And Liv will play double Oscar winner Glenda Jackson’s younger self in a BBC television adaptation of the novel Elizabeth Is Missing about dementia.
And her father?
He survived. Just. But as a different Stewart Hill from the man who led his men into battle on the morning of July 4, 2009.
We three met again recently around the kitchen table of the Hills’ home in a Derbyshire village.
Liv was back for a brief visit from London. She has never spoken about her family’s trauma and she later described our discussion as feeling like a ‘therapy session’. Often father and daughter were asking questions of each other.
Back in July 2009, Stewart had led a spearhead of the biggest British ground offensive of the Afghan war, codenamed ‘Panther’s Claw’.
His company was to push into an area near Babaji which had been controlled by the Taliban for the previous two years. The aim was to enable locals to vote in the national elections later that summer.
I was embedded with his unit, along with Mail photographer Jamie Wiseman. Stewart cut an impressive figure. Before the operation, he gathered his men and quoted Field Marshal Montgomery: ‘Decision in action, calmness in crisis.’
We spent the first night sleeping in a farmyard before moving to the ‘start line’ for the operation on the other side of an irrigation canal.
As the troops crossed the waterway, Wiseman took a photograph. This was later used by Stewart as the subject of one of his first paintings, which in turn inspired the Turner Prize-winning artist Grayson Perry to interpret it as a tapestry.
The Taliban response was swift. For the rest of a blazing hot day, the troops were hit by ambushes in the dense jungle and small agricultural fields of the ‘green zone’.
But it was not until the light began to fade that casualties occurred. First, an accompanying armoured vehicle was struck by a Taliban rocket. One of Stewart’s soldiers, 18-year-old Private Robbie Laws, was killed instantly.
The vehicle commander lost a leg. A medical evacuation helicopter was called to take the casualties. As Stewart and his company HQ group moved away from the landing zone, another soldier, Lance Corporal David Dennis, 29, of the Light Dragoons, stepped on an enormous improvised explosive device.
The explosion killed Dennis and wounded everyone else in the near vicinity, including Stewart. Two pieces of shrapnel entered his brain, causing irreparable damage.
As he hung between life and death in Afghanistan, his family and friends rallied round at home. Liv recalls being taken strawberry-picking for the day by a friend of her mother’s — a very English response to crisis.
Eventually, Stewart was evacuated to the military wing of a hospital in Birmingham. Though conscious, he had lost large areas of his memory. ‘I thought it was 2001 and Olivia was still 12 months old,’ he recalls.
‘I did not recognise her photograph when they showed it to me. I did not have a nine-year-old daughter as far as I was concerned.
‘Melissa would not allow Olivia to see me until my memory had returned sufficiently to recognise her in the picture.’
The first visit was testing for both father and child. ‘Dad smelled really 'gravelly,' ’ recalls Liv. ‘He still had sand and dust from Afghanistan on his hands. He looked really ill.’
She had been told his memory was bad ‘so I had a list of questions to ask him. The first was 'What is my name?' which he answered correctly. The second was “Who is Homer Simpson’s son?”
‘We had both loved the Simpsons and watched it together. But he couldn’t remember Bart and I thought, 'Oh my God, Daddy’s really sick.' That was a moment of shock!’
They both laugh at the absurdity of the exchange now.
Stewart was well enough to attend his battalion’s medal ceremony at Sandringham that November. But the long-term impairments caused by his head injury were apparent; memory and hearing loss, anger issues, imbalance and a sometimes embarrassing lack of restraint.
‘He has become a social hand grenade,’ Melissa told me at the time.
The next few years were very difficult for the Hill family as Stewart saw the life he had expected to lead fall away and struggled to cope. He felt abandoned by the military.
‘The worst week came the following May,’ he says. ‘I got a phone call to say I was selected for promotion to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. I thought 'Yes! This is my career made, I am back on track.'
