NEW YORK CITY—At the end of a long day of interviews, Milla Jovovich, who founded a career playing an agile action character, is having a tough time holding on to the coffee cup she has brought to a New York City hotel’s interview room. As she grips it tightly, she says, “I know I am supposed to have these perfect reflexes, but that’s not real.”
Watch the trailer for A Perfect Getaway.
It would appear that Jovovich, who started playing Resident Evil’s heroine Alice seven years ago and is now 33, is making an attempt to reinvent herself. In her latest film, A Perfect Getaway, she plays half of a honeymooning couple that travels to the island of Kauai in Hawaii for a hiking adventure. As she and her partner (Steve Zahn) make their way through the trail, they are told that a couple of killers who murdered honeymooners in Honolulu may have found their way to this particular stretch of paradise. The movie opens Friday (August 7).
Jovovich has been starring in films since she was 15. When she was still in her early 20s, she had already gone from being a self-reliant castaway in Return to the Blue Lagoon to playing an enigmatic superhuman in The Fifth Element and the ultimate warrior teen in The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc. In 2002, she starred in Resident Evil, the first of three films in which she battles the undead. She says that as she grew older, she began to worry if Hollywood would ever give her a role in which she wasn’t fighting something or someone.
“I would think, ”˜Oh no, I am being pigeonholed. I am an artist and that is just one part of me,’ ” Jovovich says. “It was torture, but I had a baby just before I started working on A Perfect Getaway and she’s okay. So pigeonhole me, please. For the next few years, I have a great franchise and I have steady work. I know that if I want to, I can always do a smaller film and play a character with more depth.
“I was happy to play the ”˜girl next door’ in A Perfect Getaway,” she continues. “At first I thought, ”˜No one is going to give me that part.’ It is important to show other sides and hopefully when I finish with movies, people will be able to look at my movies and see a whole person there.”
Jovovich wanted the role in A Perfect Getaway but had to convince the film’s director, David Twohy, that she was more than “the girl from the Resident Evil films”. She had gained almost 40 pounds during her pregnancy and told Twohy that she didn’t look much like her former self. And she said she wasn’t particularly interested in doing the work that would be required to lose the weight.
“I said ”˜David, I am 165 pounds. I am not the girl you have seen in films at all.’ So he said, ”˜How long would it take you to lose 20 pounds?’ I said, ”˜I am not interested in losing 20 pounds. I just want to be a mom, but I will send you some pictures of what I look like and you can decide if you want me for it.’ He said, ”˜You might be better this way because you will look more like a normal girl if you aren’t fit.’ That was good because I felt I could just play my part. However, there was one point when we were doing kayaking out by the rocks for a scene. I couldn’t keep up and I kept bouncing into the sharp rocks. So I said, ”˜Why doesn’t my stunt double do this and I will go into that peaceful cove for my close-ups?’ ”
Apparently her days of opting out of stunts are over. She starts work on Resident Evil: Afterlife soon and says that while she doesn’t look the same as she did when the series began, she can still cope with the action work. And she says that she has become a role model in at least one movie-mad country.
“When we started, I was a hot chick with a gun and now I am old chick with a gun. But it is all relative,” she says. “In Tokyo, where the Resident Evil films are a big deal, the audience is 60 percent women. In North America, women account for just 20 percent of the audience. I think Japanese girls love it because there is such repression over there. So to see a woman kicking butt is a big deal.”