The most successful video game-based film franchise ever, grossing more than US$1 billion worldwide to date, comes to a conclusion in Resident Evil: The Final Chapter.
For its kick-ass star Milla Jovovich and director-writer Paul W.S. Anderson, Resident Evil: The Final Chapter represents the end of a 15-year arc in which they met, fell in love, married and now have two daughters – their eldest girl, Ever Anderson, making her film debut in the last installment of the franchise.
“It all came full circle having our daughter on set, playing the Red Queen and being in the same scenes with her,” says Jovovich when STACK chats with her in Los Angeles. “This whole experience has been such a huge part of my life, not just as an actor but on a personal level. My husband I met through this, two kids – it’s the family that evil built… literally.
“But we’re good people and so it was very emotional. It’s hard having to say goodbye to Alice. She has been such a part of my life, as she’s grown I’ve grown and I’ve been inspired by her. I feel like she’s changed as I’ve changed. It’s quite surreal thinking this is now the end.”
Franchise regulars Iain Glen and Ali Larter return for this last hurrah, alongside newcomers Ruby Rose and William Levy.
“We’ve always been really lucky working on the Resident Evil films, because we’ve always managed to get really interesting people to join the cast, people who love the games, love the movies,” Jovovich notes. “Ruby is so lovely, just serious and driven but a lot of fun to be around. When you’re shooting 16 hour days, with night shoots and it’s freezing and its stunts, it can be challenging to say the least. So it’s really important to have positive energy around you. Ruby was amazing, always smiling and laughing and having fun.
“That’s the thing that saves you when you feel like, ‘Oh my god I can’t take this anymore; it’s freezing, I’ve been running all night and I’m exhausted’. You need people around who are going to motivate you to do it again rather than people that get into bad moods, start being divas or start lashing out at the crew or their co-stars. It’s nice to have a cast that is just as motivated and aren’t spoiled brats on set.”
With an earlier shoot date already locked and ready to roll, the husband-and-wife team didn’t know how to break the news of Jovovich’s surprise pregnancy – they are now parents to a second daughter, Dashiel, 18 months old.
“I thought the studio was going to hate us, but they didn’t, they were so nice about it,” whispers Anderson between clenched teeth. “They just said we’ll put everything on hiatus and when you’re ready we’ll go back and shoot. Obviously they were keen for us to shoot as soon as possible, so that put a lot of pressure on Milla to lose the baby weight as fast as possible, start running and that kind of thing. But she also wanted to continue breastfeeding.”
Jovovich was relieved the studio was so considerate. “I couldn’t imagine doing all the stunts whilst being pregnant, although at the same time, I didn’t want to have my stunt double do everything. I gained so much weight with both my pregnancies that I think half the special effects budget would’ve gone into making me look normal, and that would have been ridiculous.
“So it felt right to postpone it, but it was definitely very scary having to call the studio and the producers when Paul was literally about to leave to start prep the day after, and the day before we’re sitting there and we’re thinking, ‘Are we seriously going to do this?’ I mean honestly, I’m an older mom in that sense, and if anything happened to me or to the baby, we’d never forgive ourselves. No movie is worth it.”
And so baby made four. “I have the most amazing photos of these dirty, derelict locations with like zombies and filth and burnt out cars,” says Anderson. “Then in the foreground, there’s Milla sitting on a little blanket breastfeeding and she’s covered in dirt and blood.”
Definitely one for the Evil family album.
Resident Evil: The Final Chapter is in cinemas on January 26.