Your browser is out of date and may not properly display all features on this and other websites.
Update your browser for a better experience on GlobalTV.com.
The Cleveland Show
Jun 15 2011, 10:00 PM by LoriHarito
Born in Kiev, Ukraine (when it was still under Soviet rule) in 1975, Milla Jovovich left the USSR with her parents when she was just five to find a home in Los Angeles (after short stints in London and Sacramento). Treated like an outcast by her Post-Cold War adolescent contemporaries, Milla used her lonely pre-pubescent years to concentrate on a chosen dream: to become a model. Surprisingly, by the time she was only 11 years old, legendary internationally-acclaimed photographer Richard Avedon had spotted Milla at a runway show and thought her young, fresh face would be perfect for the latest Revlon ad campaign he was shooting -- so did the rest of the fashion world. She was a hit, and over the next two to three years Milla's gorgeous visage and flawless physique would be seen across the globe on publications such as Cosmopolitan, The Face and Vogue. It was enough to make her head spin. "I wanted to be a successful model, but I never imagined I would be so famous and rich before I was even 30," says Jovovich with a laugh, who was taking home roughly $10 million dollars a year just to strike a pose. "Modeling was great and it was financially wonderful, but by then, there was something else I wanted to do -- act. But I couldn't decide which one I wanted to concentrate on the most. I knew how to model, but I didn‘t have much experience in acting."
Soft-core filmmaker Zalman King hired Jovovich in 1988, at the age of 12, to co-star in the sweet story of young love Two Moon Junction, which led to her landing studio gigs -- from the cop comedy Kuffs (with Christian Slater) and the Richard Linklater-directed ensemble comedy Dazed and Confused to director Sir Richard Attenborough's Charlie Chaplin biopic Chaplin (with Robert Downey, Jr.). She caught the eye of France's most acclaimed and award-winning filmmaker Luc Besson, who was determined to cast Jovovich opposite Bruce Willis in the outrageous and over-the-top science fiction dramedy epic The Fifth Element. Her performance in The Fifth Element also caught the attention of Hollywood insiders who began to take her acting abilities seriously. "When I got The Fifth Element, I felt like it sort of started me off in the direction of being cast in big-budget studio movies," Jovovich says. "When they told me I would be playing Leeloo, the lead female character, I felt like I had finally made it in Hollywood."
With costumes designed by couture/runway king Jean-Paul Gaultier and co-starring alongside Chris Tucker, Ian Holm, Gary Oldman, Luke Perry, Brion James and Tommy 'Tiny' Lister, Jovovich portrayed ‘The Being’ known as Leeloo, the only element, the fifth, that can stop Evil from destroying mankind’s future. Evil is being assisted by Mr. Zorg (Oldman), who will do anything to stop Leeloo from battling Evil. Of course, Leeloo has her own contingent of (devoted and accidental) heroes guarding her every move. Korben Dallas (Willis) first meets Leeloo when she comes crashing through his cab's ceiling, before he is assigned by his former employer at a covert government agency to officially protect her. A visually splendid, hysterically-conceived, action-packed futuristic shoot-em-up, The Fifth Element remains a favourite of most of the actors who worked on it. "I had a blast doing it, I learned so much about making big movies by doing it," says Jovovich, who married and divorced Luc Beeson while making their next film together, the sweeping and epic Messenger: The Story Of Joan Of Arc. "Anytime I see anybody from the film like Bruce Gary or Chris, we stand around and talk about how much we loved doing it -- all the craziness and the sore muscles it gave us. It was worth it, though. Personally, it taught me how to get into the habit of going through intense physical and mental training before I make a film." The former Vogue model (who performed her first action sequences in The Fifth Element) would go on to play such roles as the butt-kickin' leading lady in the apocalyptic Resident Evil franchise and the vampirish heroine in Ultraviolet. She learned about her tolerance for pain both off and on the sets of her action pictures. "I feel pain depending on if I'm working or not," explains Jovovich, who stars in the upcoming adventure film The Three Musketeers. "When I work, I have a very high tolerance for pain because it's like I'm not myself. I'm in a different mode. It's like, 'Okay, go.' I've done crazy stuff on movies, like injuries. When your endorphins are rushing, that adrenaline, it's like you don't feel stuff. It's like when football players tell you, 'Oh you don't feel it when you get hit. It's afterwards really, like oh I can't move my arm.' But like in real life, I have no tolerance for pain. It's the funniest thing. It took me like three years to get my wisdom teeth pulled out. I just got them done before one Christmas -- all four at the same time -- and it was a disaster."In addition to acting and modeling, Milla was able to fulfill one of her other childhood dreams partly due to movie-making -- she has a daughter with her husband, Paul W.S. Anderson, the director of two of her Resident Evil movies and producer of all five. Being a mother, however, hasn't stopped Jovovich from continuing on with her cinematic martial arts and sword-playing ways. "First of all, motherhood is amazing," she says. "I’m lucky to have a job where I can bring my daughter to work with me. Not every mama has that luxury. It’s going to be weird when she starts school and mom isn’t taking her to some set where the wardrobe people dress her up in all these costumes. Otherwise, being a mother changes everything. Your first concern is your child over your own life, career or all your insecurities. All of that is in the distance. What could be worse than having your baby get sick? There is nothing worse than worrying about her if she falls. As long as she’s okay then everything else in my life is so easy. Being a mother has also given me such a new confidence in the world. I don’t care what people think. I don’t sit there and say, ‘Did I do well there? Did I wow them here? Did I get that part?’ All of that is secondary now." While she'll continue making action movies, prepare to see Milla branch out and begin acting in very different genres of motion pictures, from comedies to period pieces -- including such films as Chronicle, Bringing Up Baby, Faces In The Crowd, The Three Musketeers, Bad Luck and The Winter Queen. "Actually, the next thing you'll probably see me in is a period piece where I play an upper-class woman from the second empire (The Winter Queen)," Jovovich explains. "It’s going to be a bit of a change, because in the last few years there’s been these consecutive action films. Usually, it’s an action film, some independent movies, another action film. I try to mix it up. It’s just the last couple years it just worked out that way. It’s just hard. Independents, you can do so many of them and you never know what’s going to come out and what’s not going to come out, so it’s screwed up. I’ve done quite a lot of movies that just haven’t seen the light of day either. But, you are going to see a new Milla. I hope everyone likes what I'll be doing, because I think it's show's what I can do as an actress." Life has been good for Milla Jovovich. Although she began it in a Communist country, she quickly grew up to see each of her dreams come true in rapid succession in the land of liberty. "I always thought, if I tried hard enough, I can make things happen for me," Jovovich says. "But there a lot of people, especially in Hollywood, who have the same idea and are maybe more talented, and they never get a chance to make it. I've been lucky, because I've met some of the right people at the right time."____By: Earl Dittman