Milla Jovovich is back again to battle zombies in Resident Evil: The Final Chapter, the sixth and, yes, final installment of the video-game-inspired film series, out January 27. But to her LGBT fans, the Soviet-born beauty has always kicked ass.
By Brandon Voss
The Advocate: Is this really the final Resident Evil movie, or is this a fake-out like Cher’s farewell tour?
Milla Jovovich: [Laughs] Sad to say, but for us, it’s final. The story really comes full circle.
You’ve played apocalyptic protagonist Alice since the first Resident Evil film, in 2002. Has she become a part of you?
It’s funny, but Alice has become the best part of me, in a way, especially when I need to be brave or strong. If I’m scared or not feeling good about myself, sometimes I think, What would Alice do?
It’s no wonder the character resonated with queer audiences.
So many action films are led by men, so she’s not your typical hero. Alice goes against the grain. The franchise starts with her not knowing who she is, and she has to find herself and do incredible things on her own. There’s an appeal there for a community that’s been made to feel marginalized.
As with Alice, there’s an androgynous spirit to many of your most memorable roles, in films like The Fifth Element, The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc, and Zoolander. What draws you to that androgyny?
I could always look like a boy very easily, which the fashion industry loved to play up, and there’s something incredibly magical about being mysterious. I just did a photo shoot where I look like I could be Lucky Blue’s brother! I was also attracted to relatable characters that seemed more subversive or rebellious, and I was rebelling against everyone who thought a model should only play the femme fatale or some guy’s pretty girlfriend. I wanted to show that women could do something different and be successful.
You began modeling at a very young age. Was that your first exposure to gay people?
Yeah, my upbringing was in the fashion world, working with the most amazing stylists, makeup people, and talented photographers like Herb Ritts and Bruce Weber. I’ve been so inspired by artists who are gay, but I never really thought about it. The first time I saw two boys kiss at a club, it just felt normal to me. Gay people have a sensibility nurtured by the fact that they’re rebels against what was once considered the norm, and I feel you’re always more inspired when you’ve been persecuted or when you’ve had to deal with difficulties in life. So the most creative people I met in the industry were gay guys. To be honest, it was rare to see a straight hairdresser or photographer. I’d be like, “Do you actually know what you’re doing?”
You’ve spoken before about how you got bullied in school because you had emigrated from what was then Soviet Ukraine. How did those difficulties inspire you?
For sure, me not being accepted and not being popular made me look toward the horizon of my life. As an outsider, my world didn’t revolve around school dances and dating the popular jock. School was a clock ticking until I could go start my life. I just looked over everyone’s head and said, “I don’t care what you say to me because I’m going to be a movie star.” That kind of alienation and adversity at a young age can spur you to be better. Where are all those popular kids who had it so easy now? They haven’t done anything I’ve heard about. It’s the kids who had problems who became famous or really successful.
Just look at you now. You became a multihyphenate.
Well, I wanted to show people that you could do it all. When I started modeling in the late ’80s and through the ’90s, you weren’t allowed to be an actress and a model. People were like, “You’ll never be taken seriously.” The term “actress-slash-model” was very derogatory. Then I started playing music, and it was like, “No one will ever take you seriously as a musician if you’re a model and an actress!” But I was rebelling against what people told me I couldn’t do. Now there’s something wrong with you if you’re not a triple threat. So I feel like, in my own small way, I’ve helped girls today be able to do all the things their hearts desire. I feel really good about that. Because I persevered, followed my instincts, and did the things I wanted to do. “Oh, you want to be a singer? Fine, but you have to make pop music.” I was like, “No, I want to make a folk record. I want to be Kate Bush!” Maybe it didn’t earn me a million dollars, but it did earn me the respect of a lot of people who still listen to my record from 1994. Nothing makes me happier than when someone comes up to me and says, “I didn’t think I could do something, but then I saw you in this movie and listened to your record, and I realized that I can do anything.”
You’ve spoken at the GLAAD Media Awards and performed at the Los Angeles LGBT Center. Why is it important for you to support the community?
We’re talking about my friends, my colleagues, my mentors, people I’ve known for years, and people I work with every day. So I’ve never thought twice about supporting LGBT rights. I’ve always been attracted to gay people wherever I go, and we’ve had a lot of fun together over the years. You can always count on a good time with your gusband.
Gay husband! Chris and I met at a very pivotal point in my life. I’d just turned 15, I was making music, and he’s an incredible musician. Instantly, we both just clicked, and we were inseparable. My father was incarcerated at the time, so I was left without a father figure. Chris was 26, quite a bit older, and he protected me. He was my buddy but also my voice of reason. And he had a car. He’s always been a big brother to me, and now he’s a fairy godfather to my daughters. I feel really bad for women who don’t have a gusband. Every woman needs that camaraderie with a male without the pressure of physical attraction.
Evan Rachel Wood made headlines a couple of years ago when she revealed her crush on you. Who’s your girl crush?
There was actually someone recently where I was like, “Wow, she’s really hot”: Elizabeth Banks.
I thought you were about to say Ruby Rose, your gender-fluid Final Chapter costar.
No, Ruby Rose is a little too boyish for me. If I’m going that way, I’m more of a lipstick lesbian.
The Advocate, February/March 2017 issue; extended online version.