ethereal elfin princess Arwen in Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings trilogy
could have ended up more a Xena Warrior Princess if Hollywood movie-star Liv Tyler
hadn't put her well pedicured foot down.
actor spent the first four months in New Zealand before filming for The Fellowship
of the Ring even began in fight training, wielding swords and all manner of other
weaponry. Arwen, she says, was initially incorporated as a selling point to the
studio as a sword-fighting adventurer. " I was training with 20 stunt doubles.
We were choreographing entire fight scenes for Arwen where I slaughtered like
20 Uruk-hai at one time. It was really scary for me. I wasn't naturally comfortable
with all that. I was just panicked."
all parties realised the character should be a little more true to the one in
JRR Tolkien's book. "It was a struggle for all of us. It wasn't working for them
and it wasn't working for me. "When we were able to admit that it wasn't working
and we were able to bring her back to what she was in the book that's when the
whole world just opened up for me. "I found it really liberating and exciting.
I felt like I had ... like I had been given a second chance."
Arwen that made it to the screen certainly seems to have got the thumbs-up from
the millions of people that have watched her in the three films. And though Tyler
has starred in many films, including Stealing Beauty and Armageddon, she doesn't
mind if people here have forever pegged as the elfin princess who gave up immortality
"I find it touching. I remember
as a kid thinking of Princess Leia and I won't ever think of Carrie Fisher [as
another character] again." Tyler was teamed up with British actor Orlando Bloom
for a round of press interviews yesterday ahead of tonight's world premiere of
The Return of the King. For Bloom, the chance to play the decidedly cute and rather
clever elf Legolas was beyond any of his wildest dreams and put him in another
The Lord of the Rings is like
the World Cup of film projects, he says. He has since gone on to play alongside
Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean and Brad Pitt in Troy. Add to that three
movies with Viggo Mortensen and that just about covers the biggest leading men
in the business, he says.
scored the role of Legolas straight out of drama school, called director Peter
Jackson "a visionary". "He was just the coolest customer. He kept the ball rolling
at all times but at a really graceful pace, even though often it felt like we
were trying to wrangle a wild horse. "Looking back over the last three films,
it's unbelievable that he achieved that. The dedication and the concentration
and the group effort needed to do that. It's an incredible feat. It really is
Bloom and Tyler - whose
first call on arriving in Wellington this time was to her facialist Margaret Hema
- admit it had been hard committing to four years tripping back and forth between
Europe and the States to New Zealand to complete the film. But what has come along
with that is incredible, Tyler says. And there was no where else in the world
where she could wake up and see her picture as big as it was on the front page
of Friday's Dominion Post. Bloom says he really grew up during his time here.
"It was like a coming of age period for me. It was like I really found myself
in New Zealand."
facialist Margaret Hema has a client list most businesses would die for, and discretion
IT'S a clear summer's day in
1966 and thousands of Wellingtonians are lining the streets hoping to get a glimpse
of visiting American president Lyndon B Johnson. One young woman in the crowd,
dressed in a faux Chanel suit and stiletto heels, is Margaret Hema. To the 20-year-old's
surprise the president's long black car stops right beside her. To her jaw-dropping
amazement, he leans out, takes her hands and places a golden pen from his inside
pocket in them.
The next day the young
woman from Taita was pictured in The Evening Post under the caption "The girl
with the golden hands". It was fate, really, says Hema 37 years later, just a
street away from her encounter with the president. "I have spent my whole life
working with my hands. And Americans have made a significant impact on my business."
Hema is a facialist who can be found
in her small, intimate salon in the labyrinth of rooms above the Harbour City
Centre treating everyone from Liv Tyler to your average Jane on the street. And
when the pixie-like Hema is not using her golden hands to give facials she is
hand mixing her own oils, which are used by Hollywood stars, London models, the
Royal New Zealand Ballet company and many more. But I want some inside gossip.
