Temple of Vanessa

Room 7

Cagey Songbird: Vanessa is on a roll -- she's co-starring with Nicholas Cage, Sean Connery, and Ed Harris in the upcoming feature film 'The Rock.' Vanessa plays Cage's love interest, but hopes she'll be able to exhibit one of her so-far-hidden talents -- singing. "When I was 10, I started playing the guitar, singing, and writing music," she says. "But it's been a start and stop thing. Every time acting came up, I would push music aside and acting would become my main focus. That's pretty much the way I do everything in my life." Vanessa's praying she'll soon get her first chance to show what she can do with her voice -- and she isnt nervous about the prospect. "I just do what I love to do, and I kind of hand the rest over to God," she declares.

Its been a hectic couple of months for Vanessa, who's been shuffling back and forth between her gig as Brenda and her film debut opposite Nicholas Cage in The Rock. "Some of the film's being shot in San Francisco, some in Los Angeles," she reports. "So I've been flying back and forth. It's been pretty crazy. But it also has been an incredible experience."

Believe it or not, Vanessa almost nixed the audition. "It was the most ridiculous audition scene I'd ever gotten in 3 1/2 years," she says bluntly. "It was three pages long, and in that one scene my character started out singing a country- western song; then spoke with a New Jersey accent; then switched to a Western accent; then burst into tears. I was like, 'Excuse me, but I'm not going to do all that unless I'm being paid," she cracks with a laugh. "I thought it was a pretty large bill to fill for an audition scene."

"That is, until I found out the cast that had already been secured (Cage, Connery and Harris)," she continues. "Then I said, 'I'll do whatever they want me to do."

All of the film's leading men "are amazing," she says, specifically citing Cage. "He is definitely one of my favorite actors, especially after seeing 'Leaving Las Vegas.' I've seen it three times, and I think he's brilliant in it. When we met, I told him, and his reaction was really genuine."

So whats it like playing Cage's girlfriend -- and doing love scenes with him? Nerve-racking," she confides with a laugh. "But love scenes are always nerve-racking for me -- even when I do one with Maurice, and we've been doing them for a year and a half."

From People Magazine:
Solid Citizen: Actress Vanessa Marcil of General Hospital has found sobriety and a piece of The Rock

One of the most exciting -- perhaps too exciting -- things about driving in L.A. is that you just might encounter Vanessa Marcil. The actress, best known as Brenda Barrett on General Hospital and the host of Friday night's ABC In Concert, tools around in her black BMW convertible and, every so often, rears back and "scream-sings" a pop song at full volume. "Its good therapy," she says, "to let things come out in a dramatic way."

If so, Vanessa, 27, must be feeling centered and serene. She has just make her movie debut in The Rock. Vanessa says she enjoyed her role as Cage's fiancee even though "I'm not the kind whose dream is to have a husband and a house, like my character. I see too many kids whose parents dont want to spend time with them."

Vanessa, who often volunteers at L.A. rehabilitation centers for adolescent girls, says her own childhood has lead her to feel a kinship with the clients. "I'm a recovering drug addict. My problem was drinking. I havent had a drink for 5 1/2 years now, and I want to show these girls that I could achieve my dreams."

Vanessa, the youngest of four siblings, wont say much about her Palm Desert, Calif, childhood except, "I didnt live in a surrounding that taught me to express myself." Her mother, Patricia Ortiz (Marcil is Patricia's maiden name), agrees. "I was young, her father (Peter Ortiz, a contractor from whom she is seperated) was young," says Patricia, an herbalist. "It was children raising children."

Vanessa started drinking as a teen. But after attending the College of the Desert in her hometown, she says, "I got involved with people whose lives have been torn apart" by substance abuse. Watching them struggle, she says, frightened her enough to find sobriety on her own. Around that time, she left school and pursued an acting career. An agent spotted her in a 1992 L.A. production of Cat On A Hot Tin Roof, and two months later she landed her role on General Hospital.

Despite her acclaimed beauty, though, Vanessa says she has no time for romance. When The Rock was shot last winter, she left her two-bedroom house in the Hollywood Hills at 6 a.m. to fly to the movie's San Francisco set, then flew back to L.A. to tape her soap each night. She always gets a thrill, she says, when pulling into her GH parking spot. "I sometimes look at my car, my name, the ABC sign, and I start crying," she says. After her hard times, she explains, "I'm really appreciating things."

SOW: June 1996
GH's Vanessa Marcil: Solid as a Rock

Vanessa Marcil lands in Nicolas Cage's arms when she makes her feature film debut in Hollywood Pictures' The Rock, scheduled for release June 7.

The movie, which also stars Ed Harris and Sean Connery, focuses on a band of bad guys threatening to blow up San Francisco, and the FBI agents who fight to prevent that from happening. Vanessa portrays Carla Pestalozzi, girlfriend of FBI agent Stanley Goodspeed (Cage). "She's an Italian girl from New Jersey, so I had to brush up on the accent," says Vanessa. "People from New Jersey say certain words differently, but its not like a Brooklyn accent."

According to Vanessa, Carla is "a little more low-key" than the actress's GH alter ego. "She's not as made up as Brenda; she's more down-to-earth. Carla's an old-fashioned girl. All she really wants is a family with Stanley."

Carla also aspires to be a singer. "Its her one dream," notes Vanessa, who had to sing to get the role. "They had me do a Carlene Carter song. And I sang through a lot of rehearsals. But I dont know if I'm actually going to sing in the film. They had some problems with the songs we were going to use."

Vanessa landed The Rock after one audition and a call-back; she reacted to the news in her usual style. "I started crying," she says with a laugh. "That's what I do when I get my stuff - I scream and I cry."

"This is my first film. It's a dream come true for me to be appearing opposite Sean Connery, Ed Harris and Nicolas Cage. They're such amazing actors," she says with a smile. "I was most excited about working with Nicolas Cage. He's one of my favorite actors."

Vanessa wasnt intimidated by that prospect, however. "I was just really honored," she confides, "and I watched everything the actors did. I wanted to learn from them because I respect them so much."

To ensure that she gave her finest performance, Vanessa had her acting coach, John Homa, fly to San Francisco for a day of on-location shooting. "He's pretty much the main reason I've grown to the point this year where I could do something like this," she says. "He's helped me out a lot and explained stuff to me that I didnt really understand. To be in such a huge production like this for my first film - it's not like there was someone there waiting to teach me everything. Everyone had their own job to do; they couldnt babysit me."

Vanessa notes that filming the project "was kind of unusual. It was storming in San Francisco the whole time we were there," she recalls. The weather in Los Angeles wasnt much better. "We were shooting at 1 a.m. the day before Christmans Eve on top of a sky-scraper in downtown L.A. I was wearing practically nothing when it started raining. We pretty much did the whole film in the rain."

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