Liv Tyler on Being Beauty to the Hulk's Beast
Liv Tyler as Betty Ross in Marvel/Universal's The Incredible Hulk
It's not easy being green.
That message is, in a nutshell, what drew Liv Tyler to The Incredible Hulk. Sure, she longed to work with Edward Norton, who plays the temper-tantruming super hero. And she was keen on appearing in a contemporary action film.
But for Tyler, the biggest draw was making a movie about one of pop culture's biggest misfits.
"Before we started I went back and watched the television show, which was always one of my favorite things," says Tyler while doing press for The Strangers, her current film.
"My mom and I used to watch it all the time. I would say that the essence of the series for me was the image of that lone figure of Bruce Banner walking down the street with his little backpack, hitchhiking.
"He was always the misunderstood hero having to move from one town to another. That's the feeling we capture in the movie. The story isn't the same as the TV series but we capture the overall feeling."
Directed by The Transporter's Louis Leterrier, The Incredible Hulk revolves around Dr. Bruce Banner's mad rush to find a cure for his gamma radiation overdose. In addition to worrying about the safety of his gal pal Betty Ross (Tyler), he has to stay one step ahead of Betty's father, General Thunderbolt Ross (William Hurt), who wants to exploit Banner's powers for evil.
As if that wasn't time-consuming enough, the not-so-jolly green giant also finds himself faced with Emil Blonsky (Tim Roth), a solider who transforms into the Abomination.
When Tyler was offered the role of Betty Ross, she had to sign on the dotted line before even getting a gander at the script. "When I finally read the script, it was really well written," she says. "Edward wrote a really great part for me. I'm a scientist, which I know is unbelievable. But I had a lot of good things to do. So it was exciting."
As superhero watchers know, Ol' Green Eyes has been attracting Hollywood's attention almost as soon as he made his 1962 Marvel Comics debut. A TV series, which starred Bill Bixby as Dr. Banner and Lou Ferrigno as the Hulk, ran from 1978 to 1982. And then there was the 2003 blockbuster-wannabe, which starred Eric Bana as Banner/The Hulk. Directed by Ang Lee, the film was anything but incredible, flopping with critics and audiences alike.
It's no wonder Tyler didn't bother looking back at the earlier flick, which featured Jennifer Connelly as Betty Ross. "The story is completely different," she insists. "There's nothing really similar about the plot, or the characters, in a lot of ways."
Strangely enough, the new edition of The Incredible Hulk has been beset with its own share of problems, which Tyler does her best to downplay.
Norton (who co-wrote the movie with Zak Penn) had a beef with Marvel Comics over the length and feel of the film. He wanted it long and character-driven; they wanted it shorter and more action-packed. Marvel won the match, and is releasing the brisker version of the film.
"It's really not a big deal," insists Tyler, 30. "There really isn't much gossip about it. [The release version] is still the same movie we shot so there's nothing really crazily different about it."
Apparently, the disagreement between Norton and Marvel took place in the editing room, long after the film had wrapped production. The actual shooting of The Incredible Hulk was, according to Tyler, awash in good vibrations.
"This was a real collaboration for everyone" she says. "Edward wrote the screenplay and [Marvel] agreed to his story and he was very involved, as we all were. It was a real collaboration the whole time."
As for how Hulk differs from the smaller-budgeted films she's done, Tyler says, "There was a lot more stuff to blow up and more time to take doing it."