What the Hell Happened to Linda Fiorentino?

The Rainbow Room

Linda Fiorentino

Linda Fiorentino was a rising star and a major sex symbol in the mid-nineties.  She scored critical acclaim with her role as a femme fatale in the neo noir film, The Last Seduction.  And then she achieved mainstream success in the sci-fi comedy blockbuster, Men in Black.  A few short years later amid rumors of difficult behavior, Fiorentino’s career had cooled to the point where she essentially retired.

What the hell happened?

Let’s get this out of the way up front.  This one is a bit frustrating.  Fiorentino is one of those actresses who has a reputation for being difficult.  Difficult actors and actresses typically make for the best articles filled with stories about on-set temper tantrums and outrageous demands.  These are the articles that are the most fun to write.  They keep readers coming back for more.  In short, I love out of control actors like Stephen Seagal loves cake.

Unfortunately, despite Fiorentino’s reputation, there really aren’t a lot of stories out there to back it up.  Only one person has ever really gone on record to claim that Fiorentino was a pain in the ass to work with.  And that person was Kevin Smith.  Over the years, Smith has transitioned from a promising film maker into a public speaker who is better known for his feuds than his movies.  If Kevin Smith has talked shit about you, you’re in good company.  It’s hardly an exclusive club.

So while I will entertain the theory that Fiorentino’s promising career was undone by her difficult behavior, I don’t have a lot of hard evidence to back it up.  The truth of the matter is that Fiorentino’s career remains a bit of an unsolved mystery.  Most of the internet has latched on to the “difficult” explanation because it’s what we all want to believe and there isn’t a lot out there to contradict it.

With that out of the way, let’s go back to the beginning.  Fiorentino was part of a large Catholic family.  She was born in Philly and raised in New Jersey.  Fiorentino admitted that she was “trouble” in high school where she was banned from senior prom for smoking in school.  After high school, she got her BA in political science.  She contemplated law school but decided to pursue acting instead.  While she struggled with landing her first role, she was a bartender opposite a then-unknown Bruce Willis.


Linda Fiorentino – Vision Quest – 1985

Fiorentino got her big break in 1985 opposite Matthew Modine in the coming-of-age drama, Vision Quest.

Modine played a high school wrestler who decides to drop two weight classes in order to challenge an undefeated opponent.  His coach and teammates oppose the idea due to the potential health risks of his radical weight loss routine.  Fiorentino plays an older woman who rents a room in his house.  Naturally, Modine’s character falls for her and their relationship proves a distraction from his wrestling goals.

Vision Quest also featured Madonna in her big screen debut.  She tested the limits of her acting skills by playing a singer who performs the song Crazy for You at a bar.  As Madonna was a rising star at the time, her performance was heavily marketed.  In some countries, Vision Quest was renamed Crazy For You.  Modine has commented that the title Vision Quest was probably more appropriate for a science fiction movie than a coming-of-age story about a romantic wrestler.

Vision Quest was produced by team of Jon Peters and Peter Guber who had a great deal of success two years prior with Flashdance.  Vision Quest was clearly intended to duplicate the success of that film.  While it did not enjoy the break-out success of Flashdance, Vision Quest was a modest success with critics and audiences.  It has developed a cult following among fans of amateur wrestling.

fiorentino - gotcha

Linda Fiorentino – Gotcha – 1985

Just a few months later, Fiorentino starred opposite Anthony Edwards in the action-comedy, Gotcha.

Edwards played a college student who plays an assassination game with paintball guns.  He and his roommate travel to Europe for vacation where Edwards meets a Czechoslovakian spy played by Fiorentino.  They become romantically involved which leads Edwards into a complicated espionage plot.

Reviews were mostly negative and the movie was not a hit at the box office.  But like Vision Quest, it has developed a cult following on cable.  It even inspired a toy line and a video game.

fiorentino - after hours

Linda Fiorentino – After Hours – 1985

Starring in two movies would be a big debut year for any actress.  But Fiorentino wasn’t done yet.  Later that year, she had a small but memorable supporting role in Martin Scorsese’s dark comedy, After Hours.

