Who’s that hottie on “Banshee”? We realize there are a few of them (since that’s a Cinemax show), but we’re only talking about one in particular. You know, she who plays Carrie, she has a tortured romance with the protagonist, and even though she’s never been naked on screen before, she shows up nearly every week with a new sex scene steamier than the last. Ivana Milicevic, that’s her name!
Ivana Milicevic was born April 26, 1974 in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina (although back then it was Yugoslavia). When she was five, her family left for America and settled in Troy, Michigan, where her folks opened up a Dunkin’ Donuts. While in high school, Ivana caught the eye of a local modeling scout, got signed to Milane Modeling Management, and left home for Los Angeles at the age of seventeen. Dame Magazine asked her why she left home so young, and Ivana replied, “I thought, ‘If I don’t get out of here, I’m going to marry the first person I have sex with and I’m going to end up working in my parent’s donut shop.’” She did work there briefly, but only one summer before she started modeling.
Another important thing Ivana did before leaving Michigan: she was a dancer for the Troy Kids on the Block, a New Kids on the Block tribute group. Google them. They were kind of a big deal.
You’d think that Ivana would go a little wild when she got to the big city, but the only reckless thing she did was eat cookies for breakfast. She was there to work, and work she did, and when she got tired of hitting audition after audition, she tried her hand at stand-up comedy and earned herself a solid local following. Ivana started getting small parts on TV and in film around 1996; although her first big credit was a bit role in “Jerry Maguire,” she views her Seinfeld appearance as her first official Hollywood job. It was, in her words, “the first of many jobs I had while faking a Russian accent.” Look over her filmography and you’ll see she’s not joking; every other character she plays has a name like Ilsa, Oksana, Katinka, or Ranya. “The cool thing is that I often don’t look quirky enough to do funny things,” Ivana says, “but slap a Russian accent on me…”
Her next big milestone came in 2006 when she landed a part in “Casino Royale,” the first Bond film piloted by Daniel Craig. Ivana played Valenka, girlfriend of the villain Le Chiffre, whose primary job is to poison James Bond. “My parents were so excited. It’s amazing the response you get even though I was hardly in it.”
As you can tell, Ivana wasn’t chomping at the bit to be a big movie star in her twenties. She trusted fate to bring her gigs that were right for her, and at the time, she was more interested in playing fun roles with cute characters. Things had to change in Ivana’s life before she was ready to take on challenging jobs: “I needed to live more life, to have more heartbreak, more family drama and sickness.” Ivana says she did a lot of growing up before auditioning for “Banshee,” and we’re oh so happy she did.
Just before “Banshee,” I hadn’t worked very much, and what happened with [a former lover] shook me to the core. So when I came back to America, I was almost completely out of money. But you meditate, you go to Pilates, you read your scripts, you do your job. And all of a sudden, here comes “Banshee,” a part I couldn’t have played right without that experience. She’s a twisted character who loved someone she couldn’t love. And I knew just how to play that. The universe doesn’t waste our hurt.
Critics, TV lovers, and pervs like us agree: Ivana is perfect for “Banshee.” If you haven’t been following the story (or the nudity), Ivana plays Carrie Hopewell, a former jewel thief trying to put her past behind her so she can be a good mother and wife. Naturally, that’s not happening for Carrie, especially not when an old flame/crime partner rides into town and assumes the position of sheriff. Emotional tension? You bet there is. Sexual tension? Oh dear, where do we begin?
We were excited about “Banshee” a while before it debuted, primarily because Ivana had her first-ever nude scene in the premiere. More sex and nudity have flowed from the show since that epic episode, and many people have asked Ivana how she feels about the naughty stuff on TV; fortunately, Ivana has a lot to say about it. We think her response to Collider’s questions is the most illuminating:
One, I wasn’t going to do it, ever, unless I felt comfortable… Two, I always said that, if I was going to do it, then do it. My favorite of all time is “Sex and Lucia.” It’s such a good movie, and how they portrayed sex was so naturally. It was full-on, but it wasn’t embarrassing, shameful or dirty. I tried for that. I wanted it to really be a natural thing. That’s kind of what it looks like when it happens, just in the positions of the geography of bodies, and things like that. I wanted it to look natural. The hardest part of shooting a sex scene are the first seconds when you take off your clothes. You’re like, “There it is,” but after that, it’s liberating. But, I’m Croatian. I’m from Europe. I grew up not wearing tops, so that’s okay. But, it’s a whole different thing when you’re about to put it out there. Then, everyone can say or think whatever they want, after that. But, if there was ever a character I was going to do it for, it was this one. I like sexy stuff, and I like sex.
We love that phrase “the geography of bodies.” Great poetry, Ivana!
So far, our favorite scene of Ivana’s has to be the now famous sex/bath/more sex scene from the fourth episode. If you haven’t seen it, take a look at this:
And you know what’s extra cool about all that? It was Ivana’s idea. According to a tweet from the episode’s director, Greg Yaitanes, Carrie was supposed to finish herself off in the tub and end the scene there, but Ivana wanted to take it further. Ivana responded to Greg with a tweet of her own: “lol! It was meeee. Yeah. No one objected!”
What does the future hold for Ivana Milicevic? “Banshee” has already been renewed for a second season, so we have more of that to look forward to, her IMDb page says she’ll appear in an assassin-thriller called “The Adventures of Beatle” sometime this year, and that’s sadly all we know.
But we’re not worried about losing track of her! She has her whole family with her in Los Angeles (and, by the way, one of her brothers is the guitarist from 30 Seconds to Mars), she’s happy, and her star is shooting high into the sky. All will be good for Ivana.
Be sure to check out:
· Ivana Milicevic’s Twitter (twitter.com)
[At top: Ivana as the Soviet intelligence officer Dasha Fedorovich in "Command & Conquer Red Alert 3: Uprising"]