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PHOTO BY JASIN BOLAND - Marissa Neitling, as Phoebe the scientist, is shown in San Andreas, now showing all over America. The eminent actor in the photo with her is Paul Giamatti.


Americans love disaster movies, and Marissa Neitling hopes they love “San Andreas.”

For the young actress from Lake Oswego, “San Andreas” is her movie debut, and lots of her friends and family will be able to see it because it is now playing at the Lake Theater in Lake Oswego and Regal Cinemas Bridgeport Village — not to mention theaters all around Portland, the west metro area and the country.

This is not just a film by an amateur with a camera but a Hollywood blockbuster with big-name actors including Archie Panjabi (Emmy Award winner for “The Good Wife"), Paul Giamatti and action-hero Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. The film not only features fine actors but a massive budget and an earthquake to match.

For Neitling, she said it's been a ball working with such an illustrious cast on a movie with big potential.

“It was wonderful,” she says. “I spent 2 1/2 weeks in Gold Coast, Australia, and I feel so blessed that this was my first film experience. It was also a very ‘coming full circle’ experience for me as an actor.”

Neitling has certainly come a long way as an actress over the past couple years since earning a master’s degree at the Yale School of Drama. Her first big break came when she got a role on the TNT series “The Last Ship,” playing the role of Lt. Kara Foster.

In “San Andreas,” Neitling plays Phoebe, a grad student under the tutelage of Paul Giamatti's character at Cal Tech. The plot centers around a major earthquake in California along the San Andreas Fault. Johnson is a distraught father, who, along with his ex-wife, is searching for his daughter.

Will “The Rock” be buried by rocks? Not if Neitling's Phoebe can find a solution in time.

Neitling, 31 and a Lake Oswego High grad, has proven that good things happen for those who work hard and who are also beautiful and talented.

“I was cast for ‘San Andreas’ off a self-tape that I made while visiting my family home in Lake Oswego,” Neitling says. “Both of the jobs I have booked (including ‘The Last Ship’) have come from an initial self-tape, which is a testament to how the industry is changing.”

While visiting with her mother and sister, Neitling was notified by her manager that she needed to put an audition on tape as soon as possible for “San Andreas.”

“So with the help of my mom and sister — mom reading opposite me while sister Mackenzie manned the camera — I recorded about six different scenes,” Neitling says.

To simulate an earthquake during the taping, Marissa and Mackenzie shook the table. It worked. Neitling eagerly awaited for the reviews and box office returns to come in. She was optimistic but cautious.

“If I’ve learned anything the past two years about this business, it’s that artistic careers are never linear,” Neitling says. “You always hope that the show you’re part of does fabulously and is seen by millions of people worldwide. You also never expect anything. The truth is I don’t know what this movie will do for my career. But I have my first film experience under my belt, and that is a place to start.”

PHOTO BY JASIN BOLAND - Marissa Neitling is shown in a tense scene from San Andreas. Neitling, who grew up in Lake Oswego, is making great strides in her acting career.

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