Milla Jovovich: Hollywood’s go-to girl for waking up naked in a laboratory
If you're writing a screenplay that you think is right for Milla Jovovich, your best bet for getting her in it might be adding a scene in which the female lead wakes up naked in a laboratory. Conversely, if you're casting a movie in which a hot chick kicks brutal ass among dozens of faceless enemies (for example), you've got several choices: Jovovich as well as Charlize Theron (Aeon Flux), Kate Beckinsale (Underworld), Rebecca Romijn (X-Men), and Uma Thurman (Kill Bill). But if your female lead needs to wake up naked in a laboratory, well, Milla is your girl.
Milla Jovovich (pronounced MEE-lah YO-vo-vitch) was born in Kiev in 1975 and raised in Yugoslavia. She became a decadent Western model at a shockingly young age and entered film while she was just a girl with Return to the Blue Lagoon. Cinephiles will remember another young model in the first Blue Lagoon—Brooke Shields—but Milla's career has followed a wholly different path. She was, of course, a nudist on a beach in Return to the Blue Lagoon, and then dropped the laundry in Charlie Chaplin's bedroom in Chaplin. But these exotic locales for showing skin were just the beginning.
Kicking brutal ass and waking up naked in a lab was probably pioneered by Natasha Henstridge in Species. But you have to also give a nod to Brigitte Helm in Metropolis and perhaps Elsa Lanchester in Bride of Frankenstein. I suspect that Hollywood found a niche for Milla when they realized that Henstridge wanted to do serious roles and stop doing action, unlike Theron and Beckinsale, who seem to like (and are good at) both.
Theron and Beckinsale seem to be taking on thrillers now. Thurman is a little past her prime now at 36. Romijn seems to have retired to television, doing Pepper Dennis, but will still reprise her blue nudie role as Mystique in Magneto... if you can wait two years.
Jovovich first reached out and touched dozens of faceless enemies with the pretty hand of doom in The Fifth Element, where she also first woke up naked in a laboratory. Coincidence? I don't think so. In The Messenger, she played Joan of Arc, who kicked plenty of ass but was too prissy to wake up naked anywhere (altho I imagine Jovovich lobbying for a scene where she wakes up naked in heaven).
Jovovich wasn't the lead in Zoolander or The House on Turk Street (also known as No Good Deed), so she merely appeared in a skimpy nurse outfit in a lab in the former and came to the sudden realization that she was trapped naked in a shower stall in the latter.
Cleverly, she segued into Resident Evil by waking up naked in a shower. Then, after kicking brutal ass, she ends up waking up naked in a lab. In the sequel, Resident Evil: Apocolypse, she reprises that scene, kicks more brutal ass, and wakes up naked in another laboratory, this time submerged in liquid like Luke Skywalker in Empire Strikes Back.
This is nothing short of genius. After all, it's not easy to manufacture a subtle motif like waking up naked in a laboratory and perpetuate it in movie after movie.
Strangely, when Jovovich did Ultraviolet, something went wrong. No, I don't mean the horrible dialog or ridiculous setup and over-the-top action sequences. I mean she didn't wake up naked. She does wake up in futuristic skimpy pajamas in her own sterile bedroom, and she even walks naked thru a laboratory scanner, but it's not the same. Where are the wired sensors stuck all over her body? Where is the frightening equipment and sense of isolation? Where is the low, ominous, droning hum of an industrial ventilation system?
She apparently tried to make up for it with a vengeful slut role in the straight-to-video .45, but what good is all that nudity without waking up in a laboratory?
But good news: Resident Evil 3 is coming.
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Jason B writes:
When enumerating female actresses who kick ass, I can't believe you forgot Lucy Liu. She is the greatest female asskicker of all times.
Lucy Liu hasn't actually starred in an action movie, tho. She costarred in the Charlie's Angels movies and she's been in Kill Bill and a few others, but now she's in her late 30s, several years older than Milla. Only the other hand, would I like to see Lucy Liu wake up naked in a laboratory? Yes. Yes, I would.
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