Temple of Vanessa
Nearly a year after leaving Port Charles, Vanessa Marcil is boldly going her own way, striving to become not so much the really famous actress everyone knows she can be, but the truly happy person she wants to be
Soaps in Depth - July 13, 99
Nothing ventured, nothing gained. It's like riding a bike. Keep your nose to the grindstone. When the going gets tough, the tough get going.
No doubt, right about now those are some of the many adages filling up Vanessa Marcil's head, as she embarks on what may be the most daunting mission of her life. You see, this particular journey has the actress confronting one of her biggest fears -- and the same way she does everything else, she's facing this demon head on. No, we're not referring to her decision to return to the stage after a four-year absence, we're talking about something far, far scarier. "I'm at the mall," she says in a "Can you believe it?!" tone. "Isnt that funny? I hate the mall. I never go to the mall. I'm very upset that I'm at the mall right now. I've been to the mall twice in the seven years that I've lived in Los Angeles."
But desperate times call for desperate measures. "It's my best friend's birthday and I got her this watch and it doesnt fit," she explains, "so I have to get it sized."
The fact that Vanessa is conducting this interview via her cell phone while threading her way through "the birthplace of the food court" is making her shopping adventure all the more memorable. It's also throwing a monkey wrench into her plan not to draw attention to herself. In truth, despite the fact that she has her trademark tresses pulled up under a hat and her beautiful brown eyes hidden behind sunglasses, she repeatedly is approached during this conversation by shrewd shoppers extending impromptu greetings.
The Play's The Thing
Vanessa's daredevil attitude has extended into her professional life as well. On hiatus after completing her freshman year playing bad girl Gina Kincaid on BEVERLY HILLS 90210, the actress has elected to spend the summer with her first love: the theater. Since mid-June, she's been wowing Los Angeles audiences as the lead in the play Starfire. Set in 1960s L.A., the drama focuses on an Italian-American couple whose home life is disrupted when they unexpectedly are reunited with their alienated pregnant daughter, Theresa (played by you-know-who), and her mobster-husband. Writer/producer Sam Ingraffia describes Vanessa's character as "a woman from 1967 who hasnt quite got the women's movement, so she's dominated by her husband and father."
Needless to say, the role is a bit of a stretch for the very independent-minded Vanessa. However, Ingraffia explains, Theresa does grow a backbone before the curtain falls -- but her autonomy may come with a price. "She has always allowed other people to take care of her, and now for the first time in her life she has decided that she wants to break away from that. But that can be very dangerous. Because as she makes her own decisions, she also has to pay the consequences."
Vanessa's domineering better half in Starfire -- the wannabe Don Corleone, Sal -- is being played by her former GH co-star and good friend, Tyler Christopher. The actor stepped in at the last minute after the role's original portrayer -- Vanessa's 90210 co-star, Brian Austin Greene -- landed a film and had to bow out. "I'm really excited," says Vanessa, "because Tyler and I always wanted to work together."
Adds Tyler: "This is a great opportunity for us to both play a couple of real characters, not just the leading man and leading lady. So it's not only a chance to take our acting ability to a different level, but also a chance for us to work with each other on a different level. So it's a lot of fun."
Good Things Come In Small Packages
As excited as Vanessa is to be treading the boards once more, her triumphant theater comeback almost never materialized. Coming off of her well-received, high-profile first season at 90210, the Daytime Emmy-nominated actress was on film producers' most wanted list -- but she was determined to remain a fugitive. "We turned down about eight movies, which was kind of scary to do," she says. "But I wanted to take a break and have a normal life and get my house together that I moved into a year and a half ago. So I wanted to do something locally."
Enter Linda Reitman, manager of both Vanessa and Ingraffia, who wasnt all that familiar with the soap superstar's work. "I spoke to Linda, and she said she had a client who she thought would be very right for the role," recalls Ingraffia. "So she sent the script to Vanessa."
And as luck would have it, Vanessa, who last appeared on-stage in the Peter Fonda-directed drama Southern Rapture, was anxious to again do live theater. "I've loved theater ever since I was a kid," she says. "I've been looking for a play that I wanted to do for a while now, and I've been reading a bunch of different plays in L.A. and read this one and loved it."
Next thing Ingraffia knew, Vanessa waas auditioning for him and director Michael Haney. "She basically came in and blew us away," he marvels. "She was very good. And she's absolutely perfect for it physically. So she was the first person that we cast. It's quite a coup having her."
You dont have to tell Vanessa's agents that. The same reps who tried unsuccessfully for years to get Vanessa to ditch GH for more lucrative world of film now were scratching their heads in disbelief. "My agents always give me a hard time," she says. "They want me to just do movies. But I've always been more about characters. I dont really worry about being a movie star or a primetime star. I dont really believe in any of those rules that people come up with. I just think that you should be happy on a daily basis and leave it at that."
