Milla Jovovich: The woman who makes dolls and slays zombies

Milla Jovovich enjoys combining home life with horror

If zombies and love don't often go hand in hand then, for Milla Jovovich, it makes perfect sense. Starring in the fifth film of the Resident Evil series, all directed and written by her British husband, Paul WS Anderson, the movies serve as a backdrop to their decade-long personal love story.

The couple met on the set of the first Resident Evil in 2002, becoming engaged while working on the second. The release of the third coincided with the birth of the couple's daughter, Ever, now five years old, and by time they begun work on the fourth they were wed.

Reprising her role as Alice, the zombie-slaying heroine in this video game-turned-movie franchise, Jovovich sees her character as an old-fashioned kind of gal: "I relate to Alice in the sense that she keeps her promises. When she says she's going to do something she does it. I'm also a very loyal person."

The Ukrainian-born actress was just 11 years old when she was discovered by fashion photographer Richard Avedon; she promptly quit school in the seventh grade, going on to grace the covers of more than 100 magazines, earning the title of highest paid supermodel in the world at the peak of her career.

Seeking creative challenges, she would become a prolific songwriter, singer and fashion designer, as well as joining the film world, featuring with Robert Downey Jr in the Oscar-nominated Chaplin when she was 15.

But all that early success didn't bring lasting friendships and the sheen of glamour soon wore off. Searching for love, she entered into two brief marriages, first with her Dazed and Confused co-star Shawn Andrews whom she wed, aged 16. With their union annulled by her mother after just two months, she married her Fifth Element director, Luc Besson, five years later.

"I feel like movie stars don't have many friends at all. They have acquaintances," mulls Jovovich, now 36. "I really only have a few friends. "My regular life today is reading books, making dolls houses, sewing dolls with my daughter and barbequing."

Slaying zombies in her spare time under the keen direction of her husband, she says: "Working with Paul, in particular, there's a lot more pros than cons because we make really fun movies together. It's stressful physically but emotionally we have a good time. We don't have that kind of tension of like, 'Aarrrgghh you've made me like squeeze my soul out during the day and now I have to look at you all night'," she laughs.

She is naturally drawn to strong female characters such as Joan of Arc in The Messenger and a "perfect being" in The Fifth Element, although she's also made other interesting choices during her 24-year acting career, mixing it up with art-house films such as Wim Wenders' The Million Dollar Hotel and big-budget comedies like Zoolander.

Rejecting the notion that her Resident Evil character is mere male eye candy, she argues: "I think women here in the US maybe feel like she's dressed sexy and with a gun and that's just so obvious. The thing I've always liked most about Resident Evil is the fact that Alice is a mother and, apart from the chaos and the violence and the bloodbath, the essence of the story is about a women trying to save a child, which everybody can relate to – especially women."

'Resident Evil 5: Retribution' is on general release

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