view. That's what I liked about it. And I didn't feel she was just doing these manipulative things to hurt people. I felt she completely believed every story she came up with and every scheme she planned. She wasn't malicious, just selfish."

Talking of being manipulative, she does wrap every bloke in the movie round her little finger. Do you really think men are that easy to control?
"No! [Long pause] Well, some of them, maybe, but certainly not the ones I hang out with."

I know you've just finished the back-to-back shoots of the Lord Of The Rings trilogy. What are you up to now?
"Well I've just watched the Oscars! It's so funny to watch everyone's outfits and just be really bitchy!"

Do you think the Academy Awards have credibility?
"I just think it's really funny and entertaining. I mean, I don?t necessarily take them really seriously - I don't even think a lot of really good films get seen. But I don't think that's what it's about.

"I mean, how amazing was Ellen Burstyn in Requiem For A Dream? Especially as she was acting with herself most of the time. I don't understand how a performance like that can't win. I was so affected by that movie that I had to turn it off. I felt as if I was on drugs and my heart was about to leap out of my body."

Your old flame Joaquin Phoenix was up for Best Supporting Actor? Were you cheering him on?
"Yeah, but I didn't think he was gonna win. But did you see him? He was so cute and he was with his mom!"

Are you still friends?
"We're really good friends. He's got such a big family and I was so close to them - and still am. Especially one of his sisters, who is one of my best friends."

OK, Oscars aside, what have you been up to these last few weeks?
"I'm just here in New York, at home, recovering from the last year of doing Lord Of The Rings. I'm reading lots of scripts but I haven't found anything that I like."

And how was Lord Of The Rings?
"It was really hard, being employed for a year - but also amazing, because I was getting paid the whole time! Also, at least I went back and forth. A lot of the other actors were in New Zealand for the whole time. I'd come back to New York for two months and just be myself, then go back."

Along with Armageddon, this must be the biggest film you've done by some way...
"I didn't think of it as a big film. It wasn't glamorous. When I did Armageddon, we had sushi for lunch every day, and my trailer was as big as a yacht. A lot of extra money was going towards making everyone feel comfortable and spoiled the whole time. This didn't have that. It was really just the bare essentials."

Have you seen any completed footage yet?
"Peter cut together 35 minutes for us to see before we all left, and I was completely blown away by what I saw. More than anything I was just in shock by how beautiful the performances are. That's the focus. It's the same with the book - the characters are the most important part. Not the effects but the people."

So is it going to be as huge as everyone's expecting?
"I don't know what everyone's expecting, I just know it's going to be an amazing film."

 

- Jane Wollman Rusoff -
(General Conversaton)

How are you today?
I'm in a fog. I've got a cold and feel totally spaced out. I'm not myself. I keep bumping into things and losing my train of thought.

Too much cough medicine?
No, not any. I just feel really, like, ugh, and I'm not letting myself admit I'm sick. I don't want to be sick!

Last time we spoke, you said if you didn't quit smoking by the time you were 25, you'd lock yourself up for a month. Two years to go.
I'm still going to do that. I have to stop. But it's hard! It becomes such a crutch. Like, when I'm doing interviews or if I'm on my computer, I just have to smoke constantly.

What do you do on your computer?
I've got a very fabulous new fluorescent orange space biscuit, which is what I call it. I just mostly send e-mails. I'm pretty retarded on it. But it's nice because I've got so many girlfriends and it's wonderful to be able to write to each other and kind of speak every day, but not on the phone, when we're in faraway places. I prefer having letters. It's nice because it's a bit more old-fashioned as opposed to messages on the phone.

Did you like to play a bad girl like Jewel in One Night at McCool's?
I don't think of characters as good-girl or bad-girl. I think of them as a whole within the story. It's more of an instinct when I read a script. It's a feeling that I have where I want to do this or need to do this. And it depends on the director. To me, that's the most important thing because no matter how good the script, if it's not going to be executed properly by a brilliant director, it's not going to be any good. I've been so spoiled by working with such amazing, talented, maestro-type directors, so there's just no going back.

Did you relate to Jewel at all?
No, not really, actually. It's very hard for me to watch this film, to watch myself be so sexual. Oh, my God, I had my eyes closed for half the movie. I was really being free and trusting of [director] Harald [Zwart]. Jewel is nothing like me, and I had to really let myself go and just try anything. It was a side of me that I'd never really touched before, except for maybe the Aerosmith video I did.

