Liv Tyler for “One Night at McCool’s”

It would be fair to say that Liv Tyler is more than just a pretty face. Walking into a room, she remains a luminous presence, with her unusual hand-made blouse, cut off at the shoulders, her one individual earring that extends below the ear, and cigarette daintily in hand. She was courting the press to talk about her new film, the irreverent black comedy One Night at McCool’s in which she plays a ballsy femme fatale who is the object of three men’s desires and fantasies. Tyler is also a fairy in the upcoming Lord of the Rings trilogy. Paul Fischer had a chance to chat to the beautiful 24-year old about her work and recent engagement.

Liv Tyler looks every bit the movie star. Youthful and charmingly playful, she is wearing a strange top that appears to have been loosely strewn on her fair skin. “It was hand made by a friend of mine in New York. It’s pretty unique, don’t you think?” Worn above her jeans, Liv is also sporting a simple earring drooping below her right ear and a subtle diamond engagement ring, though smilingly concedes that there is no firm date for the wedding. Gushing over her fiancĂ©, Brit rocker Royston Langdon, Tyler cheerfully describes him simply as “beautiful and from Leeds in England.” The couple had known each other for about 6 years, having met just through mutual friends. “I ALWAYS had a huge crush on him and him on me, and I used to fantasise about him all the time and think about him, but never thought we’d really get together, but we have been together for about three years. I’m madly in love with him and we have a very special relationship and friendship. I couldn’t be happier.” She sounds it.

It is an ironic twist in the life of the ex-model now movie star, that she found love with a musician. Those days of rocking around with two rocker dads didn’t impact on her romantic decisions. Nor did rocker Steve Tyler of Aerosmith try and deter his daughter from marring a rocker. “Even if he did, I wouldn’t be taking advice from my dad anyhow.” Possessing the same, sensual, full-lipped mouth as her famous rock singer father, Tyler initially followed in her mother Bebe Buell’s footsteps and began a modelling career at the age of 14, though she soon soured on that profession. Raised by Buell and rock musician Todd Rundgren, she did not learn the true identity of her biological father until she was 11.

Tyler admits that her unique upbringing resulted in her attaining a conservative streak. “When I grew up, I had 2 dads, a mum, my grandmother and even my aunts at times, so I got all these perspectives. My grandmother is the most successful etiquette consultant in America, my mum is who SHE was and always a strong, outgoing woman, and my dads were different again, so I got to see all these different sides.” Professionally, it was her appearance as a teen siren, along with future star Alicia Silverstone, in Aerosmith’s “Crazy” video in 1994 that really put her on the map. That same year, Tyler made a strong film debut in the unsettling role of a teenager who kills her sexually abusive father and complicit mother when she discovers him molesting her brother and then comes on to her therapist (Richard Dreyfuss) in Bruce Beresford’s “Silent Fall”. She followed with roles in James Mangold’s “Heavy” and in “Empire Records” (both 1995).

6 years later, Tyler’s movie career has gone from strength to strength to strength, though she thrives on being cast in smaller films. Her latest is One Night at McCool’s in which she plays Jewel, the love object of three men (Matt Dillon, John Goodman and Paul Reiser) who all tell their tale of woe sitting around a bar. She avoids discussing the sense of identifying with this manipulative nymphet “because it’s not a question of me identifying with her or not; I’m PLAYING her and so it, and it’s not about me thinking about that. I’m in her head and thinking: I don’t have TIME to think about how I relate to her plus BE her at the same time.”

Tyler says that there were many factors that attributed to her decision to play this sexy, sassy girl. “I loved the idea that you never see her from HER point of view, abut only from the points of view of these three men. It’s all about projection. They’re projecting onto her what they want her to be, and they are fulfilling that place for them and in turn filling something up missing from their lives and that’s making them FEEL somehow.” One cannot help but wonder how she, as an actress, then feels about being cast as the embodiment of male fantasy. “It’s just in the film; it’s not the embodiment of ALL men. It’s just this film and it’s a comedy, taken to the extreme, and most men have fantasies like that.” As to Jewel, who comes across as being tough and manipulative, Tyler defends her as akin to someone with “a dream in their lives, some goal, something about themselves they want to change or something that’s unattainable that they CAN’T have; she’s just willing to do extreme things to fulfil HER dream. Plus she’s not all there. I always saw her as being a bit bipolar, and that she always believed all the lies and schemes she was coming up with. She wasn’t just being malicious and manipulative; for HER, she made them her truth.”

On screen, Tyler loves to be different and audiences continue to get a different taste of the accomplished young star. Resisting big-time Hollywood, Tyler will next grace our screens in the much-anticipated Lord of the Rings, describing the experience as being “great but long.” She spent 18-months in the climatically diverse New Zealand shooting Peter Jackson’s ambitious epic. “It’s very hard to talk about in a few short minutes because it was so much you know?” But Liv has seen some of the film and shares some thoughts. “Peter was very sweet and smart. He screened some footage twice. Once from the beginning, like halfway through and then once at the very end just one everyone needed that little push to get through to the last month or two and he showed us 35 cut minutes. It was such a beautiful thing to see. We were all like crying and clapping and standing up, feeling so inspired when we saw it, because everyone worked so hard on it.”

As for Tyler’s OWN dreams and fantasies, the actress returns to her musical heritage and love of music. “When I was a kid all I ever wanted to be was a singer, because of my parents. I still love to sing. I feel hesitant about saying it because people will always twist it around whenever I say I love music or want to sing, because they go: So when’s your album coming out? It’s not about that. While Jewel’s dream is to have a house, maybe music is MY hidden fantasy, you know what I mean?”.