Thanks to Sharon for this article… In her email, she mentioned that “these are just extracts. It’s an extremely long
article and very little of it is relevant.” There’s still some interesting info below!
A star turn around town
The Dominion – March 11, 2000
“Young she was and yet not so. The braids of her dark
hair were touched by no frost, her white arms and
clear face were flawless and smooth, and the light of
stars was in her bright eyes, grey as a cloudless
night; yet queenly she looked, and thought and
knowledge were in her glance, as of one who has known
many things that the years bring”.
That is how JRR Tolkien describes Frodo Baggins’s
first sight of Arwen, daughter of Elrond, and here I
am sitting right across a cafe table from her.
Or rather from Liv Tyler, who plays her in the film
version of Lord of the Rings, now being filmed in
Of course, at this point, the fact that she is playing
Arwen is pretty much all that Liv Tyler is able to
say publicly about Lord of the Rings, but I can’t
resist quoting that description because, whether
watching her previous films or seeing her here, now,
it’s pretty much clear that Tolkien’s description
could have been written with her in mind.
But there is another fact about Arwen which is
actually more accurate about what’s happening in the
cafe (though I only recall it afterwards). Arwen is
pretty handy with jewel work and right now Liv Tyler
has taken control of my tape recorder and is trying to
get it to work. In a nightmare moment it’s chosen to
break down despite working fine when I checked it
beforehand. It’s a neat moment because it encapsulates
the impression that Liv Tyler makes: straightforward
and unassuming, happy to pitch in. Not about to do the
star turn. And, better yet, something does get the
[bits about her youth, love of music, previous work]
On her Christmas break from Rings, she shot scenes for
Altman’s next film, Dr T and the Women, and says
working with him has been liberating. “Bob always
casts me as the outcast,” she laughs.
The Altman experience also points to an important
facet of Tyler’s career so far, in that she’s usually
been part of very good ensemble casts.
“I think a lot of actors will do movies where they’re
the big star. I’ve never felt the urge to do that.
I’ve felt that I’m doing this because I enjoy it and
continue to be excited by it, and I’m learning from
it. What better way to learn than to work with really
amazing directors and actors? I think that’s really
how I choose my projects.”
Tyler volunteers one thing about The Lord of the Rings
that fits with this. “I’m particularly impressed with
the acting. A lot of times when you think of a genre
of film that’s going to be quite large and have a lot
of special effects, the acting can suffer because of
that. But everyone’s doing such a brilliant job. Peter
Jackson is an amazing director — you feel like he’s
almost acting in the scenes with you. He’s very
present in there”.
Of course, Rings is an extraordinarily long shoot.
It’s had Tyler in Wellington since September last
year, and could keep her in town as late as December.
But despite being a long way from home, Tyler says she
finds Wellington an attractive place to be. “Oh, I’m
really sensitive to my surroundings and I’m just
really blown away by how beautiful it is here every
day. I thik it’s incredibly amazing to be here at all.
And it helps to be working hard because then you don’t
feel as homesick”.
I mention to Tyler that when I’d told people I was
going to be interviewing her many of them seemed to
have a Liv Tyler encounter story. The curious thing
was that they often didn’t realise it was her till
just after she’d gone. Has she become a figure around
“People are incredibly friendly, so it’s hard to tell.
Sometimes i can tell on the weekends when I walk
around, but I think everybody’s pretty used to me by
“But it’s nice being here because I’ve been able to do
things that I wouldn’t normally get to do when I was
at home just because I’d be distracted or life would
be too manic. I’ve been doing lots of watercolours and
pastels and doing lots of things that are really
important to me — to try and have fun, you know?”