After Hours starred Griffin Dunne as a meek word processor who meets a girl played by Rosanna Arquette in a coffee shop.  Later that night, Dunne decides to pay Arquette a visit in her Soho apartment where he meets her roommate played by Fiorentino, a sculptress who makes paperweights that resemble bagels.  From there, Dunne goes on a series of late night misadventures.  Spoiler warning, the following trailer gives away an important plot point:

Fiorentino’s role is a small one.  As such, she barely appears in the trailer.  Here is a clip of Fiorentino and Dunne:

After Hours was at least partially based on a monologue that appeared on the radio show, NPR Playhouse.  Plot points and even some dialogue are lifted directly from Joe Frank’s 1982 monologue “Lies”.  Frank later sued the film’s producers and received a large cash settlement.

Originally, Scorsese was unavailable to direct After Hours.  Tim Burton was the producer’s second choice.  However, Burton stepped aside when Scorsese became available due to production delays on The Last Temptation of Christ.  At the time, Scorsese was at a career crossroads.  In the 70s, Scorsese had made a name for himself with gritty dramas like Mean Streets and Taxi Driver.  In the 80s, the director struggled with big budget disappointments like New York, New York, The Last Waltz and The King of Comedy.  (The critically revered Raging Bull helped keep Scorsese relevant).

Scorsese said he observed that Hollywood movies were becoming increasingly commercial.  So he sought to reinvent himself with the edgy, low-budget comedy, After Hours.  He borrows heavily from the likes of Hitchcock and Kafka giving the movie a twitchy paranoia.  Despite mostly positive reviews, audiences didn’t know what to make of After Hours.  It is largely considered to be one of Scorsese’s most under-rated movies.

Next: The Moderns and Shout


Posted on January 4, 2014, in Movies, What the Hell Happened?, WTHH Actress and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 72 Comments.

  1. I sense echoes of Michael Keaton and Kim Basinger — they both did good work(s), then for one reason or another did not “follow-up” their triumphs with something equally good or better. Or, as you eloquently suggest above, even if Linda F WAS NOT indeed “difficult,” her career was likely to “cool off” anyway because she was in LOTS of mediocre and/or little-seen movies following her acclaimed turn in “Last Seduction.”. (Btw, I thought “Acting On Impulse” was lots of fun!)

    So, I guess she’s “retired” from the movie biz..?


    • I wouldn’t be overly surprised to see her reappear at some point in the future. She was working on a screenplay in 2008. And she made her first movie in seven years in 2009. She still looks good but you have to use that dreaded clause “for her age”. She’s not going to be playing the traditional femme fatale roles any more. But I could see her working more as she gets older. Sort of like Debra Winger.


  2. Maybe it’s a different sort of Hollywood double standard that has affected her career. So many bad movies… and so many roles just this side of porn..this probably contributed to her not exactly becoming a household name despite working as much as she did, and despite being so attractive…..there are probably too many other gorgeous actresses that could be called for more mainstream fare.


    • re: RB: I’m not disagreeing with you…as with Keaton and Basinger, when an actor stars in SEVERAL bad/bomb/direct-to-DVD-mediocrities, they become “identified” with same. Look at how DeNiro practically ruined his rep/virtual legend-hood with SO MANY crap/paycheck roles! At one time — oh, maybe 15 years ago — if DeNiro starred in a movie, many cinema-hounds would make a mental note to either see it or at least look into it…then he started appearing in SO many turkeys that many (or at least some) of his fans concluded if DeNiro is starring in it, it MUST be a turd…Nic Cage too, if the check clears, he’ll star in it. To be fair, DeNiro ihas been doing some good work again: “Silver Linings Playbook” and “Being Flynn,” to name two.


    • In the 90’s, the “erotic thriller” was a pretty hot genre. It made Sharon Stone a star. But plenty of other actresses tapped into it to a lesser extent. Fiorentino came along as Stone was pulling away from the genre in a bid to be taken seriously as an actress. It was the perfect time for her to stake her claim as the new femme fatale.

      If Jade were a better movie and if David Caruso hadn’t poisoned his fan base against him, I think Fiorentino might have had a very different career. Jade should have made her a household name and made Caruso a movie star. At least that was the expectation going in. Caruso should have kept his day job just in case that didn’t pan out.

      Fiorentino’s other big claim to fame was Men in Black. But the movie was called MEN in Black. Her character was largely incidental. Even if the cast and crew loved her, she wasn’t going to have more than a bit part in a sequel. It’s a shame she wasn’t able to capitalize on the success of MIB, but it’s hardly surprising.

