Talks about cars, hybrids and 'finding your flow'
Described by VH1 as the “reigning queen of kick-butt”, Milla Jovovich rose to fame through a successful modelling career in the 90s before making a transition to full-time acting.
Starting out in TV dramas such as The Night Train to Kathmandu, she made her film debut in Two Moon Junction but her breakthrough film is considered to be The Fifth Element, starring Bruce Willis and Gary Oldman. Today Milla is best-known for the Resident Evil series, directed by her British-born husband, Paul W S Anderson.
While Paul is the more car-friendly of the two, Milla does have some specific requirements for the vehicles parked in her driveway.
“Being a mum, I’m into my car in the sense that it’s my survival tool and it has to be amazing. It has to look beautiful and it’s got to have all the great features inside. It’s like what you have in your handbag, if the essential can also look great and make you feel not so much like a mum then even better!”
Born in Soviet-era Kiev, Milla emigrated to the States with her parents at the age of five. Her mother, Galina Jovovich, was a Russian film star in the Soviet Union and later acted as an agent for Milla when her modelling career began to take off. The family settled in Beverley Hills, but Galina didn’t want Milla getting too big for her boots. While today Milla is the proud owner of a Lexus, also in the Toyota family, it’s a far cry from her first set of wheels.
“My first car was a used Mercury Cougar,” she says, “and I don’t even remember what those cars look like anymore.”
“For every kid in Beverly Hills, their first car is a BMW so of course I wanted a Beemer when I was 16. But my mum said ‘absolutely not’, firstly, we can’t afford that, secondly it’s not safe for any 16-year-old to have that much power under their control, and thirdly I am getting you a used car that is basically like a tank. It’s ugly and it’s cheap and it will get you to where you are going without your head getting to big.”
“It was a car that I could put a lot of stickers on.”
It wasn’t London’s vibrant film scene that brought Milla to the city this month. Taking place within a factory that once produced the Evening Standard, this was the lifestyle launch of Toyota’s new hybrid C-HR. Bill as “world’s first drive through immersive theatre experience”, it was also Milla’s first role in an “immersive experience”.
“The C-HR is a completely new concept for Toyota, rooted in style and quality,” Milla said. “It’s a beautiful looking car and incredibly stylish inside.”
The new Toyota C-HR has stylistically remained true to the striking design of the original concept cars developed by the Japanese car maker. The designers claim it sports the lowest CO2 emissions in its segment, down to 85g/km, and expect to sell around 100,000 units a year in Europe with the basic models costing just over £20,000.
“It’s like a hybrid car on steroids,” Milla says. “This is where the future is heading because the days of the American gas-guzzling machines are over…no one in Europe can have a car that big, they wouldn’t fit down many side streets in London.”
For Toyota, the concept of “finding your flow” through the immersive experience was derived from the new car’s “flowing” design as well as the more emotionally-driven customers the C-HR is expected to appeal to. Although the company is keen to tout its sophisticated hybrid powertrain, this is a car positioned for customers with more “emotional considerations”, than strictly engineering concerns.
“It really is the meaning of life, finding your flow, and doing what you are good at doing,” Milla said.
“It’s what I teach my daughter every day, if you want to be happy in life you have to be really good at something because if you can’t close your eyes and escape into what you do easily then you’re always going to have problems. It’s always going to be hard and you’re never going to be happy no matter how much money you make or how much fame you have, you’re always going to feel like something is missing.”