Daily Southtown (Chicago) May 9, 1997
Transcribed by Michael P. Hayes
The World's Forgotten Boy ------------------------------ Title: Jovovich Brings Tender Element To Film Authors: Joey Berlin and Jeff Shore (Copley News Service) Milla Jovovich doesn't mind if you think she's a bad person. "Sometimes, depending on what mode I'm in, I might give a bad impression to people," Jovovich says. "Of course, sometimes people meet me and they think I'm the nicest, coolest person in the world." Wearing a strange, frumpy bowl-flip haircut that would only look good on a supermodel like her, Jovovich displays such a surprising sense of confidence and poise it's easy to forget how young she is. But her endearing and flirty giggle, flippant remarks, carefree attitude and propensity to vocalize sound effects ("The drums go boom thump boom thump!") are solid reminders of Jovovich's tender years. Born in 1975 in the Ukraine, Jovovich first found fame for her starring role in "The Return to Blue Lagoon"[sic]. Since then, she has had some work as an actress (most notably a distinctive non-speaking role in "Dazed and Confused") and spent much of her time on fashion show runways and in magazine layouts as a highly paid model. But in her latest screen role as a hyper-intelligent alien in director Luc Besson's stylish mega-budget action film "The Fifth Element", Jovovich hopes to jump-start her acting career. Jovovich clearly took on a staggering challenge in "The Fifth Element." Not only does she have to hold her own opposite screen giants Bruce Willis and Gary Oldman in a $100 million production, but her character is a being from another world with tremendous physical strength and wisdom beyond our comprehension. And she doesn't speak English -- just some bizarre, unique language. To prepare for "The Fifth Element," Jovovich tried to "let go of human habits." She trained in karate, boxing, ballet, gymnastics, weightlifting and even studied with movement coaches. Mentally she was able to "clean out a lot of excess garbage," while physically she learned the finer art of kicking butt. The verbal challenge was even greater. Pushed to tears at times by the confusion of trying to grasp a new, weird language, Jovovich spent four months rehearsing her dialogue. Besson didn't simply make stuff up as he went along -- he wrote an entire dictionary full of words and asked her to memorize it. By the end, Jovovich and Besson were writing notes back and forth in their own private language. It was a far cry from their initial meeting. "I was dressed up," remembers Jovovich. "He thought I was cool, but just too New York-'90s chick. Then, a few months later, I just happened to be at a hotel having breakfast in jeans and a T-shirt. Luc was at the pool chilling out, and I'm like 'Hi, I'm the girl that didn't get the part.' He looked and saw the character for a split second because my hair was everywhere and I looked a little bit like an animal. I wasn't trying to look sophisticated and be something." Now that her "dream role" in "The Fifth Element" is completed, Jovovich isn't sitting around, pining away and waiting for the phone to ring. She's right in the middle of recording her second album, promising something very eclectic. "At this point, it's acoustic bass - guitar - vocal," Jovovich says. "It's a mix between acoustic and hardcore and space and Frank Sinatra and a bit of Edith Piaf and cabaret." With her music career and modeling jobs, Jovovich can afford to be picky about the films she chooses to audition for. "Even if it means I do one filem every few years, I'd rather do that. Particularly after doing something like this, my next film has to be just as great of an experience because I can model to make money." And if anybody doesn't like it, too bad.