Milla Jovovich

Active - 1988 - 2020  |   Born - Dec 17, 1975 in Kiev, Ukraine, Soviet Union  |   Genres - Drama, Comedy, Thriller, Horror

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Biography by Rebecca Flint Marx

One known for straddling careers as a model, singer and actress, performer Milla Jovovich sported an utterly unique square-jawed look and the starkest of features that betrayed her Eastern European origins. Born to a Russian actress and a Yugoslavian doctor in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev on December 17, 1975, Jovovich moved with her family to Sacramento, CA, when she was five. She began her professional modeling career at the age of 11, spending most of her teen years displaying her exotic, blue-eyed beauty on the covers of numerous magazines and in service of countless products.

While pursuing a successful modeling career, Jovovich also began acting, appearing in Zalman King's softcore Two Moon Junction (1988) as Sherilyn Fenn's little sister and Return to the Blue Lagoon, the 1991 sequel to the endearingly awful Brooke Shields flesh-fest Blue Lagoon (1980). Following a role in Richard Linklater's high-school slacker opus Dazed and Confused (1993), Jovovich took a break from acting and also put her modeling career on hold. She turned instead to music, recording an album, The Divine Comedy, that received surprisingly good reviews.

After touring for a few months, Jovovich returned to California and revived her acting career with the help of French director Luc Besson, who cast her in The Fifth Element in 1996. An incredibly stylish sci-fi chase film set in the 23rd century, it featured Jovovich as a tangerine-haired alien, speaking in gibberish and wearing little more than artfully placed ace bandages designed by Jean-Paul Gaultier. The film put her back on the Hollywood radar, something given further assistance by Jovovich's marriage to Besson (married in 1997, the two divorced in 1999). The following year Jovovich had a substantial role as a prostitute in Spike Lee's He Got Game, and, in 1999, she again stepped in front of the camera for Besson, this time to play the title role in The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc. She received strong notices for her work, although the film itself earned less than a warm reception. The following year, Jovovich appeared in Wim Wenders' futuristic The Million Dollar Hotel as a mental patient in the titular establishment. In 2001, Jovovich once again stepped into the lead, this time battling the undead in the action-oriented film version of the popular survival horror video game Resident Evil (2002).

As the years progressed, that assignment would continue to color and define Jovovich's choices, as she soon agreed to headline each of the follow-ups, Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004) and Resident Evil: Extinction (2007). The films received critical excoriation for their mindless, effects-heavy setups and nearly incoherent premises, but no matter: the franchise caught on with the public in a big way and turned Jovovich into an A-list action star, paving the way for the lead role in the nearly indistinguishable outing Ultraviolet (2006). In the meantime,Jovovich occasionally tackled varied material. She delivered a particularly off-beat and quirky performance as a singer who drifts into a Yiddish music career in the comedy-drama Dummy (2004), and in the role of Drusilla in director Gore Vidal's remake of Caligula.

She worked alongside Robert DiNiro and Edward Norton in 2009's psychological drama A Perfect Getaway, and returned to the Resident Evil series in 2010 with Resident Evil: Afterlife. Jovovich played Milday de Winter in 2011's The Three Musketeers, and headlined yet another Resident Evil in 2012, Resident Evil: Retribution. In 2014, she appeared in an updated version of Shakespeare's Cymbeline.

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  • Speaks fluent Russian.
  • Launched modeling career at age 11, when photographer Richard Avedon chose her as one of Revlon's Most Unforgettable Women in the World; first cover was for the October 1987 edition of the Italian magazine Lei.
  • Attended high school with Christina Applegate and then appeared with her in an episode of Married...With Children titled "Fair Exchange."
  • Created two different videos for her 1994 hit "Gentlemen Who Fell" from her album The Divine Comedy; the first one was directed by Lisa Bonet and featured actor Harry Dean Stanton, but she was dissatisfied with the end result and shot a new one in black and white.
  • Performed all of her own stunts in the 2002 sci-fi horror flick Resident Evil.
  • Cofounded clothing line Jovovich-Hawk (2003-08) with model Carmen Hawk. The successful line included a 2008 collection for Target's GO International campaign. Pieces from the duo's 2008 Target collaboration were included in Target's 2011 limited-edition designer collective.