Whatever happened to Enola from Waterworld?
Oh, Waterworld. The 1995 Kevin Reynolds-directed film was viewed as such a massive box-office flop that The New York Times called it “the most wasteful feat of one-upmanship in Hollywood history.” While reviewers were quick to dismiss it as an extravagant action movie (one that reportedly cost a ludicrous $175 million to make), one thing was for certain — Tina Majorino, the little girl who played Enola, had enormous talent.
So, who was this youngster? A budding child star, she rose to prominence playing a daughter of Meg Ryan’s character in 1994’s romantic drama, When a Man Loves a Woman. Her acting was so well-received, in fact, that Majorino was even nominated for most promising actress at the CFCA Awards. That same year, she also starred in Corrina, Corrina, a touching comedy with Ray Liotta and Whoopi Goldberg. After a few more roles, she seemingly disappeared from Hollywood, with most people remembering her solely as a ’90s child star. Never one to seem pretentious, Majorino always came across as down-to-earth. As she explained to the Los Angeles Times in 1994, “People know they have seen me somewhere, but they don’t know where. … I don’t tell them.”
Majorino came back to the spotlight in 2004 by starring in a total cult-classic. However, not all fans have made the connection of she once was! Let’s take a dive and find out what exactly happened to the little girl who played Enola in Waterworld.
She took some time away from showbiz
Definitely a move that most Hollywood A-listers would gawk at, Tina Majorino decided to take time away from the limelight after her big screen success to do some soul searching. As she explained to The Daily Emerald in 2006, she “needed to find out who she was,” so she left showbiz for five years — even though she was a successful child star. “I definitely was comfortable enough with myself that it wasn’t going to be the end all, be all if I tried and couldn’t make it back,” she stated. Fortunately for Majorino, Lady Luck was on her side, and she quickly returned to movies and TV.
To The Daily Emerald, Majorino revealed, “I always get asked if I’ve made a conscious choice to just now do television and that’s definitely not the case,” noting, “It’s just that with these roles that I’ve been able to play, they’ve just appealed to me a lot.” Ultimately, she now picks projects that allow her to experience things that she never would in real life, making every day on set an entirely new adventure.
She stayed clear of the 2000s Hollywood party circuit
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Majorino’s decision to ditch the Hollywood life before it became too dicey was because she recognized the pitfalls of the dangerous side of showbiz. Leaving the scene at 13, she noted that she needed to get out to let herself grow and develop. In an interview with Stephanie DuBois (via Netscape), the Corrina, Corrina star said that she still wasn’t active in the mid-2000s party circuit when came back to Tinseltown, steering clear from the likes of party-animal peers such as Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton, and Nicole Richie. “There are a lot of young actresses not setting very good examples and there should be some that show us that that’s not really how it’s done,” she said.
She continued, “It definitely gives you a different perspective on life when you actually have a life outside of your work … because of the temptations in this business you have to have some kind of reality that you can fall back on instead of just always living in this world of make-believe — because that’s really what it is.”
Speaking to Stumped Magazine, Majorino admitted she’s proud she didn’t succumb to the pitfalls of Hollywood. “I don’t think that there was ever a moment where I could have gone Corey Feldman,” she said. “I try to stay pretty true to the way I am each day because I’m my biggest critic.”
Napoleon Dynamite reignited her movie career
Bet you didn’t know this fun fact — Tina Majorino actually played the adorably awkward character Deb in the 2004 cult classic movie Napoleon Dynamite! And, as it turns out, the movie holds a very special place in her heart, too. As she gushed to Bello (via Daily Mail), “I read Napoleon Dynamite and instantly I was like, ‘I don’t even care if I get it, I have to audition for this movie! I think I was 17 … and I was like, ‘this is hilarious.'” She added, “That film was a huge lesson for me in following my gut. It was pure magic and 100% reignited my love of filmmaking.”
The film remains one of the biggest cult classic comedies of the mid-2000s. An underdog in cinema, the movie had a budget of only $400,000, and it later went on to gross $44.5 million (via Box Office Mojo)! What made the film so endearing was that it was “so autobiographical,” according to Jared Hess, the movie’s co-writer and director. He told Rolling Stone that he partly based Majorino’s innocent character on his wife, Jerusha Hess: “Her mom made her a dress when she was going to a middle school dance and she said, ‘I hadn’t really developed yet, so my mom overcompensated and made some very large, fluffy shoulders.’ Some guy dancing with her patted the sleeves and actually said, ‘I like your sleeves…they’re real big.'”
