Aliens: Jenette Goldstein plays Vasquez

leading from
Making Aliens




a) Advert in the paper
Jenette Goldstein grew up in the slums of Beverly Hills. Her mother was from the south and her father was from the Bronx, she grew up with a good ear for accents and liked pretending to be other people  Her father rented an apartment just inside the Beverly Hill city limits so that she and her brother could go to school there. It worked out well for her. She decided to be an actor at a very young age, and Beverly Hills High had an exceptional drama department. Afterwards going to college in Santa Barbara for a couple of years, left to study in New York on a two-year program studying full times at Circle in the Square.

She then met and married an Englishman who was a British vetenarian, following him to London to do a year of post-graduate study at Webber-Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art. Three years later and numerous stage appearances later, in small productions ranging from Shakespeare to fringe and to musicals, she had got her British Equity card and answered an ad for a film role in the local trades. It read simply "Genuine American actors, British Equity, for feature film ALIENS, 20th Century Fox,"  She had seen ALIEN, but she had no idea this was to be a sequel. It didn't occur to her because it had been several years ago. She thought it was about people who were aliens as immigrants to the country of England and she wondered why they wanted Americans. Since she didn't have an agent at the time, she answered the advert on her own,


b) Audition
She came in to the audition wearing a blouse a little silk sleeveless one because it was an unusually really hot day, a pair of slacks, high heels and lots of makeup, and she had waist-length hair. She noticed that other auditioners who had advanced notice from their agents, were decked out in military fatigues, and this became the first inkling that she would be reading the role as a marine and she was slightly taken aback.

Gayle-Anne Hurd the producer was there and she said to her "Oh, you know, it's about marines"

"Oh shit, I'm dressed so inappropriately" she replied

She told the casting director  present that she had done some bodybuilding, and then because she wore a sleeveless blouse she was able to show off the muscles of her biceps so that they could see her buffed up arms

Gayle-Anne Hurd responded "ooh"

They asked her to return for a second look, Gayle-Anne Hurd had started thinking about using her in a smaller part. This time, she came prepared,  scraping her hair back and scrounging up a pair of army boots.  Though she wasn't auditioning particularly for the role of Vazquez , the producers liked what they saw.  It turned out that an actress who had been cast as Vazquez already was a born-again christian and went to the producers to tell them that she didn't feel right about the character using bad language and wanted them to tone it down and so they gave the part to Jenette instead.

It took Cameron two weeks to convince Fox, who had their doubts about Goldstein, and he had to go back to them and say, 'No no, this is who I want,
But they were telling him 'No, she's never done a film.
And he told them back 'Yes, I know, yes, I know, I know, I don't care.




c) Muscle building
Previously she had been going to four dance classes in London, in the West End and she lived in the East End. There was Hyam's gym with a boxing ring that she passed every day on the edge of Hackney in East London.  It was good discipline to have when she was unemployed and she believed that it saved her sanity. And if she put in time and effort, she would get results which was more than she would get from acting, which was frustrating.  There was a handful of women lifting weights there at the time. With her were the owner's daughter was there, and a couple of other women  who were hanging out there to keep an eye on their boyfriends and started getting really buff. And that was how the world was starting to change. And so she enjoyed lifting weights, and became hooked on it.  Making it a tool to get work was the last thing on her mind although friends used to joke about the idea that maybe she would get a job as perhaps an American bodybuilder, and it would pay off. And she had been going to the gym for a few years training and so she was in the physical shape as she would come to be seen in the film.

d) Physical Transformation for the role
Jim Cameron asked her how big she could get in four weeks. She had never tried,  and so she just ate a lot and gained ten pounds of fact over her physique and she kept training, and had two years of groundwork underneath . Normally she had grey eyes that would look blue and Huckleberry Finn style freckles that didn't fit the job description. Thus she would got through an hour of makeup. The makeup woman said that Jenette had the most ornery freckles that she had ever seen. It was freezing cold on the set, and the actors were oiled up all the time. The fake sweat and water made the makeup run a lot, so it was a toss-up between looking sweatier and having her white skin show through. They also gave her dark contact lenses, and, rather unceremoniously, chopped off most of her waist-length hair.  She was ready to let it go to undergo the change.


e) Becoming a Chicano
Physical preparation, however, presented only part of the challenge. Golstein also had to capture Vazquez's anger, dialect and martial mentality. She grew up in Southern California, and had some awareness of the Chicano subculture. Without a dialect coach of time or money to fly back to Los Angeles, she had to do it from memory. She had her parents send her some source material from libraries in Los Angeles - interviews with gang members, that sort of thing, because all there was in London were travel books to Mexico.



(source: http://www.aliens-live.com/gallery/)

f) Bonding on the set
They had perhaps ten days (that seemed more like two weeks as the years went on according to Jenette's memory) before principal photography where they got to hang out together and train and master the weaponry that they were working with, working with methods of tactical urban warfare with the help of Tip Tipping who played had been a Royal Marine Commando and SAS soldier. The time they had to bond then allowed them to become like a unit and so when Sigourney Weaver came aboard, she was an outsider to their group and it worked perfectly for their roles, and it was the same with Burke and Gorman who were outsiders coming in.

Her research soon gave way to a crash course in film making, as she tried to find her way around her first movie set as a novice screen actress. She didn't realise what an affect it would have having to do the scenes out of order which did come to her as a shock.  The introduction to the marines, for example, as they awoke from hyper space and gnawed on breakfast, was filmed at the production's end. That way, the cast had several months to get acquainted. 

g ) Introduction scene
During her introduction scene, she had psoriasis, and so then had this big outbreak on her knee that looked as if she had fallen off a motorcycle, with patches of  red on her legs. And the first scene where they wake up on the Sulaco and she is wearing shorts.
And then tells Cameron said, 'Ooh, my legs are a mess!'
But Cameron responded, 'Who cares? You're a marine...I don't care.'"
  
h) Befriending Mark Rolston
Although military life wasn't exactly her idea of a good time, she felt at home amongst the mostly male company, since she grew up with brothers By the end of it, Goldstein had already befriended Mark Rolston, who portrayed Drake, Vazquez's huge, blond compatriot, whose face becomes splattered with acid alien blood in a confrontation. She learned as she went along and she would ask other actors what things meant such as what a 'two-shot' was or what a 'master' was.  She just relied on the actors who had been in other films, and they helped her as much as they could




i) Character Background
The director, Jim Cameron prepared a background dossier on each character, and the actors personalized their uniforms in the spirit of their characters. Jenette's ideas about Vazquez was three dimensional. She wanted to create a real human being.


