In 1986, "Aliens" made "Get away from her, you bitch" a catch phrase to remember.
With Sigourney Weaver at the forefront of the sci-fi sequel, James Cameron crafted an action film that not only crushed it at the box office, but also gave audiences a trio of tough women to cheer for ... something we still don't get enough of on the big screen.
The other fierce females flanking Ripley: Jenette Goldstein as Private First Class Vasquez and Carrie Henn, who played the young (but incredibly resourceful) Newt.
Jenette and Carrie will reunite on Tuesday night to celebrate "Alien Day," a celebration taking place on April 26 (4.26) in tribute to the LV-426 planet featured in the first two films. Both Goldstein and Henn will attend a special screening of their flick hosted by the Alamo Drafthouse at The Theatre at the Ace Hotel in Los Angeles, while Weaver will pop up at The Town Hall event in NYC. For a full rundown of Drafthouse's Alien Day events planned around the country, click here!
To promote the special occasion, toofab had a chat with Goldstein about her best memories from the set, working with director James Cameron on flicks like "Aliens," "T-2" and "Titanic" and the controversy over casting a Jewish actress from Russian, Moroccan and Brazilian descent as an Hispanic soldier.
toofab: I'm a huge fan of the "Alien" franchise in general, but especially this film. Can you believe that it's been thirty years? Does it feel like it's been that long for you?
Jenette: It's kinda crazy. But when I sort of look at myself, I look like, "Oh, my God, I'm a baby." You know, I'm twenty-five, or whatever years old.
toofab: Is it surprising to you that the film has had such long legs, that decades later people are still loving it?
Jenette: Yeah. I am. I mean, I was a huge fan of the first one, but I am. Yeah, I am surprised.
toofab: It's one of the greats, especially coming out of the eighties.
Jenette: The special effects really hold up, don't they? That's - to me, that's unbelievable, ‘cause technology moves at such an incredible pace.
toofab: Do you find that fans still recognize you out in public?
Jenette: You know, people say they recognize me, but they cannot recognize me -- when they do, I think they must have seen me doing something else, and then put it together. Because I really don't look like her. I think they've seen me in other films, and they'll kind of know what I look like.
toofab: I know you've done a couple reunions in the past, is there anyone you haven't seen as much as everyone else from the film?
Jenette: Well, last year, we did the reunion in Calgary, and I think it was the first time Sigourney [Weaver] had done this. And so, I hadn't seen Sigourney since I did [the film], nor had I seen Paul Reiser. And that was amazing. It was great, you know. We were all like, showing pictures of our kids, and a couple with our husbands, and spouses.
toofab: What sticks out most about this movie is how much of a badass you and Sigourney's characters are. James Cameron loves putting strong women in his films. Can you believe that now, even thirty years later, we're still talking about the lack of strong female characters in films?
Jenette: Yeah, I guess whatever powers that be that are out there are you know, afraid. You know, it's, "If she’s not pretty, no one's gonna [see the film]" and "Oh, if someone doesn't like her, they're not gonna" … you know, that never just seems to go away.
I just think it comes from someone writing a great character. James Cameron wrote these badass women. He didn't comment on it. Nobody was like, "Ooh, look at you! You're a woman" you know, he didn't comment on it, didn't patronize them. And he was able to get the film made because he’s a badass, and has steel cajones. And when you think about it, what age he was when he went back to them and said, "This is who I want to cast. This is the script. This is how I think - " you know. He gets a reputation for good and for bad, because he doesn't take...you know?
And there's not that many people that can get out there and that's what you gotta do. And yeah. It is kinda rough. It is kind of shocking that, you know, this hasn't changed enormously, but that's the way it is.
toofab: You've worked with James on some incredible films. Do you have any particular set memory that stands out above the rest?
Jenette: A great memory from one of them was the "Titanic." The little boy who played my son, he'd never - I think he’d been in, maybe, a background in a McDonald’s commercial or something. And when we did the first shot of us - of all of the immigrants trying to push out and the gates are closing, we did it in one take. And then, James was like, "Okay, we’re gonna go again." And the little boy goes, "Oh, why? Wasn't I good?"
Jenette: And he stopped the whole crew, everything, all the extras, everything, and just sat with this little boy, really close, and goes like, "Let me explain it to you, what's gonna happen is, we'll do it once, and then we're gonna do it again, and then we might do a close-up of you. And you might have to do it, like, eight or ten times - is that okay? He just stops everything, tells this little boy how it's gonna work, and then makes sure that he felt comfortable. It was amazing.
toofab: Now that there's all this talk about diversity in film - do you think you would be cast as Vasquez today?
Jenette: Hmm. No. I mean, people with Jewish last names are Latino, like my son is Pablo. Pablo Goldstein. He's Mexican-Jewish. So you don't want to stereotype what Hollywood thinks is Latino.
But there should be, obviously, roles available in a wide range of ethnicities, I think. You know, at the time, they were looking for an actress who was big and muscular, and they were wanting to cast a bodybuilder because they didn't think there were any actresses who had, you know, a physique that they wanted.
And so that was a big part of what they were looking for, and they were kind of shocked that there was a trained actress who actually had the physique.
You know what? I tell you the truth: I have never been cast, or given the opportunity to audition for a short, freckle-faced Jewish girl who is half-Russian and half-Moroccan and Brazilian. So, I don't think I would work very much if that's all I was able to read for.
toofab: And for you and your family, when they did see your transformation for the first time in the film, what was that like for them?
Jenette: My family? Oh, my God. Well, I think they were just glad that I had a paying job before I was thirty. They were very excited.
toofab: Now, have you watched any of the other sequels and prequels?
Jenette: You know, I haven't. I've only seen the first one and the second one. So, I haven't seen Three and Four or "Prometheus," still.
toofab: I think fans would be surprised to hear what you're up to now -- you have your own bra boutique!
Jenette: I do! I have actually three stores in Los Angeles called Jenette Bras.
toofab: How did that come about?
Jenette: You know, seven years ago, I could not find a bra that fit me that was beautiful, and a nice place to go shop for women who are above a D-cup, and so I just started my own store. Kind of crazy, it just took off, and it's great. It's very creative, and it's very surprising.
toofab: The fashion world, in general, is starting to realize that this is a whole market that people are just ignoring.
Jenette: Yeah, absolutely. There's definitely a market that was ignored. I know that I wanted to buy something that was worth spending your money and go to a place where people are telling you the truth and have some pride in what they're doing. And great, customer service. It's sort of the old way of doing business.