      I think Fiorentino faced the same double standard as any other actress in Hollywood. Her Beyond the Law co-star, Charlie Sheen, continues getting chances to reinvent himself no matter how big he screws up. But she pisses off Kevin Smith and ages (gracefully) and it’s bye bye career.


      • re: Her Beyond the Law co-star, Charlie Sheen, continues getting chances to reinvent himself no matter how big he screws up.

        YEAH, how ABOUT that? As a friend of mine once told me: “All the world loves an S.O.B.” (Note how Wall Street conman/scumbag Jordan Belfort did less than 3 years in jail and now he is a “motivational speaker” — and if you check out the comment/message-boards at the movie’s IMDB page, you’ll find a few “Well, gosh, Belfort wasn’t SUCH a bad guy, really”-type posts!)


    • When did she have a movie role, muchless so many movie roles, “just this side of porn?” In your first sentence you said she may be a victim of a Hollywood double standard, then you stereotyped her with a double standard of your own choosing. Do you see that?


  3. I don’t know for sure if this is really Linda Fiorentino’s Twitter account (since it isn’t verified as of now), but I really would like to know her “side of the story” (for why her career died down and of course what really happened between her and Kevin Smith) like many others:

    Liked by 1 person

    • She has a website, but it doesn’t appear to have any content beyond an way to e-mail her. I’d be surprised if she would go on the record with anything at this point.


  4. “Over the years, Smith has transitioned from a promising film maker into a public speaker who is better known for his feuds than his movies.”
    Smith has also become known for being George Lucas’s main a$$-kisser, as his lame defense of the Star Wars prequels show.


  5. Oh, yeah! He actually thinks Revenge of the Sith is as great a tragedy as “Othello.” That is funnier than most of his films.


  6. Charlie Sheen (incidentally that was funny Lebeau) can you imagine his WTHH? Lebeau would have to quit his job, and it would be “WTHH to Charlie Sheen… Parts 1-20”


    • I knew Sheen’s movie career tanked. But I forgot just how far he had fallen. He was fat Val Kilmer before there was a fat Val Kilmer. Somehow, he managed to pull himself together just enough to be enormously successful on TV while still being a national train wreck.

      I plan to write WTHH to Charlie Sheen in retirement. Hopefully he’s completely washed up by then.


      • The thing w/ Charlie Sheen is that he for all intents and purposes (and I’m assuming Sheen himself is pretty aware of this), has become a caricature of himself. It isn’t like for example, his character on “Two and a Half Men” was that far removed from the real Charlie Sheen. It’s funny that three cast members of “Major League” (Tom Berenger, Rene Russo, and Wesley Snipes”) as thus far, gotten a WTHHT retrospect. It seems like that movie is giving the 1989-1997 Batman film series a “run for its money”.


      • Career killing decisions by celebrities:

        Someone like Charlie Sheen threw away his movie career with all his partying, drinking and snorting. He was on such a high after Wall Street, Platoon and Major League, and then starting making one bad movie after another. Hell, he even got to work with Clint Eastwood and it turned out to be one of Eastwood’s worst movies as a director.

        I guess you could say career-wise that Sheen made more money on Two and a Half Men then he ever could’ve in the movies, but the film career trajectory pretty much ended.

        Same goes for Nicolas Cage. When you’re making one turkey after another, the good scripts don’t come by as often.

        An exception to that seems to be Bruce Willis. He’s been making an awful lot of bad movies in the last several years where he sleepwalks through many them, but he’s still got drawing power. Maybe it’s because he’s pretty much in franchise mode at this point.


        • You’re right to an extent about Willis, though it’s obvious Willis’ starpower is fading real fast now. Even his gold-standard franchise, Die Hard, got severely damaged because the last one was just an awful turkey (and that comes from a guy who loves the earlier Die Hard films). He’s in show-up-for-the-paycheck-mode now, and everyone can see it. That doesn’t bode well for his future career.


        • Yeah. But Willis has proven his chops over the years. We can only hope he focuses more on that and less on the paycheck roles.


