Fame & Fortune: Milla Jovovich

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You probably know the face with the startling blue-green eyes, but can’t place the name. That’s understandable. Milla Jovovich (pronounced mee-luh yo-vo-vitch), born Millica Natasha Jovovich in Kiev, Ukraine, has graced hundreds of magazine covers since coming to America via London. Named to Forbes list of “Richest Supermodels of the World” in 2004 after making $10.5 million, Milla has branched out creatively from her modeling days.

When only 12 years old, she made her film debut in 1988’s “Two Moon Junction” and continued to play supporting roles on both the big and small screens. But it was in 1997, co-starring opposite Bruce Willis in the sci-fi blockbuster “The Fifth Element,” that people took notice of her. Milla went on to star as Alice in the “Resident Evil” movie trilogy.

Along with creative outlets in acting and modeling, the 5-foot-8-inch beauty has enjoyed a lucrative fashion design profession and musical career as a singer, songwriter and musician with the 1994 release of “The Divine Comedy.” Now living in the Hollywood Hills with daughter Ever, who was born in November 2008, and fiance filmmaker Paul W.S. Anderson, Milla returns to acting with the August release of “A Perfect Getaway.” But she insists her biggest success is that of being a mom.

Bankrate: You gained about 65 pounds while pregnant with Ever. Did you ever worry about your health during those nine months?

Milla Jovovich: A little bit because I had never gained that much weight before but at the same time, I felt I’m young and healthy. Seeing myself at 200 pounds was just crazy. It really helped me in my head to cement certain things that I felt were important and others I could discard that weren’t like being the perfect shape and weight. So I figured it was better to gain weight and have a healthy baby than be thin with an unhealthy baby. And Ever is so healthy and vibrant and smart.

Bankrate: On the cover of Cookie magazine, you looked really good. How did you lose it all?

Milla Jovovich: Well, diet and exercise. I did a film called “Perfect Getaway,” and I was working out everyday and pretty much eating chicken and fresh vegetables, oatmeal for breakfast, and snacking on apples and carrots. I didn’t want to be unhealthy about the way I lost the weight so I took my time. I wanted to lose the weight while working out, watching what I ate, and didn’t want to push myself into an unhealthy, quick weight loss. Look, it took nine months coming on and nine months coming off. Yet, it did take a little longer taking it off (laughs). I still like to have fun, you know.

Bankrate: What’s the best way for you to relax and rejuvenate your body and soul?

Milla Jovovich: Sleep! When I can get sleep. I’m sort of in Ever’s room all night and have the monitor by my bed, so it’s really hard to get a good night’s sleep. I can remember when I was younger and going out, I would sometimes stay out all night and then go right to work the next day. Now I need about 8 to 9 hours of sleep a night.

Bankrate: I know you had a Target collection with your clothing line. Is that still going on?

Milla Jovovich: The Target collection was a (one-shot) deal which was for Vogue International. That’s pretty much finished. And I actually folded my design line this year. Once I had the baby, it got really tough to run a business. For me, I just wasn’t able to be in the office everyday as I had been for the last four years. Also, I felt like it was time to reboot my acting and modeling career. It was a great experience doing it, but I felt like it was so much work — busy work and not creative work really. If you don’t have the experience to really find the right employees and the right people to run things, it sucks your life blood out.

Bankrate: What aspect of fashion do you dislike the most?

Milla Jovovich: The pressure for women to keep up with trends. And trends can get costly because you wear the clothes for maybe one season, and then they’re out of fashion. So many people wear what’s trendy, even if they’re not sure if they look good in it. Comfort is my No. 1 priority. But I’ve had Golden Hanger Awards for bad outfits from Joan Rivers.

Bankrate: So you’re back to modeling and acting. I read where you topped Forbes “Richest Supermodels of the World” list a few years ago. What does financial security afford you besides the option to buy things?

Milla Jovovich: I moved to this country with my family in 1981, and we definitely came here with pretty much nothing … but the clothes on our back. We got a beat-up, old Chevrolet and started a new life. So for me and my family, financial security means peace of mind. It means being able to just enjoy life without worrying about finances. There were definitely a lot of problems between my own parents, who are now divorced, about finances, and what we could and couldn’t afford. Definitely for me, financial freedom is very important because I came from an immigrant background, really struggling to succeed in this country.

So being able to buy my mom a house was very important for me. And I’m proud that my mom owns her house. I know so many relationships of my friends who can’t afford a nanny or this or that. My friends are amazing artists but they fight over finances constantly. To be able to own my own property and knowing that my daughter will never have to deal with financial difficulty are important to me. But, look, you never know. It’s definitely a balance of having a nice lifestyle but at the same time, educating my daughter about what life is and also appreciating having nothing too.

Bonnie Siegler is a freelance writer in Los Angeles.