Hellboy saved Milla Jovovich from post-Resident Evil career crisis
The Hollywood actress on life as an action star, new film Hellboy and the upcoming Monster Hunter
After the Resident Evil action horror film franchise ended in 2016, Milla Jovovich - who portrayed its zombie-shooting heroine Alice - experienced an existential crisis about her career.
"I had gotten pretty much over 20 years of experience doing action films," said the 43-year-old US actress during our interview at the W hotel in Hollywood.
"I was like, what am I going to do with all this useless information in my brain? I know wire work, I know tricks, I know how to help with the visual effects department. I built up all of this stuff and now I can't use it. What am I going to do?"
And then she got the script for Hellboy, in which she was offered the role of sorceress Nimue the Blood Queen, in a reboot of the franchise opposite David Harbour in the title role of the half-demon superhero. It is currently showing here.
"I thought it was great because it is the best of both worlds. I get to be in an action movie and bring my experience to the table. But also, it is such a different character from Alice. She is sophisticated, glamorous and beautiful.
"I was just super happy to be able to play such a mysterious character who is so important in the graphic novels, and actually she has such valid points. She wasn't even a bad guy for me. I felt like everyone else was the bad guy and I was the only good one," she said.
Jovovich is on a roll trying to explain that Nimue - who centuries ago was cut up into parts and buried alive, and is now being resurrected so she can exact her revenge - is not a villain and why she tries to seduce Hellboy over to her side.
"She was trying to give him freedom to own himself. We tell our kids: Be yourself, you should be proud of who you are, don't hide. But yet Hellboy is the opposite, he has to constantly deny who he is. And here is my character coming to him and wanting for him to come out of the closet," she said with a laugh.
"Yet he goes straight back in and that is supposed to be a happy ending."
And Jovovich is not done trying to convince us.
"Nimue comes with this big idea of bringing peace between the world of monsters and humans, and yet the powerful men around her decapitate her and bury her alive.
"Now in this day and age, I am like, 'Oh, so familiar.' Any time a woman has a great idea, it is not going to go well for her."
At this point, I am completely taking her side even though I have seen the movie. Jovovich is such an entertaining interviewee, taking off on tangents, laughing at herself, being utterly disarming.
The first two Hellboy films in 2004 and 2008 were written and directed by Guillermo del Toro, who was offered only a producer credit on this third one, which he declined. Original star Ron Perlman refused to work without him and dropped out.
Purely by coincidence, Jovovich got to work with Perlman anyway on her next movie, Monster Hunter, helmed by her English director-husband Paul W.S. Anderson, who directed, wrote and produced almost all six of the Resident Evil films and with whom she shares two daughters aged 12 and four.
"Yes, (Ron) was very upset," she said when asked if they talked about Hellboy.
"I am joking," she quickly added.
"He is just so quintessentially Hellboy that there was a little twinge of, 'Oh, I can't believe I am not working with Ron Perlman.' And then Paul sent him the script for Monster Hunter and he said yes."
It is hard to believe that Jovovich is in her 40s, something she admits freely and is really happy about.
She started physical training for Monster Hunter and put live feeds of her workouts on Instagram to inspire her fans.
"I started seeing major improvements in my skin, especially when I started eating a lot of vegetables every day.
"I have been in the beauty industry for most of my life, I have used every product you could imagine. And suddenly I look better at 43 than I did at 36 in a way, because I am actually taking care of my body and I am eating the right things."
And about her real-life leading man Anderson, Jovovich said: "He is my best friend. I can't imagine what I would do without him. He loves me so much.
"He pretty much built his career around me. He had to chase me for a long time, I made his life hell. And wow, the fact that he still loves me after everything, I am just so lucky."