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Deep-sea Diva

[whitespace] Sphere
Getting Deep: Local comedian Marga Gomez (right) shares the 'Sphere' set with Sharon Stone and Peter Coyote.

Latina comedian Marga Gomez talks about her role in 'Sphere' and her future on film

By Mary Dowd

Sphere is far more than a Michael Crichton blockbuster of malfeasant creatures ready to take over the earth. This $85 million epic, written by Crichton and directed by Barry Levinson, offers a chance to see a Bay Area personality who's still unknown on the big screen. Marga Gomez, the well-known local Latina lesbian stand-up performer, appears in this underwater chiller, which was shot almost entirely in her own back yard, on Mare Island in Vallejo.

Of course, given Crichton's high profile, the rest of the actors aren't exactly unknowns. Sharon Stone (now a Bay Area resident herself) plays an intrepid, alluring biologist on a top-secret mission exploring the title object, a sphere that may be from the immediate past or the indefinite future. Samuel Jackson purveys his patented bad attitude as a child prodigy turned ill-tempered mathematician, and Dustin Hoffman plays an overwhelmed psychiatrist. And then there's Peter Coyote (another familiar Bay Area figure) as the irresistibly snide Barnes.

Decked out in sophisticated Spandex, tripping through a claustrophobic high-tech setting, Gomez plays a communications expert who guides the Sphere team through a few technicalities.

The Metropolitan: What is the role you play in Sphere?

Gomez: In the role I am very much of a technophile--most of my dialogue is dealing with sonar, computers and doing the like. I looked confused at the audition, but I guess I looked quite good, though. I gave it the Dragnet, Joe Friday delivery, and that means you know what you are talking about.

The Metropolitan: You will be seen on the big screen rather than on stage--that's a whole other audience for you. How is it to think of yourself being seen by millions of people worldwide?

Gomez: I just went to visit my nieces and nephews in New York and I took a whole lot of Sphere memorabilia. I know that they at least are going to be able to see me when Sphere comes out.

The Metropolitan: What was it like to be suddenly catapulted into an environment with superstars on a film set? Your stand-up acts, A Line Around the Block and Memory Tricks, have been highly acclaimed and applauded nationwide, but this is a whole new ballgame, isn't it?

Gomez: I felt like something from Welcome to the Dollhouse. I had a tray [in the cafeteria] and I didn't know where to sit. I checked my back for 'Kick Me' signs from Dustin Hoffman. But Sharon Stone invited me to sit with her and she was wonderful. She has a great appetite.

The Metropolitan: So, how was it to work with Stone?

Gomez: She seemed very nice and intelligent, quite a raconteur. I was still trying to get Basic Instinct out of my head.

The Metropolitan: What do you think your next role will be?

Gomez: Being Latina they send me out for [acting jobs as] maids and hookers. I had a part in Batman Forever last year. You can recognize me, as I am the only woman in the whole film in a wool turtleneck dress.

Marga Gomez is currently touring her show Pretty, Witty and Wise. Sphere plays this month in Bay Area theaters.

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From the March 1998 issue of the Metropolitan.

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