“As a model, a lot of girls think, ‘I can just show up and be beautiful.’ I always showed up with the intent of, I’m a muse and I will inspire you because I am inspiring myself.”
Milla Jovovich was born in Kiev, Ukraine to father Bogdanovitch Jovovich (Serbian doctor) and mother Galina Loginova Jovovich (Russian actress).
She is an international model, actress (“The Messenger,” “The Fifth Element,” the “Resident Evil” series, and many more), musician (soundtracks, singles, album coming in Fall 2012), and fashion designer (she co-founded the Jovovich-Hawk fashion line).
She is an ambassador for amfAR (The Foundation for AIDS Research), supports several other charities, and is ambassador for Tommy Hilfiger’s initiative to support Breast Health International. Her name is pronounced “mee-luh” “yo-vo-vitch.”
She talks about her early start and being creatively inspired:
“I was eleven when I started working. I was still playing with dolls, so I didn’t really care much about fashion. For me, that was the most important thing—well, let’s say for my mom, because at the time my mom was the main person making sure I was working and disciplined.
“I started acting classes when I was nine, started auditioning and got my first film at eleven, but the modeling career kind of took off before anyone had seen The Night Train to Kathmandu on the Disney Channel. It was my first movie and it was a disaster; it’s painful to watch. I was a horrible actress when I was a kid, as most kids are.
“For my mom, education was the most important thing. She said, ‘You know, the modeling stuff is all well and good and a pretty face will get you through the door, but what are you going to do when you get there? What’s gonna happen when you open your mouth?’
“Also, when you work with these photographers, when you go into a career like modeling, you can’t just go in empty-handed or empty-headed.
“There has to be something behind your eyes or else you’re just going to be fly-by-night.
“It was always about reading literature, looking at art books, looking at framing…Who is this photographer? Where did they come from? What kind of lighting did they use?
“My mom always had a collection of art and photography books, saying, ‘Ok, this is how this person works, this is how that person works,’ or asking, ‘Why did Avedon do [the book] In the American West? ’ I was like, ‘Why?!’ And she said, ‘Because that’s the real America. He was interested in real people—he wasn’t shooting glamour all the time.’
“Or we’d look at Egon Schiele paintings, the most perfect example of how to fill a frame beautifully. So, you know, I came into this world with a lot of inspiration already; I’ve always loved to draw and I was constantly keeping diaries and drawing.
“I think that was important because, as a model, a lot of girls think, ‘I can just show up and be beautiful.’
“I always showed up with the intent of, I’m a muse and I will inspire you because I am inspiring myself. Because if you’re not inspired by yourself, how are you going to inspire other people?
In another interview, she commented, “I don’t need to make any more money,” she admits. I have the career of a 45-year-old [at age 30] so I could totally quit tomorrow. But I wouldn’t be happy because I know what I love to do – it’s what I did as a little kid before I started working, which is sitting all day and drawing. Then my acting and modeling interrupted that but I always hoped I would pick it up at some point.”
“My mum always told me, ‘Don’t fall into the trap of expecting your prettiness to open doors and carry you because it’s going to be gone like that.’ I really feel this is the time to establish the rest of my life. With a real job that I don’t just love but that’s also going to put me behind the camera so I’m not totally dependent on my physicality.”
Director Luc Besson commented about Milla Jovovich in their film “The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc” (1999) that “She has the same kind of passion and excess [as Joan] and, you know, she can laugh and she can cry two seconds afterwards.
“She can cry for an ant on the street. She has, like, no skin. She feels everything. Even the wind can make her cry.”
She commented that being chosen to portray Joan of Arc in “The Messenger” was partly a matter of director Luc Besson’s response to her own physical qualities: “Luc told me he was convinced I could play Joan when he saw a photo of me taken by (fashion photographer) Pailo Roversi. He said it made me look so androgynous. You can’t tell if I’m a girl or a boy and that’s what happened with Joan.”