Temple of Vanessa
Take a bow
With offers of prime time and movie work pouring in, Vanessa Marcil is leaving behind General Hospital and branching out. There's just one problem: She doesn't want to go.
A bad thing just happened to Vanessa Marcil, and she still can't get it out of her mind. "I was at home the other day, and I dropped the orange that I had just peeled," she recalls. "I burst into tears. I was hysterical because I had just peeled the whole thing, and now it was all dirty and I couldn't eat it. "But," she adds, "there were 10 other oranges in the refrigerator, so I thought, 'well, maybe this isn't really about the orange."
As Vanessa sits in her GH dressing room, just two weeks before her last day of work on the soap, she still is not ready to face reality. "I'm in denial about it," admits the actress, who joins the cast of BEVERLY HILLS 90210 in November. "I won't think about it. I won't look at fan mail. I won't watch the show. I've been trying to separate myself from it, but it's starting to creep up on me. I don't think that I'll be able to hold it in for much longer."
Making The Decision
At least Vanessa can take comfort in the fact that she is not alone in her anxiety. When it was announced last month that she indeed was leaving her role of teen temptress-turned-worldly-wise model, cries could be heard around the soap world. Many of the tears were shed by her loyal legion of admirers. For six years, they have lived and breathed Brenda's every heartbreak, every joy. And on Friday, September 11th, they will live and breathe her farewell.
The actress/audience love affair was not instantaneous, though. When Vanessa made her Port Charles debut in 1992, she was, for all intents and purposes, just another pretty face -- a very charismatic pretty face, but still. However, faster than you can say "star power," the head turner came into her own as scene stealer, along the way winning the adulation of viewers and the respect of her peers. And as the kudos rolled in, so did offers of outside work. Close friends and advisors kept pushing the up-and-comer to spread her wings and try her luck elsewhere. But a funny thing had happened over the years. As Brenda's boosters became invested in the character, so did her portrayer -- so much so that she had no desire to see it all come to an end. Even now, with her exit a fait accompli, Vanessa has not changed her tune. "The reality is, I still don't want to leave", she says. "But all of these other jobs started coming up, and I just realized about 5 months ago that there was no way that I was going to be able to do the kind of schedule that I've been doing movies and other TV shows at the same time as GH".
This past summer was the last straw. While on GH's front burner, Vanessa completed work on 2 independent films. This Space Between Us and Nice Guys Sleep Alone, which are scheduled to be released next year. Upon returning to the soap, she realized that her running around finally had caught up to her. "I was really sick when I got back," she sighs. "And I'm a really healthy person, so I kept on calling my doctor and saying, 'Why am I sick again?' And he just kept saying, 'Because you completely overdo it. You need to slow down.' So I decided that, only because they have been so wonderful to me at GH and told me that the door was open for me to come back, that I would put this job on hold and go do some other things that have been coming up."
While Vanessa looks forward to a new life on 90210, her good bud and GH leading man, Ingo Rademacher (Jax), faces the daunting task of moving on without her. "I knew that she wanted to go," he admits, "so I was kind of ready. And I support her. I mean, I say to her, 'Look, if it's time for you to go, I don't want you to, but in a way, I do want you to -- because you've got so much stuff out there to do.' "So, I wouldn't want to hold her back," he continues. "I'll miss her, but I understand. I'm really happy for her." Because the on-screen couple share such a tight off-screen bond, Vanessa made sure that Ingo didn't hear the news of her departure from someone else, or worse, by seeing it on the news. "I told him," she says. "He was really upset. We have a strong connection with each other, and we really love working together. That was one of the reasons why I stayed last year. I wanted Brenda and Jax to get back together -- I wanted to work with Ingo again."
As Vanessa's last day approaches, she admits that she and Ingo have been spending an inordinate amount of time together. "Every day he's like, 'You wanna have lunch?' because he knows that there are only two weeks left," she reveals. "So we're just crying and having lunch together." But because Vanessa is going and Ingo is staying, next month the love story of Jax and Brenda sadly will come to a close. The star-crossed friends and lovers won't be riding off into the sunset together; rather, she will leave with her mother, the recently returned Veronica. And although Vanessa admits to having a strong attachment to her character, she didn't march upstairs to the GH and brass and suggest ways to write out Brenda. "I don't have any say in that stuff," she admits. "I mean, I go up there and talk to them and they are very sweet with me. They're like, 'Okay, that's nice, Vanessa.' But they are the smart ones. I just feel so lucky to be the recipient of so much amazing story line. I trust them."
Many Happy Returns?
As it is, Vanessa probably has little to worry about. Considering the character's popularity, there is little chance that Brenda will be decapitated -- at least not on-camera. "They have all made it really clear to me that I am welcome to come back anytime," she says. "That means more to me than anything. I don't know if I would have the courage to go out there if I felt like it was truly the end and I couldn't go back."
