Edward Norton, left, Robert De Niro and Milla Jovovich star in "Stone." (Ron Batzdorff / Overture…)
Fighting legions of monsters? No problem. Behaving like an "animal," even with the help of Robert De Niro and Edward Norton? Problem.
" 'Resident Evil' movies are easy because they're so fun, with the excitement and the action; with a movie like 'Stone,' it was such a hard character to play," says Milla Jovovich, whose Lucetta may be a sexual weapon in the duel between De Niro's and Norton's characters, or possibly much more. "It was one of those people I would never want to know in my real life. To have to give her love and compassion and not judge her took its toll by the end of the day. By the time I'd get home, I just felt so — you just want to get in the shower and scrub off the day because she's just so different from who I am. She's this wild kind of animal."
The actress best known for action movies such as the "Resident Evil" franchise is decidedly down to earth in director John Curran's "Stone," which opens Oct. 8. The intimate psychological drama pits burned-out, embittered Detroit parole officer Jack (De Niro) against manipulative inmate Stone (Norton), who may or may not be undergoing a spiritual conversion as he angles for his release. The convict enlists his wife (Jovovich) to influence Jack by any means necessary, testing the limits of all three.
Lucetta is "such a complex person and such a sexual person and at the same time so unaware of herself — she just lives in the moment, how animals only see what's right in front of them," says the supermodel, fashion designer, musician and wife of "Resident Evil" director Paul W.S. Anderson, with whom she has a 2-year-old daughter. "When Edward Norton describes Lucetta as 'an alien' — she's kind of on another planet. Definitely a tough character, with the nudity and the sexuality; especially to have to get intimate with people you've only met that day. It's hard. It's really, you feel violated. You come home sobbing. My poor husband would have to deal with it:
" 'You want to watch "I Love You, Man"?'
[Mimicking her weeping] " 'Yes.' "
Saying she gets nervous with every project, even at table reads for her action franchise, the actress says running her lines with a friend helped settle her into facing off with two acting powerhouses. "It was to the point where it was so ingrained in my head, I didn't have to think about it. 'Dude, I'm making a movie with Edward Norton and Robert De Niro. I'd better rock!' So I worked my butt off to make sure that when I get there, I'm not thinking about my line. That's when the honesty comes out. That's when you can play."
The polyglot actress came to an understanding, with Norton's help, of Lucetta's ways of relating — even when Stone would send her mixed signals.
"Edward's such a generous actor and such a generous human being; he was integral in helping me click with the character," she says, adding she'd love to work with Norton when the actor directs again.
"There was a crazy moment, in a scene with Edward where she says, 'Didn't I do good?' In a sense, she's so innocent: 'I thought that was supposed to make you happy.' A wolf doesn't think it's bad when it eats a deer. There's that part of her that's like a kid, that's just trying to help her husband. She's free with her body. She doesn't think what she's doing is wrong; she's just eating the deer."