Interview with Liv Tyler And Director Harald Zwart
One Night at McCool's
By Ross Anthony

Director Harald Zwart, a relative unknown, walks through the halls of the Four Seasons hotel in L.A. He jokes to Liv Tyler about his own lack of celebrity, saying out loud what he suspects the reporters aren't asking, "Hey Liv, who's that guy next to you?" But by the looks of "McCool's" (his first feature), I wouldn't be surprised if this Norwegian director of commercials and music videos finds a place for his onomatopoeia-like name among respected moviemakers worldwide.

On Things American:

HZ: Ever since I was a kid, I admired American movies. I wasn't too crazy about Norwegian movies. I read Mad Magazine and tried to consume everything that had to do with America. Then coming here I was just fascinated, I loved how the fire engines looked, and the American trucks, and how the toothpaste tastes. When it came to the production design of the movie, I said I want to see lots of mailboxes and American dumpster trucks.

On "McCool's" and Guys in general:

HZ: Guys have a tendency to categorize woman very quickly. We just see either somebody who's very horny - all right then, I just want to sleep with her, I don't need to talk to her. [Or] Then you see somebody who you talk to forever and ever and you don't necessarily think that she's horny. But the funny thing about women is that they can be both or a lot more than that. When we cast the movie it was very important to find a woman who my wife was as crazy about as I was ... just naturally wonderful. That woman would respond to as much as men. Matt Dillon is the most normal guy in there, I do understand John Goodman the most with that heart and that longing. I had that happen to me too, but fortunately I married her otherwise I'd be as sick & as crazy as him. I do have some aspects of Paul Reiser as well, but not the kinky ones.

On Filmmaking:

HZ: I've done more commercials than music videos. The great thing about commercials is that you know who's who and know exactly what you want to do that day. But on a movie like this you have to be spontaneous ... I always wanted to do a big ass action adventure Indiana Jones, Men in Black kind of thing.

On Michael Douglas:

HZ: He's very good at keeping those hats separate. He was a producer for weeks before he came on the set as an actor. He just made that really easy for me. As a producer he's very supportive and motivating he doesn't necessarily believe in micromanagement. He knew that he'd hired me for a reason, so he just wanted that out of me. He was an actor when he was an actor. He was very good about that.

RA: What major changes from the original script did you make in this film?

HZ: The very first script had Jewel's own point of view in it. That was one of the first things I took out. Because I did not want to know her story, I just wanted to see it through the eyes of the guys. Cause it is not about how we see women, but how these guys see women or a woman. [Also]... when I first read it was a laserdisc not a dvd. That stuff was gone along time ago.

RA: That first third was simply superb, talk about how you worked these P.O.V.'s into the script.

HZ: Thank you. Yeah, a long editing process. Two stories are easy to do, but three stories become a whole lot of logistical problems.

RA: I believe "Supernatural Law" is your next project...

HZ: It's a wonderful project that we're still writing. A great concept.

Based on a comic strip that used to be in a New York Newspaper. About how two lawyers (a "Men in Black" kind of thing) are representing monsters, like werewolves, and all those guys that still live among us, but you don't really know that they're there.


Donning a torn-not-scissor-cut, tied-not-sewn shirt, and smoking a cigarette, Liv Tyler, relaxed, easy to smile, gives us the sense that we're just a group of friends talking about a fun project.

LT: Where's everyone from?

RA: Where are you from?

LT: New York. On her dangerously sexy character for "McCool's:"

LT: There's a lot of things I find very interesting about this film and why I wanted to play her. I love the idea that you never see her from her point of view. It's all about projection. They're projecting on to her what they want her to be. ... Not all men have fantasies like that.

Press: Where do you feel the balance between being an empowered woman and just being mean?

LT: I don't know.

Press: In this movie ...

LT: Oh, in the movie (Laughs all around). Well I don't think she's just a malicious mean person, she, like everyone has a goal or dream in their lives and she's just willing to do extreme things to get to that dream. And of course she's not totally all there.

On Acting:

LT: I don't know why I act, I do it because I like it. It found me. When I got offered my first part in "Silent Fall" and I'd only been on two auditions. And then I loved it. And I get paid for it. I'm having a blast. I have great patience and I'm willing to wait for that one [project] to come along. But it's all about the director. I'm not into it being a "great vehicle". The director is everything. I want to be able to trust and be guided by a genius and nothing less than that.

On Harald:

LT: I really liked all his ideas about the character. He loves women, he's just a real woman lover and he had the most beautiful wife. This is Harold's film, all his sense of humor.

On Music:

LT: When I was a kid all I ever wanted to do was sing, because my dad and mom both sing. But it's personal.

On Fiance:

LT: I used to fantasize and think of him all the time, but I never thought... We've been together for almost three years and I'm madly in love with him.

Press: Did your dad ever warn you off on rock ...

LT: No!!! I'm not gonna listen to my dad anyway. I'm really different from my parents in a lot of ways. I'm more the conservative one of the bunch. ...I had two dads and my mom. I got to see all these different kinds of lives.

RA: What kinds of CD's do you have in your music collection?

LT: I've been listening to the new SPACEHOG album over and over again, cause I love it so much. The record comes out on April 10th.

Press: Do you know someone personally?

LT: That's my fiance's band. He plays bass and sings and also writes all the songs.

[Review of McCool's]   [More interviews]

Copyright © 2001. Ross Anthony, currently based in Los Angeles, has scripted and shot documentaries, music videos, and shorts in 35 countries across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. For more reviews visit:

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Last Modified: Wednesday, 17-Mar-2004 15:36:45 PST