Jovovich: more than meet’s the camera’s eye
Jovovich burst onto the modeling scene in the United States in 1986
at the tender age of 11, when she became the youngest model to appear
on the cover of a major U.S. fashion magazine, Mademoiselle. It was
almost not to be when the publishers discovered her age, and only the
persistence of photographer Richard Avedon, who threatened never to
work for the magazine again, secured her the cover. He was later to
call Milla one of the “most unforgettable women in the world.” At that
time, she was commanding $3,500 for a day’s work, and soon became known
as the “Slavic Brooke Shields.”
in innumerable modeling campaigns, which have included L’Oreal, Armani
clothes and fragrances, Prada, Donna Karan, Calvin Klein, Christian
Dior and Chanel, she remains one the world’s most recognizable and sought-after
models. Indeed, she is considered Prada’s “muse” when it comes
to inspiring the designs of their world-beating fashions, including
the current Prada obsession with a classical Russian style of dress.
However, she has managed to keep her feet firmly planted on the ground,
having, as she says, “learned there’s no payoff to acting supercool
and smart and having nothing real on the inside. ... For a long time
now, I’ve learned to enjoy life and be more open and generous.” Moving
into the business side of things these days, she and longtime friend
Carmen Hawk recently began their own fashion label, Jovovich-Hawk.
was born in 1975 in Kiev, Ukraine. Her father is Yugoslavian doctor
Borgi Jovovich. Milla says the male side of her family is rebellious,
and this includes her father, who spent time in prison over confusion
regarding medical insurance payouts. Perhaps her experience with such
strong personalities has made it possible to survive the rigors of the
fashion and entertainment worlds.
spent her early childhood in both Kiev and London, where her father
was studying medicine. After this, the family moved to Sacramento, Calif.,
defecting from the East on a visit to her father in London. The family
later moved to Los Angeles. Another formative experience was growing
up in America and being labeled a Russian at the height of the cold
war – and in Ronald Reagan’s state of residence, at that.
cites her mother, Galina Loginova, a film and stage actress, as one
of the most important influences in her life. Galina’s experience in
Shakespeare productions was a formative influence on Milla’s love for
the performing arts. “She really gave me inspiration in the beginning.
She educated me and nurtured such a great feeling and appreciation for
art, music and literature. She really tried to give me that curiosity.
She was the first person who opened my mind to so many different things.”
It was also her mother who kept a watchful eye on her as her modeling
career began to take off and her life became more and more manic. In
fact, Milla’s modeling career became so successful so quickly, including
a high-profile appearance on the cover of English magazine The Face
in 1988, that she was a millionaire by the time she was 15.
from an early age to follow in her mother’s footsteps, at age 10 she
starred in a (still unreleased) horror film. Her first feature film
role, “Night Train to Kathmandu,” was shot in 1988 and was followed
by “The Return to the Blue Lagoon,” shot in Australia and completed
at age 14. This was followed by cameo and minor roles in “Kuffs,” “Two
Moon Junction,” “Chaplin” and “Dazed and Confused.”
substantial roles have followed, including “No Good Deed” (2002), co-starring
Samuel L. Jackson and directed by Bob Rafelson (“The Postman Always
Rings Twice”); “Resident Evil” (2002); “Dummy” (2001); “You Stupid Man”
(2001); “Zoolander,” Ben Stiller’s hilarious take on the world of high
fashion (2001); “The Claim” (2000); “The Million Dollar Hotel” (2000),
where she reportedly began spending all her spare time on location in
a seedy South Central L.A. hotel, enjoying the company of the local
residents; “The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc” (1999); “He Got
Game” (1998), directed by Spike Lee and starring Denzel Washington;
and, perhaps most famously, “The Fifth Element” (1997). Currently, she
is in Hong Kong and Shanghai, training in martial arts for the filming
of “Ultraviolet,” a modern-day zombie flick.
is through her career in the entertainment field that she has become
close to the men in her life. Milla married Shaun Andrews (co-star from
“Dazed and Confused”) at age 16, after eloping with him as a way of
legally “getting a bank card.” Her mother, furious, had the marriage
annulled within the week and sent her away to Europe, where she ended
up spending two years in London and recording her first album, “The
Her debut album is a blend of acoustic and pop
melodies, reminiscent of Enya at the height of her popularity. This
is in contrast to her more recent music, which has taken a turn toward
the world of rock. The lyrics touch upon the surreal and abstract, dealing
with the topics of human relationships, and also examining the ethereal
beings that walk amongst us, and reminding us all to make the most of
our lives. The music could be described as folk-pop, with a Californian
edge to it, while the vocals are clear and bright.
went on her first major tour after this album was released, opening
for Crash Test Dummies. In the late ’90s Milla fronted the band Plastic
Has Memory, and she still occasionally finds time to perform live at
clubs in New York and Los Angeles, and recently at the Fashion Rocks
charity event at London’s Royal Albert Hall. She is writing songs for
a new album.
is at the top of the heap,” she says. “It’s the most honest thing
has been writing songs since age 11, when she began learning guitar
and piano. Her high-paying modeling assignments allow her the luxury
of picking and choosing from film offers, and even a little time for
a music career, which she prefers to her modeling career, thinking it
is important to be creative. Her latest appearance as a singer
is on the new Crystal method album, “Legion of Boom,” for which she
second marriage was to Luc Besson, the French-born director of the science-fiction
hit “The Fifth Element,” in which Milla plays Lee-Loo, the scantily
clad “supreme being” sent to protect the earth from evil. They
divorced after 16 months, following the filming of their second movie
together, with work commitments leading to the amicable split after
spending so much time on the move pursuing their careers. She is now
engaged to Paul W.S. Anderson, director of “Resident Evil.”
all this work going on, it’s hard to imagine when she finds the time
to relax. Milla has a general aversion to drugs, seeing them as being
destructive of life and creativity in the long run. However, she famously
liked pot in her earlier years, once appearing on the cover of the dope-smokers’
bible, “High Times,” brandishing a huge joint.
content to cram three careers into one fast-paced life, she also somehow
finds enough spare time to study physics and to promote her favorite
charities: preserving wilderness areas and saving endangered animals.
doesn’t look like Milla Jovovich will slow down any time soon.
The quotes used in this article are from Arena UK, July 2002; New Zealand
Woman’s Weekly - February 14, 2000; Marie Claire (Australia) - December
2000 ; and the Toronto Sun, May 7, 1997.
Mahar is an undergraduate at the University of New South Wales (Australia),
majoring in Film and Political Science.