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Keri Russell Actress

Keri Russell

Keri's most noteable TV appearance was in the role as "Felicity Porter" on the Wb drama "Felicity". Russell was born in Fountain Valley, California, on March 23, 1976. Most of her early childhood was spent living in Texas, before her parents decided to move to Mesa, Arizona. Russell took a serious interest in entertainment at an early age. At Poston Jr. High School, she discovered a passion for dancing, and soon applied for ballet and jazz dance lessons. Her love and talent for dancing allowed her to tour the country as a member of the Mesa Stars Dance and Drill team, where she eventually received a prestigious scholarship. Just before she started high school, Russell's family moved to Denver, Colorado. Russell claims that she did not make many friends, which allowed her to concentrate on her performing career. She soon appeared on Star Search, where she was discovered by Disney's talent scouts.

In 1991, she made her debut as a Mouseketeer on Disney's The All New Mickey Mouse Club. The following year, Russell jumped to her first big screen debut in Honey I Blew Up the Kid as the unlucky babysitter. Russell also starred as Andrea McKinsey in Emerald Cove. Her first regular role was in a 1994 CBS sitcom Daddy's Girl, but unfortunately, the show did not last very long. That same year, Russell played Jessica in Boy Meets World.

In 1996, Russell got her first title role in the NBC movie The Babysitter's Seduction and got her first television lead in Malibu Shores; a rare Aaron Spelling production that was unsuccessful. In 1997, Russell starred in her second big screen film, Eight Days a Week, and in another television role, When Innocence Is Lost. Russell also made a short appearance in Fox's series Roar.

When it was time to cast the star of Felicity, the series creators (J.J. Abrams and Matt Reeves) knew that Keri Russell was perfect for the lead of the same name, from the moment she arrived on the set. It was an obvious choice, as Russell's natural beauty and charm fit perfectly with Felicity's character, almost as if Keri Russell was cast to play herself! In addition to future episodes of Felicity, Russell will star in her first lead feature role, as an Irish dancer who wins the heart of a soccer player in the upcoming romantic comedy Mad About Mambo.

Currently, Russell resides in L.A.'s Tony Pacific Palisades suburb. Most of her free time is spent working on her other passion: photography. As for her love life, she formerly dated Blossom's star Joey Lawrence. Recently, she has been romantically linked to actor and musician Tony Lucca, whom she met when co-starring with him in Malibu Shores and The All New Mickey Mouse Club.

Former 'Felicity' Sees 'Magic'

Don't call her "Felicity": Keri Russell has moved on.
Although the young actress remains fond of the TV series that brought her fame and a Golden Globe Award, she followed it by taking some time off from acting. She has returned by doing a variety of projects, one being "The Magic of Ordinary Days," a new Hallmark Hall of Fame movie CBS airs Sunday, Jan. 30.

Based on an Ann Howard Creel book, the gentle, devoutly old-fashioned World War II-era drama casts Russell as pregnant and unwed Livy. Left by her forthcoming child's father, a soldier who may or may not return to her, she is sent to a small Colorado town and into an arranged marriage to a total stranger, physically and emotionally isolated farmer Ray (Skeet Ulrich, "As Good as It Gets").


Wed as soon as she arrives, the couple struggle to fashion a livable relationship, but they don't have much in common. While Ray's sister (Emmy winner Mare Winningham) does what she can to bring them closer, Livy's thirst for knowledge often clashes with Ray's contentment with his immediate environs. Livy's friendship with two Japanese-American women (Tania Gunadi, Gwendoline Yeo) from a nearby internment camp adds more complications.
"It's so sweet and simple," Russell says of the film. "I loved the idea that it was a 1940s story, and I thought the character was pretty good. It came at a time when I was ready to work." It also offered the bonus of Ulrich as a leading man, since Russell explains, "For me, it's not necessarily just about what it is, but also who else is involved. That's sometimes why you do things. You learn from others or make lasting relationships, and if he was going to be a drag, I wouldn't have wanted to do it.

