Vanessa Angel, Vanessa Marcil, Vanessa Williams, and Vanessa Redgrave coincidentally make their mark

By Robin J. Schwartz
Updated June 21, 1996 at 04:00 AM EDT

Four beautiful women. Four beautiful women named Vanessa. Four beautiful women named Vanessa making their marks on four big summer movies. Simply happenstance? You be the judge.

Kingpin‘s Vanessa Angel Nicknames: Ness, Nessie, V. Age: 30. Credits: Computer-generated ”perfect ’90s woman” Lisa on the USA Network series Weird Science. Role: Claudia, a streetwise hustler who heats up Woody Harrelson’s bowling scams. What I Did for the Movie: ”If you look in my eyes you see the character’s compassion and vulnerability. She’s more than just ‘the babe.”’ What It Does for Me: ”This film made me realize how much I want to do roles where the beauty factor is very much a sideline.”

The Rock‘s Vanessa Marcil Nickname: Vern. Age: 26. Credits: Model/record mogul Brenda Barrett on General Hospital. Role: Carla, Nicolas Cage’s girlfriend, who ain’t gonna let nothin’ keep her from her man. What I Did for the Movie: ”I [play] what the girl tends to play a lot — the feeling of the film — because the men are all off being strong.” What It Does for Me: ”This was my first film. I would’ve sat and watched even if I wasn’t in it, just to learn.”

Eraser‘s Vanessa Williams Nicknames: Ness, V. Age: 33. Credits: Miss America; multi-Grammy nominee; title role in Broadway’s Kiss of the Spider Woman. Role: Lee, a principled exec whose act of courage means giving up everything she’s ever loved. What I Did for the Movie: ”Realistically, I got the film because [Arnold Schwarzenegger’s wife] Maria Shriver wanted me. I was a safe, married mother of three for Arnold to deal with for six months.” What It Does for Me: ”I knew this wasn’t going to be a great acting showcase, but it allowed me to carve out a character with a few very strong traits and make her believable.”

Mission: Impossible‘s Vanessa Redgrave Nickname: V. Age: 59. Credits: Three decades of daring choices, from Isadora to Julia to The House of the Spirits. Role: Flirtatious arms dealer Max. What I Did for the Movie: ”Well, I can’t say that, obviously. That’s for other people to judge.” What It Does for Me: ”I never do anything because of what it might do for me.”