I want to know about Liv Tyler's pimples, about Elijah Wood's blemishes and Cate
Hema is far too smart
to start spilling the intimate details of her most famous movie star clients who
visit her each time they come to New Zealand for filming of Peter Jackson's The
Lord of the Rings trilogy. The list is impressive, though: Tyler, Wood, Miranda
Otto, Blanchett, Sean Bean, Dominic Monaghan. And then there are the crew and
executives. I don't care about the crew and executives. Tell me about Liv! Tyler
likes to talk during her facial sessions but Hema won't say what about. "Liv is
lovely," Hema says with some emotion and a faraway look. "Liv is extraordinarily
beautiful with what I call old soul presence. That's the only way I can describe
it. Her presence is calm. Her persona is so much wiser and older than her years."
Tyler has asked Hema for products for
her rock star father Steve Tyler. "She said to me, `He [her father] is like you,
Margaret he looks after himself'.' She also said her hairdresser in New York would
love to get his hands on natural products like Hema's for his other famous clients.
Wood, too, is "lovely", she says. He
and the other Rings lads are professional young men "with great eye contact and
humour, warmth and respect". "They always ask about my family and my children
and grandchildren," she says. "Elijah always remembers the last conversation we
had. He always asks me about the family and what I'm up to." Elijah loves her
day cream, she adds confidingly. "I give him two or three pots at a time but then
I sort of back off. My job is done." But what is she thinking when Wood is on
the table looking up at her with those big saucer-sized eyes? She's not saying.
But I know what they are saying about her.
website is crammed with messages from the stars. Wood is complimentary to the
point of being gushy. "Margaret is the most beautifully warm and soulful person
I have ever had the pleasure of being relaxed and pampered by," he writes. "Her
products are as warm and delicious as she is." Whoa! Tyler praises the products
and ends her message with "Thank you for all your warmth and kindness, with love
from your friend." Your friend? These guys sound like they might go shopping together,
drink wine together, share secrets. And keep them too, it appears. She will admit,
though, that the actress took her out to dinner with some of the other stars of
the film last month when she came back for pick-up shots for The Return of the
Long before The Lord of the Rings
stars began using her oils, Hema peddled them to the Royal New Zealand Ballet.
"I remember giving them to Sir Jon Trimmer and all the principal dancers to test
out. I remember sitting on the bus driving past the Opera House on opening night
and I was sweating thinking what if it doesn't work? What a big fool I have made
of myself." But Hema is no fool. The ballet company endorsed the oils and Sir
Jon is a regular user. She makes the dancers little vials of the potion-like oils.
When they run out she collects the vials, washes them out, "fan bakes them", then
returns them full of oil.
Hema is a family-run
business. Son Quentin, an artist on The Lord of the Rings, does the design work
for his mother's products. Older daughter Donyale, who also works on the films,
has researched and promoted the products for years. Her youngest daughter Tamara
promotes them in London. Tamara's mate, London-based facialist Anastasia Achilleos,
whose client list is "too amazing to list" (though we're talking A-list here)
says Hema oils are some of the best she has used. Another friend, Sadie Frost,
wife of actor Jude Law, uses the oils and loves them, Tamara says. Hema began
her career with her golden hands as a Mary Quant consultant in the old DIC building,
now the Harbour City Centre the same building that now houses her studio.
a stint living in Sydney she returned to New Zealand and began giving facials
to friends on an ad-hoc basis. In 1981 she took a course in aromatherapy and in
1983, with the break-up of her 20-year marriage, she returned to Sydney to do
a beauty therapy course. She started her own business back in New Zealand three
years later with $2000. "I couldn't even afford to go in the Yellow Pages." She
was working with all sorts of products but soon began "dipping her fingers in
her own oils". It took a decade to perfect the oils she now sells.
couldn't have done it without the help of Lady Southgate (wife of conductor Sir
William Southgate), who willingly provided her face for Hema to test her products
Fourteen years on and with a client
list (including the loyal Lady Southgate) that must be the envy of any Wellington
business, Hema is still in her eccentric and heady-smelling studio in the Harbour
City Centre. She has fought the urge and the encouragement to expand the business.
For now it works just fine. "I only see three or four people a day so I can keep
the energy up. I don't run it like a supermarket. When I feel tired I just shut
the door." It was never about making a million or courting famous clients, Hema
says. "For me it was about giving the best facials I could, dipping my hands into
my own oils. Anything else is destiny."