        • I have given up hope of that. Willis has been in paycheck mode for a long time. And it sounds like he’s getting worse as he ages.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Does anybody remember last year when Sly Stallone said of Willis that he is “GREEDY AND LAZY…….. A SURE FORMULA FOR CAREER FAILURE”? Word is he was offered 3 Million for 4 days of work on Expendables 3, but he demanded 4 Million instead. It looks like Willis was expendable after all….. It won’t be long before Willis earns his own WTTH story, right Lebeau?


        • I definitely remember. Willis had a bad year PR wise last year. Will it matter to his career? I don’t know. The guy seems unkillable. But everyone gets their day with WTHH. It’s just a matter of when.


  7. I recall seeing “The Last Seduction” in the theaters and being blown away by how awesome it was. I too was going through my “indie movies” phase then.

    It helped too that Fiorentino looked like a girl in my high school class then that I had a crush on.

    But looking at her career it’s obvious that “The Last Seduction” was a fluke in an otherwise unremarkable sub-par career.


    Incidentally, “After Hours” was great! It has a dreamy atmosphere.

    Plus it’s kind of wish fulfillment: What man stuck in a boring life hasn’t dream of one day going out at night in Manhattan and getting lost and having a crazy (but not lethal) adventure?


    • I won’t quite say that The Last Seduction was a fluke. I think Fiorentino was a great actress capable of giving great performances in great movies. The problem is she was usually under-served by the material. If the right script had come along, I think she had another Last Seduction in her. It just never came along.

      Man, the 90s were a great time for indie movies, weren’t they?

      I too like After Hours.


      • They Threw It Away – Self-Destruction and Acting Careers:,13556983,11

        Linda Fiorentino was incredibly over-praised by the critics, who were clueless about the emerging power of cable tv in 1994. Since her that one major film played on cable first (The Last Seduction – HBO) and was therefore unable to be nominated for an Oscar, they endlessly prattled on about her being denied a Best Actress nomination. She of course was, at best, a one-note actress, who by all accounts was quite the bitch.

        by: Anonymous reply 216 01/08/2014 @ 12:02AM


        • INTERESTING entry, Mr. Clay! The above EXPLAINS PERFECTLY why she’s not been in nearly anything since ’07!

          In the world of music, Ms. Linda F would be termed a “one-hit wonder” — one sizable/indie hit film with PLENTY of acclaim (I recall an Esquire article about her!) but she never came close to repeating it. She done lotsa mediocre movies, though…


        • This is what I don’t get. “By all accounts?” Other than Kevin Smith, I haven’t read ANY accounts of her being a bitch. There’s some rumors, but nothing substantial. I’m not saying it’s not true. But there really are very few on-record accounts of Fiorentino being difficult. If anyone knows of any, please point them out. I will update the article if there is anything more substantial than “everyone says she was a bitch”.


        • Excuse me? Evidently you didn’t hear all the horror stories surrounding Fiorentino; because she hit her peak before the internet really came around (and also because the studios were foolish enough to assume that she was a ‘big star’) – she was ‘protected’ by the media – the problem is that Fiorentino would not only tick off all the ‘small fry’ but he’d go out of her way to upset the director and her co-stars, some of whom were bigger than her!

          Heck, I even read an article in Empire magazine (dated 1994) where the interviewer brought up the subject of her being ‘difficult’ – they’ll NEVER do that unless you have an extremely BAD rep. By all accounts, she’s rude to the staff, borrows money she doesn’t pay back, won’t show up for work, shows up for work drunk, orders food which she afterwards will claim she didn’t ask for, will smoke when the sets are non-smoking, will blow smoke in an actors face just to rile him up, will insult the scriptwriters’ work, won’t do press junkets and if she agrees to publicize the movie, will demand more money at the last minute or won’t show up at all. The reason why she couldn’t come back for MIB II is because Tommy Lee Jones REFUSED to put himself through the torture of working with her again.

          P.S. Read you talkin’ a lot of cr*p about Sheen. While Charlie may be an uncontrollable drug fiend, but he by all accounts, always shows up on time at the set, greets everyone on set with a friendly ‘hello’ and a handshake, will hit his lines PERFECTLY and do press and publicity. His drug use never gets in the way of his work (The Rookie shoot with Eastwood was an exception – he was experimenting with too much crap all at the same time which affected his ability to function normally).

          P.S. Remember all those roles Linda did where she excelled at playing cold-hearted b*tches? Wonder why she was so convinving? She wasn’t acting …..


