may just be a kiss, but who could forget Natasha
Henstridge's skull crunching smooch in 1997's Species?
The spine-tingling buss, for which she won the MTV movie award for Best
Kiss, captured the attention of audiences and critics alike. For those of
you who've tried to block it out of your memory, Henstridge played Sil, a
homicidal alien/human hybrid who thrusts her tongue through the back of
her date's head after she deems him unworthy of mating. Talk about your
The sci-fi thriller co-starred Ben Kingsley, Michael Madsen, Forest Whitaker and Marg Helgenberger and followed a team of scientists who must hunt down their alien experiment gone awry after she busts out of a lab and heads to Los Angeles in search of a human male to - well - sire her. The high-profile role of a seductive, survive-at-any-cost, human-alien crossbreed was exactly the big break Henstridge was hoping for after abandoning a lucrative modeling career to pursue acting.
Ironically, it will be Henstridge who battles alien foes in this summer's highly anticipated futuristic thriller Ghosts of Mars, from legendary horror/sci-fi director John Carpenter (Halloween, Escape From New York). The role, originally meant for rocker/actress Courtney Love, has Henstridge playing Lt. Melanie Ballard, a veteran police officer stationed on colonized Mars.
The year is 2176 and, due to the overpopulation of Earth, the red planet has become home to over 600,000 human inhabitants and numerous mining expeditions. While on special assignment transporting notorious criminal Desolation Williams (played by rapper/actor Ice Cube), Lt. Ballard encounters a mining/archaeological operation that has gone terribly wrong. The miners have inadvertently awakened some nasty, ghostly aliens hell-bent on destroying their unwelcome guests and eradicating the remaining human population on their planet.
Ghosts of Mars joins the growing trend of action movies driven by female leads (Double Jeopardy, Tomb Raider) and co-stars Pam Grier, Clea Duvall, Jason Statham and Joanna Cassidy. If the movie lives up to its hype, it could very well be Henstridge's long awaited comeback.
Born on August 15, 1974 in Springdale, Newfoundland, Henstridge was raised in Ft. McMurry, Alberta. Her father Brian was a contractor and her mother Helen, a housewife. Henstridge was barely a teen when she entered and earned the
first runner-up prize in the Casablanca Modeling Agency's worldwide "Look of the Year" contest. At age 14, with the reluctant blessing of her parents, Henstridge left home to pursue a modeling career in New York and Paris. At 15 she landed on the cover of French Cosmopolitan. Numerous other magazine covers soon followed and Henstridge went on to appear in television commercials for products including Old Spice, Oil of Olay and Lady Stetson.
Like so many other model-turned-actresses before her, Henstridge grew tired of being just another pretty face and craved a more intellectually stimulating career. She left the runways of Paris for the lights of Hollywood and never looked back. At 21, Henstridge beat out hundreds of other doe-eyed hopefuls when she was cast in Species for MGM. The studio was so confident in Henstridge's star quality that even before the film's debut, they signed the gray-eyed, statuesque beauty to a three-picture deal. Henstridge's parents, though thrilled with their daughter's success, were somewhat apprehensive about the nude scenes that the role required. "Can't you do Disney films?" they asked her at the time. But Henstridge, comfortable with her body from years of modeling, recognized this as a role that would get her noticed.
She was right. Species took in over $100 million at the box office, making Henstridge a hot property, albeit only temporarily. She was edged out for roles in blockbusters including Independence Day, Men in Black and L.A. Confidential and the roles she did land in Maximum Risk, Adrenalin and Standoff were as forgettable as the films themselves.
In 1998, Henstridge returned as an extraterrestrial in Species II playing Eve, a kinder, gentler alien cloned from Sil's offspring and used as bait to lure yet another errant alien wreaking havoc on earth. Much to Henstridge's disappointment, the sequel did not fare nearly as well as the original and she found herself tackling the Hollywood audition process all over again. Roles in lesser known films such as Bela Donna, Dog Park, Kill You Twice and It Had to Be You kept Henstridge busy and bankrolled, but did little to raise her profile. Guest spots in television shows including Homeboys in Outer Space, The Outer Limits and a voice cameo in Comedy Central's South Park also went all but unnoticed. Rumors had Henstridge cast as a Bond girl in Tomorrow Never Dies but it never came to pass.
Then came the comedy hit The Whole Nine Yards, in which she played mob moll Cynthia Tudeski. Her turn as the estranged wife of a hit man (played by Bruce Willis) who manages to charm her way out of getting whacked and falls in love with Matthew Perry in the process, garnered critical praise and put Henstridge back on the short list for casting agents.
Last year Henstridge appeared in the Ben Affleck/Gywneth Paltrow romantic comedy, Bounce. Her small but pivotal role as the woman for whom Affleck,
in the hopes of having a fling, gives up his seat on an ill-fated flight to another passenger, further increased her momentum.
In addition to Ghosts of Mars, Henstridge recently completed no fewer than five films including Second Skin, Kevin of North, The Judith Exner Story, Heist and the TV movie Beauty and Power. If that weren't enough, she's also got an energetic toddler to take care of. Three years ago, the now 27-year-old Henstridge - who once dated Leonardo DiCaprio, was previously romantically linked to Jean-Claude Van Damme and was known to frequent L.A.'s most exclusive nightspots - gave up the Hollywood party scene to become a mom. Tristan River Waite, a healthy baby boy, was born on October 14, 1998. His father is actor Liam Waite, Henstridge's fiancÚ of the last few years and co-star in Ghosts of Mars.
The happy couple met nearly five years ago when Henstridge was on a blind date with one of Waite's friends. So far, they're in no rush to get married and are happy just basking in the joys of parenthood. Henstridge was briefly married once before to actor Damien Chapa in 1996 when the two eloped to Las Vegas after a
six-month courtship. The impulsive union lasted less than a year after which
sued her for spousal support. Now, five years later, Henstridge claims she
holds no grudges, calls Chapa her friend and writes off the whole
experience as being a little too young and "wild at heart." A
reason not unlike the one she gives for her two tattoos; on her derriere a
bearded lion wearing a crown (she's a Leo) from her own design and on her
tailbone, a male and female symbol intertwined, both of which she says
were "From when I was young and stupid."
Now a little bit older and a little bit wiser, Henstridge prefers the simple life to that of L.A.'s fast pace. Happily settled in L.A.'s rustic Hollywood Hills with fiancÚ and son, Henstridge is perfectly content playing house and waiting for the scripts to come in.
When asked about the kiss for which she will no doubt always be remembered, Henstridge reminisces fondly and says, "I loved that! At the screening, all the women went 'Yeah!!!' Of course, the guy I was kissing wasn't bad - so that was fun too."
- Amy Ferguson