Aliens: Jenette Goldstein plays Vasquez: Character Backgrounds


a) Personalising the uniform

The director, Jim Cameron prepared a background dossier on each character, and the actors personalized their uniforms in the spirit of their characters. 
Jenette Goldstein's ideas about Vazquez were three dimensional. 
She wanted to create a real human being.

Goldstein, appropriately, scribbled the phrase "Adios" on her gun, signifying the last word someone who crossed her would hear.  
On the back of her shirt, it said simply, "Loco". 
On her breastplate, a line from a poem by a female poet from a book of Chicano poetry "El Riesgo Siempre Vive" about ganglife in Lo Barrio which meant, "The risk always lives"

That's one reason why Vazquez, to the delight of feminists everywhere, was frequently told to "take point" - the most dangerous position on the patrol. 
  1. Interviewer:  And what was some of the graffiti that you put on the armour. You had a poem  
    Jenette Goldstein : Oh yeah, a line from a poem  
    Interviewer:  A line from a poem right  
    Jenette Goldstein : Yeah, it was a little line from, it was a Chic, a book of Chicana poetry and I can't remember her name, she was a poet, and one of the poems, it talked, that was the title of the poem was "El Riesgo Siempre Vive"  
    Interviewer:  Aha and that
    Jenette Goldstein: That means "The Risk is Always There," is always, the risk never dies, you know, the risk is always there. And it was about ganglife and you know, life in Lo Barrio, and I thought that was really interesting and so, that was part of my research

    Interviewer:  Erm,  I think that translates pretty well watching an a... I feel like my eyes go to you every time you're on screen and you have this amazing gun and you have this amazing character, you're body armour is decorated with interesting graffiti, can you talk a little bit about that as well
    Jenette Goldstein: Oh, ah, yeah, that was great um. James Cameron. He was really specific that we should come up with all kind of find our characters and then you know personalise our costumes and because it's really bad as soon as you show up on set and you got this whole idea of your character and then the art department has decided everything else for you
    Interviewer:  right right
    Jenette Goldstein: and it was completely the opposite. We got to put things on our uniforms , our gun, even our lockers were our lockers, so all the, the pictures that are in there and we brought them
    Interviewer:  ahah 
    Jenette Goldstein: so, it was great.
      ("I was there too" podcast, 17th March 2015)  
Goldstein, appropriately, scribbled the phrase "Adios" on her gun, signifying the last word someone who crossed her would hear. On the back of her shirt, it said simply, "Loco." That's one reason why Vasquez, to the delight of feminists everywhere, was frequently told to "take point"—the most dangerous position on the patrol: "It was just logical," the actress says. "Who would you want to take point? The craziest person, the one who doesn't care about dying, because who else would do something like that?   (Copied from #115)
Vasquez and Drake
b.i) Character background
Her character was the craziest person who didn't care about dying, and so who else would be asked to be 
in her position. 
It was never mentioned in the actual film, in the script 
But her character's story starts as being a gang member and in these gangs the members are referred to as "soldiers", there were the parallels to the army in what the gang offered its members

