Supermodel, actress, musician, mother, wife. We talk to the absurdly beautiful L’Oreal Paris spokesmodel, Milla Jovovich about Elizabethan London, archaeology and the truth about red carpets
Does the modelling industry have a ceiling age?
'No, not at all. Well, yeah to some degree but I feel there is no ceiling if you are an intelligent person because you’re always going to be interesting to people, you know what I mean? Look at L’Oreal, they work with Andie McDowell. There is no ceiling when you have talent, intelligence, you’re passionate, you’re still going to get a beauty contract, it doesn’t matter how old you are.'
What’s the best piece of advice you have ever been given by another model?
Y'ou know, I started so young - at 11. What kind of model could give me advice at that point? I mean, I had been working longer than mostly everybody so it was my Mom. I wasn’t hanging out with models. But my Mom said, ‘if you don’t educate yourself, you’re going to go nowhere. Your pretty face can get you to the door but what is going to keep you in the room?’ I’ve been sitting in the room for 20 plus years, so I think I definitely took that advice to heart.'
What has been the most pivotal work of your modelling career?
'I would say, definitely Peter Lindbergh. All the work we’ve done together since I was like, 13 years old, has just been the high points of my modelling career. All the books he’s put me on the cover of - that’s so special and definitely another person was my ex-boyfriend [photographer, Mario Sorrenti]. We did some beautiful classic pictures together.'
You always seem to look so confident and relaxed on the red carpet. Do you enjoy that moment?
'No, it’s not one of my favourite things, I mean, I enjoy performing you know, even on my Facebook page I’m in front of a camera. I love to be on stage, I love to act, I love to be creative but you know, the red carpet gives me the willies. I know that, you know, they love me and everybody is super sweet but at the same time, I know that they would totally love it if I fell on my butt. So when you know if something bad happens, they’ll be even happier it definitely puts you off. It’s kind of the only time that I get kind of nervous.'
Who do you admire for the way they approach their make-up?
'I don’t think there is one person in particular, but I definitely tend to be more of a European sensibility, so I wear less make up. I love my L’Oreal False Lash Telescopic Mascara [£10.99] which has the thinnest brush ever so you can get right in close. If I get a little mascara on my lid, I just smoke it out with a Q-Tip. I like a little bit of [L’Oreal Paris] Color Riche Lipstick, [£ 8.19] too. I put it on my lips, my cheeks, eyes – everywhere. It’s really moisturising and makes you glow and that’s pretty much all I do. I guess that’s how I’m European that way, because women in Europe tend to not feel like they need to be so camera perfect all the time.'
Is that how it is in America?
'Yeah, I feel like in America you know there are two strings; either obesity or anorexia and I think both of them come from this perception that people in magazines actually look that way. So everybody tries to be airbrushed, everybody wears so much make-up to look perfect but just end up looking crazy, you know? I think European women are just a much more chilled with it, they kind of don’t expect that they should look like a magazine walking down the street, because nobody does.'
'I mean the reality of the situation is that nobody ever will and that’s why we have airbrushing and that’s why we have stretching the picture and whatever. It’s all to make the models look like super goddesses but it’s just not the reality, you know. But, I also think if you feel like a goddess, you just embrace what you have and accentuate it.'
When did you feel at your most physically confident?
'Definitely when I’m doing an action film. I work out like, 5 times a week, I’m on a really clean diet and I’m on top form, kind of thing. But at the same time when I’m taking a break and having a family BBQ, I feel like I’m on top form as well but you know I’m definitely disciplined in terms of what I eat.'
Are you interested in the more holistic styles of exercise like yoga?
'No, unfortunately not. I should be more into yoga because I think a personality like mine could use a bit of a tone down. No, I mean, I do circuit training, like cardio and martial arts and stuff like that - I’m kind of more active. It’s hard for me to just sit and like, focus on my mind. I mean, I’m sure in time I’m going have to, because it’s important and because it’s a challenge. I know I can’t do it, so I want to.
"European women are just much more chilled with it - they don’t expect that they should look like a magazine walking down the street, because nobody does"
What’s your most indulgent beauty habit?
'You know what, I worked with this amazing actress from China and she hooked me up with these insane Chinese collagen masks, these weird things you put on your face and you look insane while you’re wearing it. But they’re just so amazing. I literally emailed the woman who owns the salon and she sends them to me personally. It’s one of those things that once a week - if I have the time, when my daughter is in school or I’m not working - just to indulge myself so I’ll use one of these masks. They’re just incredible.'
And what else do you like to do to just unwind and relax your mind?
'Play guitar, write, read… For me, just being able to sit down with a book for a few hours is the best. You know probably the best thing about taking plane rides is that I can read until my heart is content. I’ve been really into this this woman named Liza Picard. She does all these incredible books on like, Restoration London and Elizabethan London, Dr Johnson’s London and Victorian London. I read those books like crazy and I didn’t realise it was the same author until I went online to look for more books and then I realised I had all her books already.'
So, have you got a thing for old London?
'Yeah I love Victorian history. I love British history. I’m married to a British guy - he majored in history in college so we have great conversations. Also, I read these books on the Irish potato famine, cross-referencing them all because for some reason I became obsessed with 1850s Ireland. What a horrific, horrific time, I mean unbelievable. So I told my husband, ‘when we are done in Toronto, can we take a trip up to Ireland and see where all the Irish people died of typhus and go to the Irish memorial?’ He was like ‘that’s why I love you darling, nothing says romance like a good memorial.’
You’ve travelled the world as a model and actress. How conscious are you of the changing perception of beauty from country to country?
'Oh, definitely. You know, I’m much more European in my sensibilities. I really love the way European women put themselves together and the fact that they feel like less is more. When you apply make-up to a brush and put it on your eyes, it can go on so strong and become scary but the way L’Oreal makes theirs is for building it up, you start soft and then you can get more and more coverage until you’re happy. It’s not like your jumping off a cliff into the world of clown make up.'
What do you find genuinely beautiful?
'For me, beauty is intelligence. So many pretty girls come and go and you see them and then it’s like, overkill. You can’t have a building without a billboard of a pretty girl, you can’t have a magazine stand without pretty girls’ faces everywhere, but I feel like the girls that have longevity, are the girls that people are interested in even as they age and mature. The ones that have more going on than just their looks - that’s the trick I think. You can see a beautiful girl and then she opens her mouth and a load of trash comes out and you’re like, ‘OK’, and then you could see someone who didn’t strike you as that beautiful when you first met them, but think ‘wow’, after a conversation you’re in love because they are so charming, so witty, so quick.'
'Some of the greatest women in history were never the prettiest, they were the smartest, the wittiest… I mean look at Madam de Montespan; she kept Louis XIV for 20 years and that wasn’t because of her face. That’s because she introduced him to all the best artists, he went to her for good conversation and at the end of the day, she educated him with art - with everything.'
Is she the sort of woman you look to and admire, then?
'Oh, yeah. They’re like a lot of women today but just stepping in a different time. They would hang out with guys, they would have intelligent conversation, they would chill like any other girl, but of course, there was stigma back then whereas now, it’s normal.'
And if you hadn’t been discovered as a model, what would you be doing with your life today?
'Are you kidding? Before I started modelling, all I wanted to be was an archaeologist and I still feel like maybe I chose the wrong career. Who knows what kind of archaeologist I would be today. In my mind, when I want to go to that beautiful place, I see a desert, actually a big pit with me and a brush, brushing bones.'
L’Oreal Paris is the official make-up partner of the Cannes Film Festival, for more information visit www.lorealparis.co.uk