        • I have yet to read anyone but Smith actually accuse her of being difficult. Not saying she wasn’t. But if she was as horrible as you say, surely someone would come out and say so in all the intervening years. Fiorentino hasn’t been a star in a long time. You would think someone would have enough of an axe to grind to actually go on record and say something negative about her. If the best proof you have is an interviewer for Empire Magazine asking her about rumors that she is difficult, well, that’s not much proof of anything at all.

          I do tend to subscribe to the “where there’s smoke there’s fire” philosophy. I’m sure Fiorentino must have done SOMETHING to earn that reputation. She clearly wasn’t everyone’s best friend. But I can make a pretty long list of people that rubbed Tommy Lee Jones the wrong way and some of them are sweethearts.

          PS. If you’re going to go around the internet chastising everyone who makes a joke or two about Mr. Tiger’s Blood, you’re going to be a very busy man. Good luck with that.


        • Sorry, but if you think playing a character you have a lot in common with doesn’t count as acting, then you don’t know much about acting. Or maybe you’re just falling into a bad argument because you’re worked up. It’s called “personality acting” and it is what most actors do most of the time.


  8. Actors who briefly looked like they were gonna be the next big thing…

    She quickly earned a rep for being spectacularly difficult to work with – so much so that despite being built up in Men in Black, several key players on both sides of the camera were unwilling to make the sequel if she was involved. She couldn’t even get on with Paul Newman on Where the Money Is, not exactly an actor with a reputation for being difficult to work with. Things got so bad that she refused to turn up for the first day of shooting of one indie biopic of Georgia O’Keefe and then sued the producers for breach of contract when they replaced her and refused to pay her the rest of her salary (they’d already paid her $600,000). At the same time, she also didn’t turn up for the start of shooting of a TV pilot (Hudson’s Law) and got replaced. When you won’t even turn up to work after cashing the advance, no-one’s going to risk hiring you.


  9. Let bid Linda a happy 56th today!!!!


  10. Well, unfortunately she did not age well. Hollywood is a bit of an evil monster. She went from a budding star who was a P.I.T.A. to a character actress with fading looks. Maybe she doesn’t need the money.


  11. I really miss her. There’s a plenty of serials nowadays and i’d like to see her starring in some of that serial(s).


  12. Being a fan of Fiorentino, I’ve done a little web digging into her career, and I have a few bits I can add. In regards to MIB II, I uncovered an interview done with Barry Sonnenfeld and he was directly asked why Fiorentino wasn’t in the sequel. Sonnenfeld said that while he loved the character, the movie had to have Jones and Smith as it’s leads. He felt that having Laurel Weaver around would turn her into a 3rd wheel (And this makes sense, as Fiorentino is the lead female role of the 1st film, but really doesn’t play an integral part in the film until the last act.

    He said he liked Fiorentino and her character a lot, and he knew if he brought her back for the sequel that he’d have to get rid of her or kill her off. He decided he didn’t want to do either, so he cast Patrick Warburton and created his role instead, and gave Laurel a clean and happy exit.

    It could all be smoke and mirrors but the comments and the way the sequel turned out really make sense. Like it or not, MIB II wouldn’t have pulled the same audiences if Jones hadn’t returned, so his explanation of Fiorentino not being in it does make sense. Fiorentino said in a Charlie Rose interview she would be happy to return for the MIB sequel so her comment of being unavailable strikes me as just an easy way to answer the question and drop the subject.

    Reading some of her IMDb quotes, and recalling a David Letterman interview, I just get a vibe that she doesn’t care about acting all that much. She joked with Letterman at the time that she’d taken time off from movies but returned after she ran up a huge credit card bill. Hollywood is fickle, and if you’re not into kissing arse, I’m guessing the offers dry up. So if you’re perceived as being uninterested in acting, who’s going to look for you?

    That being said, I do give her credit. I’ve seen nearly all her films at one time or another, and even in the crappiest of films (Kicked in the Head) I’ve never seen her give performance that didn’t appear to be her all. You an tell, especially in the slosh of Italian horror movies of the 70s invariably starring Henry Fonda or Joseph Cotten when an actor didn’t want to be there. I’ve never gotten that vibe from Fiorentino herself watching any of her films.

