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.
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.
I was a foreigner and an immigrant. My family grew up without any money and was always moving around, so it was always kind of a struggle. My dad was going to medical school, and my mom, who’d been a very famous actress in Russia in the ’70s, was just trying to figure it out. So going from school to school and having a weird name, I always felt like I was coming in mid-sentence, and I didn’t really have a chance to make and keep friends.
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:
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.
But when I was 12, I watched Aliens, and I saw Sigourney Weaver kicking alien butt, and I was so happy. Because even as a little girl, that’s what I wanted to do. And I felt like I could do it, too. I feel like between Sigourney in the Alien films and Linda [Hamilton] in the Terminator films, that was pretty much it back then. So, those were the characters that really inspired me.
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:
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:
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:
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:
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:
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:
When I did The Fifth Element, I had to convince them that I could really do this kind of work, but I love training, I love learning martial arts, and I love going into these universes. I feel like even today, women still need to be represented more in action roles, too. So, I’m grateful to be a part of that.
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:
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
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 About.com in 2006, during a promotional tour for Ultraviolet:
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 About.com:
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.
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.
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.
“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.”
Our daughter is such a kind person. So ready to listen and learn. She impresses us everyday with her actions, her ability to empathize with others and her desire be a caring person. It’s funny, but now that she’s 7 years old and has calmed down, she really is my little friend and buddy who “gets it.”
New Family Ties – Dashiel Edan Jovovich-Anderson
Milla announced via Facebook on August 18, 2014, that she is expecting her second child.
“This was originally going to be a post to tell you how excited I am about flying to Cape Town, South Africa to begin working on Resident Evil: The Final Chapter. But… My husband Paul and I just discovered that we are expecting another baby!!!”
“So after a lot of discussion, we thought it would be in everyone’s best interest to wait till the baby is born before we set out to try and tackle an RE movie. Between the stunt work and what will become my ever-expanding belly, we didn’t think pregnancy and zombie killing are the best combo! Lol! I imagine the only thing I’ll be killing in the near future is an endless supply of cupcakes. Yikes…”
Milla, who is prolific on social media, conducted a cheerful countdown as her due date approached with posts including: “I’m officially one day overdue with my pregnancy,” she wrote on Tuesday, “It could happen anytime, so we’re packed, ready, but on the edge of our seats!”
It’s funny, because I couldn’t have had two more different pregnancies! I was convinced that this time we were having boy. I mean, with our first I had no nausea, no headaches, I was totally normal apart from the fact that I just happened to be pregnant and everything I ate suddenly made me gain loads of weight!…With this one, I was SO sick for the first four months.
The couple announced the birth of their daughter on the Instagram account, alongside the caption: “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!”
The couple welcomed their second daughter on April 01, 2015 at 5:45 a.m. 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!
“Milla, her husband and big sister Ever are overjoyed to welcome Dashiel Edan into their family and are all spending some quality bonding time together,” the rep says “Both mama and baby are doing great.”
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…”
I’m so excited to have another baby because I can actually stop and smell the roses this time around! So much of being a parent is spent running or worrying, cleaning up messes, going to doctors, making sure they eat the right food and act polite, that actually being able to step back and see how amazing your child is can be something we forget to do. I hope with our second baby, I don’t!
The new parents aren’t the only ones elated over their baby girl’s arrival: Big sister Ever Gabo was thrilled to learn she was getting a sibling. “We’re actually having a girl, so she’s so excited”.
Although the couple didn’t go with Toilet Bowl, the name their daughter had originally suggested, Milla revealed that Ever eventually did pick out her sister’s name — though admitted “Cinderella” may have been more appropriate.
“[Ever]’s like, ‘We don’t need to buy her anything, Mama. She can just wear all of my old clothes,’ ” the actress, who debuted her baby belly in September, joked to PEOPLE. “I’m like, ‘Well, but she needs something new of her own.’ ‘No. No. No. No. She doesn’t need anything. She can just wear my old stuff.’ ”
New Family Ties – Osian Lark Elliot Jovovich-Anderson
On August 07, 2019, Milla announced about third pregnancy after having a “horrific” abortion two years ago, she tells it on Instagram.
