Liv Tyler has just returned from the Cannes Film Festival, and the journey has not been a pleasant one. Paparazzi dogged her at the airport in Nice. In London, the airline lost the reservations for her return flight to California. Then they lost her luggage.
And now, back near San Francisco, she suffers the ultimate indignity: A visiting journalist has shown up for lunch with a bundle of gossipy newspaper clippings, salacious little snippets chockful of rumor and innuendo.
”What’s this?” the actress demands, snatching a particularly lurid item linking her romantically to head Lemonhead Evan Dando. ”Oh, this is stupid. This is scary. You shouldn’t have this.” She shreds the article into dozens of tiny pieces. Then, as if flipping some inner switch, she flashes a smile so brilliantly luminous, so blindingly phosphorescent, it could light Candlestick Park. Such poise. Such grace. Such savvy. Only 18 years old and already she’s playing the press like a Stratocaster.
To millions of MTV-niks around the world she is the slinky schoolgirl who frolicked so fetchingly with Alicia Silverstone in Aerosmith’s 1994 ”Crazy” video. More-plugged-in Liv lovers know that the Tyler in her name comes from father Steven, Aerosmith’s frontman and possibly the only rock star to make Mick Jagger contemplate collagen lip implants. True aficionados might even be aware of her pre-MTV oeuvre, including Silent Fall, a barely released Richard Dreyfuss thriller, and Empire Records, a barely released Gen-X comedy. Bonus points to those who recall her short-lived modeling career, posing for Seventeen and YM.
But this summer, thanks in part to Bernardo Bertolucci’s Stealing Beauty, even those who wouldn’t know a Buzz Bin from a Dustbuster will be learning lots about Liv. A sweet little movie about a virginal young American girl who discovers amore in the tranquil hills of Tuscany, the picture was the hot ticket at Cannes last month — and Tyler was the hot young starlet on the Croisette. Billboards of her visage — her sky blue eyes smoldering, her sumptuous red lips so ripe you could almost pluck them — were plastered on every street corner. Even the surly European press fell in love, nicknaming her Liv Taylor, a nod to another brunet sex bomb who conquered the Riviera so many decades ago.
And Beauty — opening in the U.S. June 14 — is just the beginning. This month, she’s also starring in Heavy, a small indie flick about a bunch of lowlifes at a roadside tavern that premiered at Cannes last year and is only now getting released thanks to the Tyler buzz. This fall, she’ll have a big part in Tom Hanks’ directorial debut, That Thing You Do, a rock & roll romance set in the early ’60s, and a role in Everybody Says I Love You, Woody Allen’s new musical (yes, musical), due in December. And right now, in Petaluma, Calif., about an hour from San Francisco, she’s filming the ’50s drama Inventing the Abbotts, lensed by Circle of Friends director Pat O’Conner. It’s an impressive fleet of films that could turn Tyler into the most talked-about teen actress since, well, since her ”Crazy” pal Silverstone.