"The whole film is about these two people falling in love, and as I worked with Skeet, I kept thinking, 'You remind me of me.' We come from similar backgrounds. He had taken a few years off from work, too, to raise his kids. This was also one of the first things he did coming back into the business, so I think it was a good thing for both of us." Russell also was pleased with another co-star: "I love Mare Winningham. I mean, who doesn't? She is just the coolest person ever. The people on this couldn't have been better."

The wardrobe had its rewards, too. "We had many different stages of 'pregnancy bellies,'" Russell muses. "We shot this in the spring and early summer last year in Calgary, where the weather is crazy. It'll be 70 degrees, then within an hour, it'll start snowing. It just changes on a dime. It was cold most of the time, so the pregnancy pads actually kept me warm. It was like having a big pillow on your stomach."

Russell has done audio commentaries for the final-season DVD set of "Felicity," due in stores March 8. "I loved my experience on that show very much," she says. "Some of those people are still among my best friends, but I was really burnt out. I needed to just check out for a little bit. It's a lot of responsibility, being the lead character in a series. There wasn't a lot of sharing, especially in terms of the schedule, which was 18 hours a day, five days a week. I wanted to live my 20s a bit."

To do so, Russell relocated from the West Coast to New York, where several of her girlfriends already resided. "I wasn't even sure I wanted to act anymore," she says. "I just picked up and took a few boxes of books, my mattresses and my cats with me. It was the best thing I could have done. I had no idea what I was going to do once I got there, but it so paid off. It was also a good thing for me to do socially, to be around people other than actors all day."

Still, Russell has spent time with other performers, having recently finished an off-Broadway run in the Neil LaBute play "Fat Pig." As one might suspect, she didn't have the title role; she played a self-absorbed nemesis of the plus-sized central character. Jessica Capshaw, formerly of "The Practice," has replaced her in the show.

"I never knew that I would necessarily do the play," Russell maintains. "I read it really last-minute and finished it on a plane, and for whatever reason, something in it clicked with me. It was modern and current and wickedly funny. The writing is really beautiful, even when it's also harsh and scathing. I'm usually pretty nervous in front of people, so having to get out there was a good experience for me. It gives you courage for other things in your life."

Russell will be back on television in June in "Into the West," a Steven Spielberg-produced TNT miniseries. Like "The Magic of Ordinary Days," it was filmed in Alberta and also stars Ulrich, and Russell says it "couldn't have been more fun. Riding horses changed my life. I spent more time in Canada the past year than I did in New York, which is fine by me. I loved it so much that when I finished 'The Magic of Ordinary Days,' I took a road trip by myself through the mountains. I grew up in Colorado, so I was in heaven. It's so beautiful, still remote and removed from everything."

For now, Russell is glad to be back in New York, but she's ready to go wherever the next intriguing role takes her. "I'm sorry if I sound obnoxious, but I'm just so happy," she says. "When you're interested in things, everything is fun."

Life after 'Felicity' for Keri Russell

Actress appears in CBS movie Sunday
When "Felicity" began in fall 1998, its winsome heroine was finishing high school. Then, on a lark, she enrolled in college in distant New York City, taking grateful flight from her California nest.

When "Felicity" wrapped production in spring 2002, its star, Keri Russell, did somewhat the same thing. She left California, where the show had been produced, and took off for Manhattan.

There she gave herself a much-needed break. No pre-dawn call times. No lines to learn. No studio bosses prescribing the length of her hair.

Then, after a year and a half, Russell got back to work. She made a film, two TV movies and her stage debut in an off-off-Broadway play.

One of her TV projects, "The Magic of Ordinary Days," airs 9 p.m. EST Sunday on CBS. A tender "Hallmark Hall of Fame" drama set during World War II, it stars Russell as a pregnant grad student sent away by her father to wed a lonely farmer (Skeet Ulrich) who agrees to raise her child as his own.

This is a different Russell from the dewy-eyed teen she played on "Felicity." Livy Dunne is a grown-up woman dealing with dashed dreams of an academic career, and, now banished to rural Colorado, with her obligatory marriage to a stranger.

"It's a delicate, slow process of awakening for her," says Russell with a radiant smile. "I think the most fun thing is watching these two people fall in love."

