GQ July 1994

Sheet Music
by James Ryan

Now that she's gotten modeling and acting out of the way, 18-year-old Milla could be waking up to pop stardom

Her beauty - overripe lips, wide-set eyes, arabesque brows - blends classical form with Eastern mystery. In conversation, she veers from giggly teenager to precocious intellectual at the drop of a literary reference. One moment she's welling withn whimsy, the next mired in melancholy.

If she were an instrument, she'd be a mandolin. Or maybe a mandola. "It's a little deeper", explains Milla Jovovich, the Scavullo super-waif who segued to screen ingenue at 14 in Return to the Blue Lagoon and now, at 18, has embarked on a third career, as a singer-songwriter.

Four years ago, she was signed to a recording contract by SBK Records executives with visions of lollipop stardom dancing in their head. Milla (she has dropped the tongue-twisting surname) had a distinctly different vision. "I knew that the only way I could do what I wanted to was to write my own stuff. It was a bit of a fight", she says.

Wipe those smirks off your faces. Released in April, her debut album, The Divine Comedy, caught cyncial critics off guard with its clever instrumentation (key fiddle, Melodica and mandolin), poetic lyrics and vocals reminiscent of Milla's idol, Kate Bush.

Eleven songs, laced with Slavic sadness and X-istential self-doubt, paint the portrait of a misunderstodd (and misunderstanding) teenager preparing for passage into womanhood. "The album was written three years ago. It's weird to think those songs are just now coming out," she says. "I can't wait to get back into the studio. My persoonal philosophy is a lot more concrete now."

If, as her song "Ruby Lane" suggests, "life's a game", it is just in the past year that Milla has decided to play in earnest. "It started with me moving out of the house and taking responsibility for myself," explains the pampered only child of a Yugoslavian doctor and a Ukrainian actress who emigrated to California from the Ukraine when Milla was 5.

Home for the past eight months has been a two-bedroom London flat she shares with her boyfriend, musician Stuart Zender, and with her best friend/business adviser. "I just felt like my life in L.A. was becoming an empty routine," she explains. "After a while, driving around, you get overwhelmed by the grimness. It's all Marlboro boxes stacked up with no point."

Acting - she vamped on cue in Chaplin and looked appropriately bored in Dazed and Confused - proved a temporary dead end, but she hopes to return to it someday. Also waiting beyond the bend is a universoty education (if she ever finds time to take the SATs) and a castle in Spain (if she sells enough records). "It's something I've dreamed about since I was a child," she says.

After all, she adds, cribbing from Ayn Rand's Romantic Manifesto, "without a purpose, man is not a man." And woman is just a mandolin.