For Milla Jovovich, Hollywood was always the goal. in her words, “My mother raised me to be a movie star.” Galina Jovovich was an actress in her native Soviet Russia and later in America, where she is also her daughter’s agent.
As Milla approaches her 40th birthday this December, the accomplished Ukraine-born actress has notched up a staggering 42 movie roles – most notably including playing Alice six times in the hugely popular Resident Evil franchise – appeared on the cover of hundreds of magazines since making her first appearance on the cover of Seventeen aged 13, and even enjoyed a brush with the music industry, and continues to share her demos for free on her website.
However, she’s now firmly focused on her biggest role to date: motherhood. The actress and her British director husband, Paul WS Anderson, are parents to two daughters, seven-year-old Ever Gabo and five-month-old, Dashiel Edan. And since becoming a mother, the 39-year-old has been a vocal advocate for attachment parenting and turning to the Developing World for motherhood inspiration. With her second pregnancy, The Fifth Element star clearly had her return to work firmly in mind throughout her pregnancy, as she is already back on set filming the sixth and final computer game-turned-movie, Resident Evil: The Final Chapter in Cape Town, South Africa.
After gaining 34kg in her first pregnancy – during which, she openly admits, “I was taking down six eggs, with bacon and toast in one sitting. And that was just breakfast! I was eating like the giant from Jack and the Beanstalk” – her focus was firmly on maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle choices when she was expecting baby Dashiel.
Motherhood, according to Milla
When it comes to her life off the set, Milla is far more interested in downtime with her girls, than the distractions of the modern world. “My regular life today is reading books, making dolls’ houses, sewing dolls with my daughter and barbecuing,” the down-to-earth mum says. And since becoming a mother, Milla has been a very vocal advocate for the particular style of parenting that she prescribes to, which most notably includes co-sleeping.
“I’ve always been inspired by mothers in Third World countries. I feel that the connection with children and mothers is so strong in places where there are not so many ‘things’ to get in the way,” the model-turned-actress revealed in a frank interview with baby blog, Romy and the Bunnies.
“No electronic distraction devices, no high-tech baby equipment, just a mother carrying her little one everywhere, sharing a family bed and having the help of all the other women around to raise the baby.
“I always thought that the Western way of raising children was so disconnected. Everyone has their cubicle at home, babies go into nurseries, little kids have their own rooms,” she adds. “You are so separated from one another! We have been co-sleeping for years with our daughter and I feel that it’s helped us so much to stay connected as a family.
“I never wanted to let her signals go unanswered and letting her ‘cry it out’ was not the way I wanted to raise my child,” Milla went on to say.
“We’ve always been believers in sharing a family bed or having her in the same room as us at night. Not that I judge other methods of mothering, I just knew that it wouldn’t make me happy to allow her to be separated from us at night and cry for hours on end.
“And I always say, ‘Whatever you need to do to be a happy mother is the best for baby’.”
Getting back into action hero shape
Throughout her second, more difficult, pregnancy, Milla made every effort to stay healthy, keeping a food diary, aiming to take 12,000 steps a day and maintaining her regular workouts, as she had her next stint on set scheduled for August this year – just four months after her due date.
“I definitely tried to watch what I ate during the week, but not much,” Milla said earlier this year. “Of course I gained a lot of weight and I found myself at the 30lb [around 14kg] maximum around New Year and I still had three more months to go before the baby would be born.
“I’m really proud of myself for not gaining the same amount of weight that I did with our first child because I have to be ready to start filming Resident Evil: The Final Chapter in August of this year and I will also be nursing an infant simultaneously,” the actress revealed back in January. “I don’t want to be on any extreme diets to get ready to go back to action hero mode!”
And part of her healthy pregnancy was a food diary, which she kept very public on her Facebook page.
“I thought it would be fun and also helpful to post a ‘food diary’ on my Facebook page because going ‘public’ with something makes it that much harder to get lazy,” she explained. “[That way] it wasn’t just about me making random promises to myself, but about me putting my reputation on the line with my fans!”
Typical posts included daily exercise and food intake updates, including a stint on the Sirona cleanse, a Los Angeles-based food delivery service that offers “a mild and easy-to-follow cleanse that achieves optimum results and promises to help you discover your true empowered self”.
As for her fitness regime, she keeps that simple too. “I’ve started taking long walks to keep my metabolism in high gear and working on a game plan with my trainer, Harley Pasternak,” she added in one particularly in-depth Facebook post earlier in the year, and she can regularly be seen hiking in LA.
“I have to say, if I wasn’t hiking [around] six miles [9.7km] every day, I think I would be [9kg] heavier than I am right now, which is still reasonable for pregnancy gain,” she added.
Different the second time around
And it seems that the weight gain was not the only factor that set her second pregnancy apart from her first.
“It’s funny, because I couldn’t have had two more different pregnancies,” Milla remarked.
“I was convinced that this time we were having boy. I mean, with our first I had no nausea, no headaches, I was totally normal apart from the fact that I just happened to be pregnant and everything I ate suddenly made me gain loads of weight!
“[But] with this one, I was so sick for the first four months. I was literally bedridden because at least once every hour I would get so dizzy and feel like I was going to faint and throw up,” she added. “All I did was watch marathons of my favourite TV shows and read... Thank goodness I felt better into my second trimester!”
She has also commented on the perspective she has gained by becoming a mother. “Before you have kids, you create so many problems that are centred on yourself. You’re thinking, ‘Am I ready for this audition? Am I good enough?’ Now that I have a kid, it’s not such a big deal,” she says. “Even if I don’t get the job, I know I’m going to be really busy at home. Being a mother is a full-time job. Now it’s all about my baby, her growing up well and getting everything she needs. Everything else is just a plus.”
Once dubbed the Queen of Kickbutt by VHI, Milla’s known for her critical roles in several action flicks such as the Resident Evil franchise and The Fifth Element.
Fur & family
For Milla, family – including husband Paul Anderson, daughters Ever and Dashiel, pooches Maya Papaya and Sweet Potato, and momager Galina – come first.
Ruling the red carpet
Pregnant or not, Milla channels old-star movie glam on the red carpet from Cannes (golden in Saint Laurent in 2014 and gorgeous in midnight blue by Armani the year before) and the Academy Awards (in a white Elie Saab gown in 2012).