Goldstein, appropriately, scribbled the phrase "Adios" on her gun, signifying the last word someone who crossed her would hear.  On the back of her shirt, it said simply, "Loco". On her breastplate, a line from a poem by a female poet from a book of Chicano poetry "El Riesgo Siempre Vive" about ganglife in Lo Barrio which meant, "The risk always lives"

That's one reason why Vazquez, to the delight of feminists everywhere, was frequently told to "take point" - the most dangerous position on the patrol. Her character was the craziest person who didn't care about dying, and so who else would be asked to be in her position. It was never mentioned in the actual film, in the scriptBut her character's story starts as being a gang member and in these gangs the members are referred to as "soldiers", there were the parallels to the army in what the gang offered its members

However she is convicted of murder and is put in juvenile prison for life. Then she is recruited by the Colonial Marines and released from the prison, there would be no way out either way. Drake turns out to be in the same situation and so they bond with each other.

Jenette  didn't want Vazquez to be a cartoon and she talked to Jim Cameron about this. All she saw at the time in other movies was faux bravery. Why she did these things is because she had nothing to lose. That is why, when she realizes that she's going to die, it's her choice at the end. So she focused on what was important to her as a person in this situation, because there is no such thing as a superhero.

So, Vazquez and Drake would be different from the others who were there on a time limit. The charactr Hudson was supposed to get out of the marines in four weeks, which is what made his character flip. On the back of Hudson's vest, tailored by actor Bill Paxton, it read, "Contents under pressure.  Do not puncture." Vazquez and Hudson are paired together throughout the film as each other's foil. He would say everything whether it's important or not to, and she would say absolutely nothing unless it was important and that was Vazquez' attitude: she had no one or nothing, so she was the logical choice for point.  It made perfect sense to the commander. 

Once she was tasked with a mission, she was going to see it through to the bitter end. She thought the would have liked to have made it to another sequel but sh always seem to die in the end whatever what movie she was in. But there’s a respect that the character earns for Ripley that she wouldn’t otherwise have, and also for her commander – Lieutenant Gorman played by William Hope.

Vasquez and Drake





Carney Sideshow Worker at Rocky Ford Colorado 
by Richard Avedon,  imagined by Jenette Goldstein 
to be Vasquez' brother



photograph of girl with rifle in Vasquez' locker
assembled together from glimpses in film
j) Women's empowerment
The fact that Aliens took place in space was irrelevant for her. It was a war movie, in the most classic sense. She felt that it was a film about the working class grunts, and she wanted this woman to represent the future. As would come to be later after the production, women are now in the infantry, and back then the representation proved to be rather groundbreaking. However this excitement to be generated about Alien's strong female characters was something thought less by Goldstein.  She thought that what Jim Cameron was doing with female action in Aliens was groundbreaking because it was being treated as perfectly normal, as if there had been twenty movies about tough-girl Marines blasting monsters, and so one knew that women had been empowered when it's not worth mentioning anymore, and so Vazquez was only gun-toting because she was a soldier , it was her job, she just happened to be a woman and nothing more. 

Jim told her "you don't have to be likeable. I don't want likeability. You just be the person, and who cares if someone likes her, that's not the point"

And there the film was being ground breaking Meanwhile, Ripley was being forced to carry a gun. It wasn't the weapons but the humans spirit, and the weapons would be shown to be ineffective. The army would be shown to be ill-prepared and how all the bluster in the movie would count for nothing.



k) Smart gun on steadycam mount
Jenette as Vasquez has to carry a heavy smart gun on a steadycam mount that was difficult to use, and the would have to maneuvre  around corners and tight spaces with this machine. She wanted to make Vazquez seem as if she only really lived when she was carrying a gun, and it became part of her and so with that, everything clicked into being. 

The actress' grace wielding the massive weapon led to people telling her that she had a stance like a flamenco dancer, but she had to lean back otherwise she would be thrown forwards with the weight of this thing, as if the rig told her how she had to be. It was about seventy five to ninety pounds in weight and she was strapped into the rig,  However hers had been pre-made for the previous actress who was going to play her role and she was five foot eight or nine and Jenette was barely five foot two, so they had to cut it down to fit her and it wasn't the greatest fit

But the character's lick would eventually run out and before an alien can get her, she sets off a grenade. In the scene, a stuntman in Alien costume was lowered by a harness onto her from one of the air vents, then promptly dispatched with a barrage of gunfire into it's face. Jeanette had to get all slimed up and she thought that Vazquez rather than being scared would have been so angry that she was about to be caught and would be about to die