As she talks, Russell is feasting on fried calamari and nursing a soup-bowl-size cappuccino in a bistro across from the Greenwich Village theater where, in an hour, she will be on stage in Neil LaBute's savage comedy "Fat Pig."

Needless to say, Russell is not the title character. She plays the ex-girlfriend of her caddish co-worker Tom, who threw her over for Helen, a woman of considerable poundage.

Russell is meant to represent a cultural ideal. This calls for her to do what comes pretty naturally: be reed-thin and beautiful. But she also gets to cut loose in comically vengeful style. ("Tom ditched me for Mama Cass!" she shrieks at one point.)

"It's so fun to be mean," chuckles Russell, who two nights later would leave the play shortly before its two-month, sold-out run ended. "It's been such a good ride!"

'I needed to step back'
Russell wasn't so fired up about acting when she hit town nearly three years ago.

"After 'Felicity,' I just wasn't interested in anything," she says. "Acting is too fun of a job to feel like that. So I needed to step back and reassess the situation. I literally moved here with my cats, mattresses, two boxes of books and my clothes. I lived in an empty apartment."

She hung out with old friends -- "great girlfriends, who aren't in the business." She read, roamed Central Park, lingered over coffees at a neighborhood cafe -- and fell in love with New York.

"This city has been great for me," says Russell, 28. "Being here really kind of saved my life."

Unwittingly, she has echoed a line from her series' first episode, when Felicity conceded that her move to New York "might be a colossal mistake. But on the other hand, maybe it'll save my life or something."

For those who've forgotten, "Felicity" was that season's most talked-about new show, with Russell tapped as TV's new sweetheart well before the premiere.

"It feels kind of icky," a 22-year-old Russell said in September 1998. "I'm this face that people have attached some sort of image to, but they don't even know the show yet."

Now she recalls how, at first, "Felicity" was "fun and exciting, but then it got really hard. I was kind of going with it: 'Where do they need me to be? OK. I'm there.' I don't think I was consciously aware of what I was doing. I was just trying to get through the day."

Then, just before the second season, Russell cut her hair. She can now laugh (and does, heartily) at the uproar over the shearing of her fabled mane. The fleecing of Felicity was even blamed for a dip in the show's ratings that year. Such was Russell's life under a microscope.

"I don't regret any of it, of course," she declares. "But I got really tired after four years of that. I had to just take off."

'Do I want to do that part?'
Then came fall 2003, when "the way I knew I wanted to go back to work was: I was reading scripts that interested me."

Russell went to London to shoot "The Upside of Anger," a dark comedy also starring Joan Allen and Kevin Costner, which opens in March. "Doing it was a blast."

Late last spring she traveled to Alberta, Canada, for "The Magic of Ordinary Days."

"Where we were shooting was so beautiful," she says. Then, before she knew it, she was back in the same locale for "Into the West" -- a six-part, 12-hour epic about the settling of the American West that gave her many happy days spent on horseback. It will air on TNT this summer.

"Living in New York," she says, "kind of distances me from the business, from doing things because I think I should, so I can ask myself: 'Do I want to do that part? Yeah, it sounds like fun.' "

Bottom line: Like Felicity, Keri Russell came to Manhattan to have an adventure. She smiles at the felicitous comparison, but adds, "I'm still having it!"

Keri Russell’s signed for Mission Impossible: 3

Abrams just added a significant degree of hotness to his directorial debut Mission Impossible 3 by adding Keri Russell to the cast.

Russell is currently starring in The Upside of Anger, which had its premiere at Sundance, and it seems she and other members of the cast were in the “Foundry Grill and Owl Bar” in Park City and she let it slip that she would be starring in Mission…Russell played the title role in Abrams’ “Felicity".

Well done her, could it be that she’s set for greater things than Abrams previous female lead whose career isn’t doing so well with the fizzle of Elektra?

So far though, the cast list is looking good:
Tom Cruise, Eileen Atkins, Kenneth Branagh, Ricky Gervais, Scarlett Johansson, Justin Kirk, Carrie-Anne Moss, Keri Russell and Ving Rhames.

Keri works 'Magic' in Hallmark film

"Magic of Ordinary Days," the Hallmark Hall of Fame drama airing tomorrow night on CBS, casts a spell, but it's not magical. Hypnotic is the better word.

It slowly - very slowly - drums home the message that there are joys in the simple, everyday life, and that there's no need to look beyond one's own horizon.

This is fine for Livy Dunne (Keri Russell), the pregnant, unmarried graduate student whose father arranges a marriage of convenience for her, far from home and friends, with lonely farmer Ray Singleton (Skeet Ulrich).

But for a viewer wondering when sparks will ignite between the couple, and enduring the drama's excruciatingly slow pace, patience is required in bulk.

Slow and easy does it is the lesson both Livy and viewers must learn. For Livy, there's an eventual payoff from what she considers a boring life; for viewers, it's watching Russell, the former star of "Felicity," beautifully handle this game of dramatic softball.

The actress gracefully steps into her new life, bewildered by her placid farmer/husband, who accepts his new situation as "God's will."

Ulrich, hidden half the time under a big-brimmed hat, fills his role with gentle understanding, staying out of Livy's way yet allowing her the run of the house. When he realizes her scholastic interests were in archeology, he goes to the local library to learn about the hidden city of Troy so he can share her life.

There are no outbursts of frustration. Husband and wife tiptoe around each other, as Livy gradually sees the beauty in her new life. She even makes friends with two Japanese girls who are documenting the species of butterflies in the community. Eventually, she dances with Ray at his sister's (Mare Winningham) birthday bash.

Winningham delivers a down-to-earth performance as the supportive sister, whose husband, Chester (Sam Dyer), and three children make Livy feel welcomed.

This is not an eventful drama, but rather a lovely love story. It is based on the 2001 novel by Ann Howard Creel, as adapted by Camille Thomasson. It was executiveproduced by Richard Welsh and directed by Brent Shields, whose light touch is just right for the material.

Taking a year off to hang out energizes former 'Felicity' star

You haven't seen much of Keri Russell during the last couple of TV seasons. That's because the "Felicity" star flew the Hollywood coop when her series was canceled by the WB in 2002.

The one-time Mousketeer on the Disney Channel's "All New Mickey Mouse Club" decided to make herself scarce. She pulled back, dropped out and took off. She distanced herself from Hollywood and show business.
"Well, after 'Felicity,' I took a whole year off," Russell told TV critics this month in Los Angeles. "I think I was just a little burned out. I picked up and moved to New York City. I have a few really good girlfriends there I've known since I was 15 years old.

"I took a few boxes of books and my cats, and I had two mattresses on the floor, and I just lived there for a while and read books and acted like a kid. I just kind of needed to check out a little bit. I wasn't sure I wanted to act anymore."

Russell, 28, returns to television with "The Magic of Ordinary Days," a "Hallmark Hall of Fame" presentation that will air at 9 tonight on WOIO Channel 19. She stars in the World War II-era drama as unmarried Livy Dunne, a career-minded woman who becomes pregnant by a dashing soldier with no interest in a long-term relationship.

Livy's father, a stern minister, banishes her into a marriage of convenience with Ray Singleton (Skeet Ulrich), a hard-working Colorado farmer who agrees to raise her child as his own.

Based on the novel by Ann Howard Creel, the "Hallmark" drama also stars Emmy-winner Mare Winningham.

Before taking her year off, Russell had been working steadily since turning 15. Her three-year stint as a Mousketeer began in 1991. She made her film debut a year later in "Honey, I Blew Up the Kid."

Continuing her comeback, Russell also will appear in the film "The Upside of Anger" and executive producer Steven Spielberg's "Into the West," a 12-hour miniseries airing in June on TNT.

"I kind of found my way back after a little break," said Russell, who won a Golden Globe award for "Felicity." "I just think I was really tired. Being the lead character of a television series is just all-consuming. You don't have time for an outside life at all, and I think I just missed that.

"I wanted to be able to do some life things, so that's all it was about. It was about regaining some of that back. And then once I knew that I could do that, I could get interested in things again."



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