The wisecracking team of Marines is probably the best thing about James Cameron’s Alien sequel from 1986 and one of the best things about that team is Private First Class Jenette “El Riesgo Siempre Vive” Vasquez.

Sure, Hicks seems like the ne plus ultra of the gang, but even he and Hudson, are both completely dominated by Vasquez. Game over, man! She’s an undeniable force: quick-tempered, loyal unto death, fearless, completely self-possessed. Even Ripley seems soft in comparison.

Vasquez was portrayed by Jenette Goldstein, who at the time had been unemployed in Britain, bodybuilding to kill time. But decided to try out to read for Aliens but figured it would be a little rom-com about an American who marries a Brit to get a resident card. After multiple readings in which James Cameron got down on the floor with her to improv military scenes — she got the job.

For those who are not familiar with a Steadicam rig, it is a system that was developed in the 70s to support and stabilize film cameras used in Hollywood. It was put front and center in James Cameron’s Aliens. The Colonial Marines M56 Smartgun was a modified MG42 mounted onto a Steadicam third arm. 'Dressing' on the MG42 was constructed from various motorcycle parts, most notably the handlebars from a 1976 Husqvarna ("Husky") Magura 360 used for the linkage to the weapon's actual trigger (actually a brake lever mounted in a clutch perch) and grips, a 1981 Kawasaki KZ750 control panel used for the front controls, and the footpegs from a Kawasaki AR-125 used to decorate the barrel shroud. The weapon is paired with a special sighting system worn on the operator's head. This was inspired by the FLIR eyepieces mounted on the helmets of US AH-64 Apache pilots.
Both PFC J. Vasquez (Jenette Goldstein), and Private M. Drake (Mark Rolston) use a heavy machine gun system designated the “M56 Smart Gun”

Vasquez is the likable unlikable person we all wish we could be because she’s comfortable being herself. She’s loyal to her comrades and respected for it, and if you give these traits to any character, she might connect with an audience long-term.


Private Jenette Vasquez in Aliens (1986)




Character Memorability





  • Gravity
  • Personality
  • Iconic