If you’ve been looking forward to the next installment of the Resident Evil franchise, I think I’ve got something to tide you over for a little while: my on set interview with Milla Jovovich. Last year, when Resident Evil: Afterlife was filming in Toronto, I was part of a group of online journalists that got to visit the set. And even though Milla Jovovich was in every scene the day that day, she came over to talk to us on two separate occasions. It was very cool of her.
During our two part interview she talked about her lack of familiarity with 3D before making RE: Afterlife, what’s new with Alice in the fourth film, how much input does she have on the story as she’s married to the writer/director (Paul W.S. Anderson), filming the latest installment and the challenges of 3D, and a lot more. If you’re a fan of the Resident Evil franchise, you’ll love the interview.
As always, you can either read the transcript below or listen to the audio by clicking here. And if you haven’t seen the trailer for Resident Evil: Afterlife, I’d watch it first. Finally, I was able to interview Milla Jovovich at this year’s WonderCon, so click here if you missed it.
Question: So what are your thoughts on 3-D?
Jovovich: Well, I don’t know. I’ve never actually seen a 3-D movie, so… I’ve seen some dailies in 3-D and it kind of gives me a headache. (Laughs) But it looks really cool.
You never did the red and blue glasses back in the day as a kid? You were deprived.
Jovovich: I was, I was seriously deprived as a kid. All I did was work.
Can you tell us what’s new about Alice in this movie?
Jovovich: Well, without giving too much away, I think Alice is definitely a happier person. She’s more in control of herself. I definitely think she’s a little bit lighter because of things that I won’t talk about. But, she’s more herself than we’ve ever seen her; ready to start relationships with people, ready to get back into the world a bit.
Jeremy hinted that there might be some love interest for Alice in this film?
Jovovich: Potentially. (Laughs)
We were wondering how much input you have on the script since you’re living with the guy when he’s writing the script.
Jovovich: Definitely the Resident Evil world is a huge part of our daily lives as Paul is the writer and we’ve been working on these films for almost ten years. Definitely there’s a lot of ideas going back and forth. Let’s just put it this way. Draft one will never be seen. He got a lot of boiling water from his wife about it.
Are you ever like, “I want a scene where I do this kind of kick?”
Jovovich: Oh yeah. I mean, definitely the action sequences I’m very involved with and stunt-wise, I definitely love doing it so I have just instinctual ideas about things that my character would do or even just really cool thoughts or dreams that I had or something that like, “Oh and this is 3-D so let’s really take advantage of this medium and do something like this or like that.” Actually the scene that we just shot, we were rehearsing the last few days for these kicks and trying to figure out the physics of the actual kicks that I’m doing. We had these really cool kicks sort of worked out. Then they actually pulled Dead, the stunt guy, who’s stunting for Kim Coates, and, you know, it just felt like the kick didn’t match his reaction to the kick and I was like, “Something just feels wrong about this.” I talked with Joanne, my stunt double, and kind of talked about what else could we do and I was like, “Let’s maybe try something that’s more of a front kick like up onto him that would send him onto a table because he has to physically go over a table.” The side kick just would have sent him into the table and it just looked weird. So I think it worked out really well.
Can you talk about stuff that you get to do in this film that you haven’t done before?
Jovovich: Well, oh gosh, I mean this is definitely in my opinion one of the most kind of unbelievable-looking Resident Evil films that we’ve shot. The stunts really take advantage of the 3-D medium even though we keep 2-D in mind because a lot of people are not going to be able to afford a 3-D ticket or they might not have a 3-D theater in their town, so we’ve been very aware that whatever we shoot, even though it’s playing to the medium, we won’t want to just make a 3-D movie. We want to make a movie that’s going to look great on TV, that’s going to look great in everyone’s home.
But it’s bigger?
