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July 1998 (page 16)

Steen Spirit

by Wolf Schneider

As the only woman on the mission with Bruce Willis, Ben Affleck, and Steve Buscemi and a handful of other macho roughnecks who venture into outer space to blow up an asteroid threatening to collide with Earth, Armageddon's Jessica Steen was at a distinct advantage ("Yes, there were a lot of guys. I was in heaven"). The casting is surprising since Canadian-born Steen's resume consists mainly of TV roles in series like "Homefront" and "Earth 2," and only one major feature, Trial and Error, in which she played the prosecuting attorney. Steen won her role as the working-girl-in-space at the last minute before shooting began (Liv Tyler, the marquee actress name in Armageddon, was already cast as the earthbound love interest of Ben Affleck), presumably over many other candidates. If she thought her acting chops were the sole factor in the decision, she soon learned otherwise: "I came on the set. I'm on a mission and I've got my hair in a bun," recounts Steen.

"[Director Michael Bay] is like, 'Take the hair down.' I'm like, 'Why?' He goes, 'Because there's too many men, it's too serious. We need some hair down.' I'm like, 'Wait a minute. Can there be a reason? Like, after the earthquake, or does somebody bump into me?' He's like, 'And make that T-shirt tighter.' He promised me, 'You'll have one really sexy shot.' I'm like, 'Whatever, Michael. They're going to be laughing at me and my greasy hair's going to beflying in my face as I'm trying to wield my tools and fix this ship!' "

Working with guys like Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck in a summer blockbuster wannabe was well worth it. Steen doesn't have much comment about Willis aside from the fact that he comes as a package deal ("Bruce has a bunch of people that travel with him that are, you know, his close people"), but she has plenty to say about Affleck. "Well, he's a looker, that's plain to see. He's funny. He's gregarious, he's intelligent. He's, um, what's a safer word for ballsy? He just has no problems, you know, stating his case and taking up his space." Since Affleck is paired off with Tyler in the film, where does this leave Steen? "I keep my nose clean," she explains. "There's no time for romance in space."

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Last update: November 1, 2000 3:28 AM