Knocked up again.🤫 After I found out I was pregnant 13 weeks ago, I had a mixture of feelings ranging between complete joy and utter terror. Because of my age and losing the last pregnancy I didn’t want to get attached to this potential baby too quickly.
That was obviously not fun and the last few months have been my family and I living on pins and needles waiting for a slew of different test results to come in and spending most of our time in doctors offices.
Thank goodness we’re in the clear AND we found out that we’ve been blessed with another girl!😆😂🥰 Anyway, wish me and my baby luck! I send you all a lot of love and I’ll keep you posted on my progression! Xoxo m❤️
Milla’s baby news comes just a few months after she said she had an “emergency” abortion at four and a half months pregnant. The actress shared her story to support the fight for abortion rights, after Georgia passed a law that bans abortions after six weeks of pregnancy.
Milla was halfway through her pregnancy two years ago and shooting a movie in Eastern Europe when she needed an abortion as she had gone into preterm labor.
“I went into preterm labor and was told that I had to be awake for the whole procedure,” Jovovich wrote on Instagram. “It was one of the most horrific experiences I have ever gone through. I still have nightmares about it. I was alone and helpless. When I think about the fact that women might have to face abortions in even worse conditions than I did because of new laws, my stomach turns.”
The Hellboy star said the experience had a severe impact on her mental health.
“I spiraled into one of the worst depressions of my life and had to work extremely hard to find my way out,” she said. “I took time off of my career. I isolated myself for months and had to keep a strong face for my two amazing kids. I started gardening, eating healthier and going to the gym every day because I didn’t want to jump into taking antidepressants unless I had tried every other alternative. Thank God I was able to find my way out of that personal hell without turning to medication, but the memory of what I went through and what I lost will be with me till the day I die.”
In mid-January, about two weeks ahead of her due date, Jovovich shared an update, telling fans that she was “ready to have this baby” amid the “hard” last month of pregnancy.
” … I’m about to have our 3rd baby and I’m SO GRATEFUL for being pregnant again, especially at my age and I thank god everyday for blessing me, but Oh my lord am I ready to have this baby?” she wrote on Instagram.
She went on to add, “I’m fully elephant ankles, back pain, hips hurt, running to the bathroom every 15 minutes. And sleep? Forget it. Which is so annoying because if the baby is a screamer like our eldest was, we won’t be seeing the back of our eyes for the next few years!?”
on February 02, 2020 was born Osian Lark Elliot Jovovich-Anderson, about this Ever Gabo was told on Instagram without Milla knowledge:
Welcoming Baby! Welcome to the world my new sister Osian (pronounced O-shun like the body of water)! We love you!!!
the Day after, Milla herself announced that she had given birth third daughter:
“Hey Everyone!!! So without my knowledge @evergaboanderson spilled the beans on the new baby yesterday 🙄🤦🏻♀️😂 which makes this ‘old news’ but anyway, yesterday 02/02/2020 at 8:56am Osian Lark Elliot Jovovich-Anderson was born!”
Milla shared details about Osian’s birth — including that daughter Ever had “spilled the beans” the day prior!
“She’s so beautiful! Her hair is lighter than the other girls was and she’s very strong. Her little hands get in the way and they’re hard to control and she’s already lifting her head up to see what’s going on!” She added, “She’s our miracle baby and we’re all so grateful to have her and completely obsessed with her!!”
Jovovich began in the caption. “Osian is a welsh boy’s name and it’s pronounced O-shin. Now I know the name is long, but the family couldn’t agree on her middle name. Ever and my mom wanted Lark, Dashiel and I wanted Elliot.Then my husband Paul chimes in with another vote for Lark, so Smushy and I were out numbered!” she continued. “At least she has many to choose from later in life if she wants to drop a few.”
Updated September 29, 2021