Interview with Jenette Goldstein
I had the opportunity to speak with Los Angeles born Jenette Goldstein during the Film and Comic Con Glasgow in August 2017. An actress who, over the three decades of her career, has appeared in television and movies with memorable roles in films such as Aliens, Terminator 2, Lethal Weapon 2, Fair Game and, my personal favourite, the 1987 vampire road movie Near Dark. It was great finally talking with an actress that I grew up watching on screen, in many diverse roles, and who is now a successful business woman.
Was acting always a career path you wanted to go down?
I always wanted to be an actress since I was a little girl; I liked pretending and making up things. I was in the acting club in high school, we’d do Shakespeare and, when I heard that you could go to an acting school to learn about it, I went "that's for me!"
So I went to college for a couple of years then dropped out went to attend “circle in the square” a very famous repertory theatre company in New York.
Your Break into film came as Vasquez in Aliens can you tell me about the casting process for the role?
I just finished the post graduate program at Webber Douglas in London and didn't have an agent at that moment. I was flipping through the actor's paper and saw this advert that was looking for American & Canadian actors who had a British Equity card - that's all it said - for a movie called “Aliens”.
My mind it fleeted by “oh I saw a movie called Alien years ago but it can't be the second part because they usually do it immediately”. Since they wanted North Americans I thought it was a film about resident Aliens, like how you marry your best friend and then you got to stay in the country legally.
I showed up at the audition with my long hair, a spot of lipstick and a pair of pumps to look presentable. Gail Ann Hurd (the films producer) said “Do you know what the movie is about?” I said no but I would like to know. "It's the second part of Aliens - it's a bunch of marines" and I felt absolutely dressed inappropriately for it.
It was an usually sunny day so I was wearing a sleeveless blouse - as a hobby for two years I got into the British bodybuilding scene with a group of guys which included Mr Britain and I was in the best shape of my life - that's how I got the part.
There was much publicised tensions on the Aliens set with the British crew did it have a positive effect on your performance?
I had problems with the Assistant director Dick Bush he kept calling me “love” and was kinda patronising to me. Jim (James Cameron) said “ Do not call her love, I know it's an expression but just stop it” so that was good - you don't want that sort of feeling. There a was a different way that Dick would treat the women and the girls. It's an army crew, everyone is working together.
What was it like to work with Jim Cameron four times on Aliens, the music video “ Reach” by Martini Ranch, T2 and Titanic?
He's a lovely, sweet, fascinating family man who knows everything - knows everybody's job. He wrote and directed Aliens - he knows exactly want he wants, like a drill sergeant.
What was the most memorable scene to shoot in Aliens?
It was my death scene; We were actually in an air vent and we had to climb into it. I was really crouching, running and holding - it was difficult - then the guy dropped on me. It was always hard doing a death scene, you had to make it mean something.
What was your reaction to seeing Aliens for the first time?
I saw the completed film in the theatre with everyone else, when it premiered in Los Angeles. I had people call me from New York when they did test screenings and they said "are you coming back for the premiere?"
I said “I don't know, I haven't been back to the states in awhile”.
Which they said “your part, the way they cut it, comes up and people are cheering, you should really come back”
So I went back to LA for the premiere, I was in a dress and my hair was still short but styled - everyone thought I was the girlfriend of Mark Rolston. Jim, in fact, actually had to keep saying “she's in the movie”. I would sit down with the guys and they all recognised the guys; no one recognised me but Bill Paxton turned around and said to someone “This is Vasquez”.
At this point in the interview I express my condolences about the passing of the much missed actor and discuss an interview he gave on the WTF podcast with Marc Maron several weeks before the heart surgery which lead to his untimely death.
I heard on the Sunday morning I was devastated it didn't compute.
What are your thoughts on the subsequent Alien sequels and the prequels?
After Aliens I've not seen 3, Resurrection or Prometheus but I saw Alien Covenant because one of my closest friends edited it and I was disappointed. There were two separate paths - the mad scientist and what he was doing - I would have just wanted to watch a movie about that - when they cut back to the colonists, who were they? there wasn't not enough information and time given to each character - I left the film frustrated.
The next movie you did after Aliens was the highly underrated vampire flick “Near Dark” where you able to take the bonds you made, working on the previous film, into it?
Absolutely! that was the brilliance of the casting that Kathryn Bigelow (Oscar Winning director of The Hurt Locker) did on Near Dark - bringing me, Lance and Bill together again. After the 12 weeks we worked on during Aliens we continued to hang out with each other, so the relationship there - where we became a family, driving each other crazy (she laughs) - fed into this film.
I'll tell you a secret about Near Dark; everything was on location and it was 8 weeks of night shoots. The only day scene was the Winnebago interior on a sound-stage and it was the last two days of filming - by that point we couldn't stand each other after being stuck in truck stops.
Josh, the young boy, is banging something - he's 12 and Bill Paxton goes “just fuckin' stop doing that or I'll put it down your goddamn throat!" The scene was perfect to finish shooting on because it was like a normal family road trip.
How did you get cast in Miracle Mile?
The writer/director Steve De Jarnett saw Aliens and became a huge fan of James Cameron. Steve called me up, he just wanted to meet me. There wasn't a role but he said I could improvise, which was fine by me because the script was amazing.
Miracle Mile was a famous script, everyone that had read it said it was fantastic. I was in a list of “The 100 greatest films you've never seen” I appeared in two of them (she laughs) it's not great for a career.
When the film was released on Blu Ray by Arrow Video most of the cast got together at “Johnny's” the diner they saved it, it's used now as a film set because LA has completely changed. I used to go to this diner with my grandmother as a little girl and The May Company was able save the diner because it's used for filming so often.
How does the experience of working in episodic television compare to working on a film?
The only TV role I got to do twice was 24 and I was the only actor on ER who did two different characters because they didn't allow that. I played a helicopter pilot with Anthony Edwards and then I was a mother of a boy who kills someone.I would love to do television now; I get the guest star roles but most of the television I did was always crying over a dead child it's basically what you do on television as a 30-40 year old woman that got a little wearing. I need to kill people (she laughs).
Can you talk about working with Charles Bronson on “Donato & Daughter”?
I forgot about Donato and Daughter - that was really great because I was a huge fan of Charles Bronson. I played a detective that was killed on a rooftop and I was his daughters best friend so they had to find my killer. Dana Delany a really good actress and she played Charles Bronson’s daughter.
You are now a successful business woman with Jenette Bras - was this always on the card's?
No it never dawned on me! I directed a short film and was teaching acting when I went to a convention in Milton Keynes in a shopping mall. I heard of this store called Bravissimo that had bras for girls with big boobs so I went to this store instead of going to lunch and I couldn't believe it. I got home and I was saying “why doesn't anyone have a shop like this in Los Angeles?" and my husband said “why don't we do it?”
There was a huge niche in the market and I hear Bravissimo is trying to come to the USA “watch out! you are not coming to my town Bravissimo! don't you come to Los Angeles!" (she laughs)
Check out http://jenettebras.com for more information.