Jenette Goldstein is an extremely versatile actress, one of Hollywood’s most interesting exports. A brief look at the vastly different characters she has played in just a few of her movies, illustrates this beyond doubt.
She was born to Jewish parents in Los Angeles on 4 February 1960. Luckily for her they both loved the theatre and the fact she was born in LA added to the advantage she had of studying drama from a young age. She attended drama classes on both sides of the Atlantic.
Her first film role was as the tough, no-nonsense, gung-ho yet somehow highly likeable Private Vasquez in Aliens (1986). It is unfortunate that Vasquez didn’t survive to the end: if anyone deserved to stay alive it was she. Her convincing performance as the Hispanic tomboy who grew up on the wrong side of the tracks in a late 22nd century LA slum made her something of a cult figure in her very first role on the large screen. Vasquez gave the men something to think about as she flexed her sinewy muscles like a boxer about to enter the ring. They sure needed warming up after emerging from the enforced inactivity of lengthy hypersleep.
When one of the guys on the team asks if she has ever been mistaken for a man, she instantly responds with the rejoinder: “No, have you?’
Assuming a threatening position with her high powered gun, she cuts straight to the chase and says to Ripley: “I just want to know one thing. Where they are.”
Vasquez refused to be defined by gender roles or intimidated by either male counterparts or repulsive aliens. She became a source of admiration for many guys and girls both straight and gay who appreciated her boyishly cropped hair and buff build.
Jenette deservedly won a Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actress for her iconic and compelling performance.
In 1997 she played portrayed a loving working class red-haired Irish mother immigrating to the States aboard Titanic. The third class had less of a sporting chance than the first and second classes, and she ended up cuddling her two small children in their cabin as the Titanic sinks beneath the waves, taking them and 1,500 others beneath the freezing Atlantic.
The only thing these two vastly contrasting roles have in common is that neither are Jewish, unlike the brilliant acress who brings them life, and both are from working class backgrounds. They are both centuries and galaxies apart. Both had a difficult childhood of poverty and had to be mentally strong in order to survive adversity. I can imagine Vasquez running around with the boy gangs in Los Angeles in 2171, riding hoverboards, taunting the cops, testing the latest weapons and getting trained in the not-s0-fine elements of self defence by a bald muscled instructor at a backstreet local gym. I can also imagine the Irish girl growing up in an impoverished village in the 1880s, playing with her one and only doll and imagining her future child, helping her parents digging up cabbages and potatoes in a small vegetable patch and dreaming of a better life in an America she was never destined to see. Later in life she was determined that her fatherless children would not grow up in abject circumstances and scraped together the funds for a third class passage on Titanic.
The year after Aliens she played a vampire called Diamondback in Near Dark.
Other roles she has played include Alice the Maid in the frenzied Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998).
She has also appeared as the science officer aboard the Enterprise in Star Trek Generations (1994), a police officer in Lethal Weapon II (1989), a doctor in Clockstoppers and a nurse in both Home Room (both 2002) and in Senseless (1998). I wonder how it would be to be nursed in hospital by a reformed vampire…
She is currently the proprietor of Jenette Bras, a store specializing in larger cup size bras for the well endowed women of LA. Somehow I can’t imagine either Vasquez or the fresckled Irish mom operating such a store.
Which goes to show her versatility in real life as well as on the screen.