After slaying zombies in the Resident Evil franchise, Milla Jovovich sets her sights on big bad beasts in Monster Hunter, an adaptation of the Capcom video game series.
Milla Jovovich, the Ukraine-born supermodel turned actress, quickly endeared herself to moviegoers in 1997 as the flame-haired Leeloo in Luc Besson’s The Fifth Element. But it was the role of Alice in the long-running Resident Evil movie franchise that cemented her status as a female action icon.
However, following series’ closer Resident Evil: The Final Chapter in 2016, Jovovich found herself in a dark place.
“After Resident Evil, I was like, ‘It’s done. My franchise is over. My career as an action hero is over,’” she tells STACK. “I kind of felt like Jim from The Office. ‘What am I going to do with all this useless information in my head now, because I can’t use it for anything else but another action film?’ I have so much experience doing action films and can bring so much to the table with wire work or helping the visual team and in post-production.
“I was so happy when Hellboy came up [in 2019] – ‘Yay, I’m back in business!’ This is a genre I know so well, and I enjoy so much.”
Two years later, Jovovich was once again honing her physical skills as an action hero for husband and Resident Evil director Paul W.S. Anderson in another video game adaptation, Monster Hunter – based on the popular Capcom franchise.
The film sees a team of elite soldiers, led by Jovovich’s Captain Artemis, falling through a portal into a world inhabited by giant monsters. Teaming up with a hunter (Tony Jaa) within that realm, the squad must find a way back home while fending off hordes of colossal beasts.
When Anderson first gave the screenplay to Jovovich, she still needed some convincing.
“My first thought was, really, from zombies to monsters? You’ve got to be kidding me,’ she jokes. “He said, ‘Just read it,’ and when I did, I felt like it captured everything I love about making action movies. But I really loved the character of Captain Artemis; she just felt real to me. I felt like it would be wonderful to play somebody that disciplined.”
“Who better to kick ass and kill monsters than Milla Jovovich?” asks Anderson. “Not only is she an action icon, she also brings a lot of character to the role. She’s married. Maybe she’s a mother. And Milla did a huge amount of research to make Artemis a real, relatable character, training with the US military.”
Jovovich notes that motherhood made the process of slipping back into action mode more challenging.
“By the time I made this movie I had two babies and was definitely intimidated by the process,” she tells us. “But after going to Fort Irwin, which is a military base outside of Los Angeles, working with the soldiers, doing different types of real-life simulations, and meeting one of the few female army rangers, it really helped me to immerse myself in this character.”
Another challenge was keeping up with her Monster Hunter co-star, martial arts legend Tony Jaa (Ong Bak, Fast & Furious 7).
“It was very intimidating,” she admits. “Obviously Tony is the closet thing you’ll find to a real life superhero. But I was ready to be inspired and I was ready to learn, and ready to be impressed. Tony is so full of energy and ideas and I can’t tell you how incredible it was to work with him, and I really hope that it’s not the last time I get a chance to be on screen with him.”
Now that she’s back in action, Milla Jovovich isn’t about to slow down. She’ll next be seen as a black-ops assassin in the thriller Hummingbird and will reunite with Anderson for In the Lost Lands, a fantasy-adventure adapted from a story by George R.R. Martin (Game of Thrones).
Monster Hunter is out on April 28 – Pre-order your copy now