photo credit: gene lemuel

 Anthony DeBartolo's interview with actress/model Milla Jovovich took place in 1989 when she was 13 years old.
It appeared in Stan Malinowski's Metro #3  magazine.

While she's not old enough for a driver's permit, let alone a license, her agency bills her out at the cost of a Yugo a day. Loaded.

That's "about five thousand dollars," says her Los Angeles-based EastWest Prima agent, Jeffrey Dash. "But that's negotiable."

Besides having graced the covers of a few dozen elite foreign and domestic magazines, and the three film credits to her name, Milla Jovovich seems to have just begun to test her talents. And Dash's ability to deal.

There's the music (piano and guitar), singing, song writing and her illustrations. At this juncture, though, all are talents-in-training, untried in the market.

But speak with her for awhile and a few things readily become certain. She is confident, professionally self disciplined, and despite the illusion she advances on film, really is a thirteen-year-old kid -- "Milla, would you kindly take the candy out of your mouth, I can barely understand you..."

She is also, in her own words, "a budding young woman," as much in love with the camera as it obviously adores her.

Russian born, her actress mother and chiropractor father emigrated to southern California in 1981. At age nine, wanting nothing more than to follow her mother's lead, Milla began drama classes. When she hit twelve, "my mom also thought it would be a good idea to get some modeling composites shot," says Milla. "So we sent them to Prima, and I guess Jeffrey liked the pictures. They signed me." Photographers have been standing in line to sign her ever since.

When your parents left Kiev you were six. Any memories of the place?

Kind of. Not really. I remember a lot about my mom taking me to the set where she would shoot her movies. I don't really remember any of my friends. I remember, you know, maybe a little bit about our apartment building. Just little stuff that a kid would remember -- and the snow.

You've been modeling for nearly two years now. What do you know that other kids interested in the business would benefit from?

If you want something, you should never give up. If something doesn't happen the way you want it, you have to try it again until it happens. Because if you don't, then you're not going to become anything. I always walk into my interviews with a smile on my face. People like that, because they like to see you cheerful, not sad. And if you don't get it, go on to the next one. Don't give up. Always try again.

What's good and bad about the business?

There's a couple of good/bad things. What's good is that you can always go and get your hair and make-up done and look great in front of the camera. Because for me, one of my biggest joys is to be in front of the cameras and pose. And I know that the picture will turn out nice because the camera likes me. It's kind of like me and the camera have this little thing going together. But the bad thing is, like in the summer, they make you put on heavy sweaters and stuff. And in the winter, they make you put on skimpy bikinis on the beach while its raining.

Why is posing such a joy?

I don't know. When I'm in front of the camera I just feel good. I like to hear the click. I like hearing the photographer say, "Oh God, that looks great!" And once you hear that, you just can't stop. It's like all the praise and stuff, and seeing yourself finally when it comes out.

So you like the strokes?

It's not that, it's not just the strokes. I can be somebody else. I get to shove out the old Milla and put in the glamorous, sensual, you know, model Milla. It's fun to act in front of the camera and make poses, and then sometimes, make funny poses just to laugh. It's something that every model will feel in front of the camera, the ones that like modeling.

How is Helmut Newton to work with?

He's fun. He's one of the fun photographers. He's really sweet to you. If I didn't fell comfortable with doing something, he wasn't going to make me. He's very good with me and my mom, and he takes the best pictures. It wasn't like "Oh God, I gotta go shoot. It was like, great , I get to shot with Helmut again."

Do some photographers ever get pushy, insisting upon poses that you don't feel comfortable with?

If I don't like it, I just say, "Excuse me sir, but I don't feel comfortable doing this." That's it. They just cool down when I say that. If I don't feel comfortable, it won't look good.

Many models have a signature look. What's yours?

The pouting girl, that's my look, that's what I am. I want people to look at me and think it's proper, but also sensual.

How does a callow young girl achieve such a sensual look?

I don't think I could ever explain how I do it--you know, it's like a recipe you can't give out. Would you ask the chef of a great restaurant what he puts in his soup or chicken? You think he'd tell you?

Sure, I've interviewed chefs before. They usually like to boast about the process. I guess what it boils down to is that, in some ways, you're not an ordinary thirteen year old.

