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Milica Bogdanovna “Milla” Jovovich[a][b] (/ˈjoʊvəvɪtʃ/ YOH-və-vitch; born December 17, 1975) is an American actress, model, and musician. Her starring roles in numerous science fiction and action films led the music channel VH1 to deem her the “reigning queen of kick-butt” in 2006. In 2004, Forbes determined that she was the highest-paid model in the world.
Born in Kiev, in the USSR, Jovovich emigrated with her parents to London when she was five, and then to Sacramento, California; she finally settled in Los Angeles seven months later. In 1987, at the age of 12, she began modeling when Herb Ritts photographed her for the cover of the Italian magazine Lei. Richard Avedon featured her in Revlon’s “Most Unforgettable Women in the World” advertisements. In 1988, Jovovich made her screen debut on the television film The Night Train to Kathmandu and appeared in her first feature film Two Moon Junction.
Jovovich gained attention for her role in the 1991 romance film Return to the Blue Lagoon, as she was then only 15. She was considered to have a breakthrough with her role in the 1997 French science-fiction film The Fifth Element, written and directed by Luc Besson. She and Besson married that year, but soon divorced. She starred as the heroine and martyr in Besson’s The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc (1999). Between 2002 and 2016, Jovovich portrayed Alice in the science fiction horror film franchise Resident Evil, which became the highest-grossing film series to be based on video games.
Jovovich released a debut album, The Divine Comedy, in 1994, and a follow-up, The People Tree Sessions, in 1998. She continues to release demos for other songs on her official website and frequently contributes to film soundtracks. In 2003, she and model Carmen Hawk created the clothing line Jovovich-Hawk, which ran until 2008. Jovovich has her own production company, Creature Entertainment.
Recent works (2010s)
In 2010, Jovovich returned as Alice in the fourth movie of the Resident Evil series, Afterlife, which was directed by her husband, Paul W. S. Anderson, and portrayed the mother of a promiscuous and troubled high school student in the independent coming-of-age dramedy Dirty Girl, which premiered at the Toronto Film Festival, opposite Juno Temple, William H. Macy, Mary Steenburgen, and Tim McGraw. In its review for the latter film, The Hollywood Reporter found Jovovich to be “terrific” in what it described as a “sweet [and] sassy period comedy with a Juno sensibility and the soul of a Little Miss Sunshine”. Jovovich played the wife of a jailed arsonist in Stone, a psychological thriller co-starring Robert De Niro and Edward Norton. Filming began in May 2009 at the recently closed Southern Michigan Correctional Facility in Jackson, Michigan. The film was released in late 2010, to a mixed response. Nevertheless, The A.V. Club noted that Jovovich was “particularly good as a breathy femme fatale who seduces De Niro with a mere change in inflection”.
Jovovich starred in Paul W. S. Anderson’s romantic action adventure film The Three Musketeers, as Milady de Winter, in 2011, alongside Matthew Macfadyen, Logan Lerman, Ray Stevenson, Luke Evans, Orlando Bloom, and Christoph Waltz. After the lackluster response for Musketeers, Jovovich criticised Summit Entertainment for not “promoting [the film] properly” as a “family film” in the United States. Deadline Hollywood reported that Summit responded: “She doesn’t know what she’s talking about and we don’t know where she’s coming from.” She would next headline the little-seen psychological thriller Faces in the Crowd, which was written and directed by Julien Magnat; in it, she plays the survivor of a serial killer’s attack that leaves her suffering from a condition called prosopagnosia, which renders her unable to recognize faces. Sight and Sound remarked that the film suffered from “a central performance not quite strong enough to win Jovovich recognition as a dramatic actress”. Also in 2011, Jovovich appeared as an Ukrainian con artist in Famke Janssen’s directorial debut film Bringing Up Bobby, alongside Marcia Cross, and starred in the romantic comedy Lucky Trouble, which was her film debut in Russian language.
Jovovich returned to her role as Alice in the fifth installment of Resident Evil for Resident Evil: Retribution, which was released in 2012. She played an ambitious woman and the second wife of the leader of a motorcycle club in 2014’s Cymbeline, a film version of the eponymous play by William Shakespeare, and in 2015’s Survivor, she took on the role of a Diplomatic Security Service/Foreign Service officer at the US Embassy in London. Both films received a VOD release in North America, despite theatrical runs abroad. Jovovich made a cameo appearance reprising the role of villain Katinka in 2016’s Zoolander 2. Resident Evil: The Final Chapter (2016), the sixth and final film of the Resident Evil franchise, starred Jovovich as Alice as she continues her vengeance against Umbrella for the death of her allies and the catastrophe they have caused. Time Out in its review for the film noted: “While the franchise has slackened into dependably dumb post-apocalyptic thrills, star Milla Jovovich has only gotten better, seasoning her long-legged athleticism with a commanding stare”. The Final Chapter was the highest-grossing film in the franchise, earning over US$312 million worldwide.
In Shock and Awe (2018), Jovovich played the wife of an investigator working on the reasons behind the Bush Administration’s 2003 invasion of Iraq, opposite Woody Harrelson and Tommy Lee Jones. In Future World (2018), she obtained the role of a drug lord, alongside James Franco, who also directed the film. While reviewers felt Jovovich was “underused” in Shock and Awe, Future World holds a 0% approval rating on review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, based on 6 reviews. Jovovich starred as the administrator of an island-bound reform school in the fantasy film Paradise Hills (2019), the directorial debut of Alice Waddington. Jovovich appeared in the Hellboy reboot, released in 2019.