TORONTO — Thanks to a bunch of flesh-eating zombies, Milla Jovovich might have to give up her modeling career (or at least part of it).
She bloodied a knuckle late one evening on the chilly rooftop set of "Resident Evil: Apocalypse," and it wasn't the first time that it's happened. "When we're shooting commercials and stuff, they don't even bother shooting my hands anymore," she said as a crew member bandaged up her finger after a grueling fight rehearsal. "Now they get a hand model, because I've got chunks missing from my hands."
Jovovich endured all this unglamorous punishment (which included traipsing about in freezing weather wearing ripped clothing and being constantly covered in fake blood) for "Resident Evil: Apocalypse," the sequel to the 2002 action-horror flick based on the popular video game, which wrapped shooting late last year. (Click for photos from the set.)
"At the end of the first movie my character survives by the skin of her teeth and she enters this city, and it's completely destroyed, and we don't really know what's going on," a parka-covered Jovovich explained on the set between takes. "At the beginning of this one we pick that up and we see the back history of how the city became deserted, and we meet all of the characters."
Among those characters is Jill Valentine, the beloved heroine of the game who was absent from the first flick and its story about the "T-Virus" that turns a team of scientists into mindless undead killers. "Jill Valentine being in the movie is so cool and she looks amazing," Jovovich gushed.
"I've been told a lot about Jill and when I tell other people I'm playing her, they're like, 'You must be scared,' and 'That's such a big responsibility,' " Sienna Guillory laughed. "She's awesome, she kicks ass and people love her."
Along with adding Valentine, "Apocalypse" further explores the possibilities of the "Resident Evil" premise, something Jovovich was particularly excited about when she read the script. "There are so many great ideas about the whole concept of the T-Virus and what it is, like, it could be a facial cream that improves your look and it could also make you undead. So what does this mean to the world? What does this mean to humanity? Could the T-Virus be used for something good?
"We [also] have girls in short skirts, lots of blood and lots of guns," she playfully added about the flick.
The movie, set for release September 10, will pit the two heroines against the zombies, their corporate creators and a giant monster called Nemesis.
"Nemesis has a helicopter gun that he uses as a hand gun," Milla explained excitedly. "There's this scene in a hallway where I'm running from the Nemesis and he takes out the gun and shoots at me. And literally, it's the first time anything like this has been filmed. It fires like 1,500 bullets a minute.
"So you have camera guys going forward and he's shooting toward them and they said, literally, they just couldn't push forward because of the force of the gun," she continued. "They were just trying not to get pushed back. One of the crew guys just dropped his stuff and ran the other direction when Nemesis started shooting."
Everyone on set reported that Jovovich, who often relaxed between takes with a book collection of several Discovery magazine science articles, is no slouch with the big guns herself — which isn't necessarily the case all of the time. "I have a samurai style where I pull this gun out of my back, but the problem is, I can't get the thing out 'cause it's too long," she revealed. "You have to have monkey arms. I can only take the gun out so far, then we cut, then we cut back to where the gun is already out."
Twenty-one-year-old martial-arts champion Joanne Leach, who doubled for some of Jovovich's more treacherous stunts and helped her choreograph others, insisted that the film's model-actress star was more willing than most to take on as many stunts as possible. But she still couldn't do everything.
"The insurance companies just wouldn't let me do it," she explained, pointing to the side of a building even taller than the rooftop she was standing on. "I'm supposed to come off the top of that building and run down the side, it's about 250 feet. They said no, 'Because you might die or something and that would be a problem for us.' "