Milla Jovovic bids bitter-sweet farewell to Resident Evil franchise
Milla Jovovich is back on the big screen and this time, it's a real family affair. The model-turned-actress tells Kerri-Ann Roper why making this movie was ‘unforgettable'
EVERYONE keeps talking about how nice Milla Jovovich is. And not your typical, fake Hollywood nice, complete with stiff smile and rehearsed answers, but nice in a genuine, girl-next-door way. Someone you'd want to talk to for hours – about anything and everything.
She even puts her nine-year-old daughter, Ever, on loud speaker, when she calls mid-interview to tell her mum she passed a running test.
"Wow, that's amazing, I'm so proud of you," Jovovich beams, before turning and mouthing that Ever's now going to ask to go to McDonald's.
She's not far off; Ever asks if she can "Please" go to an American pancake house, and after scoring a yes, bellows down the phone, "Byeee, love you Mama", sounding elated.
It's not every day a Hollywood star shares such a sweet, candid moment – especially one with a billion-dollar franchise under her belt in the form of Resident Evil.
Based on the video game of the same name, Jovovich (41) is back as kick-ass leading lady Alice, in the sixth, and reportedly final, offering in the zombie-fighting action series, aptly titled Resident Evil: The Final Chapter.
It's a success story that's grown over 15 years, since the 2002 debut, and while it's been a bumpy ride for her on-screen character, fighting the corrupt Umbrella Corporation and the zombie apocalypse, Jovovich says the journey for her has been "organic".
"It started with a small European, indie action-horror flick," she says, sipping on a cup of tea. "It seemed like I would have a great time making it. I was 24 years old, so still a very young adult, and I was having a good time. It was my favourite video game, and a female-driven video game with zombies. I thought it was the coolest, darkest most underground thing ever."
The Final Chapter sees Alice joined by old favourites, like Ali Larter's character Claire Redfield, as well as villain and founder of the Umbrella Corporation Dr Isaacs, played by Game Of Thrones' Iain Glen.
Now, as she reflects on the past decade and a half, Jovovich describes saying farewell as "bitter sweet".
She met her husband, British director Paul WS Anderson on the set of the first film in 2002. They're now married with two daughters (as well as Ever, there's Dashiel Edan, who turns two in April). The latest movie was a real family affair, as Ever made her acting debut as the Red Queen.
"It was unforgettable for me, the experience of working with my child and my husband simultaneously was something that needed to happen," says Jovovich. "That was one of the main reasons I allowed her to be in the movie, because I felt like it was such a special thing, and she is so good."
If anyone can help Ever navigate the world of acting from a young age, it's her mum. Born in Kiev, in Ukraine, "pretty much by accident", to a Russian mother and Serbian father, she spent her early years in Russia (she still speaks the language). But the family left for London when Jovovich was five, before settling permanently in America.
"My dad is from Montenegro and my mother is from Moscow. I had a very realistic up-bringing," she says frankly. "We moved to America in 1981 and my parents were working as housekeepers, you know my mom [Galina Loginova] was a big movie star in Russia in the late-60s and early-70s.
"I guess I saw first-hand it doesn't matter what you are; you change your situation and you start from zero."
Aged just 12, Jovovich started a successful modelling career that's seen her grace some of the most famous catwalks in the world. She's also fronted campaigns for massive brands, and in 2004 topped the Forbes list of the world's richest supermodels.
It was largely her role in Luc Besson's 1997 movie The Fifth Element, that catapulted her to acting stardom.
But all this success doesn't seem to have gone to her head. At the end of a long day of back-to-back interviews, she still manages to be as friendly and welcoming as though this was the first chat of the day – in fact, the only thing that gives any hint of tiredness away is that she's now kicked off her shoes and is sitting with her legs tucked up alongside her in the hotel suite.
Her early start in the industry means Jovovich had plenty of room to go off the rails, as many young stars have. But that never happened.
"It's been tough, you know, going on all the auditions as a kid and working and trying to make your dreams come true, and some things come true and other things fall by the wayside," she admits. "I've always been very aware of my failings, of the things I didn't end up doing. Like my fashion line or my music career, and it really hurts. It really makes me feel like I didn't do enough.
"And now I'm 41, that age where you start looking at your life, going, 'I should have achieved all of this by now', and I have to be reminded of the great things I have done, not the things I didn't do."
She credits Anderson for being her "grounding energy".
"He's very calm – he's very British in that sense. He's got that stiff upper lip and he doesn't let things affect him, or [at least] on the outside," she explains. "It's good because I'm Russian and I'm like the opposite end of the spectrum – everything will set me off!"
Dynamic is definitely a word that comes to mind when you hear her talk, but you also get the sense Jovovich knows how to stay grounded, and doesn't take herself too seriously.
"I remember on the third Resident Evil, I kept saying to Paul, 'I need to be dirtier', and he was like, 'Calm down, you're dirty enough'. So I went behind his back, and every time one of the crew cars left they kicked up this dust, and I'd run behind the car to get the dust on me," Jovovich recalls, laughing.
"I have to say, I love to be covered in dirt and blood, I think it does wonders for my eyes."
:: Resident Evil: The Final Chapter is in Northern Ireland cinemas from Friday February 3