Vanessa Marcil is used to playing the bad girl: On General Hospital, on Beverly Hills, 90210, on Las Vegas. But she finally gets to be good in the Hallmark Channel original movie The Nanny Express (premieres Jan. 3, 9 p.m.). Her nanny, pictured, works for a handsome widower with two children and also cares for her dying dad (Dean Stockwell). I sobbed watching it; she sobbed making it. “You don’t want to be the actor in tough scenes that just loses it, because that leaves nothing for the audience to feel. It’s acting rule No. 1,” Marcil says. “You feel it, and then you try to hold it together, because if you see someone who you know is upset about something and they’re trying to be strong, you actually end up feeling more for them. It was impossible sometimes with Dean, because he was so good.” (Seriously, she’s not lying.)To cheer us both up, Marcil submitted to an EW Pop Culture Personality Test. The plan worked well, at least until we got into a fight over which is the better film, Grease or Grease 2…When do you scream at the TV? I don’t watch that much TV, but I watch more TV now that TiVo’s been invented. I used to scream at commercials, for sure. Probably anything scary. I’m a really big wimp, and I’m like the people in the movie theater who are screaming, “Watch it! Someone’s behind the door!” as if the people can hear me….What’s your worst TiVo mishap? I like to watch MotorGP races. They’re really intense, and obviously, the goal is to see who wins at the end. TiVo doesn’t know that sometimes sports events go over the intended amount of time. So you sit there and watch the whole thing, and then you don’t get to see the end.The movie you have to watch if you spot it on cable? The Godfather. I’d seen it probably 50 times before I worked with Jimmy Caan on Las Vegas. He’s the reason why I took the show. It’s truly one of my favorite movies of all time, so anytime that’s on, I’ll stop everything to watch it. Anytime anything Star Wars is on, the world has to stop, and we have to watch it because of my son. Star Wars, Clone Wars, it doesn’t matter, anything with a lightsaber.The person you wrote a fan letter to when you were young? So my mom used to watch General Hospital when I was little. We were so limited in the amount of TV we were allowed to watch, it was a big deal when she would let me come sit and watch a few minutes of it with her when I got home from school. When I was a kid, Tony Geary, who’s obviously infamous for playing Luke, of Luke and Laura, on General Hospital, was at the mall where I grew up in Indio, Calif., this really tiny town next to Palm Springs. We went and stood in line for like three hours. I wrote him a letter while we were in line, to hand to him because I was so nervous that I knew when I got to him, I wouldn’t be able to speak. So we walked up there, and I handed him the letter and just started bawling. I took a photo with him, and you know, ironically, years later, I ended up working with him on General Hospital, which is really funny.Did you confess that to him?Oh yeah. I confessed it to him, but it took me like a year though because I still had a hard time functioning and speaking and acting like a normal person around him that first year. Anyone who was famous to you when you were a kid just seems otherwordly. He still seems like that to me.
The piece of pop culture memorabilia from your childhood you wish you still had? Two things: I had this Growing Pains T-shirt with Kirk Cameron on it. I was just so enamored with Kirk Cameron. I thought he was the hottest guy on the planet. And then I also had a Grease T-shirt with John Travolta, which I would love to have. I love old vintage T-shirts.That leads into the question: Grease or Grease 2?Everyone knows the answer to that.Maybe not. I’m a Grease 2 girl.No you’re not.I am.What are you talking about? How can you be a Grease 2 girl?I’ve just seen Grease so many times, that I’d rather sit and watch Grease 2 now. I genuinely like the songs, plus they have the cheese factor that I appreciate. How do you not love “Cool Rider”? We might have to have a street fight, me and you. I mean, the problem is the people in Grease 2 really weren’t as talented. Think about the people who are in Grease. Stockard Channing [Rizzo]. She is a genius. When she sings that song, “there are worse things I could do, than go with a boy or two” — I mean, my god. John Travolta is just undeniable. He was a movie star then, and he’s a movie star today.Fine, you win. [Note: This was before I coincidentally interviewed Grease 2 star Adrian Zmed, who gave me other arguments, Vanessa.][Laughs] I should be a lawyer. I get very upset. I have to pull someone over to my side. I’m a Libra, my boyfriend’s a Libra, and my best friend’s a Libra, so we’re all a bunch of Libras who have a big thing about things being fair and just. Libras like to debate.What was your last pop culture debate with them?We tend to debate more about politics, ad nauseam… We kinda have the same taste when it comes to TV. We love Extras, Curb Your Enthusiasm. One of my best friends in the world, for the last 20 years, is Jeremy Piven, so we all love Entourage, but we only watch his scenes. [Laughs]Time to grade the test. In your book, does Vanessa Marcil pass?