Possessing an unusual beauty marked by perhaps the most distinctive set of lips in the business (an inheritance from father Steven Tyler), Liv Tyler unsurprisingly made her entrance into acting via the world of modeling. Since her breakthrough role in 1996's Stealing Beauty, she has emerged as a performer with bona fide talent, dropping her "model-actress" hyphenate in favor of just "actress."
Born in Portland, ME, on July 1, 1977, to model and former 1970s rock groupie Bebe Buell, Tyler spent most of her youth believing that rocker Todd Rundgren was her father. However, as she grew older, she began to notice more than a passing resemblance between herself and Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler, who was a family friend, and she ultimately discovered that he was indeed her biological father. When she was 12, she took Tyler's last name as her own.
After experiencing obligatory preteen awkwardness -- hers featured braces and a bit of a weight problem -- Tyler had blossomed enough by the time she was 14 to consider modeling. She moved to New York City in the company of her mother and began to pursue a career. After appearing on the covers of magazines like Seventeen and Mirabella, Tyler got her first taste of acting while filming a television commercial. She made her film debut in 1994, as the sister of an autistic boy in Bruce Beresford's Silent Fall, appearing in the mystery alongside Richard Dreyfuss and Linda Hamilton.
Following this fairly auspicious debut, Tyler's next project, 1995's Empire Records, proved a disappointment on both commercial and critical levels. Tyler kept at it, next starring as the unrequited love interest of a reclusive pizza maker (Pruitt Taylor Vince) in James Mangold's Heavy that same year. Her work in the critically hailed film won her wide praise and her career began to take off. Tyler's breakthrough came the following year in Bernardo Bertolucci's Stealing Beauty. Starring as a 19-year-old who comes to Italy to find her father and lose her virginity, she suddenly became Hollywood's new "It" Girl, appearing on magazine covers and as one of People's "50 Most Beautiful" in 1997.
After a lead as one of the titular Abbott sisters in Inventing the Abbotts (1997) and a brief cameo in U-Turn the same year, Tyler stepped into the realm of bloated budgets and even more bloated box-office returns with her role as Bruce Willis' daughter and Ben Affleck's girlfriend in Armageddon (1998). The following year, she returned to the art house circuit with Robert Altman's Cookie's Fortune. The film was widely praised, as was its ensemble cast, which included Tyler, Glenn Close, Julianne Moore, Charles S. Dutton, Chris O'Donnell, and Ned Beatty. The same year, Tyler lent her talents to the 18th century road movie genre, starring opposite Robert Carlyle and Jonny Lee Miller in Plunkett and Macleane. She also had a leading role as the object of Ralph Fiennes' jaded affections in Martha Fiennes' Onegin, which premiered at the Toronto Film Festival.
After taking the role of an irresistibly destructive seductress in the 2001 comedy One Night at McCool's, Tyler took another trip back in time, this time putting her pixyish beauty to ideal use as Arwen, an elf faced with the daunting dilemma of choosing between love and immortality in director Peter Jackson's grandiose, three-film adaptation of J.R.R. Tolken's Lord of the Rings.
She was the love interest for Benn Affleck in Kevin Smith's Jersey Girl. In 2007 she stretched her dramatic range in Mike Binder's Reign Over Me, and the next year played the love interest of Dr. Banner in The Incredible Hulk, and also took the lead in the home-invasion thriller The Strangers. She was the love interest for a frustrated wannabe superhero in James Gunn's Super in 2010, and the next year she had a major part in the thriller The Ledge. ~ Rebecca Flint Marx, Rovi