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Milla Jovovich (17 December 1975 -)

Milla Jovovich

For many, Milla Jovovich will always be Alice in the Resident Evil movies (five down, one to go), but like so many actors and actresses who are associated with a signature role, there’s more to Jovovich’s career than looking mean and killing zombies. She’s an actress who can often surprise you, and when she’s given the chance she can display a gift for characterisation that isn’t always so apparent when she’s running around with a gun. She’s made more than her fair share of stinkers – Ultraviolet (2006), or The Three Musketeers (2011) anyone? – but much earlier in her career she was making a strong impression in a variety of movies, and proving that there was substance behind the model looks. Here then are five movies that are worth checking out for Jovovich’s performances, and as evidence that producers should be looking to bring her away from action/sci-fi thrillers and back into the real world.

The Claim (2000) – Character: Lucia

THE CLAIM, Milla Jovovich, 2000. ©United Artists

Michael Winterbottom’s adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s The Mayor of Casterbridge, relocated to California in the 1860’s, is a commanding movie full of impressive performances, not the least of which is Jovovich’s. She plays the owner of a saloon-cum-brothel in the town of Kingdom Come, and lover to Peter Mullan’s central protagonist, Daniel Dillon. When his past catches up with him, its Lucia’s actions that prompt his ultimate downfall, and as his rejected yet emotionally loyal “companion”, Jovovich gives a sensitive, proud portrayal of a woman determined to maintain her own sense of place in an overwhelmingly harsh environment.

He Got Game (1998) – Character: Dakota Burns

MJ - HGG

In Spike Lee’s compelling sports drama, Jovovich plays an abused prostitute who lives in the hotel room next to Denzel Washington’s convicted felon. Their relationship develops over the course of a week, and is a touching meeting of damaged souls. Jovovich is very good as the vulnerable yet still defiant Dakota, and more than holds her own in her scenes with Washington, matching him for emotional honesty every step of the way.

The Million Dollar Hotel (2000) – Character: Eloise

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Jovovich continues to work with some of the most challenging, most gifted of directors, this time Wim Wenders, in a movie that doesn’t always work, but which does allow the actress to give a well-rounded portrayal of a young woman whose tentative relationship with another of the residents at the titular hotel hints at far more than a standard love story. Jovovich shines throughout, and manages to avoid making her character’s mental health issues feel contrived or all-consuming.

Dummy (2002) – Character: Fangora “Fanny” Gurkel

MJ - D

The very definition of quirkiness, Dummy‘s tale of a socially awkward office worker (played by Adrien Brody) who discovers a talent for ventriloquism, is backed up by Jovovich’s effervescent turn as the wonderfully named Fanny, a wannabe singer who takes up klezmer music just so she can get a gig. One of Jovovich’s best performances, and helped immensely by her own talents as a singer, Dummy gives the actress a chance to do comedy, and she proves more than capable of drawing out the laughs from writer/director Greg Pritikin’s sweet-natured screenplay.

A Perfect Getaway (2009) – Character: Cydney

MJ - APG

David Twohy’s suspenseful psycho thriller sees Jovovich and Steve Zahn on honeymoon in Hawaii, and who begin to believe that the hitchhiking couple they meet (Marley Shelton, Chris Hemsworth) are serial killers currently on the island. It’s the kind of movie where everyone looks and acts suspicious most of the time, and Jovovich does a great job of keeping the audience guessing as to whether she’s good or bad, and maintains the required intensity throughout.

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