Jovovich: Oh yeah, it’s, the stunts just go off the charts in this one. Some really cool stuff. And, you know, obviously taking advantage of green screen a lot for them because they’re just physically impossible, to build a set to jump off of that’s that high would just cost too much. So we’re definitely trying to make the dollar go as far as possible and take what we have and just multiply it. I think we really have. It’s very exciting watching dailies. It’s a lot of fun. I think the characters in this one are so strong. We did a lot of work in making sure that everybody had their own presence in this film. It was really funny because I’m looking at the whole cast when everyone’s actually together in the film and I’m like, “I can’t believe you guys are gonna die. This sucks. I’m so sorry.” But it’s one of those things where it’s not very often in a movie like this that you’re sort of feeling bad about body count. God, you’re more to me than just body count.
It was said when Oded died. You wanted him back, right?
Jovovich: I did, he’s amazing, but what a way to go. It was a nice death scene.
Do you go back in the red dress this time around?
Jovovich: No. Noooo. (Laughs) But you never know. No, the cones have a new sense of style in this one.
So are you the clones or did they digitize a bunch of extras?
Jovovich: No, I’ve talked about the clones a bit. But no, I am all the clones. I actually told the producers they should pay me by clone as opposed to just me. It’s like, “How many clones are there?” (Laughs) I’ve been playing all of the clones, which has been really interesting and kind of disconcerting because most of the time you’re playing to an X over there and then going to the other side and playing to an X over there and having to do everything twice kind of thing but a little bit differently so each clone kind of has her own personality and her own thing going. At one point I was like, “Wouldn’t it be funny if one of the clones looks at the other like, ‘All right let’s go’ and the other one’s like…”
How does it feel to be back in Toronto? It must be a reprieve from the sweltering heat of Mexico?
Jovovich: It’s quite a reprieve. (Laughs) It’s great. I love Toronto. It’s a great city and it’s nice to be in a place where you get all the amenities of a big city of course. But there was definitely a charm about Mexicali. You can’t beat our little tiny motel that we stayed, the little pool in the middle and all of our rooms looking out on it and we could all get margaritas at the end of the day. It was fun.
You mentioned a little bit about working on the script with Paul. Can you talk about that and what the back and forth is like with you guys?
Jovovich: We definitely sit up a lot talking about the script and the story and, you know, definitely we talk about all the things that I like first and then, you know, I get into the things that I’m not totally sure about. And, you know, pretty much he’ll either explain a really great reason for something and I’m like, “Okay” or if it’s something I feel really strongly about, you know he’ll go and rewrite it.
Is there something that you are pleased to see he took your advice on?
Jovovich: Quite a bit. I don’t want to give it away. I guess you guys aren’t allowed to… Okay, yeah, I was very much wanting the action to just step up a notch for this one, especially with the 3-D. I had always experienced going to the movies… I don’t remember what it is, that advertising… Not advertising, but it’s like that amphitheater that you sort of swoop down into when you’re at the movies.
That logo for Pacific Theaters.
Jovovich: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I always loved that. It was, like, “Wow, you really kind of feel like you’re flying into it.” I really like feel like, if you just see something like that in 3-D, how amazing that is, that feeling of really swooping down and flying. So we have Alice flying a plane in this one, which is going to be really cool, so that you really get this feeling of flying through things and flying low through things. And also a big thing of mine was doing a great jump, especially in 3-D, so you really have this feeling of diving down like an elevator shaft in the skyscrapers, so it was constantly like, “Oh, have you written the elevator shafts? Have you written the elevator shafts?” And so he wrote this really great scene during the clone sequence where my clones crash through this plate glass window and then get into this needle dive going down like 50 stories of the Umbrella headquarters. And they found this amazing place. It’s at the University here where they have these white floating pods, which is actually like a coffee station, I guess, for the teachers. And then the other is a study area. Lucky students and teachers, wow. So that’s the main Wesker Umbrella headquarters center. And then I do this really amazing needle dive, the two clones shooting people as we go down. It’s in this atrium so all the balconies are around, guards are coming and it’s like, (she makes machine gun sounds).
Is that shot practically?