However, don't expect her to make a guest reappearances like Maurice Benard (Sonny) did the past summer. "I'm guessing that they wouldn't want Brenda to do that," she suggests. "If I was going to come back, I think they'd want some kind of commitment. What Maurice is doing is really unusual. They found a way to work it out. But it would be hard to do with Brenda because of how interwinded she is with the other characters. I'm sure they want to figure out a way for Jax to move on, and with Brenda showing up, that would be a hard thing to do. "And I think it would be a hard thing for me to do, too," she adds. "If I came back, I'd want to sink my teeth into a great story, not just kind of show up here and there."
Now It's Time...
It's not a coincidence that Vanessa has had one juicy story line with bite after another these past six years. After all, the show was just meeting popular demand. But you don't have to tell Vanessa that. She knows that she owes much of her success to her fans. "They have made my life like a fairy tale, and all of it would be nothing without them," she says "There would have been no way that I could have done it without them."
If there's anything that Vanessa would like to tell her audience, it's this: " I appreciate their support, and I hope that they follow me wherever I go. And the main thing is, I hope that they don't feel abandoned, because I'm not leaving because I want to leave. I want to stay, but I kind of go wherever God seems to be pointing me to go. So I'll go see what happens. But they definitely shouldn't say good bye to Brenda forever."
Vanessa certainly won't be doing so. In fact, by holding onto Brenda, she may have found a way to survive what last February she told Soaps In Depth would be "the most devastating thing that I've ever gone through." "GH is the only thing in my whole life that I don't have any regrets about," she says, her voice calming. "It's the only thing in my life that I feel nothing but happiness about. And that's why it's so hard to leave."
Vanessa Marcil's past and present co-stars reveal their reactions to the departure of their friend and colleague, and offer a final farewell...
Wally Kurth (Ned): "She's so busy with all of the other things that she has going on that it's probably time for her to leave the nest. I think she stayed around because she just loves the character and loves the family and the fans, but if she wants to do something else in her career, then I'm happy for her."
Susan Brown (Gail): "Gail can't afford to lose any more patients! I love Vanessa and enjoyed the few scenes we got to do together, and I just wish her lots of luck. I think she's very talented."
Ingo Rademacher (Jax): "I'm going to miss working with Vanessa. We were always on the same page when it came to doing a scene. So it's going to be sad and different. But it will give me alot of new things to do [storywise]."
Ron Hale (Mike)" "Vanessa's been so important to the show, and to me personally for the last few years. I went through every up and down between Brenda and Sonny, and believe me, I know what an impact the story has had on GH's popularity. Millions of people out there love Vanessa and her character, just as millions have loved Maurice [Benard]. I'm sure Vanessa's in the same position as Maurice in that the door will be open for her."
Maurice Benard (ex-Sonny): "90210 will be great exposure for Vanessa, and she'll make a ton of money -- as long as she doesn't stay there too long. That's where you get into trouble."
Tyler Christopher (Nikolas): "Vanessa was a big part of the show, and without her, things are definitely going to change. It was nice to come to work and have her here with me, but I also think that it's going to be good having her go on to do her own thing because it will help us separate our careers from out personal life."
John Ingle (Edward): "Vanessa's leaving?! Gosh darn, that's 20 minutes a day that they're going to have to fill! I was telling someone the other day that it could mean more time for the Quartermaines! Seriously, the sexual force among Brenda, Sonny, and Jax has been a major part of the show for a long time, so they're going to have to really scramble to find a new love story to keep the young people attracted to the show. I love Vanessa; she's very dear. I wish they had developed the paternal relationship between Edward and Brenda more."
Amber Tamblyn (Emily): "I was surprised. I figured Vanessa would stay for awhile. I think she definitely needs to move on because she's hit that window period, and she needs to take off because she can. I'll miss her. She's always been there for me. But at least I will still have Kimberly McCullough (Robin) to lean on."
Lisa Cerasoli (V.): "I had the opportunity to work with Vanessa several months ago, and we loved it. I wish that I had gotten to be a little more involved in their storyline before she left. I have a lot of respect for her work and for her as a person. So I'll miss her."
Steve Burton (Jason): "Vanessa is a wonderful actress. I would have loved to have worked more with her."
Vanita Harbour (Dara): "Vanessa and I have become friends, so I'll definitely miss her. She's a real presence on the show, and there will be a hole there without her. We'll do the best we can, but the character is very important. She is a very important spirit there at GH."
Stephen T. Kay (Reginald): "It's a drag because we never got to have that love affair. She'll be a movie star, but the show will miss her for sure. Everybody's got their cycle and their time, and you've got to do what feels right."
Lois and Brenda, Together Again... Sort of
Digest: Have you talked to Vanessa Marcil since she joined 90210 as Gina?
Sofer: Yes. I love Vanessa. I said to her, "Why cant we have a crossover, just you and me, and be on one of our shows together?" I'd love to work with her again.
Digest: Does 90210 tape near Melrose?
Sofer: Not even close. But she tapes right near my house, so I'm always like, "Come over and visit me if you've got time to kill." She is going to blow that show out of the water. Mark my words.
Digest: I agree.
Sofer: I am Vanessa's biggest fan. I think she is going to be a huge, huge, diva, Sharon Stone movie star. And I cant wait for that to happen for her.