I don't know. I think I'm normal. Maybe other people don't. Maybe the people who write me letters don't think I am, because I'm not there with them. They don't think of me as flesh and blood. They just think of me as an image, a photograph, that's all.

What kind of acting did your mother do in Russia?

Shakespearean. She did fifteen feature films, all starring roles. She's really a good actress.

What role has she played in your career?

I've grown up in the industry, since my mom was in it. She's taught me from her ways. Everything she does, I've tried to imprint on my own face. It's something only we have, that we share, a little mother-daughter thing she has passed on to me.

You'll be a freshman this fall. Tell me about school.

It's from eight-thirty to twelve-thirty. It's a professional children's school. Actors and models go there. It's really convenient for me because I can go to all of my (professional) classes afterwards, or go to the agency and answer my mail and just do some stuff that I wouldn't be able to do if I got out at three-thirty

Academically, what do you really like?

Ancient history. I like ancient Egyptian and Greek history a lot. It's good to know how governments were issued in Greece and Rome and how the first cities started there, the first real court and law.

What about college?

Yeah, first for me comes education. I can't depend on this industry because something might happen. God forbid that I get into a crash or something. What would happen to me then? I couldn't model anymore--or act. The most important thing to me right now is my family and getting schooling. Next comes my singing and acting.

A lot of kids -- and lots of adults for that matter -- might get blown away with the sudden success you're having. For some reason, success in America is hard to handle. For want of a better example, I think of John Belushi.

John Belushi -- what happened?

He died.

John Belushi is dead? Are you serious? I didn't know he died.

Quite a while ago -- a drug over-dose. Hung around with the wrong crowd I guess.

That was happening to me for a while. I was kind of living in the fast lane with kids in show business and stuff. I was under a lot of pressure. I was lucky to get out of that. I said, no way, I'm not going to hang out with these people anymore, so I stopped, and started hanging out with people my age. I never did drugs in my life, never will. I want to live. I mean it's great to live. I don't want to throw it all away just for a night of five minutes of fun.

I heard your father sets your curfew. What is it, eleven o'clock?

Yeah, it sucks. My friends get to stay out later -- like twelve.

What happens if you're late?

I've blown the curfew a lot. I get grounded. And grounded means I can't go out at all unless it's with Jeffrey, my agent. No phone calls, no friends over. I have to stay at home, no weekends out, and I have to work all day on my instruments, acting, singing...I like doing that, but not all day, you know. But I can usually get out of it if I'm really good. I can also beg my father, which usually doesn't work, but sometimes I get lucky.

How do you get along with your parents?

Great. We've a good understanding for each other. I always share everything with them. I never have to lie about anything. I'm one of the luckier kids that doesn't have that many problems with their parents.

Any brothers or sisters?

No, but I want some though. My parents are remodeling the house right now. They said after everything is done, maybe they'll work on it.

Do you have a boyfriend?

Well, not really.

You sound disappointed. You don't really need one, do you?

Well, every girl needs a boyfriend -- come on.

What's your weekly schedule like?

On Sundays, my father doesn't want me doing anything. It's a family day. It's really the only day I can spend time with both my dad and mom. Monday through Thursday,  I stay home or work on stuff. Friday and Saturday I can go out, usually to my friends' houses. We'll go swimming, or go to a mall and see a movie.

Play Siskel and Ebert with the three movies you've been in.

Two Moon Junction -- four starts. Night Train to Katmandu -- two stars, Paradise -- three stars.

You've probably heard this before, but some would argue that a thirteen year-old should be playing with Barbie dolls, not posing as one.

Yeah, I've heard that. I say, if they have children, let them play with Barbie dolls. Don't criticize me. I love what I'm doing. I don't like playing with dolls. I don't agree with them one bit. And I get very angry when I hear that -- that my mother is pushing me and stuff. That's not true. I love the industry, I love the business.

You have a lot of things going on right now. Modeling, acting, writing and performing music, not to mention school...that's a lot of stuff. Are you overwhelmed sometimes?

I am. But I try to do everything I can. A friend once asked me, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" I said, "Everything." She said, "Milla, there's no way you can do everything." I said, "You just watch me."

Article © 1989  Hyde Park Media