Playing the character of Joan is a remarkable milestone in
Milla Jovovich's chameleon-like career. "I played a hooker
in Spike Lee's movie after [The Fifth Element's] Leeloo, and now
I'm playing Joan. That's what I'm working for. I want to be able
to have the freedom to do anything," says the actress.
"You never know what
she's going to do next"
Jovovich had several discussions with director Luc Besson to
decide just how this 15th century figure should be
brought to life on a modern screen. "Luc and I talked about
what we wanted for the character- this unexpectedness, this
energy .You never know what she's going to do next. She's
alive." A very different view of the 'adjective' . . .
Preparing for the role by studying books on the character, the
young actress specifically focused on the trial. "I was
always reading the trial. When I read her trial, somehow I read
it with new eyes every time. New things were added to the
character all the time."
The battle scenes helped Jovovich understand Joan as a teenage
girl thrust into extraordinary circumstances. "It's one
thing to read the trial and know what she's saying, and it's
another thing to live through it," says Jovovich.
"It was very
"There's just no way that you can come into the middle of
a battle and leave like you came. She changes when she comes out,
and I did too. I've never been through anything like that. It was
"You don't understand Jean until you see that, until you
experience the terror of men killing each other all around you.
Then you see what this young girl really felt like." But
Jovovich acknowledges that Joan had a magical, even divine
quality that separated her from the fray. "Every moment was
special with her. Joan was constantly in a state of grace. She
was always with God."
Jovovich has nothing but kind words for the cast and crew that
surrounded her. "The atmosphere was amazing. The actors were
super. It's really much easier to make a great movie when you're
surrounded by talented people. They don't let you be bad. I knew
these guys were so good that I was always trying to be better.
"Whether it was costumes, special effects, stunt, decor-
everybody was really into making this film the best. You felt it.
It was really a work of art." Jovovich did most of her own
stunts in the film. In a particularly harrowing scene, Joan
climbs a ladder and is shot by an arrow, and she falls 25 meters
backwards to the soldiers and ground below. "I did that
myself," says the actress. "It was so much better
because Luc was filming me, and we have a very special connection
when we work together. I looked straight into his eyes as I was
falling. That kind of shot you wouldn't be able to get if I was
scared to do it."
"She watched the rehearsal twice and she said, 'OK, I'm
going to do it,'" says stunt coordinator Phillipe Guegan of
the scene. " And she did it herself, perfectly, no
apprehension. She was absolutely into it. Each time we had a
fight to do, she would go into it."
Of her relationship with her director, the actress says,
"I'm an artist, and so I really understand Luc as an artist,
and I want to do everything I can to make it as easy and as full
for him as possible."
Jovovich hopes audiences come out of the film with an
affection and a deeper understanding of Joan. "I really want
people to love her. I want people to relate to her- " even
though, by Jovovich 's own admission, Joan was a product of her
tumultuous time, compelled to act as she watched her impoverished
people starve and die in the midst of the Hundred Years' War.
"a little girl who
went through a lot"
What would Jovovich do if she ever met Joan face to face?
"I think if I met her I'd probably just give her a big hug.
She's a little girl who went through a lot."