Starstyle June 2002

Enchanting Russian

Milla Jovovich (27). Just arrived in the States from Kiev, she begins a modelling career as a 13-year old girl. She quickly discovers her real passion is on the silver screen. Although you canít choose all of your colleagues here either...


Some lives can be called turbulent. Such is Milla Jovovichís life. As an 11-year old she emigrates with her parents from Kiev to Sacramento. Father Jovovich, a respected pediatrician, suspects America offers him and his family a better future than depressing Russia. And apparently he seems to have foresight... Once in the States, Millaís pretty appearance is quickly discovered by a model agency. Merely a child, she poses for the world-famous photographer Herb Ritts at just 13 years of age. This series, which is published in a French fashion magazine, arranges the immediate Ďarrivťeí of the inexperienced model. Still, playing a model is not the ultimate goal in life for the still extremely young little Russian. Nearly a year later she makes the switch to the movie business. She makes her debut in í88 in Two Moon Junction as the younger sister of Sherilyn Fenn and we see her back in í91 in Return to the Blue Lagoon, a movie that flops big time but does give her a big name. After that she makes a short trip towards music (Milla doesnít sing without merit and she even made her own album), but a real breakthrough does not occur. Back to square one: make a movie now and then and do a LOT of modelling. Her career as a Ďpretty faceí pays off. Milla becomes the cover-model of CK, sparkles on hundreds of glossy covers of leading fashion magazines and signs a desirable contract with cosmetics-giant LíOrťal. The private life of Jovovich is also not quiet. In í93 she marries for the first time, but that marriage is annulled after just one year. In í97 she tries again: with Luc Besson. The Fifth Element - a movie he directs and in which she plays - is a success, but the same canít be said about their love. In í99 the couple has split up and leaves Milla a little bit embittered. She takes the horror-path. In Resident Evil (the movie based on the computer game of the same name, which will be released soon in Dutch cinemas) we see how Jovovich battles with a bunch of zombies. When an experiment in a laboratory fails and all the researchers get infected by a world-threatening virus and turn into zombies, the battle with evil begins. The task of suppressing the virus - and the zombies - before it contaminates the rest of the world falls to leading characters Milla Jovovich and Michelle Rodriguez. Of course the couple succeeds by saving the world with kickboxing. Yeah! And while Millaís newest movie may be a horror, it is still a wonderful product to amuse you.

Starstyle: I heard you want to make a documentary about conversations between you and your therapist?
Yes, I want to go into therapy. Not because Iím confused, but so I can film it. Iím fascinated by documentaries in which life stories are the essence. It seems wonderful to me to tell a therapist about my life and my inner feelings and then make an impressive documentary about it.

Recently you finished shooting Resident Evil. The movie is a Ďhorrorí. Werenít you afraid that the extreme would take over the movie?
The interesting thing about this movie is the fact its subject indeed looks extreme, but its point of departure isnít that far from reality as itís practiced by a lot of independent genetic research laboratories. Just look at the covers of big magazines before September 11 last year... almost all of them were about genetics, cloning and things like that. It really appealed to me that this movie is about things that seem unbelievable, but in reality they are close to what is already possible.

I understand that almost the entire cast really went crazy during the pub-crawls you held during shooting in Germany?
I didnít completely misbehave, you know. At least, compared to the rest of the crew. I mean, some guys... they really went out of their minds. They arrived at the set next morning, fell asleep and puked on the floor. But of course Iím not going to tell you who they were, ha ha.

Did your co-star Michelle Rodriguez also go pretty low?
You didnít get that from me.

Michelle said she taught you everything about being vulgar, and you taught her everything about class. Is that correct?
Thatís nice of her. I was actually wondering why she acted so stylish lately. I really thought: did you really listen to me when I was trying to teach you something? Before I met Michelle, sometimes I had a feeling I was a bit vulgar, but when I met her, that feeling didnít last very long, ha ha.

She said you are weird, in a good way. Is she also weird?
Come on, do you think Iím weird? This really shows how weird she is, donít you think? But yes, when I was 15, maybe I was also a meaningless kid. Michelle is just a very young girl. But reluctantly I have to admit, she does have the passion and the discipline you need in this business. Even if she partied the whole night, the next day she was at the set on time and gave everything. Even if she was retching all the time. The whole crew had that spirit by the way. Everybody may have gone out for a drink and had a good party, but at the same time we knew what it was all about: making a good movie.

How is your singing career doing?
I wouldnít really call it a career. Music is something I love. I canít live without it. I want to keep it unspoiled and pure and that doesnít really catch on with a big audience. I released a few albums, but itís not the kind of music that catches the entire world. Sometimes my mother says: ďLook at Britney, you can do that too. Look at Jennifer, youíve got legs, youíre also beautiful, you can stand on a stage shaking your body and dancing.Ē But I have no need for that. Donít get me wrong, Jennifer and Britney are great, but I donít have the desire to do music world-wide in a commercial way. I like to have a passion in my life which is mine alone. I write songs I like and thatís about it.

