Premiere May 1997

by Amy Brill

Her wide eyes are the color of the Caribbean. Her face has been on magazine covers since she was eleven years old. Milla Jovovich has been bestowed with many gifts, but she's still not easily sated. "Does the chili have red beans?" she aska a hurried waiter over lunch. "Are the peppers peeled? Can I get mozzarella in there?"

Jovovich's knack for stating what she wants has served her well. Case in point: her audition for French director Luc Besson for the female lead in The Fifth Element, opposite Bruce Willis and Gary Oldman. "I said, 'Luc, you don't understand how much I need something like this'", recalls the 21-year-old, who landed the role but will not reveal the details of her character. "I worked like hell: no band practice, no clubs, no pot, nothing." Instead, she spent eight months in acting class and at karate practice.

"Milla has so many weapons in her arms," enthuses Besson. "She can be at the top in a year if she wants." Not bad for an ex-High Times cover firl whose most recent screen highlight was a two-line role in Dazed and Confused.

But she hasn't quit her day job posing for Vogue or her alternate career, recording her own feathery, funky ballads. The day is young, and, lest you forget, so is Milla. "When you're a kid, you're astonished by everything. And then you grow up and get disappointed by things. You lose that magic, that 'Wow!'" says the Russian-born Jovovich, eating mostly with her fingers. "But that's how I felt throughout the shooting [of The Fifth Element]: so alive!" Then she grabs the passing waiter by his sleeve. "Can I get some more cheese on the side?"