And here I am with part two of “Beautiful Women Week” on the site. I am proud to know Milena Govich, and I’m so happy she was able to take some time to stop by and chat.
Milena Govich has performed on Broadway (in Chicago), on television (Conviction; Rescue Me; K-Town; Law & Order) and in the movies (the upcoming A Novel Romance, among others). She’s also one hell of a Scrabble player.
ANTHONY: Hi, Milena! Thanks for taking the time to chat with me. It’s no secret we’ve known each other a long time now, so the most important question I can ask is … what’s your favorite memory of me? haha
MILENA: Empire Coffee shop on 9th Ave. in NYC. It was the first time we got to sit down and chat and I got to see why the Cornue clan is enamored by you.
ANTHONY: Let’s talk about your latest project first. A NOVEL ROMANCE is out, and you co-star with Steve Guttenberg. Tell us a little about the movie.
MILENA: The film is a romantic dramedy set in NYC. It follows two people who have each just gone through a life-changing crisis–my character’s fiancee has just died, and Steve’s character is fired from his job in a humiliating way. With the pressures and expenses of living in NYC, the two acquaintances decide to move in together to help each other out.
ANTHONY: What was it that initially drew you to director Allie Dvorin’s script?
MILENA: I really loved the character of “Jenny”, and the film portrayed a kind of unique relationship. I was also itching to do some comedy, and who better to star opposite than Steve? To top it all off, Allie had studied acting with my teacher many years ago, so we both knew there would be a nice shorthand between us on set.
ANTHONY: What was Allie’s directing process like? Was there a lot of rehearsal before shooting or did you jump right in?
MILENA: Since this was a smaller budget feature, there really wasn’t much rehearsal at all. I think we met for two days, but rehearsing a film is not like rehearsing a play. Most of the time was spent talking about the script, asking questions, and reading scenes at the table.
ANTHONY: How long was the shooting schedule and where did you film?
MILENA: I believe we shot the film in 19 days–which is remarkable. All the locations were in NYC, and our crew was wonderful. It was clear that everyone on set wanted to be there. No one was resting on their laurels and just collecting a paycheck. It was all hands on deck every minute which made for a fun and energetic atmosphere.
ANTHONY: About a year ago you made the jump from being NYC-based to LA-based. What are the biggest differences you’ve seen in terms of the job market on each coast?
MILENA: The biggest difference in my day-to-day is driving. Ack! It took me a bit to get used to braving the LA traffic and searching for parking before my appointments. But aside from that, my work is pretty much the same. I’m very fortunate to have excellent agents and an incredibly loyal manager who work for me on both coasts. As for the LA market, there are many more productions shooting here versus NYC, but there are also many more actors. Even though there are more opportunities, it shapes up to be a very competitive market. But as you might imagine, I’m the kind of girl that has never shied away from a challenge!
ANTHONY: On television, you’ve had multi-episode runs guest-starring as a hooker with a heart of gold on Rescue Me, starring as a cop with something to prove on the original Law & Order, and as two very different district attorneys on Conviction and K-Ville. Which side of the law was more fun to work?
MILENA: Well, carrying a gun and doing stunt fights was a ton of fun as a cop, but the wardrobe is much better on the lawyer side. As for the criminal world, playing “Candy” the con artist on Rescue Me was one of the best gigs I’ve had. The set felt like I was hanging out with my brothers, and I had most of my scenes with the amazing actor, John Scurti.
ANTHONY: There’s a cool story about how you ended up on Law & Order. Can you tell us about that?
MILENA: The way I ended up on L&O was really a dream come true. I had been hired to do another series that Dick Wolf produced called Conviction. We actors on the show affectionately gave it the tag line, “young lawyers in heat.” It was a really good show (check it out on DVD!), but we didn’t get the ratings that NBC wanted, so they pulled the plug after 13 episodes. The very next day after we got the ax, Dick called my agents and offered me the role of the first-ever female cop on the original L&O. I have to say, this is the kind of positive feedback that every actor dreams of receiving. To me, there is no bigger compliment than to have someone you worked for hire you a second time in an even bigger role.
ANTHONY: You’ve worked with some great casts. What were some of your favorite moments?
