In Focus

Milla Jovovich: A Model Superhero

By Ellen McCarthy
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, September 21, 2007

It's tricky -- this simultaneously being a supermodel and an action hero and a pregnant lady who's 65 pounds heavier than usual.

"It does seem kind of inappropriate," Milla Jovovich says on the phone from her Los Angeles home. "Resident Evil: Extinction," the third installment of a video-game-inspired saga that has her fighting evil while wearing hot pants is out this week (see synopsis on Page 33), but sex appeal isn't quite her priority at the moment.

"I even said to the studio, 'I can promote this film, but I don't think me promoting this film is going to be good for the movie. . . . I'm like a mom now, with a big belly. I just don't know if I'm gonna hit the right audience with this look,' " the 31-year-old, who is seven weeks from her due date, says with a laugh.

She still will, probably. Because although her body may have changed in recent months, it's her face we've come to know the past two decades. Jovovich emigrated from the Soviet Union with her family at age 5. Six years later, the little blue-eyed girl was discovered by famed photographer Herb Ritts. And after that, magazine covers came by the dozen.

Her hyper-charged life has included, so far: one well-received vocal album, two short marriages, a clothing line and a cult following of science-fiction-obsessed 15-year-old boys.

For that last one, Jovovich can thank her little brother. He was 13 when he came to stay with her for two weeks, Resident Evil video game in tow.

"He was playing the game all the time. It looked really violent and crazy, so I just decided to play with him, so I could bond with him and get on his level. . . . And I actually got addicted to it," she recalls. "I thought, 'Oh, if they make a movie I should play the girl, 'cause he would just think I was God if I did that.' "

Turns out there was a script floating around Hollywood. She trained, auditioned and won the part of Alice, the kickboxing, gun-toting freedom fighter. In the series' third installment, Alice is in the desert, fighting zombies, trying to reach her brother and hoping to rescue what's left of humanity.

Which is maybe not quite the life Jovovich imagined for herself as a child. But then, maybe it's not so far off either. "I've always been fascinated with fantasy and fairy tales and science fiction. That was the literature I loved as a kid," she says. "So it kinda seems natural in a sense . . . because being a superhero always fascinated me."

Aside from allowing the model-turned-actress to someday soon have her face on a three-DVD box set, "Resident Evil" did one other big thing for Jovovich: introduced her to Paul W.S. Anderson.

Anderson wrote all three of the movies and directed the first. He also proposed to Jovovich four years ago in the lobby of the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Paris. Now, Jovovich says, she and her fiance are almost finished decorating the nursery for their baby.

But first she has one more project to complete. It's just a cameo appearance in a cheeky independent film directed by a friend.

It's also a role she couldn't resist: Milla Jovovich, pregnant superhero.

© 2007 The Washington Post Company