THE VIRGINIAN-PILOT Copyright (c) 1996, Landmark Communications, Inc. DATE: Thursday, July 25, 1996 TAG: 9607250030 SECTION: DAILY BREAK PAGE: E1 EDITION: FINAL SOURCE: BY MAL VINCENT, ENTERTAINMENT WRITER LENGTH: 110 lines
THAT FACE! Almond-shaped, blue-green eyes that have reminded critics of the young Ava Gardner. A little-girl demeanor that, at the same time, suggests a seductive woman.
No one cares yet if Liv Tyler can act. They're saying she has a ``poetic presence.'' They're saying she's proof that there is still such a thing as a born ``movie star.''
One minute she's graduating from high school. The next, posters of her face are plastered all over the world.
``It seems as if I'm on the planet Mars,'' Tyler said, settling into a chair at the Essex House Hotel, just off Central Park in New York.
She's currently starring as a 19-year-old virgin in search of her first love, and her father, in ``Stealing Beauty.'' The film was the toast of the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year. So was its star. ``I just wanted to go swimming,'' Tyler said. ``Instead, I had to stay inside and do interviews all day.''
Just 19 herself, the gangly - almost 6 feet tall - Tyler has been on a half dozen magazine covers and will make seven movies during the next two years.
It's been a bit of a shock, Tyler said. She might have become a marine biologist or a rock singer. But a film star and an international beauty?
``I grew up in Maine,'' she said. ``I was a pretty fat girl - hefty - always a tomboy. I have the energy of 20 monkeys, but I still am pretty clumsy. I stumble around on the light cables getting onto the set. They have people watching me to be sure I don't hurt myself.
``Suddenly, they say I'm this beautiful thing. It doesn't really feel normal. They call me Viver at parties. No one really cares that I'm in movies. The only ones who care are new people, people I meet for the first time.''
It's surprising that Tyler is not a wild thing. She is the daughter of Aerosmith lead singer Steven Tyler and Bebe Buell, a former Playboy playmate and rock groupie. She didn't know the identity of her father until she was 10; until then, she thought her father was rocker Todd Rundgren.
``I didn't grow up backstage, or anything like that,'' Tyler said. ``I went to a private school in Maine. The other kids were preppies. My mom used to drive me to school in her jammies. My mom is nuts, nuts in a wonderful way.''
At 14, urged on by family friend and supermodel Paulina Porizkova, Tyler went into modeling. Two years later, she made her first movie, ``Silent Fall,'' a forgettable thriller with Richard Dreyfuss. ``Heavy,'' an art film set amongst barroom lowlifes, is getting a new release because of her fame. She plays a sweet girl who is loved by a pizza cook.
Lip-synching with her father, Tyler made the music video ``Crazy'' in 1994. She and Alicia Silverstone flirt with a nude farm boy. It's a regular on MTV.
``Beauty'' director Bernardo Bertolucci first met his star at an audition in New York.
``I had just about given up on casting `Stealing Beauty,' '' he said. ``But when I saw Liv, I saw a mixture of innocence and lust, wisdom and youth. She looks like a child at times, and then, the next instant, she's a fatale, the femme fatale?''
Tyler admits that she was ``scared, scared out of my wits'' when she met the legendary director, who won an Oscar for ``The Last Emperor'' and helmed the erotic classic ``Last Tango in Paris.'' Her teenage curiosity, though, soon took over.
When she read the script, she called and asked, ``Bernardo, what are you trying to do? Is this exploitation? Was this script written for me?''
``Stealing Beauty'' concerns a young American named Lucy who goes to sunny northern Italy in search of her father's identity. She's also bent upon losing her virginity. With a pop soundtrack, it has become the dating movie of the summer.
``We made her 19 in the movie, because, otherwise, I might have been accused of being a lech,'' Bertolucci said. ``I have been accused of so many things, one more doesn't matter. The truth is that I knew nothing of her family melodrama. The script is entirely a coincidence.''
Tyler says that Lucy is not her. ``She and I are very different. She makes decisions I would never have made.''
Most of Tyler's decisions now revolve around her next film projects. Tom Hanks chose her to star in his directorial debut ``That Thing You Do!,'' about a rock band in 1964 Pennsylvania. He gave her a guitar as an end-of-shoot gift.
``I can only play two songs, `Louie, Louie' and `Wild Thing,' '' Tyler said. ``When I was growing up, I used to sing Iggy Pop songs, but I guess I'm not going to be a rock singer. It's going other ways.''
Her cameo in Woody Allen's musical ``Everybody Says I Love You'' ended up on the cutting room floor. ``It's fine,'' she said. ``I'm glad I got to work with Woody anyway, but I didn't understand what I was doing. In the scene, I was supposed to sit on a park bench, and Woody said, `Just improvise.' I didn't even know who this girl was.''
The day after her round of ``Stealing Beauty'' interviews, Tyler was returning to set of ``Inventing the Abbots.'' Directed by Pat O'Connor, who scored a hit with ``Circle of Friends,'' it involves the clash of two families, one of them very wealthy.
Despite her grownup beauty on screen, Tyler said she feels like a child who isn't allowed out to play.
``I`m like an open wound, the girl on the poster. I never will have any control; I know that,'' she said. ``The important thing for the moment, I guess, is that I not give up any opportunities, but it is just work, work, work. A movie set is not really an exciting place to be.''
She paused for a moment.
``If it all means that I can't have any personal enjoyment in life, I would be terrified. I also would be very pissed off.'' ILLUSTRATION: Color photos
20TH CENTURY FOX
Liv Tyler with Roberto Zibetti, one of her suitors in the stunning
TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX
Liv Tyler stars as a young girl in search of love, and her father,
in ``Stealing Beauty.''
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