The first New York ComiCon was a chaotic place to be on Saturday. The show had about half of the Javits Center, New York City’s big convention center, but that turned out to not be enough – fire marshals and state troopers showed up to do crowd control when 20,000 people showed up for a con that could only fit 10,000.
That’s an astonishing crowd, and they all came without a big turnout by the Hollywood studios. Unlike San Diego, New York had very few film-related events or guests, although there was a major one – the gorgeous Milla Jovovich, star of this weekend’s Ultraviolet, directed by CHUDdy buddy Kurt Wimmer, who brings gun-kata back to screens. Milla had a lot to say about martial arts, comic fans and… the evolutionary necessity of religion? Yup.
By the way, there was a guy at the table who worked for, I believe, the Anime Network. He had this deep, ball-shaking radio voice, and asked the most ludicrous question I have heard in three years of junketeering. And that’s saying something. See if you can guess which one is his.
Q: Do you like coming to these conventions and things like that?
Jovovich: It’s awesome to see a bunch of people that love to go watch action movies and read comics. I was a huge comic fan when I was little; these people are not little, but I can relate in some sense. This is the audience for Ultraviolet so I want to support the movie and I want to make sure that people go see it and get to know me.
Q: How did Kurt approach you and how did you get involved in the first place? Had you seen Equilibrium?
Jovovich: I had seen Equilibrium in the middle of Brother the year before and the director actually wrote Ultraviolet for me. He called me and was like, “I have this script that I wrote for you and would you read it”; and I read it and I was really touched by it in a lot of different ways just because it’s this story about this woman trying to protect this little boy, and essentially on top of that she’s like the craziest action hero ever. I love it.
Q: Rumor has it that Kurt isn’t happy with the final cut of the film.
Jovovich: I don’t know. I haven’t talked to Kurt.
Q: How different is it working with Kurt doing action movies as opposed to Paul W.S Anderson?
Jovovich: Kurt is really funny. Of course it was crazy to work with someone that actually practices martial arts themselves, so a lot of stuff he would understand. In a lot of action films you definitely have the director and the stunt coordinator are like totally different people, but in some sense Kurt was always like one step ahead of everybody when it came to the action stuff and he had such a vision for it, so it was interesting. I definitely ruffled his feathers a few times. I gave him a black eye. So, you know, I wouldn’t let him get away too perfect.
Q: Who would win in a gun-kata fight between you and Christian Bale?
Jovovich: [laughs] I don’t know. My guns are swords.
Q: Ultraviolet looks like it’s packing some ultra-attitude.
Jovovich: It is. We’re trying.
Q: What were some of the ultra-unique things that the director did to help you bring out that ultra-violentness?
Jovovich: Well, we had an ultra-amazing stunt coordinator named Mike Smith, who was really, really had incredible vision. He really wanted to give this feeling of an Eastern-type martial arts movie, which in western action films you really just don’t have that kind of fluid floral type of wooshu. Usually, it’s very street fighting. It’s very like hard punches and it’s all about the violence. This is much more about the look, the movement; it’s so much about what she’s doing and not just about the punches. So, it’s taking it to another level, which I’d never done before and I was really excited because I was scared because I kinda have two left feet sometimes and in this movie I had to so much crazy stuff especially the sword tricks and the wooshu; it’s very balletic. Like I said up there (to the ComiCon crowd) you have to be very graceful so I’m a little nervous about that. I can throw a punch but man, when it comes to gracefulness I definitely kinda bottom of the list for that; so I had to work a lot. I didn’t get everything right that why I ended up working a year ahead of time.
Q: You’ve done a lot of basically high energy basically action films, very unique.
Jovovich: Thank you. Somebody [at the ComiCon presentation] didn’t agree. I wish the people that are like you know, “Why wasn’t it as good as the first one?” Well, why don’t you start directing? (Laughs) What’s up man! Just write a script and give it to me. Let’s see what you can do.
Q: When you are ready to do a move, do you ever have to say, "I think I have done something like that before, can we change it up?" Do you ever have to do that with people like Paul?
Jovovich: You know what, with RE2, yes. I definitely had a lot of things to say, you know, the whole running down like the building wouldn’t had been there if I hadn’t pushed people to like go, “Ok, let’s do something crazy and something we hadn’t seen before” because Alice is just going to end up kinda doing the same stuff like before. But I have to say with Violet it was just from top to bottom different and if I did recognize something, “Oh my God”, one thing I had to do through all of this and at least that part I know. So, it was actually a relief when I did something familiar because it was so much new information that I had to take in and like I said, it’s like a dance form.
