Early Life & Migration to America

Milica Jovović was born December 17 1975 in Kiev, Ukraine (then a part of the USSR, which dissolved in 1991, becoming the Russian Federation. Ukraine gained its independence with the dissolution of the USSR) to Serbian pediatrician Bogdanovitch “Bogdan” Jovovich and critically acclaimed Soviet stage actress Galina Loginova Jovovich.

Because to her father’s medical studies in London, much of Milla’s early childhood was spent flying back and forth between England and her hometown Kiev, where her mother resided. However, in 1981, when Milla was a mere five years old, the family fled the Ukraine (USSR) for political reasons and immigrated to the United States in search of the American dream.

Jovovich’s mother had “raised [her] to be a movie star”

And in 1985, enrolled Jovovich in the Professional Actors school in California.

The transition from a Russian to an American culture did not come easy for any of the family members. With Milla’s mother Galina finding it difficult to find employment in the field of acting in the U.S., she worked as a cleaner for among others director Brian de Palma in the Los Angeles area. Simultaneously, Milla was experiencing her own difficulties blending into the Californian society.

She told The Telegraph in August 2007, “I was sent to school with borsch and strange meats. Kids would crowd around and stare at me. It was an alien existence.”
Adding to the family’s troubles, in 1989, only a year after the birth of Milla’s only sibling Marco, Bogdan Jovovich was sentenced to serve jailtime for having been involved in a health-insurance scam, leaving Galina to take care of her children for 20 years to come.

Milla attended public schools in Los Angeles, and became fluent in English in three months (as is common with young children).In school, she was teased by classmates because she had emigrated from the Soviet Union during the Cold War:

“I was called a commie and a Russian spy. I was never, ever, ever accepted into the crowd.”
At age 12, in seventh grade, Milla left school to focus on modeling.She has stated that she was rebellious during her early teens, engaging in drug use, shopping mall vandalism, and credit-card fraud.In 1994, she became a U.S. citizen.

Bogdan Jovovich was not released from prison until 1999. However, despite these early difficulties settling down in America, Milla remains positive about her early life.

She told The Telegraph in 2007, “Prison was good for [my father]. He’s become a much better person. It gave him a chance to stop and think.”

Entering the Modeling Industry

However, the fact remained that with Bogdan’s sentencing, Galina’s cleaning job became the only source of income for the Jovovich family. Struggling to cope with the circumstances, Milla’s mother became determined to make her daughter a star, and the young Milla was soon introduced to the modeling industry. Following her 1986 Revlon “Most Unforgettable Women in the World” advert and an October 1987 cover for Italian fashion magazine, Lei, Milla soon signed her first modeling contract. Milla describes being discovered in the Fall/Winter 2009 issue of Purple Fashion:

Olivier Zahm: Wasn’t it [renowned photographer Richard] Avedon who discovered you?
Milla Jovovich: No, it was Herb Ritts. Actually, it was the photographer Gene Lemuel. […] He took my first test pictures. He showed them to Herb in LA and the next day Herb hired me for the cover of Lei, the Italian magazine. I was 11. Then Avedon hired me for Mademoiselle. There was a big controversy about that. But it all took off from there — I posed for Scavullo, Peter Lindbergh, and all the guys — all when I was 11, 12 and 13.

The controversy Milla refers to here has to do with the Richard Avedon-photographed Revlon ad campaign — and the fact that she was only 11 years old when featured in it. Her appearance in the campaign caused a major discussion and uproar regarding her age, and both Milla, her mother Galina, and photographer Avedon garnered a lot of aggressive right-wing critique. Milla describes the situation to Purple Fashion:

I never posed nude, but it was still controversial. Christian groups harrassed Avedon, claiming he was shooting child pornography. Mademoiselle didn’t want to put me on its cover, but Avedon said if they didn’t he’d never work for them again. He really supportd me in the beginning, really jump-starting my career.
Although at the time very much on the defensive regarding her young age, Milla later reflected on her early modeling years in the January 2006 issue of The Telegraph, citing financial reasons as the primary reason for keeping with modeling — “I’m very against underage modeling. I would never allow my kids to do it. But we were immigrants, we had to work and make it work.” But while she told Purple Fashion in 2009 that she wasn’t very into her work those first years of modeling — “Actually, I didn’t really like the work I did as a child model. I wasn’t into the late-’80s esthetic,” — by the end of the 80’s, Milla was one of the top models in the industry.

