Vanessa Marcil lives by the philosophy that everything happens for a reason - and her belief comforted her when her busy daytime schedule kept her from accepting big-screen roles in Race the Sun and Don Juan DeMarco.
Turning down the latter was a real sacrifice she confesses. Marlon Brando, who starred in the film, is her idol - she even has his photo gracing her dressing-room wall (along with one of Paul Newman).
"It did break my heart that I couldnt do it, but I believe there's a Higher Power who has everything going on for one reason or another - although I dont think we always get to know the reason," she explains. "You have to have faith that things are happening the way they're supposed to happen."
"It's scary to let something go that's good, but I think that's part of the lesson - you have to know your self-worth and that you can let good things go and let new things come."
The new thing that came Vanessa's way was landing the part of Nicolas Cage's girlfriend in the film The Rock. Executive Producer Wendy Riche juggled the GH schedule so Vanessa could play her first big-screen role.
"Some days I'd work all morning on the set of The Rock in San Francisco, then fly to L.A. to do GH," Vanessa recalls. "I'd work all night, then fly back there to work all morning. But it was great. I learned so much.
"When I went on the set, I knew nothing about making a movie," confesses the 26-year-old actress. "It's probably the scariest thing I've ever done.
"While I was doing a love scene with Nicolas, I was thinking 'My god, I used to watch you in the movies and tape you up on my wall, and now I have to pretend like I'm having sex with you!'" she laughs. "But he was wonderful about the whole thing."
Vanessa, who grew up in Palm Desert, Calif, says acting was a release after a childhood of suppressing her emotions. "I was never allowed to express myself," she reveals. "I really see how parents dont teach their children how to do that. When kids start to cry, it's 'Dont cry,' or when kids are really excited and they want to run around and yell, it's always, 'Calm down.'
"At my house, you had to stay under control all the time," she adds. "My mother was very loving, but I didnt have a close relationship with my father.
"I was so angry at him for so long because, growing up, he was very abusive - physically and emotionally," she says. "At one point, I thought he wasnt my real father, then I lied when I found out he really was because I felt he didnt deserve to be my father. (Vanessa has been quoted in the past as saying he was actually her stepfather and that she had never met her real father.)
"At this point, I'm learning to accept a lot of different things, including him," she adds. "It's good to be able to let that kind of stuff go."
The way to let it go, she advises, is "therapy, talking about it, not hiding it, and being accepting. I have to accept my father and know that he did the best he could. He was abused, too. It's a chain, and now I'm trying to break that chain, so I dont carry that down when I have a family."
That wont be anytime soon, since she's never come close to being seriously married. As a prank, when she was 18, Vanessa and 17-year-old actor Corey Feldman flew to Las Vegas and married, using fake names. But they never lived together and couldnt believe it when they actually had to legally dissolve this joke of a marriage. Although she has been seeing someone special for about a year, "I'm not in a committed relationship," she declares.
"I want a family, although I dont want to do it unless I can do it right - and that takes a lot of work and commitment," she adds. "I know I cant give everything my all - there's only one of me. I have to learn to love myself before I can learn to love someone else."
Vanessa says one positive thing that has come from such a negative childhood is that the pain has enriched her work as an actress.
"Some of the stuff Brenda did when she first came on the show was appalling, but I thought, 'This is what happens if you dont love and nuture your kids - they get angry and hurtful towards people," she contends. "I think Brenda matured once she had that nuturing around her."
Vanessa loves her work. "Its about the feeling I get when I'm doing it," she explains. "At the end of the day, if I feel like I've done good work, I just want to go play with my dogs or hang out with my mom.
"My film is out, but I dont want to see it," she adds, "because then you get caught up in, 'What do people think of me? He thinks I should be skinnier; she thinks my hair should be longer.'
"It's impossible to please everyone and they're so brutal," she adds. "There's no other profession where people want to tear you down as much as this one."
"It's just like any other job, though. Some days you're great and some you're OK. Some days you look great and some days you didnt get enough sleep and you look like hell.
"I just want to act the rest of my life," she declares. "I dont care if it's on a daytime or nighttime show, in a theater or a film, as long as it's a good part and one I believe in." ---Robyn Flans
Sonny chooses Lily and sends Brenda into Jax's arms
Brenda takes a wild roller-coaster ride this week on GH, but none of it happens at an amusement park. Quite the opposite. First, Sonny decides to follow his heart, which means leaving Lily and taking off with Brenda for parts unknown. Color Brenda ecstatic. Then Sonny finds out Lily is pregnant. Color Brenda distraught: She knows a child puts an end to any chance of a future with Sonny. Enter Jax. Over the past couple of months, his feelings for Brenda have evolved from friendship to love, but he couldnt compete with her desire to win back Sonny. Now that Sonny is out of the picture, however, Brenda willingly accepts Jax's love; their relationship quickly progresses to romance, the prelude to a most dramatic developement.