    I also applaud lebeau’s unbiased blog on Ms. Fiorentino, as there are countless rumors of her being difficult, with only Smith actually slamming her. Being a sometimes vocal fan, it’s nice to see someone do a genuine analysis of her career and examine her lack of superstardom on all levels. Her biggest success is undoubtedly MIB, and even then, it’s not about her, Laurel very much a supporting role when you get right down to it (Though her creepy seduction of Smith is just perfect, and the role is a perfect fit for her) and most of her other mainstream films did poorly at the box office. Hollywood, again, is fickle, and if you’re not turning out hits, you’re considered nowhere. So based on those factors, it’s most likely that she’s not a huge star because of her limited number of truly great films not because she’s difficult.

    I agree with another poster in that after “The Last Seduction”, her best role is the one in “Acting on Impulse”. She outacts C. Thomas Howell by a mile, and Susan Gittes is just a great character all around.


    • Thanks for the quotes from Sonnenfeld and for the kind words. I agree that Fiorentino hasn’t gotten a fair shake. The MIB rumor is a prime example. There are a lot of explanations as to why her characters wouldn’t be brought back for the sequel beyond “everyone hated her”. If she was disliked, you would never know it by the public comments of the main players.


  13. I know Linda and she’s never been difficult or acted like a bitch or pain in the ass that I know of. I’ve never even heard anyone else say any of those things in real life, only here and there on the internet.


  14. bruce willis does not have drawing power his last hit 07 die hard he had flops after that sin city 2 flopped latest last die hard movie flopped he is not really that big of a draw. Iam surprised he is not on the website. nic cage jim carrery eddie murphy robin williams (when he was alive any ways) john travolta all are bigger draws them him there movies gross more then him and all of there recent movies still do better then bruce yet how bruce is not in this list baffles me. bruce bar none had more flops then all of them too. He is like nicolas cage makes a bunch of films a year most of them flops. Difference is cage bad movies are still better then willis bad movies and cage has more range then bruce


  15. Nic Cage is a Coppola and Coppolas like spending money on the scale of a Renaissance prince. There’s a scene in the documentary about making “Apocalypse Now” where Francis Ford Coppola explains, “I want every moment of my life to be magnificent!”


    • The Coppola family is large and I don’t know much about most of its members. But the two most famous members of the family definitely know how to blow through the dough.


  16. Oh one of my biggest crushes growing up. I know that she didn’t like the movie business and she sabotaged her movie career, but I don’t think she cared a bit. And again, one of my biggest crushes during my teen years.


  17. Hey Lebeau I noticed you’re talking about Linda fiorentino and her movies. And I will have to say men in black and now Jade happen to be my two favorites. You should rate jade and every one of William friedkins films on a scale from 1-10. Jade and To live and die in LA are the two best Friedkin films with great car chases par to the French connection.


  18. I knew Linda in HS before she became a star. I didn’t know her well, or really personally at all, but I was in one of her classes. I’m gonna give anyone who visits this thread, if ever, a clue about Linda, Linda’s running the show with her life, and she makes no bones about it. She probably didn’t get the opportunities she wanted, had money, and said fuck it. Like in some of her roles, she was no, and probably still isn’t, a pushover. Kevin Smith probably got on her bad side. That isn’t the point with her career, the world is. The world of making movies. All of it probably wore her down, Roles that she was getting typecast for would piss me off too. How many sexed up whacked fatales would you want to be? She has a Philly accent and mannerism-the timing for tough city girls when her career was peaking didn’t work to get offers and things she wanted for herself-possible. She probably wanted more.Can’t blame her-but somehow she wasn’t Reese Witherspoon. Glad she’s not. She probably takes photos and hangs out. She was in her own world in HS. Tight knit Italian family. I knew her sister and brother vaguely as well.I just don’t think she played the game to be stay mainstream, started to age, wanted an easier independent life. And the years drift fast…


    • I always got a “screw it” vibe from her anyhow, so it makes sense that she lives life on her own terms. More people should; it would make them happier people.