Milla for first Lei cover Italy October 1987. Purple Fashion photoshoot 2009. First Herb Ritts 1987 photoshoot

Pursuing a Passion: Acting

However, despite her success in the industry, for Milla modeling was primarily a means to make money, while her passion was elsewhere; in acting. In 1988, Milla made her onscreen debut with appearances in Two Moon Junction, The Night Train to Kathmandu and Paradise respectively, after which the roles began coming in increasing numbers.

In the Zalman King-directed erotic drama Two Moon Junction, Milla appears only by her first name in a small supporting role as Samantha, while that same year appearing as Lily McLeod in The Night Train to Kathmandu, a rarely found made-for-TV movie from director Robert Wiemer. She furthermore made a guest appearance as Katie in a 1988 episode of the 80’s Western drama series, Paradise. These roles were followed by a notable guest appearance as French exchange student Yvette in episode “Fair Exchange” of the popular American sitcom Married with Children in 1989.

Following a guest appearance as Robin Fecknowitz on the teen comedy series Parker Lewis Can’t Lose in 1990, Milla made her first big silver screen appearance as the orphaned Lilli opposite Charmed-star Brian Krause in William A. Graham’s Return to the Blue Lagoon (1991), a sequel to The Blue Lagoon of the 1980s starring Brooke Shields and Christopher Atkins. Regrettably, unlike its predecessor, the film was both a commercial and critical failure.

Return to the Blue Lagoon was followed by supporting roles in Bruce A. Evans’ Kuffs (1992) opposite Christian Slater and Ashley Judd, and Richard Attenborough’s Charlie Chaplin biopic, Chaplin (1992), in which Milla makes a small appearance as Mildred Harris opposite Diane Lane, Robert Downey Jr., Anthony Hopkins and Dan Aykroyd.

Milla describes her first years of acting in the Fall/Winter 2009 issue of Purple Fashion:

I didn’t do much acting when I was young. I wasn’t very good at it. There are very few children who are really good actors. […] I did [study acting], when I was younger, but I didn’t really become an actress until I did The Fifth Element. […] Up until that point, I was more into music. Acting was something that my mom did, something I was always trying to escape.

Pictures from Return to the Blue Lagoon, The Night Train to Kathmandu, Married with Children and Parker Lewis Can’t Lose

Staging a Comeback

Although critically well-received, the fact of The Divine Comedy’s low commercial success posed new financial problems for Milla as she ran into unforeseen debt to her record label. She explained her situation to Oneworld, 1997:

“I am not good with money. I am a Sagittarian. I would sit around bull-shitting with producers for a few hours. That all costs money. It all adds up and nobody bothers to tell me. I took it for granted, that I had freedom but I was paying for it. I ended up getting a big bill from the record company.”
The new financial situation forced Milla to rethink her career choices. She chose to go where she knew the money grew — in modeling.
As she told Purple Fashion, “I had to make a comeback when I was 18! People were saying I was already too old, that I was from the ’80s. I was 18 years old and already a passé ’80s model.”
Only four years later would Milla sign a modeling contract with the prestigious French cosmetics giant L’Oréal, whose spokesmodel she remains to this day, and move on to become one of the highest paid supermodels in the industry (Source: Forbes magazine, 2004).

With her modeling career rebooted, the 19-year-old Milla began to see acting in a new light. Which was when she crossed paths with Luc Besson.

Breakthrough Performance in The Fifth Element

Who would’ve thought that the scantily clad, carrot-haired Leeloo would of all roles become the breakthrough performance in Milla’s career? But the fact of the matter remains that it did.

In 1997, French director Luc Besson premiered The Fifth Element, a wild, futuristic science fiction ride about cab driver Korben Dallas, who’s unwittingly drawn into a desperate last attempt to save the world from destruction when the back seat of his cab is (literally) crashed by Leeloo, a perfect, divine creature who seems to hold the key to the salvation of mankind. Though featuring a stellar cast that included Bruce Willis, Gary Oldman and Sir Ian Holm, with its $90 million budget, the film was production company Gaumont’s most high-risk and ambitious project to date. The risk, however, proved worth taking. On May 11 1997, The Fifth Element premiered in 2,500 U.S. theaters and earned over $17 million its opening weekend. By November, the film had garnered a total of $247 million worldwide.