MILENA: Shooting in NYC, you always get great moments, often from the people who aren’t part of the shoot. As you can imagine, it’s pretty hard to block off a street, or even a sidewalk from pedestrian traffic. No New Yorker thinks the barricades are for them. One of my favorite moments was on the set of A Novel Romance. We were shooting in Noho and the shot was a super romantic kiss where the camera revolves around us creating that swept-off-your-feet feeling (we didn’t actually end up using it in the movie, however). Anyway, some guy, probably on his way to work, made it past the PA’s who were trying to keep the foot traffic at bay. As he passed us kissing–right behind the camera–he looked at what we were doing and yelled, “Bullsh*t!” and kept right on walking. Gotta love the New Yorker perspective.
ANTHONY: How do you personally prepare for a role once you’ve been cast?
MILENA: Obviously, there’s the grunt work of the memorization of the lines, but most of my work centers around imagining my character’s relationships with all of the other characters in the play. I find that if I have a strong point of view about everyone I encounter in the script, things start to pop. I also like to play off of the other actors, so I try to never get set in a “way of doing things” in order to stay flexible and spontaneous.
ANTHONY: I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing a lot of young actors and singers and I know read my interviews. Any advice you’d like to share with them?
MILENA: Dream, and dream big. Really imagine the details of what you want your life to look like. Don’t let anyone else’s doubt cloud your view of who you can become. That said, as far as an acting career goes, if there is absolutely anything else you are passionate about, go do that instead. I know that sounds a little harsh, but my husband loves to say, “This is not a career, it’s a calling.” This business is brutal. An actor, no matter their status, receives more blatant rejection in one year than most people will ever experience in a lifetime. Unfortunately, that’s not hyperbole. Even though you may work hard, make great grades in school and do everything “right”, there is no guarantee you’ll ever make a dime in this business. Now on the other hand, if you feel that you absolutely MUST give it a go, then by all means, give it everything you’ve got. Learn everything you can: read, watch tons of movies, quality TV and plays. Get on stage as often as you possibly can: join your community theater, do the school play. Even if you’re just in the background you will be a part of the process. Make your own opportunities: go sing for the Lion’s Club or at a nursing home, ask for a solo with the church choir. Make your own videos: with today’s technology, it’s easier than ever. Write a short film (can be as short as you want), get your friends together to practice and then shoot it! Take every class you can and develop into the best artist you can be. I don’t think the passionate pursuit of anything is ever a waste. Even if you never book a professional job, we all learn so much about ourselves through the journey. And who knows where those lessons might take you.
ANTHONY: IMDB says you’re working on the next Resident Evil installment. How’s that experience been? Do you get any kick-ass action scenes?
MILENA: So here’s the thing about IMDB: it’s not run by anyone in the industry. Their information is usually accurate, but it comes from non-industry people who scour the trades and re-post the info they find. Occasionally, they are incorrect. And unfortunately, this is one of their boo-boos.
ANTHONY: You mean everything we read on the internet isn’t true?? Aigh! Alright,then, what else do you have coming up?
MILENA: As far as future projects go, my philosophy is to walk through the open door. I never know what is coming next, and that is one of both the most thrilling and most terrifying things about what I do. But a couple of things on the horizon are the DVD release of A Novel Romance at the end of January, and a recurring arc on an ABC Family series called Make It or Break It that will air in the late spring. And this summer I will travel back to my home state of Oklahoma to play the title role in Sweet Charity at the Lyric Theater. I’m really looking forward to getting my dancing shoes out!
If any of your readers would like more info on these, they can join my Facebook fan page where I post details on all of my upcoming gigs.
ANTHONY: And my usual final question: What is your favorite book, and what would you say to someone who hasn’t read it to convince them that they should?
The book that had a real impact in my life is Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand. I read it when I was 16 years old and it was the kind of positive reinforcement that rang blaringly true to a young, passionate, and ambitious girl like myself. The theme of “man is capable” still inspires me today. I truly believe that ANYONE has the capacity to make herself into the person she wants to be. The process may not be easy, and the goal you achieve may not be the one you set out for, but passion and perseverance in everything you do will take you far.
As mentioned above, you can find Milena’s Fan Page on Facebook, and you can also find her on IMDb. If you’re a fan of Milena’s work, please stop by both of her pages and leave some favorable comments!