Milla Jovovich has spoken out about her new film Monster Hunter being pulled from cinemas in China.
As part of an exclusive interview with NME, Jovovich addressed the backlash that the film received. The issue stemmed from a ten second-long exchange that some Chinese viewers believed to “insult China”.
The moment in question saw Jovovich’s Asian co-star MC Jin in conversation with a white male character.
“Look at my knees!” shouts Jin. “What kind of knees are these?” asks his companion. “Chi-nese!” Jin replies.
The line of dialogue was interpreted by some as an old, racist schoolyard rhyme that targeted Asian people. Consequently, Chinese cinemas removed the film from their programming from its opening day. The dialogue in question has since been taken out of the film.
Though Jovovich has voiced regret about the offence caused, she has said that the line came from a good place.
“MC Jin is such a proud Chinese-American, and when he improvised that line it was to show his pride and his heritage,” she told NME.
She continued: “None of us, including him, had ever heard this World War II rhyme. I feel horrible that it… did strike a nerve with some people who remember being made fun of.”
Jovovich was adamant that the line that Jin improvised was not associated with the rhyme in question.
“We should have researched it, that’s all there is to it,” she concluded.
After the film was pulled in China, Jin took to his Instagram account to record a video apology.
“It’s unfortunate that it has escalated to this level, especially since the line was intended to be uplifting,” Jin said. “To my Chinese fans, I appreciate all your support and understanding during this time.”
During her interview with NME, Jovovich also shared her love for a female action hero who inspired her growing up.
“One of the first movies that I remember watching on HBO… was Aliens and Sigourney Weaver,” she said. “I think that’s what really started me on my trajectory to do action films.”
Monster Hunter is released in the UK on June 18.