Exclusive! Vanessa Marcil-Giovinazzo: “I Turned Down Playboy Four Times”
The former Beverly Hills, 90210 actress dishes on returning to General Hospital, crushing on Jon Stewart and posing for Maxim.
BY BROOKE SAGER
Back in 1992, the gorgeous actress landed her leading role as Brenda Barrett on General Hospital. However, her busy schedule caused her to take a break from the Soap. After a six-year hiatus the daytime beauty missed the show too much. “Brenda is my favorite character [that I’ve ever played,]” Vanessa tells BettyConfidential.
We caught up with the three-time Daytime Emmy Award winner to see what’s she’s been up to these days.
What is difficult to leave General Hospital after six years?
Yes, it really was. It’s funny because I started on the show as a kid going to the prom. For my first job after I left, I did a Steven Spielberg movie called High Incident. It was so hard to leave [General Hospital] but I was trying to do it all at the same time. I kind of had to step away for a second. It’s been 18 years since I first started. I came back once for six months. They have been incredible about always leaving the window open for me to come and visit. I’m bicoastal but we always try to make it work when I can.
How has your character, Brenda Barrett, evolved since you’ve returned?
I don’t think she’s evolved much. But that’s what makes her interesting and fun to play.
How are you like her in real life?
Actually, I’m not like Brenda in any way. But that’s why it’s really fun to get into character and play her.
What’s it like hosting and judging on Lifetime’s Blush: The Search For The Next Great Makeup Artist?
That was a fun little thing. I had a friend who was involved with it, so as a favor I went to help out. Who I work with means the most to me. I like people who are grateful and funny. I like to have a good time at work.
You’ve had experience doing soap operas, movies and reality TV. What do you like best?
I grew up in theater. For me, it’s all about the characters I play. Nighttime shows can have about four pages of dialogue to read a day. But a daytime show can be up to 80 pages a day. I have a lot of respect for daytime actors.
You played Gina Kincaid in the original Beverly Hills, 90210. How do you feel about the modern remake, 90210?
I haven’t seen it, but I guess it’s pretty popular. My family and I spend most of our time when we’re not working on a farm upstate, and we don’t have a TV there.
You had a role in the 1996 film The Rock. How was it working with Nicolas Cage?
Incredible. I’ve discovered that the bigger star, the more humble they are. Nicolas Cage is no exception.
You’ve been featured in men’s magazines such as Stuff, FHM and Maxim. Why did you turn down the cover and layout in Playboy?
I was only on the cover of one men’s magazine. I turned down Playboy four times. I finally did the cover of Maxim because I had just had my son. Before that, I felt to take the overly sexual card was the easiest thing to do. But once I had my son, I hadn’t worked out and gained a lot of weight. It’s a beautiful thing. It was the time I felt the sexiest, but there was a reason to show off my body. Normally, I think it’s more interesting to show how smart, funny and talented we are.
The Biggest Loser trainer Jillian Michaels is your son’s godmother—is that how you stay in shape?
No. We have so many other things to talk about that we rarely talk about work. She inspires me by how much she helps people. She genuinely stays in contact with her contestants, and cares about both their mental and physical heath.
Who is your celeb crush?
How did you get involved with Sojourn Services for Battered Women?
Sojourn is a domestic violence shelter. I was introduced to it 15 years ago and I have stayed involved ever since. It’s really been incredible. We just recently designed a tank top with Guess that you can purchase at Guess.com or in stores. All profits from the tank go to shelter.
How do you manage to juggle your work schedule and family life?
Not very well, it’s always a struggle. That’s the main reason I got involved with Oral-B Glide’s holiday project. My son doesn’t like to floss, and I felt really bad about it. Oral-B Glide Floss changed everything. The floss is thick and smooth and glides easily. Also, if you make a pledge on Facebook or Glide.com, they give money to Operation Smile. It’s an organization that gives free surgeries to young children with cleft lip, cleft palate and other facial deformities.
What’s up next for you?
My son and I wrote an animated show called GaGoo & the Land of Choices. The show is about boys becoming comfortable with their emotions and feeling safe to express themselves. It will be out next year.