Why is it difficult to access your sexuality?
Because it's not something I have to watch or that I'm that aware of — unless I'm seducing my boyfriend. [Laughs]

So the S&M scene with Paul Reiser must have driven you nuts!
Oh, that I actually enjoyed, strangely enough! That was really funny because I loved Betty Page so much. I would always see those kinds of pinup women in books that my mother had around when I was a kid, and I thought they were so beautiful and camp. So getting dressed up in that outfit was really funny. But I'm a very shy person, actually, in a lot of ways. Often on set I won't have ideas for what I'm going to do when I don't feel really comfortable with something, and it's always shocking when it goes well. Like, I did that [whipping] scene in one take. I was, "What do you mean! I want to do it again!" I think I actually hurt Paul one time, which I felt a bit bad about. I didn't mean to.

You don't know your own strength.
No, I don't, actually. I don't get angry that much, and so when I have to in scenes, sometimes I lose control. I whacked my head once really hard on a Steadicam when I was doing Armageddon in a scene where I had to get really angry. I got completely carried away. But I was fine. I'm really strong. I'm always hitting myself and expecting to see blood, but there's nothing. [Laughs] I'm hardheaded!

The car-washing scene was pretty risqué.
Oh my goodness! I felt like I was on the Playboy Channel. I tried not to laugh in between takes of that. It was really funny to me, squeezing suds over my bosoms. And that scene wasn't in the script. I think that and the S&M scene Harold came up with. And the beer bottle biting-off thing was another. He came to me and said, "I've got this great idea. I want you to bite the top of the beer bottle off with your teeth and spit it out!" It was rigged. Harold said, "It's every guy's dream to see a gorgeous girl walking along and drinking beer." I was, like, "OK!"

You clean toilets in the film. First time?
Oh, no, I've definitely cleaned some toilets before. Don't all kids have to clean toilets? But I don't do that now, though I do dishes and laundry and cook.

You have a washing machine?
No, I have to go down to the basement in the apartment building where I live to do it. It costs quarters. It's such a rip-off. I can't believe it.

Are you, like Jewel, into interior decorating?
I love all that kind of stuff, but I haven't been able to get fully excited about it because I don't have a [permanent] place yet. But I do look at lots of magazines and rip things out. I have lots of ideas.

What style?
Liv's style. I don't know. I like really girly things, really beautiful things. I have kind of mixed taste. I don't like modern. I like things to be really warm, cozy, soft.

What's your father [Steven Tyler] up to?
He's working really hard, and [Aerosmith's] new record is brilliant. He's zipping all over the place doing videos and Super Bowls.

Since your dad is famous for excess, have you ever indulged?
No, I've never had a problem with anything — except cigarettes, but that's about it. I'm not hooked on anything. I like to feel well, and I'm too neurotic! [Laughs] If I drink too much, I'm recovering for a week or two. I feel horrible. I'm really sensitive. If I have too much wine, I wake up with a headache. I'm, like, "Oh God, what have I done!"

I read an article in which your makeup woman was quoted as saying about you, "I only put lipstick, blush, and eye shadow on her …"
Yeah, right! [Laughs] I don't use much base. My skin won't accept really heavy foundation. It won't go on, or else it will eat it up. But I'm hooked on Yves St. Laurent concealer. It's almost invisible and I put it under my eyes and stuff. They have gorgeous old-fashioned gold tubes. And all the lipstick colors are really beautiful. They're brilliant punk rock colors that you can't get anywhere else, like fluorescent pink and really beautiful reds. But I heard they may scrap the whole line and start over. I'm really depressed. That always happens — all my favorite things go out of business. My favorite bubble bath in the whole world, Japanese cherry blossom, the most delicious bubble bath, has been discontinued. My favorite bra just went out of business, and I completely flipped out. I don't know what I'm going to do!

Did your grandmother, Dorothea Johnson, who's an etiquette consultant in Washington, D.C., teach you etiquette as a kid?
Yeah. Just from being around her, I learned some really good skills, too. Like knowing at a really young age where to start with your forks and knives and how to put everything away in resting position and finished position and stuff. These are definitely good things to know.

