A perfect day at Beverly Hills. The sun is shining and Milla Jovovich arrives early to our interview. “People say that I’m always late, but that’s a myth”, she declares merrily. Radiant, Milla laughs all the time. And for a reason: right now, everything is smiling at her. Ambassador of L’Oreal Paris, she is also the face of Night, the new perfume by Emporio Armani, while her latest film, Resident Evil, has done extremely well at the box office and a sublime engagement ring given by her future husband, the English director Paul W. S. Anderson, shines on her finger. Dressed in jeans and a t-shirt bearing “The Rolling Stones 1974 tour” slogan and an Armani jacket, of course, our cover girl number “3,000” combines all the styles and simultaneously holds multiple talents. She reflects everything we love in Elle: intelligence, elegance and independence. A top model at IMG agency, musician, actress at 28 years of age, Luc Besson’s former wife lives 100% per hour and has no intention of slowing down.
ELLE: Milla, you are the cover girl of the 3,000th issue of Elle. In your opinion, why were you requested so?
I imagine that it has to do with my appearance and my personality as portrayed by the media, because my private life has been the subject of much jabbering. Perhaps this slightly scandalous side of me people find entertaining! Before, being a model, it was just a job, and I was making fun of it. But today, I take my career more seriously. The fact that a reader may buy an Armani item because she’d seen it on me in a magazine is very important to me. So much so that I intend to launch my own label.
ELLE: Your new challenge is to become a clothing designer?
I hope so, because I’ve already wasted a fortune on fabrics! I’ve always loved fashion and wished to create what I don’t find in the boutiques. Besides, with a friend we’ve released about fifteen prototypes-of chic and structured dresses but with a fun and sexy aspect. In any case, I don’t at all want to resemble some of these young designers who ask hallucinating prices for rags that are so in fashion now, that six months later, they are old-fashioned! I love vintage boutiques, I love to customize my clothes. And then, with my friends, we regularly exchange togs. It’s a lot more fun!
ELLE: Where does this passion for fashion come from?
From my mum. I remember, when we were still living in the Soviet Union, Mum would rush by like the wind in our apartment, covered with fur, or even running from one movie scene to the next, because she was a movie star there. Even if it was 40ºF outside, she always wore a miniskirt. For me, she was the most beautiful of all women.
ELLE: Is it true that your mum cuts your hair?
Yes. Before, I used to go to friends hairdressers who, more often than not, would ruin everything, but I wouldn’t dare say anything. I’d wait to get home before bursting into tears. Whereas, if my mum stuffs it up, at least I can swear!
ELLE: Do you pay a lot of attention to your body?
Not really, but I do a martial arts course four times a week. Overall, I try to lead a healthy life. Other than cigarettes, coffee, white nights… (Laughs.) During the day I force myself to at least eat some salads rather than rubbish, and a steak in the evening. In fact, I eat to basically satisfy my hunger. I hardly have the time to appreciate a meal, and I’m everything, but a gourmet.
ELLE: You never go out to restaurants?
No, I hate that. Although, for professional reasons, I’m obliged to sacrifice myself to social customs. So, when I’m not working, I eat at my place.
ELLE: You never go out for fun?
I’ve recently bought a house in Beverly Hills and I feel really good there. It’s going to seem idiotic to say this, but I think that at a given moment we all need a place to ourselves where we can refuge ourselves and cut ourselves off from the world. My mum doesn’t support my locking up, she says to me: “Your house is a bunker!”
ELLE: You share your life with Paul W.S. Anderson, the director of your latest movie, Resident Evil. Have you set a wedding date?
We didn’t even have time to invite people to our engagement ceremony, and that’s in a few days. If I don’t hurry up there’ll only be Paul, my mum, some Russian friends who will lend us their boat for the party, and me. Super!
ELLE: This will be your third marriage. Does Paul have qualities that you haven’t found in others?
We’ve been together for two years, and believe me, I’m not really easy to live with! There needs to be unlimited patience and unconditional love. Men I’ve known before him loved my independent spirit and were proud of my success, to the point that they’d become jealous of the time I devote to my career. Paul, he is a rock. If I need to work till three o’clock in the morning, he says “OK, no problem”. And that is cool.
ELLE: Have you found in him the father of your future children?
Yes. At the age of 16 I was already dreaming of having a baby because I felt myself to be an adult, but my mum forbid it. Right now, I feel like a teenager and I want to have fun for one or two more years before starting a family. In any case, I’m starting the filming of Resident Evil 2 soon and the protagonist of an action movie can not be pregnant!
ELLE: You’ve always known success, first as a model and more recently as an actress…
That’s not true, I’ve always had to fight for everything. I was still a kid when I gave up modeling and moved to London to devote myself to music. At the time, I had a band. Two years later, broke, I was forced to return to New York to go back to modeling and earn my living. But, when I’d call my agent, she replied to me: “You are now an old-fashioned model, you have a “has-been” look.” In fact, I could not even manage to get castings. Can you imagine what it’s like when you’re told that you’re over at the age of 18? Having said that, the actor’s job is even more destabilizing.
When you suffer a refusal as a top model, you can always say to yourself: “It’s not serious, I simply don’t have the right look for this photo shoot.” A casting for cinema, that’s different. You prepare yourself for weeks, you give everything, and you lay your guts onto the table during the five minutes you are given. So then, when you’re rejected, that kills. Moreover, if I didn’t have more strings in my bow, I would have had several nervous breakdowns already. The worst is when one ends up “prostituting” oneself in a poor film because there are no other proposals and one is desperate.
ELLE: However, Resident Evil was a big hit at the box office.
Yes, but it’s only after this movie that I’m starting to make a small place for myself in Hollywood. And then, I’ve stopped investing myself so much on an emotional level. From now on, I approach the cinema as a business woman. I intend to be in more action movies because, apart from Angelina Jolie, no other actress stands out in this genre.
ELLE: You are originally from the Ukraine in the former USSR. Do you often visit Russia?
Never. I went to Moscow to present Joan of Arc and The Fifth Element, but Russia is a country very far from me. It’s cold there, the mafia is everywhere and I’m not even going to talk about the government…Every year they invite me to the film festival in Moscow, but I’ve never gone, not enough time.
ELLE: We have the impression that you never stop.
If I’m not overloaded, I become depressed because I feel like I’m doing nothing with my life. Last year I lost a friend, a guitarist from my band. He was only 21 years old. Since then, I think a lot about death and about all the things I want to do before disappearing. So I never rest. Finally, it’s simple: either I’ll go crazy in the two coming years, or I’ll break the house. (Laughs). We’ll see!