Saturday, March 31, 2012

My interview with Milla Jovovich

Milla: Motherhood tougher than fighting 'zombies'
By Raymond de Asis Lo, L.A. Correspondent (The Philippine Star) Updated March 30, 2012 12:00 AM

Photo is loading...Milla Jovovich is the zombie slayer Alice in theResident Evil franchise.
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Milla Jovovich has been battling zombies for nearly a decade now in the Resident Evil franchise that it was nearly inevitable that one decidedly cheesy question would be asked during last weekend’s roundtables for her current movie, the fifth in the series, Resident Evil: Retribution at the annual WonderCon event which is being held temporarily in Anaheim this year because the event’s home in San Francisco is currently under renovation.

Milla is a mom to her and Resident Evil director Paul W. S. Anderson’s four-year-old daughter so naturally one curious journalist from Europe asked her this question: “What is more difficult, raising a child or fighting the undead?” The question elicited a brief smile from the pretty Ukrainian-born star before obliging the journalist with an answer.

“You know, I always compare young children to sharks,” she started with a smile. “As soon as they smell blood, they go immediately for the jugular so you got to be on top of it. So, definitely, I think, being a mom in real life is more difficult than fighting pretend zombies.” She added that she has a video of her daughter proclaiming, “Zombies are my best friends!”

Sony Pictures’ Resident Evil: Retribution is not set for release until later this year but fans of the popular series who attended the WonderCon showed up in droves and queued for hours just to get into one of the huge ballrooms just to catch a shortclip from the movie and to have a chance to converse directly with Milla and Paul during the much-awaited panel discussion scheduled after the preview.

Fans who came in costumes as varied as Iron Man and Belle from Beauty and the Beast crowded the packed ballroom. The series has achieved such loyal following that two of my friends, Rjay and Robby, who went to WonderCon with me (sans costumes) and who are self-confessed die-hard Resident Evil fans even fed me questions to ask Milla during our private interview which preceded the panel discussion. Alas, the roundtable was commandeered early on by another journalist that I only managed to get in three questions.

Milla at the annual WonderCon — Photo by Gage Skidmore
The actress and her director-husband disclosed that much of the success of the Resident Evil franchise is due to the legion of fans that are constantly giving Milla direct feedbacks through her Twitter account. Paul also revealed that they do listen to popular fan sentiments and they try very hard to accommodate whatever they clamor for into the movie’s storyline.

In fact, some plot developments for the fifth installment of the franchise were based on suggestions from fans: Key characters like Leon, Ada and Barry are going to reappear in the latest movie, according to Paul, because fans wanted them to return.

Milla also believes that another reason why the franchise has proven to be very successful is how Paul has approached each of the four previous installments with utmost respect to the core Resident Evil universe that made the original video game a blockbuster.

Each of the Resident Evil movies have grossed bigger than the previous one with the last installment, Resident Evil: Afterlife, the biggest of the four movies so far.

But just like every popular movie franchise, the series is also headed to its eventual end. Not very soon, of course, but the director wants to inform the fans that the end is almost near.

“This is very much the beginning of the end,” Paul revealed. “This is setting up for an epic showdown where there will be a lot of people dead and a lot of blood spilled.” But he wouldn’t say whether there would be just one or two more movies left in the series. “When we did Resident Evil: Afterlife, we said it would be nice to do another trilogy to bring everything to an end. Loose ends are coming to an end and everything is, kind of, getting tied up.”

To excite the fans, Paul teased that Alice, Milla’s character, will be “pretty much in the belly of the beast” when asked how close will the heroine be to the Umbrella, the powerful organization in the franchise that protects the evil zombies. “Alice is going to bring it all down that’s why the title is called ‘Retribution,’” he said.

Whatever happens — whether Alice survives in the end or not — the franchise will go down in film lore as the series that made zombies such a rage in movies and in television again. Before the success of Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later and the hit TV series The Walking Dead, Alice was already waging war against the undead in Resident Evil.

But what is perhaps the biggest reason why the franchise has been so successful is the off-camera relationship between Milla and Paul.

The actress and the director met and fell in love while doing the series. They have been together for a decade now and it was very apparent during our interview how much respect and love both have for each other. Listening to how Milla lovingly describes her husband (and Paul doing the same) was quite a refreshing off-topic that took us away from the gory world of the franchise, if for just a little bit.

“What I love when Paul writes these movies is that you don’t know if it’s gonna be out next year or in two years or in three years,” she said gushing. “It is not forced, it is very organic and it’s very natural.”

Paul responded by declaring, “Milla is really the heart of this franchise. She brings an emotion and a heart to the film that is very touching and what is often lacking in male action heroes.”

“She brings 150 percent effort every day,” he added. “She makes you believe the world (the Resident Evil universe) because, you know, they are not the undead and they are not terrifying. They don’t want to eat your brain. They are just some extras with their make-up on talking on their Blackberry (phones). They are not scary but it is Milla’s reaction to them that makes you believe that the creature is right there. Milla is terrified and the world you see in her face is real. She makes you believe it.”

But when asked who is the director at home, both of them just laughed.

“Need you ask?” asked Paul. “It’s our daughter, of course!”

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