The elf Arwen Undómiel in the Lord of the Rings trilogy was originally a fighter, but the casting of Liv Tyler in the role gave it a different direction.
Liv Tyler was recovering from a nasty food disorder when we met at New York’s Regency Hotel. Simply dressed in a dark top and jeans, the beautiful actress, back on screen in this month’s latest and much-anticipated Lord of the Rings chapter, admitted to having spent the last month "being totally exhausted." Not from making a movie or even doing press to promote it, but being a girl and shopping.
"I’ve been desperately spending this last month trying to find four outfits to wear to the different premieres of The Two Towers", Tyler explains. "It’s hard work, it really is. I don’t like stylists but I do need someone to help me make the phone calls but I know EXACTLY what I want to wear."
Asked where she plans on getting these clothes, Tyler merely says that she’s "lucky to have some wonderful personal relationships with certain people and I go to them because I know that they know my body and they’ll make me something so I can rely on them."
Such is the life of one of Hollywood’s most glamorous stars, and being famous, she explains, imposes different pressures when it comes to the latest cinematic instalment of the Tolkien classic. Reminding her when we talked about Rings 1 last year, she indicated that would feature more prominently in The Two Towers and that promise was not met, Tyler’s own disappointment is evident.
"A lot of times what has happened to me in that situation, is that, because I’m probably more famous, people tend to put a lot more pressure on me to say: 'Oh your part’s a lot smaller and will it be bigger in the next one? I always just say to them: 'I’m playing this part who is not the lead in the film, but she’s consistently there throughout - so it is what it is,'" she explains, somewhat defensively. "I mean people want me to say that it’s going to be more, but that’s hard for me sometimes because I really don’t know what to say to them."
What we can say is that Liv’s Elf, Arwen Undómiel, is still in love with Aragorn, as she faces some serious choices. But beyond that of many subplots, in this second chapter in the J.R.R. Tolkien saga, the hobbits Frodo and Sam brave terrible dangers in an attempt to have the evil ring destroyed, while Aragorn, Legolas and their allies strive to rescue the abducted hobbits Pippin and Merry from the clutches of evil. The great wizard Gandalf also makes his miraculous return to aid in the struggle against the united towers of Saruman and Sauron. For Tyler, speaking of her own character’s journey, the best is yet to come when the final chapter, Return of the King, hits theatres in a year’s time.
"But don’t expect that movie to become all about me", she insists, laughing. Despite her reservations about being involved in the epic trilogy, the 25-year old Tyler relished the chance to play the ethereal Arwen, but adds that her experience on the Rings trilogy was different to that of her fellow cast members.
Change of character
"When I went down to New Zealand originally, it was to play a totally different character, in that the character that was originally written in the script was much more present in the journey with the Fellowship and was not the character that she was in the book," says Tyler. The actress recalls that she was in New Zealand for a long time preparing for fight sequences "and the more I did that stuff, the further away we were getting from why they cast me, and what was true of Arwan. They realized that and so we went back, looked at the book and the appendix and reshaped the character."
Yet because Arwan was never a consistent character in any of the films, Liv admits that it made it tougher shooting the trilogy on location in New Zealand and so far from home. "It was difficult because of the nature of my character being all over the place. I didn’t go over there to have like three other boys to hang out with like the hobbits, so I tended to feel a little bit of an outsider, which is good, because of the character in a way, for me to go through that," Tyler says.
Being only one of two central female characters in the entire cast, the actress was relieved when Australian actress Miranda Otto arrived on set to shoot her scenes as Éowyn, who features prominently in Two Towers. "When she first arrived I was really excited there was another female actor to hang out with, just to see what her costumes were like if nothing else, as well as just watch her act because I love observing people."
Itchy ear remedy
Having worked for over a year in New Zealand on an epic, the actress went out of her way to look for something distinctive and modern as her next post-Rings film. She found it in Kevin Smith’s upcoming Jersey Girl, which also stars Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez. "On my worst days in New Zealand when I was so uncomfortable and my ears were itching, I would say to myself: I just wish I was doing a scene in a diner where we were just talking. On my first day on Jersey Girl, I was sitting in a diner with Ben Affleck and just talking."
Tyler has no other professional plans but is looking forward to "spending the holidays with my family which is really the most important thing for me". That includes fiancé of almost two years Roy Langdon, a musician with the Leeds band Spacehog. Unwilling to disclose if she has even set a date for the wedding, Tyler will only admit the obvious "that we’re still engaged and madly in love."
But that frequently asked question is a by-product of Tyler’s fame. The actress admits that she has learned how to play the fame game by keeping it all in perspective, and says. "I don’t live a life where I’m always being taken care of or being driven around." She adds that when not doing publicity, she "spends time with Roy, we would drive up to my country house, go on walks in the woods, cook dinner and hang out with my friends. It’s important for me to do normal things because that’s what I like to do." All that is far removed from the glamorous world of Liv Tyler, movie star!