Vanessa Angel, a name that resonates with fans of ’90s cinema and television, once graced screens with her striking presence in films like “Kingpin” and “Spies Like Us,” as well as the popular TV series “Weird Science.”
From her unexpected discovery in a London café to her transition from modeling to acting, Angel’s career has been as intriguing as it has been diverse.
But what has become of this talented actress who captured the hearts of audiences worldwide? In an industry known for its fleeting fame, Vanessa Angel’s story is a compelling one. Join us as we explore the life, career, and current endeavors of Vanessa Angel, uncovering what ever happened to this unforgettable star.
Vanessa Madeline Angel was born in London, England, on November 10th, 1966.
She was born and grew up in the suburbs of London, specifically in Harrow. As a teenager, she was discovered by model scouts from one of London’s top agencies, Select, while having lunch with her mother.
Despite feeling awkward and never considering herself attractive, she began working as a model at the age of 14 or 16. Angel’s early life was marked by an unexpected entry into the modeling world.
At the age of 17, Angel moved to New York to pursue her modeling career. She worked in London, Paris, and Milan before meeting Eileen Ford, who ran a significant modeling agency in New York. Angel reflects on the lack of parental concern during that time, as she was traveling alone to different countries and even moved to New York by herself.
She acknowledges the treacherous aspects of the modeling world and considers herself lucky to have survived it. Her parents were good people but oblivious to the potential dangers, and she had to navigate many challenges on her own.
She would soon appear on the covers of Vogue and Cosmopolitan. She would also be contracted the Diet Pepsi girl.
Vanessa Angel’s acting career began unexpectedly when she met director John Landis at the age of 18. He cast her in “Spies Like Us,” opening doors for her acting career. Although she enjoyed school plays and theater, she never planned to become an actress. The opportunity literally fell into her lap, and she sees it as her destiny.
Vanessa menions on a podcast that she got the role after John Landis saw her modeling photos.
John Landis had seen some photos of me and he asked me to come in to meet him for Spies Like Us. I just met him and he thought that I had the right look for the Russian girl and I didn’t hear right away, but then I met him a couple of months later and then and I got the part.
The film starred Chevy Chase and Dan Aykroyd as intelligence agents. Vanessa Angel would play a soldier in the Soviet Strategic Missile Forces.
She would also appear in the accompanying Paul McCartney video.
Vanessa Angel’s next significant role would be in the 1990 film King of New York. This noir thriller starred Christopher Walken, David Caruso, and Laurence Fishburn. At this time, she would continue appearing in films and make her television debut.
In 1988 she landed a guest role in the television series The Equalizer in the episode “Video Games.” In 1991 she would appear in a few episodes of Baywatch, and by 1993 she would appear in several episodes of Melrose Place.
Vanessa Angel is best known to fans for a few film and television roles. She took a lead role in the 1996 bowling comedy Kingpin, directed by the Farrelly Brothers. Angel would play opposite Woody Harrelson, Randy Quaid, and Bill Murray. She would continue to appear in films throughout her career, but Kingpin would be her most considerable leading role in a movie.
She mentions on a podcat that she got the part due in part to Peter Farrelly seeing her on the show Weird Science
It was a long process actually…. I was on that show Weird Science and I think Peter Farrelly had spotted me on that show and so my agent sent me the script and I read it and I’d loved Dumb and Dumber so I was excited to meet them and so I went in several times and it ended up having a reading with Woody Harrelson. After about the fourth time in and I was kind of the dark horse. I think that there was a couple of other actresses that they had in mind, but then the more I sort of went in, I think the more they saw me as their Claudia and so that had this one final kind of screen test with Woody and and then Woody had to approve me and and I got offered the part.
However, she had far more success in television. Following a well-received role in Melrose Place in 1993, she would become a series lead on the television series Weird Science, based on the John Hughes comedy film.
Vanessa Angel would take on the role of the computer-generated Lisa; the role played by Kelly LeBrock in the 1985 movie. Weird Science aired for five seasons and 88 episodes and ran from March 5, 1994 – July 25, 1998
Coincidentally, Vanessa tried out for the role of Lisa in the 1985 movie
She could continue to make television appearances, including in the popular Stargate SG-1, across several key episodes. She would play the characters of Anise and Freya in the episodes “Upgrades,” “Crossroads,” and “Divide and Conquer.”
Was Vanessa Angel almost Xena?
Vanessa Angel had been cast as Xena, the warrior princess, for an episode of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys. Due to an illness, however, she could not take the role and travel to the set. The part would eventually go to Lucy Lawless, which would expand as a Xena series went into production.
What is Vanessa Angel doing now?
Vanessa Angel continues to act today and seems busier than ever. Her acting career in recent years has been marked by a diverse range of roles across various genres.
In 2023, she took on the role of Marion in the TV movie “Sins of the Preacher’s Wife” and played Susan in “Johnny & Clyde.” The previous year, she starred as Emma in “Merry Ex-Mas.” In 2021, Angel’s performances included playing the role of Mom in “Single Mother by Choice,” Maria in “Hustle Down,” Nancy in “Hot Water,” and Chelsea Dwyer in “Courting Mom and Dad.”
In a recent interview Angel reflected on her current approach to acting, emphasizing her enjoyment of smaller parts and cameos. Angel shares her appreciation for being able to contribute to projects without the pressure of lead roles, highlighting a shift in her perspective as she has become more seasoned in her career.
Aging in Hollywood
When it comes to aging in Hollywood, Vanessa discussed her thoughts and offered some advice for women in Hollywood who are getting older.
I think it’s very important to grow old gracefully. There’s such a pressure to look younger longer. They say that there’s a shortage of actresses who are in their late 40s and 50s. Everybody sort of ends up looking the same age, because they get Botox and they do surgeries and there’s a reason why Judi Dench and Helen Mirren and Meryl Streep and actresses like that are so revered and so compelling, because they look really real, but they’re so beautiful at the same time.
I think that there’s a real pressure for women in this business to to try and stay as young looking as possible.
I’ve always just believed in in eating well and exercising and a good night sleep and you know, obviously take care of my skin and have a skin routine and stuff like that, but I also think it’s definitely how you feel on the inside reflects on the outside.
Vanessa Angel was married for a time to Rick Otto. Rick Otto is an actor who was born on August 10, 1973, in Baltimore, Maryland. He is best known for roles in The Wire and Bosch.
Vanessa Angel and Rick Otto were introduced to one another by Vanessa Angel’s co-star ee Tergesen during the production of Weird Science in 1994.
Angel and Otto would marry in April of 1996. They would divorce in 2019, however.
Vanessa Angel and Rick Otto had one daughter. India Otto was born on March 10, 2001. She is a college basketball player who is 5’ 9” and currently plays for the USC Trojans Women’s team.