Well, so far Vanessa's plan to resume a normal life is working. For one thing, she's at the mall. "I fired my assistant. I was like, 'I'm doing everything mysefl now.' So even though I hate the mall with all my heart, it's kind of cool to go, 'I'm taking my best friend's watch to get sized at the mall.' I'm used to sending my assistant, and it gets so impersonal. So it's been really amazing to be able to run errands myself or be at home in my backyard and garden.
"But it's a hard thing to do," she adds, "because it's scary to turn down work and to take a break because you feel like it's all going to end or something. But then it's also bad I think to work yourself to the point that you're exhausted and you're not even happy anymore or grateful while you're at work. So I know I'm doing the right thing, but it's a little scary."
Dont Cry Over Spilled Milk
Vanessa need not worry about her career losing steam. Not only is she awaiting release of the two independent films that she completed last summer -- This Space Between Us, with Jeremy Sisto (Clueless), and Nice Guys Sleep Alone -- but in August she'll begin work on her second season of 90210. And, she explains, her sophomore year on the hit Fox drama is bound to be better than her first. "I think this last year has probably been one of the hardest years in my life -- one of them, I've had a few -- mostly because I left my nest at GH, and I left the character that I was and still am in mad love with," she acknowledges. "And I left people that I loved working with, and so it was just a hard transition for me to make."
Luckily, her new co-stars boosted her spirits. "Everyone was very welcoming and just helped me out because they all knew that I was kind of going through a hard time," she says. "The first few months on the set, I was like somebody died. They were all always trying to cheer me up."
Providing extra support was Vanessa's one-time Starfire co-star, Brian Austin Green. "Brian and I have become best friends," she says. "He's the coolest, most down-to-earth, wonderful person I've met in a really long time."
Ironically, just as Vanessa was pulling hersefl together off-camera, her on-screen persona was coming apart at the seams. In the span of six short months, Gina battled bulimia, stole her cousin's boyfriend, faced betrayal from her mother, and in the season finale, jumped back into bed with Dylan, only to be caught by current beau David. And for her part, Vanessa is hoping that next season Gina's downward spiral continues. "I hope she gets more and more self-destructive," she says. "I like how you think that maybe she's starting to get her stuff together, and then she just goes back to her self-destructive ways.
"I think her hanging out with David was a really good move, and it was sincere," she adds. "And obviously he would be the best thing in the world for Gina. But she could only hang with him for a few seconds before she went back to her old familiar, self-destructive ways."
No Pain, No Gain
Despite the roller coaster of emotions that Vanessa experienced since leaving GH last September, she's far from second-guessing her decision. "I definitely have no regrets," she says. "I mean, there's not a day that doesnt go by that I wouldnt still love to be there, but it's good to move on. But if someday I end up on GH for the rest of my life with a beautiful house and a family, my dreams have already all come true. I mean, I remember days sitting at GH working on stuff that was a dream, like the nervous breakdown storyline, and Tyler would come up and bring me a root beer with crushed ice, which is my favorite thing to drink, and I would just think, 'Well, what else is ther?' So, everything from here on is just icing on the cake. If greater stuff happens, then God bless. If it doesnt, I never even imagined that this much great stuff would ever happen to me.
"And it's fun to be able to now put myself in situations that I know are going to be uncomfortable, but that I'm going to learn from," she adds. "I just want to grow and learn so that by the time I have children, I have so much good stuff to show them, because I think that kids really copy what you do. So, I want to be sure that my actions are something that I would want my child to copy.
"I think that's another reason why I left GH, because I got real comfortable there. And even though comfortable is nice, it's not always the place where you're learning the most."
Only time will tell whether Vanessa's equally uncomfortable jaunt to the mall will prove as enlightening. While scheduling constraints preclude and in-depth analysis (she's headed to play rehearsal), the reluctant mall rat does manage a little quick reflection. For on thing, she did accomplish the critical task of getting her best friend's watch sized, so the experience wasnt a complete disaster. "It's been a success," she decides, adding, "but I definitely will stay away for another seven years. There's no reason for me to come back."
