Viva March 2009

Mama Milla

Former party girl Milla Jovovich has settled down in Hollywood to a healthy life with her family and she wouldn't have it any other way

by Bonnie Siegler

At age 33, Resident Evil's zombie slayer has stopped looking for something wild. Milla Jovovich says she gets her greatest pleasure from her daughter Ever and her fiancé, filmmaker Paul W.S. Anderson. Sure Milla has just completed the thriller A Perfect Getaway, however, her mind is on motherhood.

Eco-friendly baby bottles are scattered throughout her Hollywood Hills home, and Milla can often be found in the kitchen cooking her toddler's chicken burgers. "I make Ever these lean chicken breasts ground with onions, carrots, and different vegetables," says Milla. "They're Russian chicken burgers and I just make a big pile of them and keep them in the fridge. When anyone is hungry, they can grab one. They're healthy and yummy."

Indeed Milla knows more than a thing or two about Russian cuisine. The striking 5-foot-8 beauty was born Milica Jovovic in Kiev, Soviet Union (now the Ukraine). She moved to the United States with her family at age five.

America proved to be good to Milla. At 11 she shot to international fame after being spotted by photographer Richard Avedon. By her 27th birthday, she had mode something of a specialty of portraying sci-fi vixens, most notably in The Fifth Element.

During those early years of fame, Milla admits to being a rebellious teen on the Hollywood party circuit. "I was living a very adult life at a very young age," she explains of her past revelry. "I was making my own money; I partied. Yes, I went and lived on my own early, had a band and did all that. But at the same time, the most important thing to me was my creativity, my career and being a real human being. I never let the partying control my life; it was a small part of my world then."

Now it's safe for Milla to say that her rebellion acts up in the form of creativity. "It just gives me that edge where I feel like I love my personal life and don't need to go outside of my personal world to have fun. I don't need to go out and party all night or try and lose myself with drugs. I can lose myself with my music, my drawings, my readings...I've always been passionate about being creative, whether it's with designing my own fashion line, modeling, singing, and songwriting or acting. I always have an outlet for my creativity."

Moreover, Jovovich has relied on her strong physicality for a vibrant and healthy body image. "I think it's always hard for young girls to look at magazines because they believe the models are what real women look like. When I was in Paris, I found some skinny girls who really looked unhealthy and, honestly, not very appealing. I think most guys I've ever talked to don't find that look attractive either. There are some actresses I respect and admire who are intelligent: Kate Winslet, Cate Blanchett, Kate Beckinsale...all the Kates," chuckles Milla. "They look beautiful, healthy, down-to-earth, and cool and they are all moms."

Milla credits her upbringing for helping her keep grounded in her career. "I think it's up to the parents to educate their girls on what is a healthy lifestyle and what isn't, what's superficial and what isn't. It's more important to be smart, healthy, and have passion in your life when you're dedicated to something. That's how I was brought up. You don't need to be a party girl to be cool."

Perhaps it is her relationship with Paul W.S. Anderson or the birth of Ever, but these days, Milla's pace in life and work is far more measured and mature. Mama Milla is enjoying her role as mother even though she had to face losing over 65 pounds of pregnancy weight once Ever arrived. "I guess I could have cut down a bit on the donuts and cakes," laughs the model mom. "I'm pretty much down to my normal weight now."

At 135 pounds, the new mom exercises regularly and spends considerable time at home cooking. Besides Russian chicken burgers, staples include: fresh vegetables, non-fat plain yogurt with sliced cucumbers, salads, and ranch and French onion dressings. Not to mention, she supplements her healthy diet with multivitamins. "When I religiously take them, I never get sick."

Health plays a huge role in Milla's life. Growing up in the former Soviet Union, Milla recalls getting ill often, especially when she was hospitalized for pneumonia at two and shortly thereafter for spinal meningitis. "I had my first existential crisis before I was six. This was when I realized that I was going to die or my parents were going to die or that chair was going to be there longer than I would. I worried about my life at a very early age and became morbidly fascinated with death and life compared to the universe." Now when Milla feels ill she says, "I know I've either run out of my multivitamins or got lazy about taking them."

Who could fault her for being a bit forgetful these days? "Last night I was up all night with Ever because she's not the best sleeper yet and I haven't the heart to close the door and let her cry. If I can get nine hours of sleep, which is what I call my beauty sleep, I'm so grateful. I've found that sleep is the best way to relax and rejuvenate my body and soul." In her occasional downtime, instead of reading classic Russian literature as she used to, Patricia Cornwell books have become her addiction. "I have found myself enjoying simple things more like reading [her] easy, entertaining books," says Milla, who is fluent in several languages including Russian, French, and English. "I like to read, rest and zone out without intellectually challenging myself too much."

Milla seems to spend little time ruing her party-girl past, preferring to concentrate on motherhood and trying to live a conscious eco-friendly lifestyle. "I try to conserve energy around the house all the time, like unplugging appliances and obviously, we recycle," proudly explains the owner of a Prius hybrid car. "I buy juice in bulk for Ever and not those mini-cartons and I mix the juice in her bottles that, after cleaning, we can use over and over again. All our lights are on timers and they're low-energy voltage. So we try to do the most we can to conserve here and there. There is so much more that everybody can do."

Moreover, Milla has a goal to introduce Ever to the joys of being outdoors. "I want her to really feel and appreciate what it is being out in nature with no electricity, build a fire, and just feel what it is to be a human being because out there it's just you, the earth and the sky. It's an important connection to make that you don't need material things and money to give you happiness. Ever needs to know there's a balance of having a nice lifestyle but at the same time, appreciate having nothing."