No stranger to monsters, Milla Jovovich spent months in far-flung lands, staring into the sky in order to recreate Capcom’s sprawling videogame franchise Monster Hunter. And she was sure to immerse herself in the character before shooting began. “I did play the game to prepare for the movie, which was great,” she laughs. “My daughter would be like, ‘Mom, you’ve been playing that videogame for hours’. I’m like, ‘It’s my work. It’s not for my pleasure at all!’”
Monster Hunter looks quite demanding – or is that the magic of cinema?
Oh no, it was really grueling. It was a very challenging production. My husband Paul [WS Anderson, director] wanted to shoot as much in real life as possible, and put the monsters in the computer at the very end, but he wanted the landscapes to be real. So we went to some of the most remote locations to shoot this.
What was that experience like?
We went to Namibia to shoot, in the middle of nowhere – really gorgeous, untouched by man. Some of the locations, we were the first people that ever filmed there. It was alien. The landscapes were out of this world. Like, you literally could only imagine them being created in a computer – but they weren’t, they were created by Mother Nature. But to be able to shoot in places like that you have to be ready for a challenge because of the weather, that’s extreme, and the crazy critters and bugs and arachnids and things. It was no fun in that sense! It was terrifying in that sense.
You don’t actually consider there being real creatures...
Oh yeah! There’s nothing in Monster Hunter that’s scarier than the real-life spiders that were as big as your hand running at you in the middle of the day. They don’t want to hurt you, but it’s so hot outside that they’re running across the desert to get into your shadow or maybe go up your pant leg to get into the cool. Everybody had to tuck their pants into their boots.
Has the CGI monster experience changed much?
In the Resident Evil movies, usually the monsters would be kind of humanoid – maybe they’d be taller than real people. You would just have a guy with a big pole and a tennis ball for you to follow above the camera. Here, you have monsters that are 100 feet tall. So you’re kind of just looking up at the sky for the most part. I think it was very tricky for the camera operators as well, because Paul wanted them to do a bunch of handheld work, which takes some getting used to because, y’know, they pan from me to the monster and Paul would be like, “Higher, higher, higher!” and the camera guy would just be like, literally pointing at the sky.
But the good thing for me is that I’ve had a lot of experience making sci-fi action movies for so many years, so it’s just kind of second nature now to see things that aren’t there and react. And I enjoy it so much. When I was little I lived in a fantasy world. And so my work is sort of an extension of that, in a way. It allows me to continue living in my fantasy world.
Would you ever consider revisiting Resident Evil?
I mean, I never say never. Resident Evil was always such a wonderful part of my life. I love Alice and I love the franchise... and I love Netflix! So, I mean, there doesn’t seem to be a downside.
Do you find that you get a lot of love from sci-fi fans?
There was a thing that came out a few years ago about on-screen kills. They said that I had the most kills: more than Sylvester Stallone, and more than Jet Li. And I’m thinking, “God bless the sci-fi fans that sit at home and count every single kill”. Do you know what I mean? Because who else would take the time to do that? Imagine how much work that was, so time-intensive. It’s not a machine that does that, it’s a human!
Did you have any idea The Fifth Element would become so iconic?
Well, yes and no. I mean, definitely not like that, like Leeloo would be a phenomenon. But at the same time, I knew she was something special, because I’d never experienced anything like her. I didn’t realise that there were going to be people wearing her costume 25 years later at Halloween, but I knew she was special. I think she was one of those once in a lifetime characters that I was very lucky to play.
Might there be more Monster Hunter in the future?
I hope so. I loved making that movie and I know that I would love to make another one. We’ll see. Hopefully.
For more, check out our list of the most exciting upcoming movies heading our way. Monster Hunter is available to Download & Keep now and to Rent on Digital, 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, and DVD on September 20