"Half a glass of champagne helps," says L'Oréal Paris ambassador Milla Jovovich. She's talking about walking the red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival, the most prestigious film-fest in the world. And although she's worked that paparazzi stretch for more than 15 years, the 37-year-old actress calls that carpet "one of the scariest parts of my job." Earlier today from the French Riviera, just before debuting a custom Prada gown (above) before a sea of flashing cameras, Milla took a few moments for a live Google chat with Beautygeeks about coping with the pressure, attracting attention you want, and being the hero.
On getting through the red-carpet experience:
I just try to breathe, I try to drink a lot of water, and when I finally get out of the car, I'm very nervous, but then I become an actress. It's like someone says action! and it's not me any more. It's like uber-Milla, or Super Milla – I don't even look, I don't even think, I just do it.... I try to be like a machine. I just walk – picture – walk – picture, picture – walk.
On what she does to stand out on the red carpet:
I like to wear things that make me feel good, make me feel comfortable, make me feel beautiful -- I don't really think about standing out as much because I feel like my personality is kind of big.... I just want to feel good. When you feel good about how you look, about yourself, you're always going to stand out because you're comfortable and you're confident.
On how your look attracts the attention you want:
The way you wear you dress, the way your hair and makeup is, is going to attract a certain kind of person to you. You're giving a statement before you say anything. The way you dress really reflects the kind of people you want to attract to you.... You look at yourself in the mirror, and you go, "I want to attract people like me."
On beauty as empowerment:
When you take the time to respect yourself, and put that little bit of time into making yourself look good, putting yourself together, it says a lot about who you are, and about how much you respect yourself. And when you show that respect to yourself, I think you get that respect from other people. I'm a mother, so it's very difficult for me to find the time to do my makeup, to do my hair, but I still try to find 10 minutes even to just put myself together because it makes me feel better about myself and it makes me more confident when I meet the world.
On nail art:
If I had the patience for it, I would do it, but I don't. And I have a child, so there's no way I can spend five hours getting nail art done. I use my hands, I play guitar, I take care of my daughter – nails on me just don't stay for very long. I love to have a nice polish, especially when I go out. But to be honest with you, normally my nails are a disaster. I have worker's hands.
On playing strong women:
I love to play strong women. I think it's important in Hollywood because I don't think there are enough women in film that are strong.... My premiere in Cannes, with The Fifth Element, kind of set my career. I played this crazy character that no-one had ever seen before. And playing a character like Leeloo was so inspiring to me that it was very difficult afterward to go back to Hollywood to just play "the girlfriend," or play "the wife." I wanted to save the day. I wanted to be the hero.
On how a character's look helps her embody the role:
The look is one of the most important things because once you get that makeup, your hair, the outfit on, it changes you.... Take Leeloo. Without the orange hair and the blonde roots and no eyebrows and that costume, where's Leeloo? It took all of that, and when I saw myself looking so crazy and so strange, the character came. Suddenly I wasn't Milla anymore.
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In the video below (at 13:24), Milla also reveals how she decides on her red-carpet hair and makeup, why she's all about strong eye makeup this year at Cannes, what happens when she has too much McDonald's, and what makeup item she'd invent for L'Oréal Paris. As well, she tells us about her speedy beauty routine now that she's a busy mom to an active five-year-old.
I'm tickled that Milla referred often to The Fifth Element. The 1997 film is one of my favourite movies of all time. The nail-polish changer! The Chanel eye-makeup unit! The amazing costuming by Jean Paul Gaultier! (Makes me wonder why Quebec designer Denis Gagnon hasn't done movie costumes yet.) The makeup on the hot-models-of-the-day flight attendants (including Toronto personality Stacey McKenzie)! Chris Tucker! Bruce Willis in orange! I love it.
What are your thoughts?
In the video: gown, custom Prada; makeup by Charlotte Willer.