  19. I LOVE “After Hours”; feels like a day in the life of me sometimes (without Terri Garr, so not really the same:-)


  20. Category: Hidden Treasures Created on Thursday, 11 December 2014 14:43 Written by George Rother

    This is going way back, but who remembers the assassination game that students used to play on college campuses? It was called “TAG” (as in the 1982 action-thriller TAG: The Assassination Game) the idea was for the players to perform mock “hits” using paintball guns. It’s this game that provided the basis for Gotcha!, a surprisingly entertaining blend of teen sex comedy and espionage thriller from the director of Revenge of the Nerds (1984). Nerds co-star Anthony Edwards plays Jonathan Moore, a virginal freshman at UCLA that gets more than he bargains for when he hooks up with a mysterious woman while on spring break in Paris, France. That the woman is played by the sexy Linda Fiorentino (The Last Seduction) makes it easy to understand why the naïve student falls under her spell so easily. I went to see Gotcha! at an advance sneak preview one Friday night in April ’85 and didn’t quite know what to make of it initially. The PG-13 rating had been in effect for less than year, but I already knew not to expect something along the lines of Porky’s or Private School.

    It took me a while to warm up to it, but once Edwards and Fiorentino got together, I started getting into it. Gotcha! isn’t without its flaws, but as far as 80s teen comedies go, it’s actually pretty good. I liked that Jeff Kanew and his writers introduced espionage into the plot. It turned what could have been a stale loss-of-virginity tale into something more original.

    Moore has absolutely no luck with the girls on campus. They have no problem turning him down for dates. One even admits that she’d rather do nothing on a Saturday night than go out with him. The only thing he has going for him is his skill in playing “Gotcha”. The guy is unbeatable. Of course, this will come in handy in the movie’s climax, but I suspect you already knew that. Moore goes to Paris with his best friend Manolo (Corri, A Nightmare on Elm Street), a studley type that pretends to be an international spy that needs a beautiful woman to accompany him back to his hotel. On one such occasion, Jonathan finds himself in a café where he spots Sasha Banicek (Fiorentino) sitting alone at a table. After a feeble attempt at picking her up, she approaches him and they get to talking. He finds out that she’s Czechoslovakian and she figures out that he’s horny. Long story short, he loses his virginity to her and falls in love. After spending a few days together, she tells him that she needs to go to East Berlin to pick up a package. Anybody who knows the situation in Germany in the mid-80s knows that this is a very bad idea. He goes with her and it’s not long before things go very wrong. She sends him a message that he needs to get out of East Berlin right away and he finds himself running for his life from Soviet agents.

    At this point, Gotcha! becomes a reasonably tense thriller as Jonathan tries to get past the checkpoint without being stopped by the guards or killed by the Russian bad guys. He doesn’t realize it, but he has the package that Sasha was supposed to bring to West Berlin. He eventually makes it across and back to the States, but his adventure in espionage doesn’t end there. The Russians follow him to L.A. and the CIA gets involved. Jonathan has no place to turn for help; his own parents believe that he’s on drugs and suggests checking into a clinic. Up until this point, Gotcha! works pretty well. Then Kanew makes a serious error in judgment by throwing in two scenes where Jonathan explains what’s going on to various characters. These scenes are entirely unnecessary as we the audience already knows what’s happening. Would it not have made more sense for Kanew to condense these scenes by having Jonathan saying something to the effect of “You’re not going to believe this, but …..” then cutting to a few moments later with the disbelieving listeners saying that they don’t believe it? I think it would have made for a tighter movie. There are a few decent chases scenes in the third act including a game of “Gotcha” on the UCLA campus involving the Russians and a tranquilizer gun in the movie’s climax. Edwards does a decent job in the lead, but he doesn’t have much in the way of screen presence. On the other hand, Fiorentino is awesome. Not only is she hot, she’s also intelligent. She has a surprise or two up her sleeve, but I’m not about to reveal anything. Honestly, I don’t think Gotcha! would have worked as well with some other actress in the role. I think it’s a fun movie. It’s funny, entertaining and even a little bit exciting. The soundtrack is quite good, the European locations are striking and it doesn’t fall back on too many clichés. It’s definitely dated, especially when it comes to the assassination game. You wouldn’t be able to play a game like that on any school campus these days without the whole damn SWAT team showing up with real guns drawn. I guess the 80s really were a more innocent time.


  21. You saying Linda Fiorentino is a call girl?


  22. Nostalgia Chick – Men in Black (1997)


  23. Informative article on Linda Fiorentino but the last two paragraphs turned to a different direction chronicling Scorsese’s career.