First on Vanessa's agenda is her seven-episode run on 90210 as troublemaker Gina, a role she did not choose over GH, she insists. "I definitely did not leave GH to do 90210. I would never choose 90210 over GH. My decision to leave was made months and months before the 90210 offer even came in. They just both happened to be announced at the same time."
However, Vanessa did reportedly choose the 90210 gig over the part of a lawyer on FOX's hot dramedy ALLY MCBEAL. "There were other shows that I got great offers from," she explains, "but 90210 was in first position, which means that whatever show starts negotiations with you, they legally get you first. So, when the offers came in from the other shows, we were already in negotiations, and I was already excited about working with everyone at 90210. "But" she adds, "it was nice to feel wanted."
Chances are, Vanessa still will be wanted after her seven episodes are in the can. If that is the case, her 90210 run could be extended, she confirms. "It definitely could be longer than that. We'll see how it works out and how we both feel about it."
The folks at 90210 clearly seems to be smitten with Vanessa. Not only did they give her a role, they created one specifically for her. "I never went in and met with them or tested for anything," she marvels. "They just called and said that Aaron Spelling knew my work from GH and from other things that I've done. It was the most flattering thing that ever happened to me. The other shows that I was offered had specific characters, but 90210 was the only show that said, 'We want to create a character with you in mind."
FOX isn't revealing too much about who Gina will be, except to say that she is a spoiled-brat former pro ice skater who "will add a definite edge to the show" -- no doubt in much the same way that the departing Tiffani-Amber Thiessens's Valerie has. And with Luke Perry's returning this season as rebel Dylan, a Gina/Dylan match-up seems inevitable. "I still don't even know," Vanessa admits. "They are actually writing it now. But I'm excited to find out what kind of character it's going to be."
Vanessa Marcil moves into the spotlight Wednesday night. The 'Beverly Hills, 90210' wild child tells EW Online about finding career happiness after years of boozing and, gulp, a 'marriage' to Corey Feldman
Sure, she's wafer thin and a self-described fitness freak, but don't even think about giving Vanessa Marcil the Calista treatment. "I eat whatever I want, junk food included," says Vanessa, whose 'Beverly Hills, 90210' alter ego, the bitch-alicious Gina, reveals on Wednesday's episode (8 p.m., Fox) that she suffers from an eating disorder. "If I deny myself something, I just get resentful, so what's the point?"
While she may not be a starving artist, Vanessa, 29, has indulged in her fair share of destructive behavior. What she characterizes as a 'difficult childhood' led the Palm Beach, Calif., native to start drinking at 11 and to 'marry' Hollywood wild child Corey Feldman in the late '80s. Despite published reports to the contrary, Vanessa now claims the union was "actually a joke we played on our friends. We were messed-up kids, you know? Now that I'm in the public eye, it's turned into this whole wrong rumor. To say that we were really married is completely not true." (Sorry, Corey.)
Regardless, at 20, Vanessa entered therapy, got sober, and threw herself into acting. She's been working ever since: She popped up in her good friend Prince's video 'The Most Beautiful Girl in the World,' made out with Nic Cage in 1995's 'The Rock,' and spent six years raising temps on ABC's 'General Hospital.' But success came with a price: "I didn't take a vacation for five years. A few times, I passed out from exhaustion and ended up in the hospital. It was kind of insane."
Since checking out of the 'Hospital' and into '90210' last fall, Vanessa has learned to slow down -- sort of. "I balance things better and don't kill myself so much," she says. "But conflict makes me a more interesting actress to watch. The places I go to to pull emotions from, I think if you have a perfect, happy life, you just don't have those places. And I want those places. I'm proud of those places."
Vanessa Marcil's 90210 Future is solid; Gina will stick around to cause trouble!
Beverly Hills 90210's Vanessa Marcil (Gina; ex-Brenda, GENERAL HOSPITAL) is not going anywhere any time in the near future! As Update reported in its previous issue, the actress's status on the series was called into question after Vanessa pulled a no-show at executive producer Aaron Spelling's holiday party. It was speculated that Vanessa was released from her primetime gig, and the blame was placed on her rumored disagreements with 90210 cast members. However, everyone soon learned that one missed round of eggnog does not translate into a dismissal from the boss. The official word from a 90210 spokesperson concurs with the denials voiced by the actress' spokespeople: "Vanessa is remaining on the show. Any rumors that you may have heard flying around are completely and totally inaccurate." Any lingering doubts should be put to rest when one considers the addition of Vanessa's face to the show's opening credits. Vanessa has proven her appeal transcends daytime by becoming a pivotal presence on her new show. She and Luke Perry (Dylan) have the potential to become a legendary supercouple. The pairing is extremely hot with fans, and the ratings surge mirrors their enthusiasm. In fact, the show surprised insiders when its numbers managed to surpass The WB's hip and hyped DAWSON'S CREEK. In addition, without Vanessa's character Gina, 90210 would lack the necessary "scheme" quotient that makes any drama a delight. Given that the long-running show's zip may soon be close to depletion, Gina's (as played by Vanessa) success is its best chance at rejuvenation.
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