She wasn’t allowed to star in comedies as a child
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Although she acted out the role of Deb so naturally, Tina Majorino actually took on the part in Napoleon Dynamite because she viewed it as a challenge! The actress even credits the movie’s director, Jared Hess, for allowing her the opportunity to audition for the role — given her lack of comedic experience. As she noted to Rolling Stone, “…it was always a little off-putting when people would say, ‘Oh no, you’re too serious.’ The fact that Jared would even let me come in and read really appealed to me. Even if I didn’t get the role, I just wanted to see what it was like to audition for a comedy, as I’d never done it before.”
In an interview with MovieWeb, Majorino revealed that she never had the opportunities to do comedies when she was younger. “I was always cast in very serious, dark, dramatic roles which was really great and challenging for me, but people wouldn’t even see me in comedies because you do a role and you immediately get typecast by that role.”
Her parents had other plans for the roles she would take on as a child too, as they didn’t allow her to audition for comedies. Per Entertainment Weekly, even when Majorino became an adult, her parents still offered their two cents about the Napoleon Dynamite script, telling her they didn’t think it was funny at all!
She had a major role in Veronica Mars
After the success of Napoleon Dynamite, Majorino pivoted to TV, and 2006 saw the bubbly actress starring as a series regular in the teen detective series Veronica Mars alongside Kristen Bell and appearing in the HBO show Big Love.
Writer of teen mystery-drama Veronica Mars, Rob Thomas actually created the role of Veronica’s best friend Cindy “Mac” Mackenzie just for Majorino. In fact, the duo first met when the actress was only 11 years old! According to Texas Monthly, Thomas once explained that the young child actress had just read one of his books, Rats Saw God, when she contacted him one day to help her with her book report. During their interview, Majorino asked, “What do you want to do next?” Thomas then told her he was “hoping to transition into the TV and film business.” In true Majorino fashion, the pint-sized star graciously told him she’d done some film work herself. As Thomas politely asked her what movies she’d been in, Majorino finally revealed she’d appeared in the three heavy-hitter films Waterworld, Corrina, Corrina, and When a Man Loves a Woman. Just like that, the duo then made a promise they would work together in the future.
Years later, Thomas would create a role just for her. As she would tell Texas Monthly years later, “I was like, man, this is so cool. He’s just one of the rare people in Hollywood that means it, when he tells you something.”
She had an offer to be on iZombie, but turned it down
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It didn’t take long for Tina Majorino to become a fan-favorite playing Mac in Veronica Mars. Once the series ended, she even got an offer to play a role in the CW series iZombie, another project by Veronica Mars creator and writer Rob Thomas! Ultimately, the starlet turned it down, proving just how selective she still is with the characters she chooses. In fact, Majorino herself will even admit how choosy she is! In an interview with Stumped Magazine, the starlet explained she’s highly scrupulous with picking projects. “The exciting thing for me with any project is the prospect of being challenged in some sort of way,” she said, adding, “Whether it’s a big budget project or whether it’s a low budget project, it doesn’t really matter on what scale it is to me if it’s got good character fibers. That’s pretty much what I base my decisions on.”
Meanwhile, the executive producer and writer of iZombie, Rob Thomas, still had the talented actress on his wishlist in 2018. He told TVLine, “I’d love to get Tina Majorino,” adding, “We did offer her one role, but it wasn’t her cup of tea, which I totally got.”
She was in a Pink music video
Another easter egg of a Majorino sighting? She was in a 2011 music video for Pink’s “F**kin’ Perfect.” As it turns out, the actress was a massive Pink fan before she was even approached to star in the video. Majorino spoke to Access Hollywood and shared, “Her people just called up my manager and said, ‘She has 30 minutes to give us an answer.’ And I just said, ‘Yes, I’ll do it.’ I just really believe in the message of the song and I think that she’s such a brave woman and that she’s really super talented. And I love that she has the strength to put out messages like that, regardless of what people think. And I think it’s an important subject matter.”