Source Quotes
  1. Jenette Goldstein:I was living in London and doing fringe theatre, and er, just got my British equity card, and you know, and saw this and, yeah, it really did change my life and brought, you know, put me in the movies and brought me back to the United States and started my, you know, my career on television and film (The Making of Aliens , Preparing for Battle)
  2. toofab: What sticks out most about this movie is how much of a badass you and Sigourney's characters are. James Cameron loves putting strong women in his films. Can you believe that now, even thirty years later, we're still talking about the lack of strong female characters in films?
    Jenette: Yeah, I guess whatever powers that be that are out there are you know, afraid. You know, it's, "If she’s not pretty, no one's gonna [see the film]" and "Oh, if someone doesn't like her, they're not gonna" … you know, that never just seems to go away.
    I just think it comes from someone writing a great character. James Cameron wrote these badass women. He didn't comment on it. Nobody was like, "Ooh, look at you! You're a woman" you know, he didn't comment on it, didn't patronize them. And he was able to get the film made because he’s a badass, and has steel cajones. And when you think about it, what age he was when he went back to them and said, "This is who I want to cast. This is the script. This is how I think - " you know. He gets a reputation for good and for bad, because he doesn't take...you know? And there's not that many people that can get out there and that's what you gotta do. And yeah. It is kinda rough. It is kind of shocking that, you know, this hasn't changed enormously, but that's the way it is. (http://toofab.com/2016/04/22/aliens-star-jenette-goldstein-vasquez-titanic-james-cameron-exclusive/)
  3. Q. Tell us a little bit about your background, and how being in James Cameron's Aliens put you in the spotlight as a symbol for an empowered female role model -- with great roles in Near Dark and Lethal Weapon 2 to follow. This was around the time of the 80s 'buff babes' era of Linda Hamilton and Angela Bassett, was it not? A. Yes. I grew up in the slums of Beverly Hills. My father rented an apartment just inside the city limits so my brother and I could go to school there. It worked out well for me. I decided to be an actor at a very young age, and Beverly Hills High had an exceptional drama department. From there I went to UC Santa Barbara for a couple of years, then to study acting full-time at Circle in the Square in New York, then I married a British veterinarian and moved to London, which allowed me to do a year of post-graduate study at Webber-Douglas. I was lucky to be trained in both American and British methods. I like to keep moving. I was doing a lot of fringe theater around London, beating my Yank head against the iron wall of the British theater world, and I had days free.
    I discovered this fascinating subculture of bodybuilding at Hyam's Gym in East London. It saved my sanity, because in bodybuilding, effort equals results. There was a handful of women lifting weights there at the time. The owner's daughter was there, and myself, and a couple of girls who were hanging out there to keep an eye on their boyfriends and started getting really buff. That's how the world changes!
    I wore a sleeveless blouse to audition for a bit part in a movie I thought was about immigrants without papers, and it was my buffed arms that got me the chance to try out for Vasquez. What Jim Cameron did with female action in ALIENS that was really groundbreaking is that he treated it as perfectly normal, as though there had already been 20 movies about tough-girl Marines blasting monsters. You know you've really been empowered when it's not worth mentioning anymore.
    (http://www.aol.com/article/2010/06/22/jenette-goldstein/19522454/)
  4. "I had psoriasis, and I had this big outbreak on my knee that looked like I had fallen off a motorcycle," she told me. "Like, red on my legs. And the first scene [where] we wake up [on the Sulaco] I'm wearing shorts. And I said, 'Ooh, my legs are a mess!' And [Cameron] said, 'Who cares? You're a marine...I don't care.'"
    Goldstein won the role of Vasquez against all odds. During the time of her audition, the American-born thesp was an unknown 25-year-old actress working in various London stage productions, and her relative inexperience not only led her to show up at the audition in full hair and makeup -- she thought the script was about human "aliens," i.e. immigrants, as opposed to slimy extraterrestrial ones -- but resulted in a protracted battle between Cameron and the studio, who wanted a more seasoned film actor for the role.
    "It took him two weeks to convince Fox, to go back and say, 'No no, this is who I want,'" said Goldstein. "They said, 'No, she's never done a film.' [He said,] 'Yes, I know, yes, I know, I know, I don't care.' You know, he's pretty fearless."
    Because she arrived on set with zero on-camera experience, Goldstein described the production period as akin to "film school during filming," a trial by fire that forced her to learn the ropes as she went (with a little help from her co-stars). "It was pretty nerve-wracking," she said. "But you know...you just use it. You're definitely tense. You just use it for the character. It was not so easy for Vasquez at that moment either, so...you use what you have, so to me it was just feeling like I've never done this before, and I had this big responsibility."
    Ultimately the gamble paid off; thanks to Goldstein's committed performance, Vasquez is today upheld by many as something of a landmark portrayal in action cinema -- a woman protagonist who's not only "strong" but lacks the more traditionally "feminine" physical attributes of a character like Sigourney Weaver's Ellen Ripley or Milla Jovovich's Alice in the Resident Evil franchise.
    "I liked the fact that she just happened to be a woman," said Goldstein of the character. "And I think that's...it didn't matter what gender you were. I certainly thought it was great that -- you know, this was the '80s, where I didn't have to be -- Jim said, 'you don't have to be likable. I don't want likability...You just be the person, and who cares if someone -- that's not the point, if someone likes [her].' And I thought that was really groundbreaking that it was a movie and the director was like, 'You know what, I don't care. Just be the person.'"
    Speaking of Cameron, the blockbuster filmmaker is famous for being a legendary taskmaster on set, though unlike some who have worked for him -- The Abyss stars Ed Harris and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio were notably not fans of his on-set style -- Goldstein is admiring of his methods.
    "He has incredibly high standards, they're exacting, he knows everyone's job, he expects 100 percent of everyone, and he's incredibly loyal and sweet and kind to you...God help you if you're lazy or incompetent, and I think that's where the stories come from obviously," said Goldstein, who went on to have small roles in Cameron's Terminator 2 and Titanic. "But everybody who knows him who has worked for him film after film, crew after crew -- you know, he doesn't have the Hollywood graces of oiling the machine and having false friends...[I have] nothing but good to say about him." (http://www.hitfix.com/news/aliens-star-jenette-goldstein-on-how-james-cameron-gave-her-permission-not-to-be-pretty)  
  5. Viva Vasquez: Starlog Jenette Goldstein Interview 1987
    Somewhere beneath the makeup, sweat, ferocity and courage that made up Private Vasquez, the rippling heroine of ALIENS, there's a soft-spoken, freckled, 5'2" woman named Jenette Goldstein. Goldstein, to her credit as a performer, shares precious little with her scene-stealing character; in fact, had the film been a true representation of the 26-year-old actress, it might have been titled Beverly Hills Marine. Yes, far from the gritty deprivation of ALIENS, the actress was raised in that much- publicized community. Despite growing up so near the glamour of Hollywood, the trap- pings of celebrity remain foreign to Goldstein. She enjoys her anonymity, and she's still a bit amused by the flood of fan mail she received ranging from the U.S. Marine Corps to offers of marriage (too late, but more on that later) to a seven-year-old girl who wrote to Vasquez, inviting her to stay in her home if she ever got out that way.

