Action Queen

I’d definitely kick their butt! — why Milla Jovovich didn’t have to say #METOO

By Priyanka Roy
  • Published 1.02.18

Bianca… is that your name? Wow, a Spanish name!” was the first thing Milla Jovovich told me when we connected over call last week. Of course I had to correct her, but she had me at that warm voice and that unbridled laugh. The 42-year-old stunner started off as the supermodel muse of designer biggies like Miuccia Prada and Gianni Versace before becoming an all-out action star as the iconic Alice in the Resident Evil films. Since wrapping up the final Resident Evil film in 2016, Milla has been dabbling in designing and music, besides acting, but is all set to change tracks in 2019’s Hellboy to play the villain The Blood Queen. The role she enjoys the most these days? Playing mom to daughters Ever Gabo, 9, and Dashiel Edan, 2. With Resident Evil: The Final Chapter premiering on Indian TV (February 25 at 9pm on Sony PIX), t2 caught up with Milla to talk about the blockbuster franchise, her love for Indian food and why it’s time for Hollywood to wake up to #MeToo.

Since we started off with names, your Twitter bio, interestingly, comprises just one line that says, “Pronounced mee-luh yo-vo-vitch….” Is the mispronunciation of your name something you’ve faced all your life? 

I think it’s easier now. I was actually just reading a book about brain psychology that asked, ‘Would you follow a company called Quashuck or one called Trust and Company’. And they found that people always go for the names that are simpler and they trust more… like Procter and Gamble. Names they can’t pronounce generally make people wary. I was stuck in that situation for years… no one could pronounce my name! (Laughs out loud) But I’ve made a career for myself out of that, so I guess it’s turned out okay (smiles). 

A landmark in your career has been the Resident Evil franchise. Was it tough to say goodbye or were you done after six films?

It was a bit of both. It was difficult to say bye to the franchise because it’s been a part of my life for 16 years. But at the same time, I felt it was time. I remember when we made the third movie (Resident Evil: Extinction, 2007), 3D was just becoming a thing. My husband Paul (W.S. Anderson, who’s directed many of the films in the franchise) is a computer nerd — he loves gadgets, monsters and explosions and is a real boy when it comes to these things —  and wanted to shoot it in 3D. We had a trilogy in 2D and then we made a trilogy in 3D. So, six films were just perfect. 

When you signed the first film in 2002, did you ever think the franchise would become this big?

Definitely not! I signed on because I was a big fan of the video game (Resident Evil). I was around 23 when I first played the game with my brother. We would play for hours together. So when I heard that they wanted to cast me in the movie, I was like, oh my god, this will help me score major points with my brother! (Laughs) I went into it a little tongue-in-cheek, thinking, ‘Oh, this is going to be fun!’ All of us who were involved were big fans of the game. It definitely hit a nerve with people… and it was time zombies made a comeback! (Laughs)

Courtesy the Resident Evil films, you’ve famously been described as ‘The reigning queen of kick butt’ and ‘Every geek’s dream girl’. You must have enjoyed that! 

I love sci-fi and action and stunts and I am also someone who likes computers. I’m definitely a geek at heart and of course I am proud that I’m a bit of an icon for a group of young people that are kind of underdogs (smiles). 

You met your husband Paul W.S. Anderson on the Resident Evil set. What was it like being directed by him?

Paul and I are kind of kids together, in a lot of ways. We share so much in common and working together is like a day at the park. There are a lot of actors who don’t like doing stunts. But I get to do extraordinary things and I feel a little bit like a superhero when I do stunts. Therefore, for Paul and me, it’s to our benefit making these films together.

You’ve been an iconic model, an action star, a singer, a designer, but the most heartwarming pictures on your Instagram feed are with your daughters. Is this the role you are enjoying the most?

Definitely! I’ve always had a lot of creative energy, but because I have worked since I was 11, to be able to now spend time with my children and do normal, everyday things is such a boon. Just to make breakfast, bake, go to the park... I don’t feel any pressure and all I have to ensure is that the kids have a good time. And along the way if I can teach them some good manners and principles, then that will be great... contribute towards making some good human beings for the future (smiles).

We know you are also big on travelling. Have you ever been to India?

I’ve never been past the Delhi airport, unfortunately! I made a movie (The Night Train to Kathmandu) in Nepal. I spent a month there and I absolutely loved it... it was an unbelievably magical time of my life. The culture was very different from whatever I had experienced up to that point and I always wanted to go to India. My family and I absolutely love Indian cuisine. We order in Indian food once every two weeks. Of course, I have to be careful... I can’t be doing hardcore action eating too much Indian food! (Laughs)

Honestly, I would love to go to India on a gastronomic journey because I adore the elements you guys put into your cooking. There are so many beautiful women there. For me, your culture is very inspiring. I’m hoping this year or next for sure we will get down there.

We also have a massive film industry here. Have you watched any Bollywood films?

I don’t really get the time to watch too many films. And being a mom of two, the only things I watch now are cartoons! (Laughs) For my husband and me to get through a movie takes days because we are always getting interrupted by one kid or the other. But when I travel on my own for work, at the end of the day, I do watch TV and I tune in to these ‘Indian MTV’ kind of channels where you have your music videos. I get so fascinated because I love the different kinds of music you guys do. It’s really beautiful.

Because I have worked since I was 11, to be able to now spend time with my children (Ever and Dashiel) and do normal, everyday things is such a boon. Just to make breakfast, bake, go to the park... I don’t feel any pressure and all I have to ensure is that the kids have a good time. And along the way if I can teach them some good manners and principles, then that will be great

We know you are quite a bit into yoga...

Well, I don’t get to practise it as much as I would like to but I do it a few times a week. I have a few great yoga apps on my iPad. I do it with my daughter... we just breathe and listen to the app and centre ourselves... it’s very relaxing. Especially for the kids, it’s important to slow down and be aware of your body and to be in the moment. Yoga does that for us.

After the Harvey Weinstein sexual harassment scandal broke out in Hollywood, as an actress and a mother of two girls, how much of what’s going on scares you?

I think all the movements (#MeToo, #TimesUp) going on now are wonderful because women are at last getting to speak out and are also getting support from their peers. Before, it wasn’t this way... if you spoke out, you would be ostracised and no one wanted to lose work. 

I remember my mom (Galina Loginova), who was an actress during the Soviet era, got me prepared because she would talk to me about things like that. And it’s because of that I was always in control. Nobody could ever do things like that to me because I would definitely kick their butt! (Laughs out loud) 

Also, it helped that I was educated. I see these young girls and boys who come into Hollywood with no education and no parents to guide them. It’s there in the modelling industry also and it’s very scary. With my experience I can educate my kids the way my mom educated me, but I realise not everyone has that luxury of having a parent that knows what happens.

Finally, we are excited to see you play The Blood Queen in Hellboy!

I’ve always thought that villains are the best... they are complicated, they are fun to play because you get to do things you don’t as a hero. I got the chance to, I hope, show a side of her that isn’t evil. I felt that I could bring a quality to the character that wasn’t just, ‘Oh, she’s bad!’ She is someone who had great ideals that kind of shifted along the way. It’s nice to bring her alive on screen and I hope people feel for her. I’ve had a lot of arguments with the director (Neil Marshall) because I feel that everything that she’s saying is actually pretty great, but it’s just that no one’s listening... so now she has no choice but to kill a few people! (Laughs)

I like Milla Jovovich as an action star because... Tell