Milla, whose portrayal of Leeloo, one of the science fiction icons of the decade, remains one of her best known performances to date, described the auditioning process for the film to the Summer 1997 issue of Arena magazine:

When you first met Luc Besson for the part, he thought you were another sulky model girl. The he met you again and suddenly saw the possibilities. What changed?
I thought, I really want this part and I’m going to do my damnedest to do what he wants me to. So when he asked me to speak gibberish, I spoke gibberish. When he asked me to laugh with no expression like an idiot, I laughed huh huh huh. I looked stupid, I made a fool out of myself. I guess he wanted to see how far he could push me before I went no, I can’t. When it comes to my work, I’m always ready to try new things and take a chance.

During production of The Fifth Element, Milla became romantically involved with director Besson, and the couple married in December 1997. Milla talks about her relationship with Besson in the Fall/Winter 2009 issue of Purple Fashion, and how working on The Fifth Element changed her approach to film altogether:

“[…] I didn’t really become an actress until I did The Fifth Element. I was so inspired by the brilliance of Luc Besson. I fell in love with him. He cared about me so much and I wanted to do my best for him. […] I wanted to be Leeloo, the Fifth Element, wanted to become an actress so I could incarnate her, be in her world, because she inspired me. I may not have been so interested if it had been any other character. In a way, I’m still her, and will always be her, because, once I knew her, I became her. She never left me.
Impressed with the acting skills of his newfound love, Besson quickly cast Milla in the demanding title role of his next film, the Jeanne d’Arc biopic The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc. Armed with another stellar cast that included John Malkovich, Faye Dunaway, Vincent Cassel and Dustin Hoffman, the film was expected to become both a critical and commercial success, and on November 14 1999, The Messenger was released to more than 2,100 U.S. silver screens.

Unfortunately, The Messenger fared below expectations both critically and commercially. The film garnered largely mixed critical reviews upon its release, and only brought in a modest $6 million in its opening weekend. The film also marked a personal setback in Milla’s life, as she and director Besson divorced in June 1999 — only five months before the U.S. premiere of their movie.

Although neither Milla nor Besson have commented on the reasons for their separation, Milla hinted at their disagreements in the July 2002 issue of InStyle:

Unfortunately, what happens is that after the movie’s over, I go on to something else, get really into that and that’s when the whole jealousy thing happens. Suddenly, they don’t have me 100 per cent any more and they start to get freaked out.
The millennium brought with it yet another personal setback when Plastic Has Memory, the Portishead-inspired grunge band Milla toured with in New York and Los Angeles in 1999, quietly split. The band never formally released an album.

Indie Productions & Zoolander

After The Messenger’s box office letdown, the once again single Milla began to think smaller, and moved on to star in Michael Winterbottom’s indie Western tragedy, The Claim (aka. Kingdom Come) in 2000, in which she portrays the uniquely gifted singer, saloon- and brothel owner Lucia, an intensive and touching performance which has been hailed by many as one of her best. The same year she starred as the eccentric, antisocial Eloise Ash in Wim Wenders’ indie drama The Million Dollar Hotel, co-starring Mel Gibson, Jeremy Davies, Jimmy Smits and Peter Stormare. Her affecting portrayal of the complexities of Eloise was hailed by critics and movie goers alike, and undoubtedly ranks as one of her most compelling onscreen performances to date.

With her music taking a backseat to her professional aspirations, Milla was now able to dedicate herself to advancing her film career, and began to appear in more commercial productions. In 2001, Milla starred in her first ever comedy when taking on the role of Katinka in the Ben Stiller-directed futuristic crazy comedy, Zoolander. Poking fun at her Eastern European roots and the Russian stereotype, Milla proved herself an excellent comedienne in addition to a gifted dramatic actress. Zoolander became another instant cult hit.

Milla then moved on to star in further silver screen comedies. In 2002, she portrayed the quirky punk-rocker Fangora opposite Adrien Brody and Vera Farmiga in the Greg Pritikin-directed dramedy, Dummy, followed by a starring role as Nadine opposite David Krumholtz in the cute, if largely unnoticed, romantic comedy You Stupid Man. These roles were followed by a more sophisticated turn as the manipulative, emotionally supressed Erin opposite Samuel L. Jackson and Stellan Skarsgaard in Bob Rafelson’s dark crime drama, No Good Deed.

From Resident Evil to Paul W.S. Anderson

Milla’s most notable silver screen appearance since 1997’s The Fifth Element, however, would come in 2002 in the shape of Resident Evil, a film that would steer her in a new direction both professionally and personally.