    Ironically, Goldstein had ventured far from her own home when she took her first step toward joining the rather exclusive club that makes a living in front of the cameras.

    Goldstein began acting in high school, and, after going to college in Santa Barbara, left to study in New York on a two-year program. She then met and married an Englishman, following him to London to attend drama school.

    Three years and numerous stage appearances later, in small productions ranging from Shakespeare to musicals, she answered an ad for a film role in the local trades. It read simply, "Genuine American actors, British Equity, for feature film, ALIENS, 20th Century Fox," she relates, over lunch near the old homestead in Beverly Hills.
     
    "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."

    Since she didn't have an agent at the time, she answered the ad on her own, with rather surprising results. "I actually came in wearing high heels and lots of makeup, and I had waist-length hair," she says. Other auditioners, who had advance notice from their agents, were decked out in military fatigues—Goldstein's first inkling she would be reading for the role of a marine.

    A bit taken aback, Goldstein told the casting director that she had done some bodybuilding, so they asked her to return for a second look. This time, she came prepared—scraping her hair back and scrounging up a pair of army boots.

    Though she wasn't auditioning particularly for the role of Vasquez, the producers- like much of America—liked what they saw. "I was in the shape I am at this moment. 1 had been training for years, going to a gym.

    "Before the role, [director] Jim Cameron asked me how big I could get in four weeks," she laughs. "I had never tried, so I just ate a lot. I gained 10 pounds of, basically, fat, over my physique. But 1 kept training, and I had two years of groundwork underneath."

    What was underneath was fine. It was Goldstein's outside that needed an overhaul, largely because blue eyes and Huck Finn-style freckles didn't quite fit the job description. "The makeup took an hour," she sighs. "The make up woman said I had the most ornery freckles she had ever seen.

    "It was freezing cold on the set, and we were oiled up all the time. The fake sweat and water made the makeup run a lot, so it was a toss-up between looking sweatier and having my white skin show through."

    They also gave her dark contact lenses, and, rather unceremoniously, whacked off most of her waist-length hair. "They just brought out the buzzsaw," she quips. "But I was ready for it, to undergo a change. I didn't want to save it. I thought that was too gruesome."

    Viva vasquez

    Physical preparation, however, presented only part of the challenge. Goldstein also had to capture Vasquez' s anger, dialect and martial mentality.

    Having grown up in Southern California, she notes, Goldstein had some awareness of the Chicano sub-culture. "I had to do it from memory," she explains. "I didn't have a dialect coach, or the time or money to fly back to Los Angeles.

    "I had my parents send me some source material from libraries in Los Angeles interviews with gang members, that sort of thing, because there was nothing like that in London. Just travel books to Mexico."

    The research soon gave way to a crash course in filmmaking, as the novice screen actress tried to find her way around her first movie set. "I didn't know anything about film. I figured it was shot out of order, but I didn't realize what that meant to you as an actor," she says.

    "I learned as I went along, and I asked the other actors—what things meant, what a 'two-shot' was or a 'master.' I just relied on the actors who had been in other films, and they were great."
    Sequencing did come as a shock. The introduction to the marines, for example, as they awoke from hyper space and gnawed on breakfast, was filmed at the production's end. That way, the cast had several months to get acquainted.

    By then, Goldstein had already befriended Mark Rolston, who portrayed Drake Vasquez's huge, blond compatriot, who comes down with a severe case of Alien- induced acne in the first
    confrontation.

    Though military life isn't exactly her idea of a good time, she felt at home among the mostly male company. "I grew up with brothers, so I was used to it," she says.

    Like most great films, ALIENS possesses a richness of detail that can't be absorbed in one viewing. Director Cameron prepared a background dossier on each character, and the actors personalized their uniforms in the spirit of their characters.

    Goldstein, appropriately, scribbled the phrase "Adios" on her gun, signifying the last word someone who crossed her would hear. On the back of her shirt, it said simply, "Loco."
    That's one reason why Vasquez, to the delight of feminists everywhere, was frequently told to "take point"—the most dangerous position on the patrol: "It was just logical," the actress says. "Who would you want to take point? The craziest person, the one who doesn't care about dying, because who else would do something like that?

    "It's never mentioned in the film, but in the characters' background, she and Drake are recruited from juvenile prison, where they're under life sentences.
    "Therefore, they were different from the others, who were on a time limit. Hudson was supposed to get out of the marines in four weeks, which is what made him flip."
    That also explains the back of Hudson's vest, tailored by actor Bill Paxton to read, "Contents under pressure. Do not puncture."

    "Vasquez and Hudson are paired throughout the film as each other's foil," Goldstein observes.
    "He says everything, whether it's important or not, and she says absolutely nothing unless it's important.

    "That was Vasquez' attitude: She had no one or nothing, so she was the logical choice for point. It made perfect sense to the commander. Who would you put in that suicidal position? Someone who couldn't care less, and whether it's a man or woman doesn't really matter."
    Goldstein downplays the excitement generated by ALIENS1 strong female characters — as Vasquez and Ripley (Sigourney Weaver, STARLOG #109) emerge as the film's two most heroic combatants. "Vasquez is gun-toting because she's a soldier. That's her job," Goldstein contends.

    "Ripley is forced to carry a gun. It's not the weapons, but the human spirit. At the end, the weapons are shown to be ineffective. It was showing how ill-prepared the army was, and how all the bluster counted for nothing."

    Still, the actress does admire Cameron's deft handling of female characters, even those in (literally) short-lived roles. "All the women's roles were good, particularly the little girl [Carrie Henn]. Little girls are usually shown to be such idiots " she notes.

