Cast & Crew
Liv Tyler

Mr. Showbiz
August 29, 1999

Fantasy Sage Rings Tyler's Bell

Of all the casting reports to leak out about New Line's massive adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, the latest seems bound to evoke the sharpest hue and cry among fans, at least at first blush: Liv Tyler, as, uh, we're not exactly sure who. But you can bet the British fans who were vocally dismayed by the casting of Elijah Wood and Sean Astin as Frodo Baggins and Sam Gamgee, the saga's hobbit heroes, won't like this one bit.

Variety is reporting Tyler has been cast as the "Queen of the Fairies." There are no fairies, per se, in Tolkien's most famous work, and only four prominent female characters. Eowyn, the Lady of Rohan, is merely the niece of a king, and a human to boot. Arwen, the daughter of Elrond of Rivendell, is an elf, and becomes a queen at the very end of the saga, but is also the least-seen character of the four.

That leaves two possibilities: Goldberry, the most fairy-like of the four, the "daughter of the River" and companion of Tom Bombadil; and the Lady Galadriel, a high elf and ruler (though not, strictly speaking, "queen") with the Lord Celeborn of the enchanted woodland realm of Lothlórien. (Forgive us if we're speaking Greek. It will all make sense after you've seen the movies or, better yet, read the books.)

Goldberry is almost entirely incidental to the story, appearing briefly in just two chapters. Galadriel is a figure of far greater significance, and seems the character most likely to be mistaken for the "Queen of the Fairies," so we're thinking that's probably the role Tyler has signed up for.

(There exists, of course, the dismaying possibility that "Queen of the Fairies" is the twisted offspring of that dreaded process by which so many beloved books have become mediocre movies: adaptation. Here's hoping the A-word has been kind to Professor T.'s cherished opus.)

Apparently Tyler's commitment to the scheduled nine-month Rings shoot was jeopardized by her planned involvement in Robert Altman's Dr. T and the Women, but New Line has reportedly arranged for her to take a three-week leave of absence mid-shoot so she can participate in both projects.

The 22-year-old actress, daughter of Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler, was hailed as Hollywood's It Girl in 1996, the year she was the nubile object of Jeremy Irons' repressed affection in Bernardo Bertolucci's Stealing Beauty. She also turned heads that summer as the faithful girlfriend of the leader of the band in Tom Hanks' That Thing You Do!, and made a splash last year playing Armageddon's sole female character of note. She broke into the biz at the tender age of 17 by memorably appearing with Alicia Silverstone in the now-classic music video for Aerosmith's "Crazy."

Production on the three-film shoot is scheduled to kick off in October in New Zealand. In addition to Tyler, the first female to join the production, the actors who've reportedly committed to the project so far are Elijah Wood (Frodo), Sean Astin (Sam), Ian McKellen (Gandalf), Ian Holm (Bilbo), Stuart Townsend (Aragorn), and Christopher Lee (Saruman).

New Line has steadfastly refused to confirm any of the casting reports, explaining that it will make a full and official disclosure, with all due pomp and ceremony, once casting has been completed. New Zealander Peter Jackson is directing all three movies, working from a budget that's most often estimated at around $130 million. He collaborated on the lengthy screenplay adaptation with Fran Walsh, Phillipa Boyens, and Stephen Sinclair.

The first of the three films, The Fellowship of the Ring, has been tentatively scheduled for release at Christmas next year. A lavish, visually striking official Web site for the project has been set up at www.lordoftherings.net.