Toronto Star September 8, 2003

Even zombie killers are insecure
by Peter Howell

Milla Jovovich taps self doubts . . . Resident Evil star shows softer side

Milla Jovovich is seeking caffeine refreshment yesterday during a string of interviews at the Four Seasons Hotel. An attentive aide asks what she'd like in her coffee.

"Three creams, please," Jovovich replies.

"You mean low-fat cream, right?" the aide inquires.

"No, no," Jovovich insists. "I want the full-fat stuff."

A very punk attitude for this actress and model, whose two main professions usually treat fat as an illegal substance. But this 27-year-old beauty in the jagged jean skirt is thin enough to drink a gallon of the stuff, and besides, it fits her role of punk singer Fangora in Greg Pritikin's off-kilter comedy Dummy.

It's a part Jovovich took at the request of her Oscar-winning friend Adrien Brody. (Dummy made its Canadian premiere yesterday at the Toronto International Film Festival, with a repeat screening scheduled for Wednesday.)

Brody plays a tongued-tied loser named Steven, who discovers his voice and a sudden sense of bravery when he starts speaking through a ventriloquist's dummy. Fangora is Steve's platonic gal pal, who secretly hopes to be more than that.

The character seems the closest to the real Milla Jovovich than previously witnessed. She often plays extreme characters in sci-fi and fantasy films, like her feral Leeloo in The Fifth Element (her favourite role) and as the zombie-stomping Alice in Resident Evil. She can also identify with Fangora's musical ambitions — a decade ago, Jovovich's main gig was as a rock singer, featured on her own album called The Divine Comedy.

"For sure, it's probably the closest," she says of Fangora.

"But there's a bit of me in every part I play. We all have different parts of our personality. We just have to know how to draw from it. I identified with Fangora because I think in a sense everybody could identify with the fact that she's trying so hard to find herself.

"It's so hard to find acceptance and love. She's so defensive and so insecure. I think we all are. It's something that no matter who you are and what you do, you're always going to look into the mirror and see the weirdest thing looking back at you."

But does Jovovich ever really feel insecure? She's a jet-setting star and model who has appeared in major movies and on the covers of more than 100 fashion magazines.

"Yeah, definitely, are you kidding?" she replies.

"Most of the time I'm feeling really insecure. It's only when I really get off my butt and do the things that I want to do that I get more confident in myself. And then I get lazy, and I think I need a break.

"But of course, I take a break and then I start feeling insecure again. I start thinking, `Omigod, I'm not doing anything. I don't have anything going on. I'm a loser. I'm mediocre.'

"It all really depends. For the last year, I was feeling really bad. Whereas now, I've been training for Resident Evil 2 for three hours a day.

"That woke me up and made me feel good. You can't just go and train for three hours and not feel good about yourself afterwards. You've got to do things for yourself that keep the bad voices away."

She certainly always looks poised and confident, especially in her ads for fashion and make-up. Her striking Ukrainian face seems to peer from every magazine and billboards.

And she was certainly brave enough to tell Mick Jagger that he'd have to get his satisfaction elsewhere, when the lead Stone asked her out on a date a year or so ago, as The New York Times reported.

Did she really say "no" to Mick?

"Oh, yeah — are you kidding me? He's old enough to be my dad. It's disgusting. Please."

But Jovovich does share with Jagger a fondness for Toronto. She's been living here for the past few weeks, making Resident Evil: Apocalypse for her filmmaker fiancé, writer/director Paul W.S. Anderson, whom she met on the set of the first Resident Evil film.

Jovovich promises that the sequel will be better than the original, a major claim to make for a film based on a computer game that involves the machine-gunning and axing of hundreds of virus-ridden zombies.

"It has triple the action, better script, more interesting, fun concepts — we're taking it to the holographic universe theory." Jovovich laughs at her own enthusiasm — she should do the voiceover for the trailer.

Does this mean she won't be wearing a ripped red dress and heels again? In Resident Evil, she looked like a runway model caught in a remake of Night Of The Living Dead.

"No, this time just jeans and a T-shirt. But it's my angle of jeans and T-shirt!"

Making Resident Evil seems to be her major preoccupation at the moment.

"I love it. I feel if I've ever found a niche in Hollywood, it's possibly as an action star, in a sense. No one is going to give me a chance to play a normal part, unless I do an independent film or I produce it myself.

"I feel like it's all good. I have my commercial part taken care of, and for my artistic side, I make independent little films that never come out (although Dummy will this fall), and I'm okay. It's a good balance."

She hopes Resident Evil will become a full-fledged franchise ("Hell, yeah!") like the Alien or Tomb Raider series. She even has her own inevitable Resident Evil action figure.

"It's like a collector's item, with a detachable arm that you can attach the machine gun or the axe to.

"That was my idea!"