Tyler's breakthrough role was in the arthouse film Stealing Beauty (1996), in which she played Lucy Harmon, an innocent, romantic teenager who travels to Tuscany, Italy, intent on losing her virginity. The film received generally mixed reviews, but Tyler's performance was regarded favorably by the critics. Variety wrote: "Tyler is the perfect accomplice. At times sweetly awkward, at others composed and serene, the actress appears to respond effortlessly and intuitively to the camera, creating a rich sense of what Lucy is about that often is not explicit in the dialogue. " Empire noted, "Liv Tyler (here radiantly resembling a ganglier young Ava Gardner) with a rare opportunity to enamour, a break she capitalizes on with composure. " The film was directed by Bernardo Bertolucci, who chose Tyler for the role after meeting with a number of young girls in Los Angeles, including Tyler's music video co-star Alicia Silverstone. Bertolucci said "there was something missing in all of them". He later said that what he saw in Tyler was a gravitas he described as "a New York aura". During promotion of the film, Tyler said she wanted to separate herself from the character during production: "I tried my damnedest not to think of my own situation. But at one point, after a take, I just started to cry and cry. I remembered when I found out about my dad and how we just stared at each other from head to toe taking in every nook and cranny. "
Tyler achieved international recognition as a result of her portrayal of Elf maiden Arwen Undómiel in the Lord of the Rings film trilogy (2001–2003). She has appeared in an eclectic range of films, including the 2004 comedy Jersey Girl , the indie film Lonesome Jim (2005), the drama Reign Over Me (2007) and big-budget studio films such as Armageddon (1998), the home invasion horror film The Strangers (2008) and The Incredible Hulk (2008).
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