MOVIE URBAN LEGEND: The actress who played Vasquez in “Aliens” auditioned while thinking she was there for another movie.
In past Movie Legends Revealed, we’ve featured a few interesting stories about actors who accidentally ended up with their part, like the extra who accidentally got a speaking role in “Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home” (when she wasn’t even an extra at first!) or how Harrison Ford accidentally auditioned for the part of Han Solo in “Star Wars.” Adding another example of this type of thing, we take a look at the bizarre way that Jenette Goldstein was cast as the space Marine Vasquez in “Aliens.”
You see, Goldstein had studied acting in California and New York, but while in New York, she met and fell in love with a British man. They got married and settled in England, where Goldstein attended drama school. Three years later, she had done a number of different theater (or should I say theatre) production in England, but did not have an agent. In a local trade, she saw the following notice, “Genuine American actors, British Equity, for feature film Aliens, 20th Century Fox.”
Since Goldstein didn’t have an agent, that was all the information that she had to go on. While she had seen the film “Alien,” she did not know that they were doing a sequel, so she figured that it was for a film about immigration. She told Starlog:
“I had seen Alien, but I had no idea this was a sequel. It had been so long ago, it didn’t even occur to me. I thought it was about actual aliens, you know, immigrants to a country. I was wondering why they wanted Americans. I figured the movie was about lots of different immigrants to England.”
So she showed up at the audition wearing “high heels and lots of makeup, and I had waist-length hair.” She figured out that something was way off when everyone else was wearing army fatigues. It was when she went in read and saw posters for “The Terminator” that she knew that she was really in trouble. In a brilliant twist of fate, though, the nice blouse that she was wearing happened to be sleeveless, which showed off Goldstein’s arms. She had taken up bodybuilding recently and it showed in her arms.
She later recalled, “‘She said, ‘Are you an actress or a bodybuilder?’” Goldstein laughs. “I was a gymnast. I just happened to be in the best shape of my life.'”
So they agreed to see her again, only this time she wore army boots and pulled her hair back and everything and eventually, she got the role.
Now, looking at it from modern sensibilities, the fact that they had to use makeup to make her look the correct ethnicity (Goldstein was half Jewish/quarter Brazillian/quarter Moroccan) was probably a bit iffy, but this was the same era where Fisher Stevens played an Indian person in a blockbuster film, so bear that in mind.
In any event, the film was a hit and Goldstein’s Vasquez was one of the breakout characters from the movie.
Nowadays, Goldstein runs a few bra stores called Jenette Bras (for women with larger breasts who can’t seem to find nice bras that fit right).
The legend is…
Be sure to check out my archive of Movie Legends Revealed for more urban legends about the world of film.
Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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