Resident Evil is a family affair for the franchise’s star, Milla Jovovich (The Fifth Element) and writer-director Paul W.S. Anderson (Soldier, Mortal Kombat). The combo met on the first zombie apocalypse/corporate distrust adaptation of the popular video game that became the 2002 film. They’ve since married, had two children and over the course of five movies made the biggest video game movie franchise—that now co-stars their oldest daughter as the manifested villain of the whole franchise: The Red Queen. Talk about coming full circle.
We went to South Africa with a small hive of journalists to visit the set of Resident Evil: The Final Chapter. In addition to enjoying the Cape Town location ourselves, we saw the deserted location that Anderson chose to represent the outskirts of Raccoon City, the headquarters of the evil Umbrella corporation that created and released an apocalyptic virus. Like the behind the scenes family behind the film, the story all comes full circle for Alice (Jovovich) too as she heads back to The Hive with a band of fellow survivors to try and destroy the corporation once and for all and save the human race. And of course fighting the zombies in their path to redemption.
During a night shoot we sat down with Jovovich to talk her full 15-year journey with the series. She revealed how her action jealousy eventually got Alice her own huge action set pieces, how her daughter’s Red Queen portrayal will be different, how a horrific accident on the set affected herself and the shoot and how she hopes fans and haters will get exactly what they want from the “final chapter.”
Our full roundtable discussion is below and our interview with her husband and recap of our set visit can be found here.
Question: The Final Chapter is pretty final. Does it help the film and shoot to know that you’re closing with this one?
MILLA JOVOVICH: I am just so excited that we have been able to do this franchise for as many years as we have and I think every one that we make we kind of close the book on it once we’re done and then once people want another one, I am ready to go again. But this time it will be a little bit difficult. I had just had a baby six months ago and so it was definitely challenging because I felt like I was cramming all of the exercise in the at the last minute and just couldn’t get myself out of mom, nursing, hanging-at-home mode. And I look at pictures of myself and from right before I got here I was 35 pounds heavier and when I got here I went into complete overdrive and had to kind of be careful with the dieting and the super exercising because I wanted to nurse my daughter for as long as possible and exercise and nursing don’t go well together so I couldn’t go full on but at the same time. I am now within 6 pounds of my pre-baby weight… I’m sorry that’s where my mind is [laughs].
Is it bittersweet knowing that this is the last one? It’s six of them, is there going to be a feeling of it being weird not being able to look forward to another Resident Evil?
JOVOVICH: Like I said, every time we finish we are kind of just done with it, so I didn’t expect more than the first one. So each one that we do is always a pleasure and kind of a surprise and I am so happy and honored to be apart of this franchise. But at the same time it is nothing that I take for granted, like oh yeah we’ll do another one. I remember doing number four and going oh it would be so great to do one more, just because the character and the story and where she is going now is really exciting and has great ideas and really fun stuff to film and then here we are three movies later. So it is just amazing that we have had a chance to make it as far as we have.
How has your approach to the character changed throughout the making of the films?
JOVOVICH: I think for me I just get more and more comfortable with the character of Alice. I mean, it is about finding little human aspects about her to show that about her, because she is not the kind of character that is going to laugh alot, she is not the kind of character that is going to fall in love, and have these simple moments with people you know, so if I can sneak little things in for her humanity, I have to. We did this amazing fight sequence, that we call “the upside-down fight” and I was watching the stunt double do it and watching them rehearse it and in my head I thought it would be great if she laughed in this fight scene because you could see a different side to her personality and i just thought it would be very charming in a way if you could put that into a fight sequence to give her character a little something instead of being tough all the time. And we did it a couple of times and when people saw it in the dailies everyone just kind of fell in love with Alice because it was just a kind of Alice thing to do. It wasn’t a scripted thing there were moments where I felt kind of inspired to do something different into the scene and I think it is those little bits of life that make a typical fight sequence stand out and something that people really believe and buy it when they watch.
For a franchise, something that is unique about this Resident Evil is that in the film the people that you act against are new and are in it for one film only what can you tell us about a lot of the new characters that are in this and the actors that you are acting against?
JOVOVICH: Well we got a great cast, really fun people, really great actors. It is sad sometimes because we need a body count and it’s important that we have people that are going to die and I am not going to die and you know characters from the game can’t die because you they are owned by Capcom and we’re not allowed to kill any of them off. So you know Ali Larter’s character won’t die or Sienna Guillory who plays Valentine won’t die, so Paul (W.S. Anderson) has to think of some cool characters that people are going to like and root for and who do die in a spectacular fashion. So we have a fun group of people this time and everyone has been wonderful about their deaths and it’s more about okay when I do go, it’s going to be awesome. You know Ruby Rose is here, and she is a lot of fun and…
What do you think is the most spectacular death scene in the franchise?
JOVOVICH: In the first movie the elevator sequence is still one of my favorite deaths ever. It’s funny because my daughter—who is in a French school, we have a french tutor come over to help her with her homework because we have been doing nights and a crazy schedule—is in the house that we are staying right now, and it has an elevator and I guess a lot of the houses in Cape Town on the beach have funny elevators and of course they never work and the teacher didn’t know this and she went into the elevator and nothing happened. She couldn’t open the door and then I come down and I was on the phone, and I see this poor French lady stuck in the elevator and I fiddle with the key thing and I slide the door open and then boom it closes really fast and I’m like my God, this was literally out of a Resident Evil movie. Then I started opening the [door] again and I slide it out and I fix it and then I open the other door for her and—the poor thing—because the elevator was already halfway up to the next floor, well, it goes diagonal and she had to climb out and climb up. “Oh this must be like a horror movie for you” and she told me that she was very claustrophobic (in french accent), the poor thing.