When James Cameron put out a casting call for American actors in London for his production of Aliens, he got a jewel of an actress by the name of Jenette Goldstein, who jokingly auditioned for the part of tough Latino Marine, Vasquez. She not only stole many scenes in the sci-fi epic, but Cameron’s heart as well, ending up in two more of his gargantuan box office smashes, although audiences may have not recognized her. She’s gained a reputation as being a chameleon.
Everyone remembers her roles, especially Vasquez. Perhaps the funniest moment in Aliens is when Bill Paxton’s Hudson asks her (as she’s flexing some mad pull-ups) if she’s ever been mistaken for a man. Without missing a beat, she retorts, “No, have you?” That was her breakout performance, after studying acting in Los Angeles and competing alongside peers like Val Kilmer and Kevin Spacey.
She then went on to an eclectic film career, playing John Connor’s foster mother in Terminator 2: Judgement Day. “Wolfie’s fine, honey. Where are you?” Also of note is her role in Star Trek: Generations, and an overlooked addition to my post about 3 actors in 2 movies. Jenette, Bill Paxton, and Lance Henriksen were all in both Aliens and Near Dark.
The role of the Irish mother in Cameron’s Titanic is probably the most chameleon-like of her performances. A master of dialects and physically altering her persona, Goldstein really shines in this small, yet powerful role. Personally, I was totally unaware that the actress playing this character was the same woman who wielded one of the biggest guns in cinematic history while screaming “Let’s rock!” and killing voracious aliens.
She also went to the same high school as some of our favorite stars, like Angelina Jolie, Nicholas Cage, and Richard Dreyfuss. I think it’s telling that in the credits for Aliens, her character is actually named Jenette Vasquez. Hats (and bandannas) off, Ms. Goldstein; we really really like you!