Allure June 1999

Coming Clean
Milky white clothes, minimal makeup - that's the coolest way to dress for summer. Here, actress Milla Jovovich slips into something light.

By Jeffries Blackerby - Photographed by Peggy Sirota

Don't think of Milla Jovovich as just another model turned actress. Though the 23-year-old star of films like The Fifth Element, He Got Game, and this November's Joan of Arc once came perilously close to supermodel-dom, she kept her sights on Hollywood. "Modeling was never a priority," Jovovich says. "I was always taking acting classes." In fact, she believes that most successful models have made it because they never wanted to be models in the first place. "With acting, you have to work and practice. With modeling it's the opposite. You shouldn't care. You should just act blasé and go to parties."

If that logic sounds slightly screwy, consider Jovovich's own experience. "When I started modeling again at 18 [after a few years off]," she says, "people said, 'She's too commercial. She's passe.'" Then - after Jovovich dated photographer Mario Sorrenti, who shot her in a number of "awesome but strange-looking pictures," as she calls them - "people would say, 'We need someone more normal.'"

Yet it is exactly this ability to go from lovely to intimidating, to look part virgin and part warrior, that led Jovovich to the role of Joan of Arc in Luc Besson's epic new movie version. For such an auspicious turn (Ingrid Bergman and Jean Seberg were two famous Joans), Jovovich learned to ride a horse while sheathed in 50 pounds of armor, endured nine months of knee-deep mud and Hollywood-made rainstorms, and, not least of all, had her hair cropped to a mannish pixie.

"I had the same hair all the men had in the movie," she explains. "This is the shortest my hair has ever been, and the shortest it will ever be."

While Jovovich waits for her hair to grow, her acting career advances steadily (she just wrapped German auteur Wim Wender's latest, The Billion Dollar Hotel). But when asked if she'll ever give up modeling completely, Jovovich plays it safe: "I guess if I could demand $7 million a movie like Cameron Diaz does...."