Jovovich: It was shot against green screen. It was really about, like, because the first take we did, I like to see playback all the time in every film because I like to make adjustments. When I see it on screen it kind of becomes more clear to me what’s not right with this. Or, you know, “It’s great. I love it.” But most of the time, it’s like, “What’s not right about this?” (Laughs) I saw the playback and I’m on wires so they bring me the little clamshell and, you know, I’m kind of just like floating there and it’s like there’s just something wrong with this shot. And I realized when I skydived, there was, like, the wind hitting you and it’s not like big moves, but you really feel the wind resistance. And I was like, “I think this is missing the wind resistance to give it that reality of actually diving.” I mean, it was so weird, that whole diving sequence was just surreal because, A) We were shooting nights so we would come up with these crazy ideas at three in the morning, but to shoot me diving straight down I had to be up so my pony tail is, like, flying in the right direction. So I’m hanging there kind of doing stuff like that to kind of do the wind resistance. And then when my clone’s like crash through the windows, one is crashing this way and the other is shooting crash backwards. So it was like, if she’s falling this way, then her ponytail’s going to fall down. So we actually have to shoot you. No, yeah, if she’s falling this way her ponytail would be flying up because of the wind. So we actually had to shoot me backwards for the ponytail and then the other one who’s falling down, her hair’s here so we actually had to shoot me… And, you know, doing this at three in the morning. “Which way is the ponytail going?” It was just literally so hard to do and everyone’s getting really pissed off. I’m like, “I think that” and Paul would be like, “Don’t!” (whispering) I’d be like, “Okay. I didn’t say anything, but that ponytail was not in the right direction.”
How are your new cast-mates acclimating to the minutia of all these action shots and anything fun they’ve said you’d like to share?
Jovovich: Kim is just a riot. He is an amazing actor and just so much fun to work with because he just improvises all over the place.
Is that encouraged?
Jovovich: Oh yeah, sure. Anything to give life to the characters is great. But sometimes he’ll just go so far that you’re just like, “Are you joking?” At one point he started talking about, “We’ve got to get out of here because they’re gonna come and they’re gonna eat us alive. We’re the only fresh meat alive on the West Coast.” And he just starts going and he’s like, “They’re going to tear us piece by piece off our bones, the meat, blood and eating,” just like completely and we’re just talking like, “Are you freaking serious?” (Laughs) It’s turning into Scary Movie or something. It was hilarious.
Wentworth is just such a wonderful, wonderful guy. We’ve had quite a few really fun experiences. I’m sure if you guys have read the Twitter account you’ve read about him shooting Boris’ ear, which is a pretty crazy sequence. I guess Wentworth’s never fired a gun before this movie.
Even in Prison Break? I think he did.
Jovovich: I don’t think so because he was like, “Yeah, I’ve never actually pointed a gun, I’ve never actually fired a gun.” I was like, “Oh, okay.” It was kind of funny, so they went and practiced for a few minutes before the scene, ready to fire. It’s like, wow, it takes a lot to just go into the room and then in five minutes it’s like, “Okay, action.” He pulled it off. He’s really good. We’ve had a really great time just hanging out between takes and making fun of each other. We’re just constantly just having a great time imitating each other and our characters. It’s been a blast.
How has Alice evolved, especially with her powers? Are we going to see them evolve more?
Jovovich: Yeah, a little bit, but I think the interesting thing about this movie… Actually, this is one of the arguments I had with Paul. At the beginning of the scriptwriting process he convinced me that this is the way it should be, which is really funny. I’m glad you reminded me of that. She loses her powers in this one and it’s actually a really great thing because, in some sense it makes her human again, which she’s wanted. And I think it gives her a lightness too and a sense of relief to just be a bad-ass again and not have to be a superhero. I think that shows throughout the rest of the movie, this kind of, in a strange way, like a joy of just being herself again, which is great.
The elbow, what is this thing called that you’ve got wrapped around?
Jovovich: It does serve a functional purpose. A), it used to be my t-shirt, which ripped. But, B) In the movie I have kind of Travis Bickle-type guns from under my coat, so they protect my arms. It also comes very much in handy when I’m crawling through tunnels. (Laughs)
For more Resident Evil: Afterlife coverage: