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Last December, the producers of RESIDENT EVIL: AFTERLIFE granted FANGORIA exclusive access to the Toronto set of the fourth chapter in their action/horror franchise, derived from the best-selling Capcom video games. For 10 weeks, right up to AFTERLIFE’s September 10 release by Screen Gems, Fangoria.com will be presenting a series of one-on-one interviews with the movie’s cast and crew.
Written and directed by film series originator Paul W.S. Anderson, AFTERLIFE once again stars Milla Jovovich as mysterious heroine Alice, who teams with a small group of postapocalyptic survivors in a world overrun with zombies, monsters and agents of the nefarious Umbrella Corporation. For more on the movie, go here to start tracking back through our previous interviews.
Today we talk with sexy star Jovovich, who, besides making the RESIDENT EVIL series her own, has also appeared in the genre films THE FIFTH ELEMENT, THE FOURTH KIND, A PERFECT GETAWAY and ULTRAVIOLET. She next reteams with husband Anderson on the 3-D remake of the THREE MUSKETEERS.
FANGORIA: Do you see AFTERLIFE as the best of the four RESIDENT EVIL movies?
MILLA JOVOVICH: Definitely. The setpieces are incredible, the characters go through so many different worlds within this one movie—it’s going to be super-exciting for the audience. On the last film it was pretty much one place; it was the desert all the way through. And even though it was great and it was the best one until then, AFTERLIFE really takes you to so many different sets, and you think you’ve gotten used to something and boom! You’re somewhere completely different than the last place.
The action is pretty extreme; people are going to be satisfied. I know we worked really hard on getting the script right. You’re not going to please everybody, that’s for sure. But if people have been with us up to this point and if they stay with us…if we can make more movies, we’ll have a chance to bring every single [game] character in at some point. You can’t bring everybody into one movie or else you’d have to kill most of them; you have to bring the game characters in slowly so they can get together as a group and most of them don’t have to die.
FANG: What appeals to you about playing Alice?
JOVOVICH: She’s just so cool. I love the action, training, flying elements…I love doing wirework. She’s like the female Clint Eastwood or Dirty Harry. It’s really nice to see a woman playing a part like that, and different. It’s usually the femme fatale kind of action stars, and she’s not that. She’s hot, but she’s definitely more of a Dirty Harry than an X-Man or Marvel girl. She’s down to earth.
FANG: What growth will we see Alice go through in AFTERLIFE?
JOVOVICH: At the beginning of the movie, Alice fights Wesker [Shawn Roberts] for the first time and he injects her with the cure for the T-virus, which halts the growth of the cells and superpowers she has. She becomes human again, for all intents and purposes. So we’ve taken away Alice’s powers, and now she’s just a simple bad-ass—like she was in the first one—without all the psychic things. That’s really interesting because, as a character, Alice is actually very happy about it because she can assimilate back to being a human being, which she wants more than anything. And she’s wanted to disconnect from Umbrella for so long that it gives her more of a light quality than she’s had in the last two movies.
And different too, because in the first film she was this innocent who didn’t remember anything, and in the next two films she has been this loner who loses friends, who’s being followed by Umbrella; they’ve got their stuff inside her brain, she can’t get close to anybody. Now suddenly she’s sort of back with the human race, and she’s happy about it.
FANG: What about playing the clones? Is that a big part of the film?
JOVOVICH: Well, it’s a huge part of the film; the whole opening is the clones. It’s a big action sequence, a lot of fighting and really cool stunts. She’s still got her superpowers at that point, so you get a lot of great stuff—flying and psychic blasts and things. Just all-around doing things that normal people couldn’t do in real life, even if you’re a crazy bad-ass. That’ll be really cool, but then it’s good because once we get to the real Alice, she’s on her own, and she’s just a person again.
FANG: Is it a trip having Paul involved again as director?
JOVOVICH: Well, Paul’s involved in every movie. This is his baby, in a sense—he’s written and produced all of them, [helped] with the editing. Especially on the first and the third, he was there every step of the way. The first one he obviously directed, and the third he was there every day…he has always been such an integral part of all these films. I don’t think you could make them without Paul. Or someone could, but they wouldn’t be what they are now. It’s great, because it’s a family affair at this point.
FANG: What have the challenges been in doing AFTERLIFE in 3-D?
JOVOVICH: Well, it has definitely taken the stunt sequences to another level, because you have to have so much more realism, given the fact that you really see the misses [in fight scenes] a lot. That has made everything a little more difficult, but at the same time more exciting. There’s so much depth, obviously—it’s 3-D—but it really is the perfect medium for a film like this. It’s got it all in that sense; it’s scary, action-packed, the setpieces are so spectacular, the camera moves…you have all the elements that cater to 3-D. At the same time, we remember that a lot of audiences can’t see it in 3-D, either because they don’t have a theater in their town or they can’t afford it or whatever, so it’s going to look amazing as a normal RESIDENT EVIL film. But if you can see it in 3-D, it’ll just help the experience so much more—it’s built in that medium.
FANG: So would you say this is the biggest and baddest of the four movies?
JOVOVICH: So far it is.
FANG: The most rigorous for you too, action-wise?
JOVOVICH: They’ve all been really tough that way, but I have a lot of fun doing it, so that’s not the hard part. For these films, I love to do it all. So, yeah, I’m tired, but that’s fun. Most people would pay money to go on the kind of rides we do every day here at work. I’m all into rides; I love Magic Mountain, Universal Studios. So for me, ”You’re in a helicopter crash” or “You’re flying,” I love that. They’ve all been rigorous in their own ways. Every film has its challenges; this one has just definitely been a lot faster-paced because we’re just going from set to set; there are so many different parts to this film. Especially from the 3-D standpoint, it’s gonna be so fun for people to see all the different locations and be taken into that world. It’s been hard, ’cause we have to run around a lot to get it all done, but at the same time, it’s easier than always being outdoors. I was joking with Wentworth [Miller] earlier; we thank God we didn’t write this scene outdoors: Exterior—creek, morning, November, Toronto—’cause then we’d be really screwed.
FANG: Some of the people on this film are seeing this as a franchise reboot, as the start of a whole new trilogy.
JOVOVICH: If it turns into another film, great, because we’re already talking about what happens next. That’s how we’ve always been, so it hasn’t really changed in that sense. There were talks about shooting two of these at the same time, but we were like, “No!” We’ve got to concentrate on this one. It’s important to take it one step at a time. That’s how we’ve always done it, and that’s why the films are so fun for people and so fun for us. That’s the most important thing, because when they’re fun for us, that’ll translate to the screen, and that passion is going to translate to the audience. They’ll be like, “Yeah, these people are really into what they’re doing and not just selling us some cheap product.”
When we started the first RESIDENT EVIL, it was a tiny European action film, and it was still very exciting. It’s not ’cause we had all the money in the world for all sorts of crazy effects, it’s because we had Paul, who’s a fanboy of the games, and me who was also playing the games, and Michelle Rodriguez and the cast who were so into the world. We were all doing our own stunts, and we were all really into it, and I think that’s what people enjoyed about it—not that it was the most spectacular visual effects. It wasn’t the most expensive film in the world, but we sold it because we were really into it.
That’s the magic of the RESIDENT EVIL world for us—that it really is our world, we live it on a daily basis at home, and every few years we come back to it professionally and shoot the films. It’s a pleasure. We really love what we’re doing, and everyone works super-hard on them but really enjoy what they’re doing. It’s not, “Oh, great, I’m selling out and doing some stupid film.” I don’t like it when actors sleepwalk through movies. Serious actors have to love what they’re doing. If you don’t love it, don’t do it. Of course it’s great to make money and stuff, but if someone’s paying you to do something, you better come in passionate, excited and give 150 percent. Not drag your feet in half-asleep, get your paycheck and go home. That’s not cool, that’s not fun and you should just quit. For any job.
Stop back next week for an interview with RESIDENT EVIL: AFTERLIFE makeup and creature FX master Paul Jones. And check out FANGORIA #296 (on sale now), featuring an all-different AFTERLIFE set-visit cover story.
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