On March 15 2002, the Paul W.S. Anderson-penned and directed action thriller premiered in the U.S theaters on more than 2,500 screens. Based on the wildly popular Biohazard zombie video games, the movie centers upon Alice, an Umbrella special operative suffering from temporary memory loss, who is sent down into a secret underground research facility to investigate what prompted the facility’s maintenance and security systems’ operator and super-computer to kill all of the facility workers. Although the film garnered mostly average critical reviews as well as criticism from video game puritanists for not keeping with the original, video game storyline, Resident Evil was nevertheless a commercial success, bringing home well over $40 million both in ticket sales and rentals in the U.S. alone. It also remains the best reviewed film of what was soon to become the Resident Evil film franchise.

During the production of Resident Evil, Milla and writer-director Anderson took a liking to one another, and soon became romantically involved. Milla comments on the why she fell in love with the director in the August 2007 issue of InStyle, saying

“I thought he was cute and interesting. And there’s also that thing where he chose me for his film. It’s a very attractive quality when someone chooses you. I like people who like me!”
The couple were engaged in March 2003.

Despite the success of Resident Evil, Milla disappeared momentarily from the film industry and was not seen again on the big screen until 2004. This was undoubtedly due her latest endeavor — the fashion label Jovovich-Hawk. Founded with fellow model and long-time friend Carmen Hawk in Los Angeles in 2003, the duo’s bohemian, feminine and culturally inspired design aesthetic quickly became a label trademark, and the two earned much critical appraisal for their collections, the highlight of which was surely being among the 10 esteemed designer finalists in contention for the CFDA Fashion Fund Award in 2006. Although the label folded in mid-2008 by mutual decision, Milla intends to continue designing in the near future, and has reportedly contemplated designing collaborational collections with a high-end fashion label.

In 2004, however, amidst designing and modeling, Milla returned to the silver screen to reprise the role of Alice in Resident Evil: Apocalypse, also starring Oded Fehr and Sienna Guillory. Although another commercial success, Apocalypse was notably less well received than its predecessor, despite attempts to appease hardcore video game fans by including more Biohazard elements in the film, and the fault was placed on the Anderson-penned script for dispensing with character development over unrealistic action sequences. Milla herself later expressed some dismay at how the film turned out to in 2006, during a promotional tour for Ultraviolet:

And I was telling everyone, ‘I jumped off a 6-story building!’ And so then I saw it and thought, ‘No one’s even going to know.’ So, whatever. I had my little problems with the second one. I changed a lot of things in the dubbing. That’s one of my problems with the director [Alexander Witt] of the second one. I just felt like he wasn’t in the moment.
Following the release of Apocalypse, Milla and Carmen’s fashion label really took off, and the duo opened a by-appointment-only New York showroom in 2005. The next time Milla was seen on the silver screen was thus not until the release of Kurt Wimmer’s Ultraviolet in 2006.

In light of Wimmer’s 2002 cult hit Equilibrium, fan expectations ran high for Ultraviolet, in which Milla Jovovich stars as Violet, a young woman with superhuman abilities and a deadly illness, battling a totalitarian government in a futuristic world. But despite Wimmer’s undeniably fascinating vision, wooden dialogue and a meager budget resulting in low-quality CGI botched the film for moviegoers and critics alike, and the movie bombed at the box office, bringing in only a modest $9 million in its opening weekend.

Since then, Milla has expressed some disappointment in her experience working with director Wimmer. From a June 2006 interview with

Listen. All I can tell you is, I was completely locked from the editing room. Which was unfortunate, because I was promised that I would be [allowed in]. […] With Ultraviolet I was very depressed because [Wimmer] was a real cad in the sense that he just kind of reneged on his promises, and didn’t allow me to see my performance. […] Whatever. It’s unfortunate because that’s the perfect example of a movie that I spent a year of my life preparing for, and shooting, and you know, once you see it, you’re like, ‘Okaaay…’ [laughs] On to the next!
Wimmer, in turn, put the blame of the box office failure of his film on studio-enforced cuts.

In 2006, Milla returned to the indie genre and landed the role of Kat in Gary Lennon’s violent, sexually explicit drama .45, also starring Angus Macfadyen, Aisha Tyler, Stephen Dorff and Sarah Strange. She then moved on to sign a four-season modeling contract with Spanish street wear label Mango, until once again reprising Alice in Resident Evil: Extinction, the third installment in the Resident Evil series and another commercial success.