    Fighting Finish

    Goldstein spent most of her time on the film playing with big girl's toys, including "unbelievably loud" guns that weighed 65 to 70 pounds. Designers created the smart -gun by connecting an anti-aircraft gun—the kind that usually sits on a tripod—to a camera- man's steadicam unit.
    The actress' grace wielding the massive weapon led one critic to describe her as mov- ing around like a "flamenco dancer." "I wanted Vasquez to seem like she only really lived when she was carrying a gun," she explains. "It became part of her, and everything clicked into being.
    "Then again, that gun was so heavy, there was only a certain way you could walk with it," she laughs. "As every steadicam operator knows, you have to walk like that, or you'll fall over."
    When Vasquez's luck runs out in the film, however, she hardly falls over; rather, she claws, crawls and grimaces, blasting Aliens and grappling with one creature mano a mano before a grenade saves her from a serious case of indigestion.
    In the scene, a stuntman in Alien costume was lowered by a harness onto her from one of the air vents, then promptly dispatched with a barrage of gunfire into its face.
    It was a juicy scene in more ways than one. "I had to get all slimed up," she grimaces. "I think Vasquez is just so angry that it has finally gotten her. Rather than being scared, she's pissed off she's about to die."
    Goldstein's character stands so tall in those scenes it's hard to imagine that much courage coming in such a small package. "I'm teeny, I know," she says. "I can't believe people say I exude height, because everyone else was over six feet tall.
    "I was the smallest one besides Carrie Henn. A few times, they would say, 'Carrie, honey, would you stand on that box?' so they could get everyone in the shot. Then, they would say, 'Oh, Jenette, would you mind standing on it, too?' and everyone would break up laughing."
    Beyond her blue eyes and freckles, the Beverly Hills-bred Jenette Goldstein is quite a different person from the volatile Vasquez.
    If not height, Vasquez radiated power— of getting type cast as a female Rambo. As far
    "And next time, I'm going to get billing," she laughs, referring to her relegation to the closing credits in ALIENS. "That's all by product of the six days a week Goldstein spent weight lifting when she auditioned for the film.

    Out of work at the time, Goldstein stumbled into bodybuilding almost by accident. "I was going to four dance classes in London. They were on the West End, and I lived on the East End. There was a man's gym with a boxing ring that I passed everyday.

    "It was a good discipline to have. When you're unemployed, you need some sort of a discipline. I needed something that I could do that—if I put in the time and effort—I would get results, which you're not guaranteed as far as acting. That's frustrating.

    "I enjoyed lifting weights, and I got hooked on it. It was something to keep me busy. I didn't see it as a tool to get work, though my friends used to joke that maybe they'll do a film about an American bodybuilder, or something like that, that it'll pay off. It's funny that it did."

    While she still works out regularly and jogs to keep in shape, Goldstein has no intention
    as she's concerned, the gunplay stops here. Unfortunately, producers haven't been
    able to see beyond her role in ALIENS, negotiated through agents. I thought you
    despite her decidedly un-Spanish surname. "At first, I was offered Hispanic roles, and a lot of science fiction, just the same. You know, 'Oh my, she can shoot a gun.'

    The spate of similar parts remains a sore point to Goldstein, and a frustrating limitation. "I'm looking for something different" she says hopefully. "There's nothing yet, I'm just waiting to hear on a few things, but believe me, they're very, very different.

    "I wouldn't believe I could get cast as a Mexican marine," she adds, "but people have seen my work, they haven't met me. That's why I've been trying to get out, and have people see me."
    The appearances have included a couple of morning interview shows and that bastion of show business journalism, Entertainment Tonight. "Once they see you're actually an actress, and you're not just playing yourself, then they have to use their brains a little bit.  

    "And the next time, I'm going to get billing" she laughs, referring to the closing credits in ALIENS. "That's all negotiated through agents. I thought you came in, they looked at your part and assigned billing."

    Nevertheless, moviegoers tended to search for her name, evidenced by the flood of fan mail 20th Century Fox has received. "That's nice," she says. "That means people actually took the time to sit through the credits and see who it was."

    With sequels so prevalent—and talk of a second ALIEN sequel—would she consider coming back as Vasquez if some script- writing wizard could conjure her up? "How, scrape her off the walls?" Goldstein chuckles. "Or Vasquez: The Early Years?"