There was so much work I had to do in my own time, just after a six hour stunt rehearsal I would spend three hours just spinning my swords at the hotel room. Like destroyed my hotel room in China. They hated me over there. I was like knocking on my ceiling cause I was flipping swords and the lights go out, and I’m like, “Okay. Hello. Room Service.”
Q: When you’re doing a film like this, with the gun-kata, which is sort of a made up martial art, do you get to bring in your own moves? Do you get to go on the set and say, “I was playing around last night and I think this would really look awesome?”
Jovovich: It’s funny that you should mention that because they were a couple of times that I felt like, “You know what, I would really love to do this kind of movement as opposed to this kind of movement”, but to be perfectly honest with you, Mike has the most insane fantasy world going on. To be frank, I just wanted to learn what he taught me and survive. Anything new at that point, I was like, “Stop” cause literally, we’re working and he goes, “Listen. Forget everything that I taught you. This is what we’re going to do” and I’m like, “Mike, listen. I can’t”. He’s like, “You can do it man. I wouldn’t do this to you if you couldn’t” and he’s like the total valley guy like fitness dude. So he looks like a boxer but then he could like do ballet. Wow! That’s kinda weird, man. You’re kinda freaking me out now.
But it was very, very complicated. The whole movie was incredibly complex when it came to the fighting stuff because we have it spread out and we have to shoot in sort of place that make it financially viable for the company, so we literally had to practice the whole way through the shoot because one, the stunt rehearsals were on the last day, so with one of our main fight sequences, we’re shooting on the last week. I had to work throughout the whole 6 ½ months of filming to get to that one scene at the end and that was all the way through.
Q: As a result of doing this martial art training, have you gotten into Eastern philosophy and have you applied it to anything you do?
Jovovich: It’s so funny because I’m a big fan of New Scientist, Scientific American magazine and I was reading this genius article the other day on age. It was really funny because finally western science is having to find explanations for religion and why did we need religion and why millions of years ago when people were first standing up, why did they create religion, because obviously if they didn’t need it, we would have thrown it by the wayside. Evolution, if we didn’t need wings obviously, so we don’t have them; but we did religion for some reason and they have actually proven that meditators live longer, happier, and healthier lives than non-meditators. They have less health problems and actually when you think it, all of the neurological diseases where your brain breaks down like Alzheimers for instance, the amount of white brain mass that we have inside of heads actually shrinks as we get older and we all know that, but meditators at 80 years old have a brain mass equivalent to a person in their 20s. This is New Scientist, one of the biggest science magazines in England giving you three articles about this issue and the fact that you always see born again Christians and like they are unnervingly happy, like “Wow, I’m just like inspired”. But it’s true. When they do the brain scan, they see that the right hemisphere is actually lighting up in places that atheists don’t light up in, so literally, you have endorsements rushing in, especially when you go to church and you believe. The endorsements that rush through your head is so off the hook that you get happier off course. It’s not about if God exists or not, but does religion work, it sure does, and it’s so hilarious because it really is becoming a scientific fact. If you pray for someone in secret, it’s not going to work, but if you go, “I’m going to pray for you and my family’s going to pray for you, and you believe that, the light that is going on in your brain is going to help you heal; and now they are literally saying that people who have family members praying for them in hospitals get out quicker. I mean, it’s insane with what’s going on because for a long time eastern philosophy was totally put to metaphysics, like you can’t be a physician talking about beliefs. You’re not going to try to quantize faith. It doesn’t matter about God, but what belief does to you as a person is limitless, so yes, I do try and practice eastern philosophy.
Q: Were you a violent child?
Jovovich: You know what’s funny. I was so not a violent child. I liked “Sheera”, Princess of Power right, she was kind of violent. But I more like girly violent. I would be fighting the dark forces, I didn’t fight, but I never got nailed for not fighting. Never ever. When I would get picked on in school, I would stand up and take it, and people would scare me sometimes. I’ve been beaten up before, but by girls much bigger than me but I hold my ground and I cried a lot.
Q: When did you come into your kick-butt side?
Jovovich: I would imagine probably from The Fifth Element. That was the first time I got challenged in that way to have to train so much to have to discipline myself so it was kind of what opened up the idea that I can do martial arts. I found that my father was a huge fan of Kung Fu theater and stuff and boxing, so I’ve always had a masculine side to myself, but I always thought that was cool in the movies. I never really thought that I would do it myself, and after The Fifth Element, I just fell in love with martial arts and learning more, and wanting to keep myself in a good physical condition so that I could learn more and potentially do more movies where I could work with such incredible people.