THEN: In 1982, there was a young actress who inspired all sorts of fantasies for many a young man – yet thanks to some serious acting chops she had much more to offer than a pretty face. With the fantastic television movie THE EXECUTIONER’S SONG with Tommy Lee Jones, THE WORLD ACCORDING TO GARP and of course, PINK FLOYD’S THE WALL, Jenny Wright brought a smile – and more – to many. This vivacious and beautiful talent first gained my full attention as “Cushie,” Garp’s (Robin Williams in what is arguably one of his best performances) first sexual encounter. My, oh my, what an impression she left.
Ms. Wright wasn’t your typical starlet though. Besides this incredible vulnerability, she had an impressive amount of spunk. She was sexy but tough, charming but with a hint of a naughty streak. There wasn’t another actress quite like Jenny and in my humble opinion, there hasn’t been one since. While genre fans may not be too familiar with her work in such films as OUT OF BOUNDS (1986), THE CHOCOLATE WAR (1988), ST. ELMO’S FIRE (1985), THE WILD LIFE (1984), TWISTER (1989) or YOUNG GUNS II (1990) they will most certainly be familiar with her thanks to one of the most important genre films ever made – one that holds up today just as well as it did back in 1987.
In the Kathryn Bigelow (THE HURT LOCKER, ZERO DARK THIRTY) directed cult classic NEAR DARK – co-written by the great Eric Red and Bigelow – Wright showed the kind of star quality she had with her on-screen romance with Adrian Pasdar. She played a vampire in love with a mortal but don’t expect any of that touchy feely TWILIGHT garbage here, this was the real deal. This brutal tale of bloodsuckers featured an incredible cast including Bill Paxton, Lance Henriksen and genre favorite Tim Thomerson. Thankfully, the love story element worked perfectly thanks to Pasdar and Wright – who I might add offered more chemistry and spark than TWILIGHT’s faux romantic couple could even think of mustering up. Lucky for us, this talented actress didn’t stray too far from the genre in a handful of other releases including THE LAWNMOWER MAN in 1992 and a personal favorite of mine I, MADMAN in 1989. In this horror feature directed by Tibor Takács, Wright played a young woman obsessed with horror novels until one of the characters in her current favorite begins haunting her. The film also stars another genre favorite, Clayton Rohner and it sure is a whole lot of fun. Of course the effects are pretty awful and don’t hold up well, yet it is easy to root for such a charming and attractive leading lady.
For a time there was a real mystery about whatever happened to Jenny Wright. In fact, in the special features for the DVD version of NEAR DARK released in 2002, Pasdar talks about her and how he wishes she would get in contact with somebody. After all, on her IMDB page the last film she has listed is from 1998, a feature called ENCHANTED. For years it seemed many a fan began to worry and fret over what happened to this beloved genre star. While the reasons were unclear, the actress had disappeared from the limelight seemingly never to return again…
NOW: It would be fantastic to be able to say that Jenny Wright has decided to come back to work and return to Hollywood but that just doesn’t seem to be the case. However, I’m happy to say that she is alive and (presumably) well and even appears to be giving her fans a little love by showing up to a slew of horror conventions. In fact, in 2009 we had even reported (from a story originally posted on ShockTillYouDrop) that she was stepping back in-front of the camera in a new Indie flick called MURDER FOR DUMMYS. Yet there doesn’t seem to be much currently happening with that particular film. When this talented actress left Hollywood behind, many of her old school fans – me included – felt the loss. While I’d love to see her back in front of the camera, I’m just thrilled to see that she is reaching out to all of us and celebrating her fantastic work in a number of great flicks! For those of you who are making their way out to the next horror convention and you happen to see Ms. Wright, please send a little love from AITH! We miss you Jenny! And thankfully we will ALWAYS have NEAR DARK!