“I'm pretty sure there’s a lot more to life than being really, really, ridiculously good looking. And I plan on finding out what that is.”— Derek Zoolander
The slashie moniker “model-turned-actor” is met with almost as much derision as “bodybuilder-turned-governor” or “porn-star-turned-science-teacher” (Stacie Halas, a.k.a. Tiffany Six, later fired).
But the general consensus seems to be that beauty pageant winners (that means you, Honey Boo Boo) and catwalk veterans have no business treading the boards or mugging for the camera, lest it be to sell perfume or jeans.
Milla Jovovich may not yet be in the company of models who have gone on to grab Oscar nominations (among them Charlize Theron, Halle Berry and Kim Basinger, former Body on Tap shampoo saleswoman) but she can join the ranks of former models laughing all the way to the bank.
Jovovich’s sixth record-busting Resident Evil film opened on Friday. The franchise, which enjoys a symbiotic relationship with the video games of the same name, has amassed over $700 million worldwide and earned Jovovich kick-ass action heroine status, not to mention a third husband, Resident Evil writer-director Paul W.S. Anderson, with whom she has a daughter, Ever.
Resident Evil: Retribution features Jovovich as Alice, battling monsters and dodging bullets and machetes, in plasma-splattering 3D. The omnipotent Umbrella Corporation has a volatile T-virus, which has made the world population undead. Alice and a small group of crusaders not zombie-fied by the virus lead a charge to punish those responsible.
Her team includes a miraculously recovered Rain Ocampo (Michelle Rodriguez), who turned zombie and was killed off in the first film; Luther West (Boris Kodjoe) presumed dead in last movie; and Wesker (Shawn Roberts), blown up by an atom bomb in the last movie, but apparently OK. The Umbrella Corp. wants Alice dead. Everyone else wants to eat her, presumably.
It is “humanity’s last stand” according to writer-director-model husband Anderson, a film characterized by decidedly Alice in Wonderland undertones, complete with chessboard patterns and a Red Queen.
Cynics will say that it’s not too much of a stretch to go from supermodel to zombie—think skeletal frames and vacant expressions—but Jovovich has been at it for a while. She landed her first magazine cover at age 11, after having caught the attention of famed photographer Herb Ritts. She segued pretty quickly into film, however, when at age 15 she starred in Return to the Blue Lagoon, a sequel to the 1980 film starring another famous model-turned-actress, 14-year-old Brooke Shields.
(Unafraid to poke fun at herself, Jovovich played high-fashionista villainess Katinka Ingabogovinanana in Ben Stiller’s Zoolander: “I suggest you and your Kmart Jaclyn Smith Collection outfit... stay the hell away from Derek Zoolander!”)
And so kudos to Jovovich for leapfrogging the usual model routes leading to acting fame and fortune: the pageant circuit (Halle Berry, Miss Teen America 1985; Cybill Shepherd, Miss Teenage Memphis; Michelle Pfeiffer), playboy bunny (Lauren Hutton), Bond girl (Jane Seymour, Basinger, Berry again), and lately America’s Next Top Model (newcomers Yaya DaCosta and Analeigh Tipton).
And may Alice find the creeps from Umbrella Corporation ever two steps behind.