‘But that same week I went to Headley Court in Surrey [then the military rehabilitation centre] and saw my care worker.
‘They wanted me to do a presentation on my brain injury. The following morning I was lying crying on my bed because I did not know where to start. My injury was preventing me. And that was that as far as the Army was concerned.’
Liv asks him: ‘And how long did it take you for you to accept that?’
‘Oh, by 2012 when I was medically discharged. I wanted to be out by then,’ says her father.
‘Because you were angry at them?’ she continues.
‘Yes, because I was angry. My life was s***,’ says Stewart.
Liv tells him: ‘The times I remembered you before the injury were very happy times. I was a daddy’s girl growing up and you were often away and that made me sad. Then the dynamic changed. It did not help that when you got the injury you would get angry very quickly.
‘It was challenging. We butted heads. It became a testy relationship because of my age and because of your injury.’
She adds: ‘We still butt heads now, but I have so much respect for what you went through and the recovery. As a family we have learned to communicate.’
Stewart’s epiphany was the discovery of his creative abilities.
In recent years he has appeared in the West End in a play about Afghanistan, directed by Trevor Nunn. He is also a published poet and accomplished landscape and portrait painter. Actor Ray Winstone — whom he met while working on the play and who has supported him — and the Duke of Bedford are among an eclectic range of public figures he has put on canvas.
At the same time, his older daughter — he has an eight-year-old as well — found her own place in the arts world.
Aged 14, she began to attend the Nottingham Actors Studio. At 16, she had her first professional audition — for Three Girls.
‘I only went to gain some audition experience,’ she says. ‘All I knew was they wanted girls who were natural. The performance should be very understated and subtle. Whatever they saw in me was right for the character.’
After the second audition, she was told she had the part of Ruby, one of the three abused girls of the title role. At first, her parents had their reservations because of the subject matter and strong language the part demanded. ‘But we read the script several times and saw it was a story that needed to be told,’ says Stewart.
On set, she had to be accompanied by a chaperone because of her age. During filming, she met the girl she was portraying.
‘She talked about her own experiences as if she was making a cup of tea,’ says Liv. ‘It was so strange and awful it just seemed to have gone over her head.’
The role ‘took me completely out of my bubble from this lovely home in Derbyshire. It was very humbling.’ Three Girls won a host of awards and Liv got a BAFTA nomination for best supporting actress. She took her mum to the ceremony. Within a month of finishing the drama, she was filming the lead role in Jellyfish, which won her more rave reviews and prizes at the Edinburgh International Film Festival and a French film festival.
Then she played a serving girl opposite Charlotte Rampling in the film adaptation of Sarah Waters’s novel The Little Stranger.
That won her a London Critics’ Circle nomination for best young performer. Now she will appear opposite film and theatrical legend Glenda Jackson.
‘I feel incredibly lucky to be working alongside such experienced and talented actors, especially Glenda Jackson,’ she says.
Meanwhile, her father, 48, has achieved a kind of peace. ‘My improvement is through the arts,’ he says. ‘I am the living proof of the generation of new neural pathways. Every day is a little bit better.’
He has a new quote to live by. ‘Theodore Roosevelt said 'comparison is the thief of joy'. I had wasted so much energy comparing myself post injury to my old self, to others who were never injured and to those who have different kinds of injuries.
‘I have stopped doing that. I have to be content with who I have become.’
On the tenth anniversary ‘of the worst day of my life’, he visited Wendy Laws, the mother of Private Robbie Laws, whom he had not seen for several years.
‘I’m told that after I came out of the coma, I would ask how Robbie was and they would say 'he’s dead' and I would start to cry.
‘And the next day I would wake and ask the same question again and the same thing would happen. That went on for several days. I am proud that I cared for my soldiers.
‘In the last few months I have come to feel I am using the 'energies' that were lost by those soldiers who were killed that day.
‘I am using their energy. It would be a dishonour to them if I forgot that.’