    Space, fire-arms and slime may not figure prominently in her immediate plans, but Goldstein hopes Vasquez's death won't be in vain. With a little luck, that brief sojourn into space may have put Jenette Goldstein on the path toward becoming an earthbound star.
    (Copied from https://archive.org/details/starlog_magazine-115)
  6. Interviewer: Jenette Goldstein, I can't tell you how excited I am to have you on because you would never know this but your character Vasquez and me, we have , a, a shared history  
    Jenette Goldstein: Oh yes
    Interviewer: Yes, so when I was in junior high when Aliens came out and we used to play, my friends and I used to play Aliens all the time and I always chose to be Vasquez because it was the most amazing character
    Jenette Goldstein: Of course, I was, I was always living every like twelve year old boys dream  
    Interviewer: You must have been  
    Jenette Goldstein: Apparently I was
    Interviewer: So er, I want to take it kind of from the beginning, we'll talk about Aliens for a bit, we'll talk about some of your other great Cameron roles, your other roles and what you're doing now, but I read that when you went in for the part of Vazquez, you thought the movie was about Aliens as in immigrant Aliens, is that true?  
    Jenette Goldstein: Yep, that that part is true, I did, I was erm. I was living in England  
    Interviewer: Uhuh  
    Jenette Goldstein: And erm, I had my British residency card, and it was called a resident alien instead of having a green card, you were a resident alien, and I was married to an English guy, and, um, there was a whole underground economy of people who marry citizens in order to get their resident alien card and they had asked for, um, only to see American or Canadian actors so I , it was called Aliens and I, it's probably about that phenomenon
    Interviewer: And is it true that you went in with heels and a skirt or something like that  
    Jenette Goldstein: I did and I went in, you know it was a first meeting,
    Interviewer: Uhuh 
    Jenette Goldstein:  And I didn't have an agent, so I had no idea what was going on and so yeah, no, I dressed up. I wore you know, erm, heels, I had a, it was a pair of slacks and actually the lucky thing was, it was an unusually really hot day and so I had er, a sort of little silk sleeveless blouse on  
    Interviewer: Uhuh  
    Jenette Goldstein: Which when, she said, and I had makeup and you know the whole thing, and when, you know, when Gayle have mentioned about, "Oh you know, it's about Marines" and I you know, thought "Oh shit, i'm so dressed inappropriately" , you know, um, but then you know I made the I made this little sort of bicep kind of kind of thing you know, and she said "ooh"
    Interviewer: Cause, were you doing some body building at the time  
    Jenette Goldstein: Yuh, I was, I was erm, I was how many years out of, I was about two years out of drama school
    Interviewer: Mmhmm  
    Jenette Goldstein: I went to drama school in London, and I was er, unemployed, a resting as they say in England, it's so nice, I'm just resting
    Interviewer Resting. Or redundant when you're fired  
    Jenette Goldstein: Exactly  
    Interviewer A most amazing euphamism  
    Jenette Goldstein: That's fantastic yes, so I was resting and I was sort of yes, fitfully and I was really, I was really really frustrated obviously and I was like running and erm, there was a gymn. I lived in East London and there was like an old fashioned boxing gymn and Mr Britain trained there. So I went there and I started lifting weights which I used to do as a kid, I, you know, I was kind of a tomboy and I just got really really into it, that whole subculture of you know, body building and I, it was just fun
    Interviewer: Wow  
    Jenette Goldstein: Yuh  
    Interviewer: That's fascinating,  now I also read that there was a background on yours and Drake's character who was the other smart gunner, right you you're pal until he gets made short work of and er
    Jenette Goldstein: Sorry  
    Interviewer: I know, sorry, Drake
    Jenette Goldstein: Sorry Mark, yeah  
    Interviewer So you guys were basically in a juvenile prison and you were were recruited
    Jenette Goldstein: Absolutely  
    Interviewer: So you weren't just regular kind of volunteers or draughties, you guys had er not not much to lose to go out and fight some more, so
    Jenette Goldstein:Yeah, exactly, I mean, that was the great description and context for both of our characters that we were conscripts out of juvenile prison , serving a life sentence for murder
    Interviewer:  aha  
    Jenette Goldstein: and I  
    Interviewer:  murder, i didn't know that
    Jenette Goldstein: well that, why else would you be sitting, I mean, it's the future but I assumed she was a gang, and she was obviously er, you know involved, in you er, some sort of murder, and so it was like either spend your time behind bars or spend your time , you know, with the marines
    Interviewer:  ahah
    Jenette Goldstein: so she had nothing, you know, they had nothing to lose, which when you have nothing to lose, you become  
    Interviewer: the most badass character in the world  
    Jenette Goldstein: : good, yuh yuh  
    Interviewer:  Erm,  I think that translates pretty well watching an a... I feel like my eyes go to you every time you're on screen and you have this amazing gun and you have this amazing character, you're body armour is decorated with interesting graffiti, can you talk a little bit about that as well
    Jenette Goldstein: Oh, ah, yeah, that was great um. James Cameron. He was really specific that we should come up with all kind of find our characters and then you know personalise our costumes and because it's really bad as soon as you show up on set and you got this whole idea of your character and then the art department has decided everything else for you
    Interviewer:  right right
    Jenette Goldstein: and it was completely the opposite. We got to put things on our uniforms , our gun, even our lockers were our lockers, so all the, the pictures that are in there and we brought them
    Interviewer:  ahah 
    Jenette Goldstein: so, it was great.
    Interviewer: what was in your locker, what were the decorations, do you remember? 
    Jenette Goldstein: yeah, I absolutely do, I absolutely do, I have this um, there's a picture of of a really young girl who was  Sandinista and er, her hair is cut really short and she has her cross like in her mouth, and she's sitting there. I don't know where, i found found it in a magazine, and then I have this great picture erm, from the Richard Avedon book, and its erm, he's this carney guy, it's like he's got this snake like kind of erm, to me, that was my brother
    Interviewer: Woah
    Jenette Goldstein: It was this wonderful incredible photo, and so I had both of those up in there 
    Interviewer: I'm going to have to try and track that
    Jenette Goldstein: Yeah, it's that one, it's that kind of scene where they're loading up and they're all closing their lockers. I'm not sure, you can see it in a still, there's a still of me,  and you can see the locker, I'm not,  you know
    Interviewer: Okay
    Jenette Goldstein: Obviously somebody got it from a screengrab
     Interviewer: How did you approach the character of Vasquez. Did you do a lot of kind of character studying, or just kind of
    Jenette Goldstein: You know I didn't,  I was living like I said I was living in London, I'd gone to, I'd gone to drama school in New York and I got married and , and moved moved over to England and erm, I'd been there a few years or a couple of years, I can't remember and erm, but you know I grew up in Los Angeles, not in Lo Barrio,
    Interviewer: what did you grow up in  
    Jenette Goldstein: I grew up in Beverly Hills
    Interviewer: Oh Wow, I grew up in "Woodier" (?), not too far from there really
    Jenette Goldstein: Oh really yeah yeah 
    Interviewer: So erm
    Interviewer:  Beverly Hills and Lo Barrio, absolutely  
    Jenette Goldstein: Yeah, absolutely, the slums, the slums of Beverly Hills, but that doesn't Interviewer: This is also a testament to your acting because, you er, are not a Latina, right  
    Jenette Goldstein: No  
    Interviewer: Yuh, and you've played these such diverse roles and I think everybody knows your roles but they might not always know it's the same person that plays those roles and to me that's the best kind of actor 'cause you're just disappearing inside the characters
    Jenette Goldstein: oh thanks
    Interviewer: Anyway I cut you off, continue please
    Jenette Goldstein: Where was I, well Vasquez, oh yeah, well you know, I, I became an actress because I love becoming different people, so I never wanted to play myself for even if I knew who that was, but I'm still trying to find her that is, erm you know, I'm real, I have a really good ear for accents and my dad's from the Bronx, my mother's from the south and, and and, you know I just, I don't know, I like pretending to be other people so erm, I just, I sort of, I knew that subculture of the gang, not personally, but living in Los Angeles and I knew the accent and I knew the story behind it, and I did research you know on the idea of gang, what the gang offers to, erm, a young boy, or a girl, and the same thing, how there's the parallel of the army,
    Interviewer:Yuh 
    Jenette Goldstein: the same idea and the protecting in your family and what that means in a positive way, you know, we know what it means in a negative but, so er, yeah, that's the kind  of research I did  
    Interviewer:  And speaking of that, you guys had two weeks before shooting to kind of bond as a unit  
    Jenette Goldstein :That was great, yuh, that was, that was an incredible luxury, I mean, I was already in that kind of shape when they found me, like I said I'd been training for a year incredibly, almost two years, but a year I was like really wanting to do this the body building and the you know, the dieting and the lifting and so they, just the coincidence I was in the best shape I had ever been in my entire life, I had never ever been like that before, erm, and you know that, so people say, oh, you know, how did you get in that kind of shape, that was really hard, so erm, but he gave us two weeks, which is an incredible luxury, to meet each other, um, small arms, and we also worked on like tactical urban warfare, because two of the erm, stunt men, erm, Trevor Sutton and Tip who who passed away in an accident, but they, these were stuntmens... stuntmen but they had also been in the, erm, SAS  
    Interviewer:  Oh wow!  
    Jenette Goldstein : And in Northern Ireland, so they would teach us how to do sort of approaching a building and, and and because that was what it was. It was like urban 
    Interviewer:  Yuh
    Jenette Goldstein: warfare  
    Interviewer:  Yuh, now speaking of tactical weapons, you had to use a gun that had never really been used before, and it's a heavy machine gun on a steadycam mount right  
    Jenette Goldstein: Right right  
    Interviewer:  Smart gun  
    Jenette Goldstein : Well, it was a real gun  
    Interviewer:  Yuh  
    Jenette Goldstein : But it was, it was put on a steadycam mount, so, yeah, it was a combination of the steadycam and the gun and it was yeah, it was really difficult  
    Interviewer:  Right, I mean, one thing just to hold that thing, I mean, carry it and support its weight but, you had to maneuvre around corners and through tight spaces with that thing, how was that  
    Jenette Goldstein : It was really cool, I mean, you could see it kind of float in a beautiful way and um, the stance, sometimes people say, oh my god the stance you had was like a flamenco dancer and you leaned, you leaned back, 
    Interviewer: It does, that's not a crazy illusion
    Jenette Goldstein : It was like.... I leaned back because I, because otherwise you'd been thrown foreward, I mean, the gun, the rig tells you how you have to be. But it's...
    Interviewer:  Do you remember how much it weighed?
     