"My mom always says, 'Excitement doesnt mean love,' and I think Sonny's a constant excitement to Brenda," says Vanessa. "He's always been that, since she first met him. This is her final heartbreak with him. She really understands that he wouldnt abandon his child no matter what, because she knows all of his issues about being abandoned by his father. He wont be with her after this, which makes it even harder, because the reason this time is different than before. It's because he is such a good man, which is what she really knows about him and loves about him no matter what anyone has ever said about him. I think Jax signifies for Brenda something really good and a little more what my mom would probably call 'reasonable.' Jax is a little more calm and consistent."
Although her change of heart might seem impulsive, Vanessa notes that Brenda was always attracted to Jax and interested in him romantically, but that her loyalty to truelove Sonny and the hope that they would get back together were overwhelming. "What finally triggers her is that she really believes there's no way she can let go of Sonny and maybe that will help her, because she is romantically interested in Jax. When Brenda was involved with Miguel (right after Sonny threw her out), that was just having sex, just being in desperate pain and wanting so much to be comforted and forget about it for the moment. It wasnt really that afterward she thought they would be together. I think she sees that possibility with Jax, and I think they built up to making love kind of in a nice way. I think there's always been something about Jax that scared Brenda, because there was something in him that made her feel like this is someone she could be with. I think she always thought, 'If I wasnt in love with Sonny, this is definitely someone who I would be interested in.'"
Still, Vanessa is guarded about the prognosis for Brenda's happiness: "I think she's a tortured soul and that she does really love Sonny, and the only way she would ever be truly happy is if she could be with him. She'll have moments of happiness with Jax, but I dont think they'll be happily ever after."
SOD July 96:
While Vanessa admits she's torn over who Brenda should wind up with, she does love seeing the effect that the love triangle has on Ingo. "Ingo will not leave my door," laughs Vanessa. "I cant say that Brenda will love Jax in front of Ingo because he'll go on about it for an hour. He'll be like, 'Really? You think Brenda will love Jax?' He's so funny. He's really cute, he takes everything so seriously, it's adorable. He comes in and he's like, 'How come you were doing scenes with Maurice?' I'm like, 'Because its a love story.' He'll say, 'What's the matter, doesn't she want to fall in love with me?'"
Vanessa Marcil- Brenda Barrett on General Hospital
The portrayal of Brenda Barrett is in the capable hands of actress Vanessa Marcil, whose intelligence and skill are complemented by alluringly dark eyes and flowing hair. Seductive, headstrong Brenda is finding her way in a complex world of deep emotions and complicated personalities. Vanessa's first airdate was September 18, 1992."She was the black sheep of the Barrett family," explains Ms. Marcil of her character. "Brenda is just now coming into her own as an independent woman, but she's struggling with the deepening love she feels for her new husband, Jax, and the lingering longing she still has for her former lover, Sonny Corinthos."
Ms. Marcil was born in the balmy desert community of Palm Springs, California, but her family soon moved to decidedly cooler Anchorage, Alaska, where her businessman father is credited for building the first earthquake-proof structure in the state. The youngest of four children, she and her family later returned to Palm Desert, California, where she began acting in local theater at age eight.
After graduation from high school, Ms. Marcil began to study law, before she made the decision to pursue an acting career. She has performed in numerous theatrical productions, including Neil Simon's "Fools," "Pygmalion," "Mamet's Women," "The Miracle Worker" and "Sweet Bird of Youth," among others. "General Hospital" marked Ms. Marcil's professional debut.
In 1994, Vanessa was tapped as the first full-time host of the popular ABC late-night "In Concert" series. Theatrically, Ms. Marcil co-starred with country music star Dwight Yoakam and Oscar nominee Sally Kirkland in the stage play, "Southern Rapture," directed by Peter Fonda. She was also spotlighted in the 1995 edition of People magazine's "50 Most Beautiful People" issue. In the recent box office hit feature film, "The Rock," Vanessa co-starred with Sean Connery, Ed Harris and Nicolas Cage.
Helping people is something about which Ms. Marcil feels strongly, and in her spare time she volunteers for various causes. She is an active runner and body builder; and also enjoys riding motorcycles, spending days on the beach, singing and seeing films with friends. She lives in Los Angeles, California, with her dogs Woof and Joey.
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