Dont count your chickens... --- Michael Ausiello
Vanessa Marcil reveals her true feelings about Sonny's new love
SID - July 99
Vanessa Marcil is making no bones about her reaction to Hannah, the new woman in Sonny's life on GH. In fact, when she recently bumped into Sonny's portrayer, Maurice Benard, at the farewell party thrown for Jonathan Jackson (ex-Lucky), she had a message for her former on-screen beau: "I told him that he better take his lips off her! I mean, she's good and all of that, but there will be none of that. I was like, 'Dont make me come back to the show and kick your ass!'" In a word... meeoowww! Seriously though, Vanessa, like the rest of the GH audience, is finding the combination of Maurice and newcomer Lisa Vultaggio (Hannah) electrifying. "They have amazing chemistry," she says. "Sometimes I have the show on when I'm working, and I'll stop what I'm doing when things are out of control between them. Like when Maurice and Lisa were making out, I was like, 'Hold on a second! I've got to watch this!'" And what about Lisa's uncanny resemblance to... "Well, it's obvious that her looks are a combination between me and Lilly Melgar (who played Sonny's wife, Lily). I personally think that she looks more like Lilly, but you never think that anyone looks like you. Lisa is such a beauty queen to me. I'm like, 'She's way too pretty to look like me.'" And according to Vanessa, Lisa has the talent to back up her looks. "I think she's a pretty great find," she says. "I'm always just astounded at how well they find these people."
The Girl Just Wants To Have Fun
Fit Magazine Jan/Feb 99
Lisa Klugman: You're talking to me from the Beverly Hills 90210 set. How's that going?
Vanessa Marcil: It's awesome! Most of my scenes are with Luke Perry,and he's been the joy of my life since I started. He's so talented, and we had instant chemistry from day one, so we're having a good time!
LK: Your schedule is a little less crazy since you left General Hospital. What do you like to do when you're not working?
VM: I'm a tomboy. I love sports. I snowboard, surf, ski, skate and run with my dogs. And I love watching sports - I'm a Yankees fan, a 49ers fan and a Bulls fan - but basically I'm just a sports fan period. It's funny, 'cause my character on this show is an ice skater, and that's about the only sport I don't do, so I have to learn.
LK: Do you dress like a tomboy too?
VM: Defiantly, I usually wear oversized khakis from the Gap, tank tops and high-top sneakers.
LK: I noticed in some of the photos from our cover shoot that you have a fairly large tattoo on your lower back.
VM: Yes, I was 20 years old and drunk in Hollywood with one of my best friends, Melissa, and we just got 'em. We thought we were so cool. I actually thought I was cool for quite a long time because of that. And I don't regret it now, because it represents a certain time in my life. My tattoo is a tribal symbol for peace and love in the universe. At least I didn't get a skull or something! And Melissa got a Calvin, from Calvin and Hobbes.
LK: Where did you grow up?
VM: Palm Desert, which is a small town next to Palm Springs. It's a place where people retire and play golf - it's not so great for young people. My dad's a contractor and my mom's a nutritionist, so I was bringing sprout sandwiches and carrots to school. Now I love junk food, but I also eat lots of vegetables. I just eat whatever I want but stop before I am full. I never deny myself anything, but I don't overeat. If I don't allow myself something, I get resentful!
LK: How do you stick to a regular exercise routine?
VM: I've never belonged to a gym. I hate structured exercise. I just like to get outdoors and do something fun. My three best friends - Melissa, Shanna, and Alana - and I go snowboarding every weekend. I have this great snowboarding outfit - its baby blue and yellow - its really bright and loud! (laughing) I love it! For me, the secret to sticking with exercise is doing variety of things so its always interesting and fun. When I'm exercising regularly I have double the energy, and everything is just so much better.
LK: Well, I think that I have enough here.....
[there is a knock on the door and a voice: "Vanessa? Are you ready for rehearsal?"]
VM: Rehearsal? Wow- that's perfect timing huh? So we're done? Okay, thanks! Bye!
Brenda -- Back From The Dead?
Now that Vanessa Marcil has zipped out of 90210, she's free to bring Brenda back to Port Charles. So, what's the holdup?
Enjoying a morning jog along the Port Charles Highway, GH's Jax spots the love of his life, Brenda, weak and a little spaced-out, climbing over the freeway's guard rail. The couple lock eyes, race toward one another and embrace. Then, out of nowhere, a black sedan driven by Helena Cassidine comes racing toward them, and... the screen fades to black.
It's a fantasy that GH fans no doubt have played over and over in their minds (okay, minus the Helena part). The only missing ingredient: the damsel in distress. "I'm not coming back right now," says Brenda's former portrayer, Vanessa Marcil. "Nothing's going on other that Wendy Riche always reminding me that I can return anytime I want."
As Vanessa explains, she's at the stage in her career where she wants to start taking some risks. "I'm comfortable at GH, and my heart is telling me to face my fears. I dont think you should stay anywhere that you're comfortable.
"I also want to wait and see what's going to happen with the show because it's going through some rough times. And I want to see if Ingo is going to leave this summer. The ideal situation would be to come back when Ingo and Maurice are both there. If I went back, it would be to work with them, and Sarah Brown, who rocks the house."
In the meantime, what's a die-hard Brenda fan to do? Be patient, Vanessa pleads. "I'm just getting out there in Hollywood for the first time. Give me a little while. Some great stuff is going to happen."
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