    Jenette Goldstein : You know, I think, I, it was very heavy, I think they said it was like seventy five to ninety pounds, it was, it was around there and then it attached to the rig which takes it off, but we were strapped in, and unfortunately my, you know, every steadycam operator, and there's not that many of them, shout out to my girls, my female steadycam operators, erm, you you know, they make your rig to fit you, your height and everything, and they erm, had one premade for the actress who they assumed would be at least five foot eight  
    Interviewer:  Yuh  
    Jenette Goldstein : Five foot nine, and I'm barely five foot two  
    Interviewer:  Oh wow,  
    Jenette Goldstein : So it had to be cut down so it wasn't the greatest fitting rig, so  
    Interviewer:  So on the external part of your character, you actually had some extensive makeup right  
    Jenette Goldstein : Oh yeah  
    Interviewer:  You were wearing contacts, I just assumed you, everybody I think assumed you were hispanic in that movie, it's incredible  
    Jenette Goldstein : Well, I have light skin and dark freckles, I kind of look black irish in a way
    Interviewer:  Yuh
    Jenette Goldstein : In a weird way, and erm, I have kind of grey eyes so when apparently, I didn't know this, if you connect all my freckles, I look,  I don't know, and then the eyes seemed incredibly blue
    Interviewer:  That's interesting, somewhere in the spaces  
    Jenette Goldstein : It's all the spaces in between the freckles, I have no idea, so  
    Interviewer:  And what was some of the graffiti that you put on the armour. You had a poem  
    Jenette Goldstein : Oh yeah, a line from a poem  
    Interviewer:  A line from a poem right  
    Jenette Goldstein : Yeah, it was a little line from, it was a Chic, a book of Chicana poetry and I can't remember her name, she was a poet, and one of the poems, it talked, that was the title of the poem was "El Riesgo Siempre Vive"  
    Interviewer:  Aha and that
    Jenette Goldstein: That means The Risk is Always There, is always, the risk never dies, you know, the risk is always there. And it was about ganglife and you know, life in Lo Barrio, and I thought that was really interesting and so, that was part of my research (First 14 minutes of interview from "I was there too" podcast, 17th March 2015)  
  7. How’d you get your start in acting? I trained at Circle in the Square Theater School in New York and then Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Arts in London. I stayed in London and worked in theater for a couple years.  
    How did you get the role of Vasquez?  
    Vasquez had already been cast, then the stars aligned and I got the part. I had assumed from the title, Aliens, that the film was about foreigners – resident aliens – so I showed up dressed in regular interview clothes. The day was uncharacteristically hot, so I was wearing a sleeveles blouse. Since I was a struggling actress I had many days free and was spending them at Hyam’s Gym on the edge of Hackney. When producer, Gale Ann Hurd saw my arms, which were superb if I do say so myself, she started thinking seriously about using me in a smaller part. Then the gal with the part, who was a born-again Christian, went to the producers and told them she didn’t feel right about the character using bad language and wanted them to tone it down. That was it, I got the part. Thank you, Jesus  (http://heebmagazine.com/actress-who-played-gun-toting-bulldyke-in-_aliens_-now-sells-oversized-bras-to-jews-and-blacks/4692)
  8. BMD: April 26th is all about celebrating the legacy of the first two Alien pictures – what does the legacy of Aliens mean to you personally? JG: It really proves that great writing, strong characters, laughs and action are what last – it’s really a testament to James Cameron and Gale Anne Hurd that Aliens has held up so well.  
    BMD: The last time I got to watch the movie was on a 70mm print at the Alamo Ritz and it was really one of the greatest cinema-going experiences of my life. The one thing that occurred to me is that it’s a big action movie that came out at a time when these brawny, muscled Schwarzenegger types were rising in popularity. Did you ever envision Vasquez as being a woman’s answer to that?
    JG: My concept of how I understood Vasquez was three dimensional. I wanted to create a real human being. In the script, she was recently released from juvenile prison while serving a life sentence for murder, as was Drake (Mark Rolston). There was no way out for them. They were lifers. I didn’t want Vasquez to be a cartoon and I talked to Jim about this. All I saw at the time in other movies was faux bravery. Why she did these things was because she had nothing to lose. That’s why, when she realizes that she’s going to die, it’s her choice at the end. So I focused on what was important to her as a person in this situation – because there is no such thing as a superhero.
      