Extinction, however, was once again another box office success despite (however expected) criticism from professional reviewers. Therefore, and rather unexpectedly, rumors of a fourth installment soon began circulating, and although initial speculations were leaning towards Milla leaving the film franchise, her return to the series fourth film, Afterlife was confirmed July 2009. The film is currently being eyed for an August 27 2010 U.S. release.

Following an almost year-long break from film and fashion and folding Jovovich-Hawk after its Spring 2008 and Target collections, Milla took a step away from the Sci-Fi genre by starring in the David Twohy-directed Hawaiian honeymoon thriller A Perfect Getaway, which received a theatrical U.S. release in August 2009. In the film, Milla portrays Cydney Anderson, who together with her newlywed husband is terrorized by unknown assailants on their Hawaiian hiking honeymoon vacation. Not quite the superhuman Sci-Fi vixen she’s played in the past!

In 2012 , She returned to her role as Alice in the fifth installment Resident Evil: Retribution, which was released on September 14, 2012.

She is also set to return as Alice in the sixth and allegedly last installment of the film franchise, entitled Resident Evil: The Final Chapter. This will be the last episode in the big-screen adaptation of Capcom’s video-game series. The movies have grossed more than $1 billion worldwide to date.

On what she’ll miss most about making RESIDENT EVIL:
I will definitely miss this experience. It’s not just my character though I love sort of playing the female Clint Eastwood, which I found so exhilarating. I love Clint Eastwood, and to sort of do that Dirty Harry thing over and over has been really really fun and I love that people buy it and that I can sell it in a believable way. But what I think I am going to miss the most is the family we created, not just with the actors that keep coming back and we keep bringing back to life over and over again, but our camera crew and the family experience we have. I met my husband during this and we had kids during this. I kind of compare it to a television show that goes on season after season except we take two year breaks rather than six month breaks. and you keep coming back and everyone has shorthand when they talk and everyone knows each other it’s just a really nice feeling. It will be really sad to say goodbye.

New Family Ties – Ever Gabo Anderson

A real surprise to Milla fans came in April 2007, while Sony Screen Gems were still still preparing for the upcoming promotional effort for Extinction, to be released in September, when Milla announced she was carrying her first child to fiancé Paul W.S. Anderson. A healthy baby girl, Ever Gabo Anderson, was born to the happy couple on November 3 2007, a day ahead of the due date and less than month after Milla finished shooting a small cameo Düsseldorf, Germany for The Palermo Shooting, her second collaboration with indie director Wenders.

“The name Ever is a Scottish boy’s name,” Jovovich explained on her blog. “Paul has Scottish blood in him so we wanted to give her a name that reflected her ‘Celtic’ roots…[Gabo] is a mixture of my parents names! The first two letters are after my mom’s first name, Galina and the last two letters are after my dad’s first name Bogie!”

Milla Jovovich and her fiancé, Paul Anderson, welcomed their first child, daughter Ever Gabo Anderson, on Saturday.
The baby, born at the Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, weighed in at 7 lbs., 8 oz.

After her pregnancy was announced, Jovovich told PEOPLE:
“I’m gaining weight, which is fun. “I’ve been craving lots of bad stuff but I’ve been cooking a lot. I did this amazing slow-roasted tomato dip the other night, and steaks, and, oh, I’ve been eating my mom’s potatoes ? I know how to make my mom’s potatoes – like crazy. It’s awful. I have to stop.”

New Family Ties – Dashiel Edan Jovovich-Anderson

Milla Jovovich announced via Facebook on Aug. 18.2014, that she is expecting her second child.

“[…]But… My husband Paul and I just discovered that we are expecting another baby!!!”

Milla Jovovich and her fiancé, Paul Anderson, welcomed their second child, daughter Dashiel Edan Jovovich-Anderson, on April 01, 2015. Better safe than sorry! Baby Dash wasn’t born until a few days past her due date, but mom and dad were well-prepared and more than ready to meet her!

Chronicled many of the ups and downs of her pregnancy in a series of Facebook posts. There were times she was “pretty exhausted,” she wrote, “being a full-time mom with our 7-year-old [Ever Gabo], reorganizing my home and hiking everyday to start getting my body ready for my post baby responsibilities…” Milla wrote in twitter:

We are so proud to announce the birth of our second daughter Ms. Dashiel Edan Jovovich-Anderson today!!! She is 7lbs. 10 oz. and 20 inches long! We love you Dash!
Her rep told E! News:
“Everyone is thrilled and beyond happy. Milla is in cuddle mode with her new daughter!”

Updated January 07, 2016