Saturdays are a little quiet in Hollywood. All of your favourite celebrities are out and about doing those mundane chores, like buying nappies, or the weekly Tesco shop (do they have Tesco in Tinseltown?), or maybe even relaxing with a film of their choice. Anyway, because there won’t be as much movie news hitting THN over Saturday and Sunday, we’ve been coming up with a few features to share with you, and this is the first: Where Are They Now? The Forgotten Legends.
Have you ever sat down the boozer having a little chat amongst your mates when an obscure film from the 1980s or 1990s pops up, before this sentence rears its ugly head: “I wonder whatever happened to [insert name here]?” Well, each and every Saturday, we will feature one of these lost Hollywood icons and see what they are up to now. This week it’s…
Fiorentino’s film career began in the mid eighties, before she rocketed to stardom in the nineties. Women wanted to be her, and men sobbed discreetly (or violently in public in some cases) because they couldn’t be near her, or because she intimidated them; see THE LAST SEDUCTION (1994). However, she’s clearly opted out of the limelight recently, as she’s only appeared in one film in the last ten years. As such we aim to celebrate her by looking back on her career on the silver screen, but also to find out what she’s gone on to pursue since her departure.
After jumping in at the deep end in 1985 with starring roles in her first feature films, VISION QUEST and GOTCHA!, she went on to play a supporting role as quirky bagel-themed paperweight sculptor, Kiki Bridges, in Martin Scorsese’s comedy thriller, AFTER HOURS. This was arguably her breakthrough performance, although it wasn’t until her breathtaking turn in THE LAST SEDUCTION that she undoubtedly made an indelible mark. In it she portrays Bridget Gregory, a lusty femme fatale who uses her wiles to manipulate men for her own personal gain. Her immersive and bewitching ways worked flawlessly on her victims, audiences and critics alike, and earned her the Best Actress award from both the New York Film Critics Circle and the London Film Critics Circle.
A few films and years after the success of the independent film noir thriller, she answered Hollywood’s call, and showed the world her diversity by taking on a role strikingly dissimilar to Gregory. The character was of course, Dr Laurel Weaver, and the film, MEN IN BLACK (1997); she garnered the job when she beat director, Barry Sonnenfeld, in a game of poker. Weaver, a deputy medical examiner who deals with the MIB on a regular basis, is slightly odd (as you’d expect from someone who examines dead bodies for a living), self conscious, and academically intelligent, although she lacks the guile and guts of Bridget Gregory. Both are uniquely and specifically flawed characters (which are always preferable to one dimensional bores), who Fiorentino brings to life convincingly, despite their vast differences.
1999 saw her team up with Kevin Smith (CLERKS, MALLRATS), who was also exploring the dizzying heights of his career, for the epic religious satirical comedy, DOGMA. In this she fills the boots of reluctant hero Bethany, an abortion clinic worker, who is chosen to save humanity from the wretched ways of devilish angels, Bartleby (Ben Affleck) and Loki (Matt Damon). Despite Smith describing his on-set relationship with Fiorentino as difficult, even admitting he wished he’d cast Janeane Garofalo – who also appeared in the film – as Bethany, many feel she cemented the cast. The holier-than-thou (pun intended) demeanour she lent to the character worked extremely well in putting across her overall apathy, which provided some unforgettable moments of friction with many of the characters, especially Jay (Jason Mewes), who, is the undisputed king of misogyny.
After several more appearances over the next few years, in films including ORDINARY DECENT CRIMINAL (2000), WHAT PLANET ARE YOU FROM? (2000), and LIBERTY STANDS STILL (2002), Fiorentino took a seven year hiatus from the acting world. She returned briefly in 2009 for a supporting role in ONCE MORE WITH FEELING, but has since disappeared again from our screens.
From 2007 onwards she has been doing charity work for the elderly as well as researching and developing documentaries on a diverse range of subjects; from juvenile diabetes and autism, to discrimination against Italian Americans. There are only clues and snippets of information about her current work but nothing concrete, so it seems we can only speculate. We do know from her website that her second favourite art form (after film, of course) is photography, so maybe she is pursuing this in some respect.
Initially, we were slightly perturbed about not finding any solid record of her activities post 2010, but in retrospect we realised, much like Bridget Gregory, Fiorentino swept into the minds and hearts of audiences leaving her unmistakable mark, before moving on. She has been and is a talented enigma, so for that, and for the many engaging stories she has helped bring us over the years, we thank her and wish her all the best in her future endeavours.