    BMD: Don’t tell modern audiences that. They might not show up.
    JG: The fact that Aliens takes place in space is irrelevant. This was a war movie, in the most classic sense. This was a film about the working class grunts, and I wanted this woman to represent the future. As we know, women are now in the infantry, and the representation proved to be rather groundbreaking.
     
    BMD: You bring up Vasquez’s sacrifice, which is interesting. Because without her death, the final segment of Ripley’s character arc can’t exist. Was that also one of the beats you were drawn to?
    JG: It’s a really amazing arc that Vasquez goes through, and it stays so consistent. She was a gang member before juvenile prison. In these gangs, they’re even referred to as “soldiers”. And once she was tasked with a mission, she was going to see it through to the bitter end. [Laughs] You know I wish I could’ve made it to another sequel, but I always seem to die in the end no matter what movie I’m in.
    But there’s a respect she earns for Ripley that she wouldn’t otherwise have, and also for her commander – Lieutenant Gorman
    (William Hope).

    BMD: And that’s one of the best moments in the entire movie! “You were always an asshole, Gorman!” But it’s also – to your point – incredibly touching and human even in that intense moment.
    JG: [Laughs] Well thanks.
     
    BMD: You’ve had a really great working relationship with James Cameron. What kept you coming back and working with him time and again?
    JG: Well, Aliens was my first movie. I was trained as a stage actress. Movies just sort of happened because he took a chance on me, stood behind me and gave me this great opportunity. He’s a really, really loyal guy and he calls when he needs me. If I’m right for the role, we do it. If not – we don’t. He’s so honest and hardworking and loves his tech. But he also casts actors and then steps back and says “I trust you”.
     
    BMD: It’s gotta be pretty cool to be on the King of the World’s speed dial.
    JG: Can’t complain. He’s been so good to me.
     
    BMD: Now you watch the behind the scenes documentaries about Aliens and it's always been described as something of a difficult shoot. What are some of your most distinct memories about working on the picture?
    JG: We were on a set the whole time, so it wasn’t that difficult. Those stories seem overblown by this point. But we were in England and they don’t heat the sets very well, and I was dealing with explosions. I had nothing to compare it to at the time, but all of the conditions and hard work filtered into the character and the situation. It was hard being Vasquez on that planet! Probably the hardest thing was lugging around that smart gun, it was so heavy.
     
    BMD: Yeah, that thing’s gigantic.
    JG: You know, the most difficult moment was being in that tube at the end. All of the pallets came out and smacked me in the face and I had to try not to wince. I had to act like getting hit in the face didn’t hurt.
     
    BMD: You can’t break Vasquez’s appearance of constant toughness.
    JG: Right. Jim would tell me “hey I can’t use that take because you’re just going ‘ow, ow, ow, ow, ow’.”

    BMD: What makes the movie really work is that the bond and comradery the Marines share feels so real. How do you think that was achieved on set? How did that unit come alive?
    JG: We had the luxury of being given two weeks before principal photography, where we got to hang out and train and master the weaponry we were working with. We were working with a member of the Armed Forces in Britain who was overseeing it all. Most of the cast was from England, and those who were from Hollywood – Bill Paxton, Lance Henriksen – we’d take them out and show them around and became really close friends. To this day, I’m still really close with a bunch of the cast. Mark Ralston and Ricco Ross – I see their families all the time. (http://birthmoviesdeath.com/2016/04/18/alien-day-jenette-goldstein-talks-playing-private-vasquez-and-lv-426)
  9. Jenette Goldstein: And so we ran around the sculpture gardens of Pinewood where we hung in congress with these lovely little hedges and things, we were going, "awooah awaoh" it was really kind of silly that er. You know, it was good, it was really good, and the assaulting stair wells (Making of Aliens: Preparing for battle)
  10. Jenette Goldstein: For the week we spent with each other, ten days, and we ate together and hung out and we worked again, we got to know everyone, joking around with people then did, we began to feel like we were together in a unit and now the films gone on, we definitely, I feel like I know, I know all of them. (Making of Aliens: Preparing for battle)
  11. Jenette Goldstein: We had a great camaraderie with all the guys, you know, the soldiers , the grunts, and it was fantastic, and we got together about two weeks before we started shooting which is unusual, to hang out and to train, to get to know each other. (Making of Aliens: Preparing for battle)
  12. Jenette Goldstein: It was good that we were together first and Sigourney... and Ripley come in later and we are all a unit and she's the outsider, and it was... was perfect. And the same thing with erm, with Burke and Gorman, It just worked out that way so it, it was easy that way, they were outsiders coming in. (Making of Aliens: Preparing for battle)  

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