  24. Name Some Of The Worst Hollywood Collapses

    Linda Fiorentino. She had a good run for a while but it got to the point where anyone who worked with her would not work with her again. She turned out to be one of the most hated people in Hollywood. Her interview with Letterman is classic. It used to be up on YouTube but it gets yanked down as soon as it’s up. She truly was one of the great beauties.


    reply 76 Last Thursday at 3:08 PM


  25. Cinemadonna: Die Another Day (And Other Cameos)

    Cameos: It’s like acting, but not!


  26. Kenny Ritchie

    So to summerise, Watch:

    Vision Quest, After Hours, The Last Seduction, and Men in Black. Avoid any of her other movies. A real shame, because I really enjoyed Vision Quest, After Hours, and The Last Seduction, and really would have liked to see her in a lot more quality material.


    • Dogma is worth a look. It’s uneven, but it has its moments.

      One thing I have realized writing WTHH is that really good movies that stand the test of time are a rarity. Some of my subjects might have one or two in their entire career.


    • I agree with you on the films mentioned, and Lebeau mentioned “Dogma”, which I also like (definitely something different from the world of Kevin Smith).


  27. I am reminded of Linda Fiorentino’s quote regarding him. Asked what she considered “hell on earth” she replied: “Being stuck in a lift with Tommy Lee Jones… because he is very mean to women. I think he’s a genius actor – he is really smart – but I think he’s got a problem with women and I’ve seen him make women cry. I don’t think he’s nice.”


  28. It’s obvious what happened to her: Too many trips thru the McDonalds drive through.


  29. The reason is she rubbed too many people the wrong way, such as getting people fired, spreading rumours, starting internal conflicts and sleeping with everyone. She hurt so many people over the years that they decided to get her out of movie industry by financing her last movie and then killing promotion for the sole purpose of her never working again in the film industry. She tried comeback several times, before finally giving up. Looks like it worked.


    • Today’s Blind Items – She Ticked Off The Wrong People

      Do you want to know how you can go from an A list mostly movie actress who everyone calls the next big thing and has directors lining up to work with you and then have it all gone in an instant? And when I mean all gone, I mean it was all gone. There is no more working for her at all. No straight to on demand. No guest spot in television. She went from everything to nothing because she ticked off the wrong people. There was no one that was left unscathed. Our actress hit her box office peak in one of the biggest movies of all time. It was also the beginning of the end and she wasn’t invited back for the sequel. She was that toxic. She slept with directors and producers of both sexes and then she would talk bad about them to the next person she slept with. She was a pain to work with on every set she ever stepped foot on and was always late and usually half in the bag. She had really large weight fluctuations and whenever anyone would cross her about any of her issues she would pull out her phone and call one of the people she was sleeping with and threaten them if they didn’t do something about the person giving her grief. It was as if the entire world banded together to keep her out of any other movies and no one has ever gone back on it. There was one brief attempt by our actress to mount a comeback in a film about a half decade ago after a five year absence, but the movie was bought by a company specifically so it would never see the light of day.


    • In that regard, it’s pretty safe to say that Hollywood gave up on Linda Fiorentino (studio big wigs seem to get very particular regarding people whom they feel like they can’t trust and are likely going to cause them trouble) as opposed to say the other way around.


  30. Maybe the rumors of Linda Fiorentino being difficult is/was easier for the public to swallow due to some of the characters she played.


  31. Betting Smith couldn’t get Fiorentino into the sack and so trash talked her.


  32. Why did Linda Fiorentino have to destroy her acting career by being so difficult to work with?

    Mario Caiti, likes movies too much
    Answered 6m ago


    The article’s point – as much as I could read it; it’s pretty badly written, although earnest and sincere enough – seems to me that we can’t know she’s difficult to work with just because Kevin Smith and Tommy Lee Jones don’t like her. Other stars haven’t spoken out about her being a horror AFAIK.


    I seem to recall that she accused Kevin Smith (who got a huge career break from Harvey Weinstein back in the day) AND Barry Sonnenfeld of sexual harassment, e.g. the “casting couch” treatment. And then BAM! Career over.

    Or not…maybe just one of those coincidences that seem to have happened in Hollywood forever.

    Anyway, I miss her too and it would be awesome if she could come out of retirement, but I don’t see that happening.


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