Set Visit Interview: Milla Jovovich Talks Resident Evil: Retribution
On a blustery December morning late last year, Dread Central headed out to the set of Resident Evil: Retribution, which was being filmed at the Cinespace Studios, along with a group of fellow journalists to see just what director Paul W.S. Anderson had planned for the fifth entry in the widely popular franchise.
Upon entering Cinespace, we were greeted by a large Christmas tree with an undead zombie friend propped up nearby, signaling the cast and crew still remained in good spirits even if this was 47th day of shooting on the sequel.
As we made our way through the vacuous sound stages, we finally entered where Anderson and his crew were shooting a scene that leads into Resident Evil: Retribution's epic showdown in the wintry terrain of Russia between Alice (Milla Jovovich) and Jill Valentine (Sienna Guillory), who was a bit of an 'Easter egg' in the credits sequence of Resident Evil: Afterlife. For the scene, though, Alice and Jill aren't alone- they're joined by franchise newcomer Li BingBing, who is portraying Ada Wong in the flick, as well as a returning Michelle Rodriguez, who just happened to end up zombie food during the first Resident Evil and is playing "Bad Rain" in the scene being shot that day.
So how on earth is Rodriguez back despite dying in the original flick, and what can the fans of the Resident Evil franchise expect from Retribution? Well, Jovovich shed some light on a few subjects for us but mostly played coy for the rest. Check out the highlights from our on-set interview with Jovovich for Resident Evil: Retribution below, and make sure to check back soon for a bevy of other interviews from Dread Central's set visit.
How’s it going?
It’s going good.
I feel like we’ve been following you on your journey to this movie through Twitter and you've been keeping us very busy with your video updates.
Oh, good. I hope you’re enjoying them.
Yeah, but there are still some surprises left with this movie, right? I feel there’s been a lot of stuff revealed.
Really? Like what?
Boris posted a picture of a giant Licker claw and the zombies. There’ve been pictures and stuff like that.
I mean, everybody knows there’s zombies in the movie.
Let me say Russian zombies or something.
Well, Paul was talking about that even during Musketeers. I mean, just talking about the whole point of going to Moscow and having the Las Plagas zombies on motorcycles and the whole Rolls-Royce chase scene… So we thought, since Paul already gave that away, he had showed pictures of zombies and stuff… So what else have I given away? I think I’ve been pretty good about keeping it under wraps.
How much more are you borrowing from the video games? I think a lot of fans are really curious with the Las Plagas zombies and stuff like that.
Can’t give that away. We’re two weeks out, and we have the big Alice and Jill fight looming any day now. We’re already preparing for that. I don’t think we’ll get to it today, but definitely we’re going to start tomorrow. It will take a few weeks to film it so it’s a big deal.
With the Russian subway sequence you seem particularly excited.
Well, we had a splinter unit go to Moscow, and they pretty much cleared Red Square for a day, which is quite a big deal. Then they cleared the Russian subway for about five hours, for as much as they could, to get plate shots of everything. So we have all the background and then we built pretty much the Moscow street. I don’t know if you guys got a tour yet of the sets, but up front there’s a street in Moscow where we did the Rolls-Royce chase sequence. It’s exciting for me because obviously I’m Russian. To be able to show my people what we’ve created in Toronto and how we’re really trying to bring the Russian people into the Resident Evil universe… I think it’s going to be really fun for everybody.
What drives you to make these films after 10 years, besides the fact there’s still an audience for every one of the films?
Well, we love the franchise. It’s definitely brought our family together. And we love the story. We’re constantly going on, "Okay, what’s going to happen next?" so it’s very organic in that sense. And it’s fan driven. Every movie is done better than the last and people want to see another one. We have the ideas for it so it’s not like anybody is bored and going, "Okay, let’s just write something. Whatever. Just put it out there." Paul constantly has these great ideas for it. I’ve been having zombie dreams for the last 10 years now.
Do you have input into where the story has been going?
Paul and I definitely have a back and forth dialogue because we live together and Resident Evil is such a huge part of our lives. We’re always talking about where it can go and what can happen, who’s coming back and who’s not. What is Alice going to be in this movie? Definitely I have a lot of input into the stunt sequences. It’s really funny because I’ll read the script, Paul’s original script for it, and I could never write a script. I could never direct a film. I’d kill myself if I was Paul. I don’t know how he does it. But I do have good isolated ideas which kind of go like, "Well, there’s kind of a lull here and it would be great if something happened that was super cool. Fill in the blanks! Maybe make me jump off of something and something explodes."
In terms of cool stuff and action and intensity, do you feel this ups the stakes in that department from previous installments in the franchise?
Well, it better. The whole point is that we want to make every film better than the last one. So, we definitely have more creatures and monsters and action. And the action sequences for the actors are really difficult. It’s one of the most trying physical undertakings that I’ve ever done in an action movie. I think the Jill and Alice fight has over 200 moves in it, which is more than Nick Powell did for The Bourne Identity. It’s pretty crazy.
How has the 3D been upped in this one?
I think definitely there is Jim Cameron and there’s Paul. They are the masters of 3D. Paul has been working with the same team for the last Resident Evil, for Musketeers and now for this one. They’ve built a whole new camera system that’s quite incredible. All the cameras are much smaller and more user-friendly, easier to operate, easier to use steadicam with. Everything in general, Paul understands the dynamics of 3D and what you can do and what you can’t do. When you see a bad 3D movie, you get a headache and leave the theatre going, "Ahhh, my eyes hurt, my head hurts!" Especially when you do a panning shot and everything goes blurry. You know, "Oh my God! What just happened?" It’s so important technically to know how to shoot something so that people don’t leave with their eyes crossed and feeling sick to their stomach.
Does this film open right as the last film ended with you guys on the boat?
I can’t tell you that.
What’s it been like reuniting with Michelle (Rodriguez), the actress, and then for you as a fan of the series, having the character back as well?
We’ve been racking our brains on how to bring Michelle back for years because she’s just such an amazing actress and just such a cool girl and such a well-loved character in the first movie. When Paul got the idea of how to start bringing people back, it was really amazing. The script is just so different from any other Resident Evil movie. It’s going to take people by surprise. Every sequence and how everything comes together is just quite mind-boggling! It’s really cool. And it always keeps you on your feet. It always keeps you wondering what’s going to happen next. What’s happening? Who are these people?
Then there’s something also that, you know, I was watching an assembly of it, and I’m sure you read about it on Twitter, but I started crying watching it because having the history of Alice and me and Rain and Jill and all these people who have been going through this hell for the last 10 years, and again Umbrella is torturing them. It was almost heartrending to watch them again having to go through all of this. And the way the script is written, the way Paul has written the script, there is so much more character involved and so much more subtext. The storylines are so intertwined and in such a strange and beautiful way that there’s something very nostalgic and sad about it, too, which is different. Listen, it’s going to be a really fun movie. We’re not expecting anybody to start weeping in the audience, but just on a personal level going through it for 10 years of my life and watching these people coming together again, it was quite emotional.