Could you enjoy such extreme stardom as J.Lo has?
I love dancing and I like to wear provocative outfits, so I think I could enjoy an image like that. But on the other hand... Iím a model, and part of my life is already about appearances and my sex-appeal. I donít have the feeling I should do more with that, and especially not with something which is as personal for me as music. Just go into a studio and dutifully sing some words, which are written by a songwriter because he expects it to become a big hit? No, that doesnít appeal to me. And I donít have to do it for the money either. Iím making plenty of money with my contract with LíOreal, so Iím not desperate to work really hard for something I might not like at all.

Talking about liking things: do you still like the modelling?
I love it, it really gives me an enormous spiritual satisfaction to be so concerned with my appearance, ha ha. Anyway, seriously, Iím extremely happy with my LíOreal contract. I can do the commercials and that comes really easily for me. If you asked me to make a choice between modelling and acting, the answer is simple. I rather work on a movie such as Resident Evil 16 hours a day than 12 hours a day on a LíOreal-commercial. But, dear people of LíOreal, I mean no offence because I love you! What I actually mean to say, is that modelling sometimes gives less satisfaction. If I had been a stylist for example, I would like it more. If I was the director of a commercial, perhaps I would feel really comfortable. And even a make-up artist creates something. A model doesnít do that. Iím just standing there standing. Itís not a bad thing to do, you know, but it just doesnít give any deeper satisfaction.

You would rather work really hard at a movie than making loads of money?
I have more energy left after a day of hard work at the movie set than after a long day of work for LíOreal. When Iím working at a movie, after a day of shooting Iím excited about the thinking, the creating, working with people who I like to work with. I am really loaded up then. I come home and I canít sleep and thoughts about the film are still crossing my mind. Iím busy thinking about the next day and how I could do better. During Resident Evil, I was really busy with it 24 hours a day. Sometimes I called the director, Paul Anderson in the middle of the night and said: ďPaul, what do you think of that scene we are going to do tomorrow?Ē We discussed many scenes like that, and I can tell you: I enjoyed it. Iím at my best when I am doing things I like to do. As a model itís different, I canít be the one who I really want to be. Itís just me doing a job. Nothing more and nothing less.

Can you say something about creating Alice, leading character in Resident Evil?
Acting is so challenging because you have to bring a person, whose character is written in black on white, literally to life. After a few years I can say Iím pretty good at that. Even though my latest movies arenít all very good, I know I acted great in them. Itís the same thing with Alice. Iím really happy with the result.

What about the sexual radiation of your character?
You know, I actually have never played a sexy role. OK, maybe in The Fifth Element I looked sexy, all packed, but it wasnít a role that had to be played sexy. And now I was able to be a real sexy girl in a beautiful dress...

You arenít wearing anything in the beginning of your new movie though.
I didnít have any problems with that. This was the first real action/horror movie I ever did and I was prepared to go really far. I thought: I will decide what I feel comfortable with or not after Iíve seen the final product. Surprisingly enough - because I had cut out almost all of the nudity in The Claim - I didnít find it any problem at all with this movie. I really thought: OK, you see my boobs, but what do I care. Itís a movie for 16 and older and we are trying to sell the thing anyway. A man who is going to see this movie expects violence, cursing and sex. And thatís what he gets.

When do you have no problems with nudity in your movies?
What counts for most of the actresses also counts for me: if I donít feel comfortable with it, I donít do it. For Resident Evil by the way, it was not necessary at all for me to go nude. There were really no reasons to do so, but we did it anyway, and thatís good. I love it, all these guys going out of their minds because of some exciting scenes. Itís not that Iím just walking across the screen nude or that Iím taking my top off for a guy as some sort of sex-machine by the way. I put on a dress and you can see my breasts, big deal.

So itís a good movie for lesbians?
Also no problem for me. I love women. I realize more and more now that you can rely on women more than men. Maybe Iím mistaken, but after a series of failed relationships with men, I appreciate women so much more. Female friendships are for an eternity. Again and again after it went wrong with a boyfriend, reluctantly I came back to my friends and said: ďI loved him so much.Ē After which they said: ďBut you said the same thing last time, and the time before that, and the time before that.Ē And then we had a drink and laughed about it. So you know, I hope a lot of woman will also see this movie. Just because we woman are tough in the movie and we break all sorts of impossible barriers, and that is astonishing.

Youíre happy being single for the moment?
Iíll leave that an open question.

Together with Luc Besson you made The Fifth Element and you married him. Did you recently date Paul Anderson?
Excuse me, I donít think we have to talk about that.

Can we expect you in a different movie soon?
No. That might sound a bit blunt, but what I mean is, I want to be home as much as possible right now.

Where do you live now?
In L.A.

Youíre happy there?
I recently bought a house there and Iím happy Iíve found a place where I feel comfortable. Since September 11 some - apart from that horrible assault at the WTC - unpleasant things have happened in my life. A good friend of mine who was a guitarist and who I liked to make music with, recently passed away. And more painful things have happened. It has been a heavy year. So Iím not desperate to live in a different country for four to six months again because some movie has to be shot. Unless itís something I can absolutely not refuse of course. Iím happy things are calm right now. In L.A. I have my family around me, I just got a puppy, I enjoy the divine idleness for a moment.

What kind of puppy do you have by the way?
A Maltese. Her name is Madness. Good name huh?