Hollywood is still male-dominated, yet actors such as Milla Jovovich are forging a path for women like new Wonder Woman, Gal Gadot, who can be tough and kick ass without losing their femininity. Before DC discovered the towering Amazonian beauty that is Gadot, it appeared there were only a few women who could deliver an unflinching lead performance in an action blockbuster.
Milla Jovovich has been an ambassador, nay, a revolutionary for this shift in pop culture over the last 15 years, becoming Alice, the figurehead of the Resident Evil film series. “I’m just going to be like Dirty Harriet”, she told me in an interview during their shoot in South Africa, adapting her natural “let’s go get a Starbucks and kill some zombies” LA accent into a guttural and more commanding voice.
Jovovich has always had great screen presence and was catapulted into the spotlight after her role in the sequel to Blue Lagoon. A teenage crush, it seemed surreal to be sitting opposite Milla, who ushered me into her luxury trailer lounge like a gracious rock star. “Gosh, I wish I thought like you,” she said, before taking ten minutes to respond to my question about how influential she’s been on the film and video game industries.
She describes her immersive acting style as “a study in belief”, a door that opened after playing Leeloo in The Fifth Element. Jovovich has transformed Alice into a strong character, who embodies allure, attitude, physicality and innocence. It’s been an evolution of thought… living, breathing and thinking with a post-apocalyptic mindset. While Alice is a “tough lady”, the actor acknowledges the character’s inexperienced side, lamenting that she “doesn’t know how to be normal with people” and has “never really experienced love”.
Now a mother of two daughters, married to director Paul WS Anderson, and working with many of the same faces, the Resident Evil empire has become like family to Jovovich. This togetherness explains the staying power of the six-film franchise, which has become the most successful video game adaptation series to date.
It’s this passion, self-belief and unity at the heart of the Resident Evil phenomenon that has made Jovovich an inspiration to fellow female actors and girls growing up in conservative and oppressive countries. Watching Resident Evil: The Final Chapter on DEOD is a reminder of just how much this female-led sci-fi horror-actioner has changed the Hollywood landscape.