''The Messenger'' star would rather make movies than walk the runway

By Liane Bonin
November 12, 1999 at 05:00 AM EST
Courtesy Columbia Pictures

As day jobs go, strutting your stuff as a supermodel probably beats, say, slaving over the deep-fat fryer at Hardee’s. But Milla Jovovich, who stars as the doomed French saint in ”The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc” (opens Friday), says working as a glorified coat hanger isn’t so hot either. ”I think it’s much more draining to do a modeling job where you’re just wasting your time than it is to act,” says the 23-year-old actress-musician-model. ”It kills me. Time is so precious, and you’re just standing around going ‘duhhhh’ while someone picks some little nothing off your sweater.”

Jovovich, who has released two solo albums, ”The Divine Comedy” and ”The Peopletree Sessions,” tolerates her modeling gigs in order to subsidize her acting and music careers. ”It gives me the freedom to not care whether something is a good career move or not or what people might say,” she says. Jovovich bristles at the suggestion that, as a model, she might bring some fashionista ‘tude along with her to a movie set. ”There’s so much ego that I think actors should NOT have,” says the actress, who plays opposite such ego-friendly stars as Dustin Hoffman and Faye Dunaway in ”The Messenger.” ”The stereotype is funny for me, because I’m the opposite.”

Jovovich learned how to abandon her pride while preparing for her role as Leeloo in ”The Fifth Element.” ”I had this amazing acting coach who took me to the zoo and said you have to act like a gorilla in front of everybody and pick stuff out of people’s hair,” she recalls. ”It was such an ego break making a fool out of myself.” To render herself humble as she got into character on the set of ”The Messenger,” Jovovich screamed until she was hoarse prior to each take. ”It made me more comfortable to do anything on stage, and in a way it was me bowing down before the whole crew and saying, ‘I’m nothing, I’m an idiot, look how silly I am.”’ Hey, what ever happened to ”quiet on the set”?