Does your husband-to-be, Spacehog bassist Royston Langdon, know them too?
Oh, he's got the best manners in the whole world. He's English! He's very polite.

Have you two set a wedding date?
It's private. It's too beautiful for the whole world to know about.

That's very romantic.
I'm a very romantic person.

He certainly has something in common with your father, doesn't he?
He does. They're very cute together.

Is it exciting to be engaged?
Come on! No more! I'm sorry — I'm not trying to deprive you of anything, but it's really beautiful and personal to me, and I don't want to. You know what I mean?

OK, tell me about your role in The Lord of the Rings.
It's been expanded from the books. There's a big appendix at the end with a large chapter about Arwen. Basically, there wasn't enough female presence in a lot of the film, so they took the appendix and used that story and placed it throughout. We shot all three movies at once. It took a year and a half, back and forth to New Zealand.

Is acting scary?
It's terrifying. It's so scary, because you get used to being around the crew and being friendly with everyone and then suddenly, at a certain point, everything switches and you're the one standing behind the lights and nobody's going to help you. And that can be really difficult sometimes. A lot of times, I don't plan what I'm going to do in a scene — that's a really vulnerable place to be. Just to see where something will take you. I do struggle a lot with trying not to be so hard on myself because that makes life painful. I try to experience it as fun and not put so much pressure on myself.

Do you get stage fright?
It depends. Usually when I'm really scared, it's because I don't know if my ability is great enough to pull off what they expect of me. But then it usually goes really smoothly. And I'm, like, "Wow, that was great!" I don't have a problem with stage fright while I'm working, but I do being in public, like going on talk shows or doing press conferences. I'm horrible. I just get really panicked.

What happens?
I'm so fiery already and I've got so much adrenaline all the time that I think when I get nervous, it just overflows. [Laughs] Sometimes I feel like I'm going to pass out. It's hard going on talk shows. I always watch other people on David Letterman and they're speaking out to the audience and to him and all around. But when I get on, I can't look at anyone but him. If I were to turn my head away for a second, I'd die!

What are the advantages of fame?
I was just saying this to Roy the other day. For me, the main advantage of fame is being able to get into really good restaurants whenever you want and not have to wait for weeks or hours. [Laughs] That's, like, the only thing I love about fame. But I don't go out that much. … I don't live a very posh life. I don't have drivers waiting around for me and people doing everything for me. I pretty much just live like a normal person.

Do you want to live a posh life one day?
No. I would if I wanted to. It's not interesting to me. I have a housekeeper, but I don't think it's good to have a life without responsibilities, you know?

If you don't go out much, what do you do?
Hang out at home. In the winter, especially, because I'm just so cold. I like to do stuff in the afternoon and then come home, make dinner, and have home time.

What do you like to cook?
Everything. I love to cook. Sometimes I just ad-lib or I'll taste things and know how to make them because of the way they taste.

Is there anything you'd like to change about yourself?
Everybody has things they're not completely happy with, but you can't snap your fingers and become a perfect person overnight. And how boring we all would be if we were! It's part of life to find those things out about yourself and learn how to deal with them.

What do you see when you look in the mirror?
Liv! [Laughs] I don't usually stare at myself in the mirror. Usually I'm doing something, like brushing my teeth or washing my face or squeezing a spot or covering up a spot with makeup. Everybody sees themselves with a very critical eye.

What annoys you?
Dishonest people. I wish people could be more clear and honest about stuff, because I'm really good at seeing through them when they're trying to tell me things that aren't true, and I hate it.

What music are you listening to these days?
The brilliant new Spacehog record because it's being made before my eyes. I love it so much. I have such a big, wide range of taste in music. I go through different things all the time. An interviewer the other day brought me records by Eartha Kitt, Eydie Gorme, and Julie London. I was really excited to have some new girly music.

DVD or VCR?
I don't have a DVD. I have a laserdisc, but I don't ever use it. I just use a VCR. I haven't gotten into the whole DVD thing because every time I go to the video store, I see that they don't have many movies on DVD.

How do you feel now that you're 23?
Really good. A lot more comfortable in my skin, settling into who I am, and listening to my instincts. I feel really happy. I've never been happier in my whole life. Things are really good for me.

 

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