However she is convicted of murder and is put in juvenile prison for life
Then she is recruited by the Colonial Marines and released from the prison, there would be no way out either way. 
b.ii) Nothing to lose
Jenette didn't want Vazquez to be a cartoon and she talked to Jim Cameron about this. 
All she saw at the time in other movies was faux bravery. 
Why she did these things is because she had nothing to lose. 
That is why, when she realizes that she's going to die, it's her choice at the end. 
So she focused on what was important to her as a person in this situation, because there is no such thing as a superhero.
b.iii) Vasquez and Drake pair up
So, Vazquez and Drake would be different from the others who were there on a time limit. 
Drake was also released from a juvenile prison and  recruited as conscripts
The character Hudson was supposed to get out of the marines in four weeks, which is what made his character flip. 
On the back of Hudson's vest, tailored by actor Bill Paxton, it read, "Contents under pressure.  Do not puncture."  
Vazquez and Hudson are paired together throughout the film as each other's foil. 
He would say everything whether it's important or not to, and she would say absolutely nothing unless it was important and that was Vazquez' attitude: she had no one or nothing, so she was the logical choice for point.  
It made perfect sense to the commander.  
b.iv) Seeing a task through to the bitter end
Once she was tasked with a mission, she was going to see it through to the bitter end. 
She thought the would have liked to have made it to another sequel but she always seem to die in the end whatever what movie she was in. 
But there’s a respect that the character earns for Ripley that she wouldn’t otherwise have, and also for her commander – Lieutenant Gorman played by William Hope. 
  1. Interviewer: I also read that there was a background on yours and Drake's character who was the other smart gunner, right you you're pal until he gets made short work of and er
    Jenette Goldstein: Sorry  
    Interviewer: I know, sorry, Drake
    Jenette Goldstein: Sorry Mark, yeah  
    Interviewer So you guys were basically in a juvenile prison and you were were recruited
    Jenette Goldstein: Absolutely  
    Interviewer: So you weren't just regular kind of volunteers or draughties, you guys had er not not much to lose to go out and fight some more, so
    Jenette Goldstein:Yeah, exactly, I mean, that was the great description and context for both of our characters that we were conscripts out of juvenile prison , serving a life sentence for murder
    Interviewer:  aha  
    Jenette Goldstein: and I  
    Interviewer:  murder, i didn't know that
    Jenette Goldstein: well that, why else would you be sitting, I mean, it's the future but I assumed she was a gang, and she was obviously er, you know involved, in you er, some sort of murder, and so it was like either spend your time behind bars or spend your time , you know, with the marines
    Interviewer:  ahah
    Jenette Goldstein: so she had nothing, you know, they had nothing to lose, which when you have nothing to lose, you become  
    Interviewer: the most badass character in the world  
    Jenette Goldstein: : good, yuh yuh  ("I was there too" podcast, 17th March 2015)  
  2. BirthMoviesDeath:  You bring up Vasquez’s sacrifice, which is interesting. Because without her death, the final segment of Ripley’s character arc can’t exist. Was that also one of the beats you were drawn to?
    Jenette Goldstein:
    It’s a really amazing arc that Vasquez goes through, and it stays so consistent. She was a gang member before juvenile prison. In these gangs, they’re even referred to as “soldiers”. And once she was tasked with a mission, she was going to see it through to the bitter end. [Laughs] You know I wish I could’ve made it to another sequel, but I always seem to die in the end no matter what movie I’m in.
    But there’s a respect she earns for Ripley that she wouldn’t otherwise have, and also for her commander – Lieutenant Gorman
    (William Hope).

    BirthMoviesDeath:  And that’s one of the best moments in the entire movie! “You were always an asshole, Gorman!” But it’s also – to your point – incredibly touching and human even in that intense moment.
    Jenette Goldstein: [Laughs] Well thanks.  

Inside Vasquez's locker

c) Inside Vasquez' locker
c.i) Sandanista Girl
In Vasquez locker, Goldstein tapes a a picture of a very young girl was a Sandinista girl with her hair cut very short. She has her cross in her mouth. She found in in a magazine.
photograph of Sandanista girl with rifle in Vasquez' locker
(image assembled together from glimpses in film)

c.ii) Carney Sideshow Worker at Rocky Ford Colorado
She also displayed a photograph from a book of photos by Richard Avedon, of a carnival sideshow worker at Rocky Ford Colorado, who represented Vaszquez' brother
Carney Sideshow Worker at Rocky Ford Colorado 
by Richard Avedon,  imagined by Jenette Goldstein 
to be Vasquez' brother

  1. Interviewer: what was in your locker, what were the decorations, do you remember? 
    Jenette Goldstein: yeah, I absolutely do, I absolutely do, I have this um, there's a picture of of a really young girl who was Sandinista and er, her hair is cut really short and she has her cross like in her mouth, and she's sitting there. I don't know where, i found found it in a magazine, and then I have this great picture erm, from the Richard Avedon book, and its erm, he's this carney guy, it's like he's got this snake like kind of erm, to me, that was my brother
    Interviewer: Woah
    Jenette Goldstein: It was this wonderful incredible photo, and so I had both of those up in there 
    Interviewer: I'm going to have to try and track that
    Jenette Goldstein: Yeah, it's that one, it's that kind of scene where they're loading up and they're all closing their lockers. I'm not sure, you can see it in a still, there's a still of me,  and you can see the locker, I'm not,  you know
    Interviewer: Okay
    Jenette Goldstein: Obviously somebody got it from a screengrab ("I was there too" podcast, 17th March 2015)

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