‘This film is bittersweet because I know it’s all coming to an end’
Zombie-killer Alice is back in the the last instalment of the Resident Evil franchise – so what is the doting mother of two going to do next? A British costume drama with any luck
“This is the family that evil built, it really is,” says Milla Jovovich – she is talking about the evolution of her role in the Resident Evil films.
She has a point.
Based on the eponymous $1bn post-apocalyptic zombie video game franchise, Resident Evil: The Final Chapter marks the sixth and last instalment of the film series. But both for its star and its British director-writer Paul WS Anderson, the films represent a 17-year romantic narrative in which they met, fell in love, married and now have two daughters: their eldest girl, Ever, marking her film debut in The Final Chapter.
“It all came full circle having our daughter with us on set playing the Red Queen. This whole experience has been such a huge part of my life not just as an actor but on a personal level with my husband and two kids. It’s bittersweet because I know it’s all coming to an end,” says Jovovich. The 41-year-old’s love of the original video games led her to accept the role zombie killer Alice in 2002’s Resident Evil when she was 23 years old.
“I’d play those games with my little brother for six hours a day. I thought it was the coolest, darkest, most underground thing ever – a female character-driven video game with zombies. We found an audience with the film but never thought it would be this long journey,” she says when we meet at a West Hollywood hotel. She’s sipping tea, long, luxurious legs stretched out the length of a couch, chocolate brown hair falling in her eyes.
“These days I play ‘Supermarket Mania’ instead. Its relaxing. You just stock the shelves and make sure nobody steals your products.”
Raised in Moscow, she was five years old when her Russian mother Galina Loginova, a Russian actress, fled to the US. Jovovich originally struggled to fit in. She was teased for her Russian accent and called a “commie”. Aged 12 she quit school after working with fashion photographers Richard Avedon and Herb Ritts; this propelled her to become the highest paid supermodel in the world.
With her willowy 5ft 9in frame and mesmerising blue-green eyes, Hollywood quickly came knocking, casting her alongside Robert Downey Jr in Oscar-nominated 1992 film Chaplin, aged 15. A year later she was in Richard Linklater’s Dazed And Confused – a Vegas wedding to her co-star Shawn Andrews was annulled by her mother after a mere two months.
At 21 she became a bona fide box office star with 1997 sci-fi film The Fifth Element, co-starring Bruce Willis and Gary Oldman and directed by future husband Luc Besson – that marriage lasted two years.
By her own accounts, those were days of heady abandon facilitated by fast, easy money. Her decision to allow her daughter Ever, now aged nine, to be cast in The Final Chapter was not one she took lightly.
“She’s very serious about acting and has worked very hard. She goes to classes and learns her lines so I had no objections about her playing a young me in the film, with no dialogue or anything, just a day of work.
“But when Paul said he wanted her to read for the Red Queen, we had an argument about it because I thought the part was too big and I didn’t want to burn her out, I was nervous about it. But they were in cahoots, so she read for it and the producers loved her so she got the part,” says Jovovich, who remains cautious.
“I understand why people don’t want their kids to do it. When she first asked, I just kept putting obstacles in her path, but after she showed me her commitment and hard work, what am I going to do? Both her parents have grown up in this industry, and if there’s anyone who started young its me so I’ve been through a lot of the pitfalls and I’ve seen friends of mine get into stupid stuff and get lost along the way.
“I’m always asking myself ‘why did these kids end up doing drugs, throwing it all away for stupid things?’ I felt the common thread was it all happened too easily. Too much, too soon and then you’re being invited to parties and everyone’s letting you into the club – you feel like a star before you are a star. People are like ‘ooh they’re up and coming, bring them in’, and suddenly they’re like ‘yeah, I made it’ And then what else is there? Now I’ve gone to these amazing parties, I’ve hung out with this celebrity, got the car, got the new house, I’m 19! And the cycle of life is finished, now you go and peacefully die now.”
With this in mind she refuses to allow her daughter to model. “It’s too much, too quickly. She’s been offered H&M campaigns and modelling work but I won’t let her. It’s one thing to audition for a movie and get the part because you worked and studied, but to be asked to be a model – let’s be honest the only reason they know your face is because I put it on Instagram – that’s too easy. You have to deserve to do this. She’s a good kid but we’ve got our eyes peeled for all the danger signals.”
Her joy in domesticity and motherhood took Jovovich by surprise. Today she is wrestling with whether or not to have a third child even though she suffers anxiety whenever she has to leave 22-month old daughter Dashiel; her husband, somewhat unhelpfully, comforts her by telling her how oil rig workers go for months without seeing their families.
“It’s the main thing in my head right now,” she says. “I’m 41 and we took so much time between the first and second primarily because of my own vanity and I just wanted to fit into my jeans again. And it took me seven years to get into my jeans because I gain a lot of weight in my pregnancies so it’s a big deal and not easy for me to keep on working”. The actress who was forced to postpone production on The Final Chapter after learning she was pregnant. “Half the special effects budget would’ve gone into making me look normal,” she adds.
“And maybe Leonardo DiCaprio is right? Maybe we shouldn’t be bringing any more children into this planet? Also I get into this thing of being in my late forties and I’ll be in my seventies when my kid goes to college and then I’m gonna die and he’s going to be really upset,” she says with a laugh.
Given her previous track record her happy marriage to Newcastle-born Anderson, 51, continues to amaze her. “My biggest love affairs have always been with British men which ended up with my marrying one. I’ve always related to British men in the sense that they can keep me in line with their stiff-upper-lip exterior. I’m a very shoot-at-the-hip kind of person so Paul rounds me and makes me think before I make a judgement and that’s helped a lot.”
Likewise, she pushes him. “I tell him ‘don’t just stop here and take no for an answer or allow people to tell you its not going to work. You have a great idea. F*** them! He would never do that without a Russian-American girl pushing him to do stuff. It’s definitely a great relationship in that sense.”
So much marital contentment, she admits, breeds inactivity. “I’m super-happy whenever I’m with my family but you can’t be super happy just living for somebody else. If you’re not satisfied with who you are, you’re always going to be in a pissy mood. I’m at a place now where I’m trying to figure out what I want to do next even though my kids are number one,” she says. Her intention is to shake up public perception after six Resident Evils, two Zoolanders, starring in James Franco’s upcoming sci-fi flick, Future World and currently filming Rob Reiner’s political drama Shock And Awe.
Jovovich also sees a British period costume drama in her future. “I want to show people that I can do a good British accent since I live with a British man and love British literature. I’d love to do a ‘la-di-da’ movie as Paul calls them,” she says going off into an Eliza Doolittle accent. “He’s actually not a big fan of la-di-da. He calls them the Duchess of Diddly-do and then falls asleep when they’re on TV. He’s like, ‘Whatever. I was a miner’s son so I wasn’t part of this shit’.”
She remains, however, haunted by unfinished projects: “The music and fashion bother me because I had a chance to do a fashion line and it fell through because I wasn’t professional enough and I had a chance to do music and that didn’t work because I didn’t focus enough and didn’t record a second album the way I was supposed to.”
In common with most of Hollywood, she is unnerved by the new face of Trumptown USA.
“Even though my daughter is only nine years old, I think she would do an amazing job if she were to take over the presidency of America. She’s a born leader. I’m not saying that lightly, she’s really got a good head on her shoulders. I don’t think the country would suffer with her as president.”