How Milla Jovovich Channeled Her Inner Soldier for Monster Hunter

Milla Jovovich is no stranger to taking on intense action roles, whether they be her [...]

Milla Jovovich is no stranger to taking on intense action roles, whether they be her collaborations with Luc Besson in The Fifth Element or The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc, or her iconic turn as Alice in the Resident Evil franchise, cementing that series as some of the most successful video game adaptations of all time. The actress returns to the world of video games for her latest film, Monster Hunter, but the experience still managed to take many of the adventures Jovovich was familiar with and heighten them to gargantuan proportions to take on iconic beasts. Monster Hunter lands in theaters on December 18th.

In the new film, "Behind our world, there is another: a world of dangerous and powerful monsters that rule their domain with deadly ferocity. When an unexpected sandstorm transports Lt. Artemis (Jovovich) and her unit (TI Harris, Meagan Good, Diego Boneta) to a new world, the soldiers are shocked to discover that this hostile and unknown environment is home to enormous and terrifying monsters immune to their firepower. In their desperate battle for survival, the unit encounters the mysterious Hunter (Tony Jaa), whose unique skills allow him to stay one step ahead of the powerful creatures. As Artemis and Hunter slowly build trust, she discovers that he is part of a team led by the Admiral (Ron Perlman). Facing a danger so great it could threaten to destroy their world, the brave warriors combine their unique abilities to band together for the ultimate showdown." caught up with Jovovich to talk the new film, drawing inspiration from real-life members of the military, and if she could return to Resident Evil.

milla jovovich monster hunter interview 2020
(Photo: Sony Pictures Releasing) With Monster Hunter, you worked with this director who goes by the name of "Paul W.S. Anderson."

Milla Jovovich: Never heard of him.

Hmm, I don't know, looks like you've made a few films with him before and are married to him. He's said before just how passionate he was about getting Monster Hunter made, so I wondered if you've been invested in the project just as long he has, since he would obviously be mentioning it around the house, or if he was doing his thing and came to you late in the game about starring in it?

Monster Hunter has been a huge part of Paul's life for over a decade, and I've seen many iterations of the script before the film we ended up making. We definitely had never thought that I would play the lead in it. I remember the film that he almost made had like a 14 year-old-boy in the lead. So, definitely, he started off making a very different movie to the one that we made together. But, somehow, it never solidified, he never really finished the script that he was happy with. And then he finally brought me the version of the film that you've seen, and he said, "Oh, can you read it? I rewrote Monster Hunter again."

I said, "Yeah, sure." He said, "Well, I'm warning you, this version I wrote for you." And I rolled my eyes and said, "Well, listen, we just wrapped Resident Evil. I'm not going to go from killing zombies to killing monsters. Ridiculous." He's like, "Well, look, I think this is the best version I've written yet. Please keep an open mind when you read it." And he knows me so well. The fact is, he wrote a great character for me with the Captain Artemis, and he's always known my affinity for the military.

I come from a military background, on both my mother's and my father's sides, so I definitely always joked that if I wasn't an actress, I probably would have joined the military myself, so he definitely knew the kind of character that would attract me.

Well, as you mentioned, coming off of Resident Evil and going into another big, sci-fi, action-adventure movie, this is tonally different. There's definitely much more of a sense of playfulness to this movie, and I wondered what made shooting this film so much different from all the other bad-ass sci-fi roles and projects you've done?

The thing that really set this character apart was that even though she is strong and she's a superhero in her own right, she is, in the end, she's just a real woman. And when I was researching the character, I spent a lot of time at Fort Irwin, which is a military base outside of Los Angeles, and got a chance to work with the soldiers there, to work on these amazing combat simulations that they do over there. And through that, one thing led to another, and I met a real female army ranger through one of her friends, who was like, "Oh, you should talk to this girl, Natalie, because she's one of the few women that's actually gotten her ranger tag."

I called her and we started talking and became friends through this. She ended up coming down and being a military advisor on the film, her and her husband. Finding out her experiences and what she had to go through to get her ranger tag and the mental fortitude and the physical endurance and the pain that she went through, it was just extraordinary listening to her stories. It became really evident how grounded this character was and how different she was from any other character that I had played in an action film before. That made it really special, because I felt like I was representing a real person, and she really helped me identify with the character and she really inspired it.

I mean, the character is called "Artemis" in the movie, but on my dog tag, it says, "Natalie Artemis" because my friend's name is Natalie Mallue.

Oh, that's a cool little nod to her.

Actually, her and her husband have cameos in the movie. They both get eaten by a dragon at the end.

When you said they had cameos at the end, I thought maybe you would say they played the greater rathalos, that would be a really good performance because I had no idea.

They get eaten by the rathalos, so second best [option].

The number of films you've done with Paul is heading towards the double digits, and since you've collaborated with him so much, are there projects that you've brought to him that you really want to motivate him to make for you to star in, since he's enlisted you for so many films?

Well, it's funny, because there's a short story by George R.R. Martin called "In the Lost Lands" that I had found and it was a project that I was supposed to do a few years ago and then it all fell apart, but I kept in contact with the writer who had developed the script and owned the property. I brought it to Paul's attention, and I said, "Listen, this is such a great story, and I just love it so much. I wonder, could we produce this together? Could we do something together for it?"

I wasn't, to be honest, even thinking about directing it. I just thought maybe he could help us develop it, and he loved the idea. We've been developing this script for, I guess, it's going on the last four years now, so it's definitely been a passion project of ours, and we'll see if we can get it done next year or not, but it's something we'd like to do together.

It's nice to see this George R.R. Martin guy finally get some notoriety, finally get some success.

Well, what's amazing, it's literally the last few of his stories that were available that my friend got the rights to before Game of Thrones became a thing. And then all of his stories got bought up, but he had the rights to these few short stories. So we were really lucky to get them.

Paul has said before he's definitely done with Resident Evil and he concluded Alice's journey, but with a bunch of new projects on the horizon for the franchise, if you were approached to return in any sort of cameo capacity, even if you weren't playing Alice but merely were symbolically passing the torch to a new project, would you be interested in that or are you also completely done?

Oh, listen, Resident Evil is such a huge part of my life, on so many different levels. I was such a big fan of the game, that's what made me want to be in the movie to begin with. So I would always love to go back to the Resident Evil universe. I think it's such a fun place to be in and it's such a great reality. And, listen, I spent half of my career in that world, I would love to be a part of it again. I know whoever is doing it is going to have an amazing time on it, because it's a really fun world to be a part of.


Monster Hunter lands in theaters on December 18th.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity. You can contact Patrick Cavanaugh directly on Twitter.