Sure, it would be easy to pigeon-hole a woman like Gina Gershon – who has been cast repeatedly as an ill-willed, arguably devious sexpot. As Cristal Connors, the sultry vixen of the Vegas strip in Showgirls or more recently, as Nancy Frankenburg, the assured and assertive businesswoman with less-than noble intentions in HBO’s How to Make It in America, Gershon has portrayed characters who exude sex appeal and often use their powers for evil over good. But to categorize her would be a grave mistake.
Gershon is insightful in mind and spirit, whilst remaining fierce and fervent when it comes to her career. When high praise is involved, she is quick to attribute it to those she surrounds herself with. “I am extremely proud of the group of great people that I have in my life,” she said. “I am honored to call them my friends. It’s the one area of my life where I cannot believe my taste and good fortune.” And she speaks with a genuine, revealing honesty, which translates to her introspective approach to self-development and character preparation. “My dreams have always revealed so much to me [about] my personal life and I was fortunate enough to find a teacher, Sandra Seacat, who taught me how to use my subconscious mind to reveal truths about [the] character that I am conscientiously working on. I believe in the collective unconscious, and I try to create a character that people can relate to, on some level.”
Gershon’s thirst for knowledge and understanding has driven her to become a vibrant and creatively complex performer, taking every opportunity she can to absorb her surroundings, made more pertinent by the roving lifestyle of an actress. “One of my passions is traveling to places I have never been, discovering something new, learning about people, therefore learning more about myself. When I get to shoot on location for a period of time, part of the fun is figuring out the town. I love adventure and trying new things.”
Live music and theater inspired Gershon from a very early age, instilling a passion and wonder that would drive her to pursue a career in entertainment. When asked about the most memorable performance she had ever seen, Gershon recalled watching a stage production of Beauty and the Beast. “I must have been about four. My jaw dropped open. I couldn’t believe how magical the whole thing seemed – especially the actors. I called them ‘the magic people.’ A few years after that, my uncle took me to my first rock concert and everyone lit matches and lighters in approval and awe. I thought that was pretty magical as well.”
Beyond her already extensive film and television career, this passion for live performance has landed her in a number of Broadway productions, including Cabaret and Marc Camoletti’s French play Boeing- Boeing. Gershon has also recorded two very different albums. The first, entitled In Search of Cleo, was a cabaret and indie-rock influenced collection released in 2007. Three years later she put out a tongue-in-cheek children’s record with Leroy Powell entitled The Good, The Bad, & The Hungry, “for kids and their stoner parents.” Gershon told us, “I hope to find my way back to lyrics and music soon,” but with a growing list of upcoming projects our curious ears might have to wait a little longer for an encore.
Looking back at what has shaped her as an individual, Gershon draws on many of her past experiences. “I think the fact that many family members that I loved deeply died relatively young has influenced the way I live a lot. My uncle always used to say, ‘Live each day as though it was your last and one day you will be right,’” she said. “For better or worse, I’ve adopted this attitude as my own.” Unlike many of the dramatic women she has depicted on film, Gershon has learned to balance and embrace her carpe diem lifestyle. “I think my spontaneity is both a blessing and a curse. Living in the moment has been the keyhole to many a fine adventure, but sometimes when you don’t plan anything… well, you end up without plans. It drives most people crazy.”