The video itself is emotionally triggering. Majorino plays a troubled woman who reflects on all of her past experiences in life where she was told she wasn’t worthwhile or good enough. A truly versatile actress, Majorino was the ideal candidate for the role. The director of the video, Dave Meyers, explained to PopCrush (via Access Hollywood),”Just looking at her credits … she just has that sort of indie, off-the-mainstream-path angle about her. We both got excited about her and thought Tina would be a perfect fit.”
She joined the animated version of Napoleon Dynamite
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Not many people remember the animated series Napoleon Dynamite, but, lo and behold, it existed for a brief period of time. A short-lived show due to low ratings, director Jared Hess (from the original film) still managed to get the entire original cast back! Unfortunately, the audience didn’t receive it as well as the movie, much to the sadness of all those involved. As The New York Times noted at the time, the deadpan humor was gone and replaced with the slapstick jokes of The Simpsons and Family Guy — taking away from the awkward bluntness of the original, which, most likely, was a reason for its demise.
Although the show only lasted six episodes, Majorino still thought it was “perfect.” In an interview with HitFix, she explained how hesitant she was to do a sequel to the film, as fans were “nervous [they] were gonna ruin the first one.” As for the cartoon, she thought it allowed them the opportunity to be “silly” as it’s exactly that — a cartoon. “We can be outlandish if we want to and it doesn’t matter. It’s not going to tarnish the first thing that we did,” she said.
She has a Harry Potter obsession
Just like the rest of the world, celebs are Harry Potter fans, too. Among the likes of Ariana Grande, Selena Gomez, and Jennifer Lawrence, Tina Majorino is also a total Potterhead! The actress once revealed her adorable obsession in an interview with VH1‘s Kate Spencer, saying, “I love Harry Potter so much. My 29th birthday party was Harry Potter-themed. My dad dressed up as Dumbledore.” When asked who she was, she mentioned she was “obviously” a Gryffindor. With the house decorated with house flags and guests wearing school scarves, Majorino clearly proved she is a die-hard Potter fan!
Going on to gush about author J.K. Rowling herself, the girl who once played Enola from Waterworld star preached, “Her imagination is unbelievable and I’m so fascinated by her as an author. We all need time to escape from reality, and going to Hogwarts is and always will be one of my fantasies.”
Her character met a sad fate on Grey’s Anatomy
Surprise, surprise — Season 9 of Grey’s Anatomy featured yet another character getting brutally killed off the show. This time it was Tina Majorino, who joined the cast as Heather “Mousey” Brooks, an intern at the hospital. Since Majorino’s time on the show was so short-lived, fans were perplexed by Brooks’ lack of character development. Margaret Lyons of Vulture even called her a “nothing character.” Ouch!
Perhaps providing some insight years later, series star Ellen Pompeo opened up to Entertainment Tonight in 2018 about how the writers decide to kill off characters. “You only get killed off when your behavior is bad,” she said. “If you’re a nice actor, you die nice.” Food for thought?
What’s more believable is that Majorino’s character got killed off because she hopped right into her next project, Legends, after leaving the somber, fictional hospital. In an interview with TNT, she spoke about her upcoming role at the time, revealing her excitement about it. “What’s awesome about the show is the whole question behind it that drives it is, ‘Who are we really,’ so it’s kind of an exciting thing to me because … really anybody on the show could turn into anyone.” She added,” So, that’s exciting to me. You could start off playing one person and end up playing something very different.”
She had a major recurring role in Scorpion
After taking on multiple intelligent roles such as the brainiac Mac on Veronica Mars and a hospital intern on Grey’s Anatomy, 2017 saw Majorino in another profound part, this time as Florence, a chemist on the final season of CBS’s Scorpion. The show followed Walter O’Brien (played by Elyes Gabel), a genius computer hacker who, along with his team, helps the police combat global threats and save lives. Per TVLine, Florence moves next door to the team, initially not getting along well with the rest of them. When she finally does, this causes even more controversy.
Although the series had previously been met with positive reviews, it was ultimately canceled by CBS in 2018, meaning Majorino’s run didn’t last long. However, although it was a brief stint, the actress who once played Enola from Waterworld still managed to get along perfectly with the cast, regularly posting photos with people involved with the show to her Instagram, and sharing quirky behind-the-scenes peeks like this adorably dorky clip of her dancing.