YM Magazine (interview)

From: YM Magazine, December, 1998
by: Jeanne Wolf

FIRST, THE STAR SPILLS…

It’s hard to ignore 22-year- old Keri Russell’s gorgeous corkscrew curls and piercing green eyes. But it’s easy to get absorbed by her portrayal of Felicity Porter, the center of TV’s most-talked-about new show. Felicity is an insta-heroine: She kicks off the show by following a spontaneous urge (for the first time in her life), which means ditching the college plans her parents made for her to follow her crush to a university clear across the country. Watching Felicity take responsibility for her rashness and make a new life for herself on a big, bustling campus in New York City is a crash course in growing up.

As Felicity, Keri has finally found her niche. Seven years ago, Keri, who grew up one of three children in decidedly low-key Mesa, AZ, and in Denver, scored a part on a variety show called The New Mickey Mouse Club. Then followed six years of a mixture of hardly sensational TV work: one season on the failed prime- time angst-soap Malibu Shores and a string of tele-flicks. Keri is very conscious of how Felicity’s become her big breakout role.In fact, she’s a little grateful to gutsy Felicity for teaching her how to be more honest and up front with others. But honesty can be risky, and we can’t help but hope Felicity won’t get hurt on the rocky path she’s chosen for herself. But instead of cheering from afar, YM got up close and personal with the show’s brightest star.

YM: What do you admire most about your character, Felicity?

KR: She’s naively honest. I think that’s such a great quality. She doesn’t know that she shouldn’t tell people how she feels all the time. In my life [since the show began], I’m constantly realizing I speak out when something bugs me, like she does. She’s smart, too. So she figures, This is how I’m feeling, I’m going to tell them. I wish I had more of that.

YM: Do you ever have the urge to rebel against your parents like Felicity does?

KR: No. My parents have always been supportive of what I’ve done, so I haven’t had the struggle that Felicity has. I think being an only child [like Felicity] comes with a lot of pressure. When you have more kids in your family, all eyes aren’t on you and every move you make. And I think that was Felicity’s [reason for moving away].

YM: Is it weird going to college on the show when you’ve never had that experience yourself?

KR: No, not really. I mean, for me, college is being out of your comfort zone. I think that’s ultimately what our show is about: coming to a new place and being able to reinvent yourself.

That happens to me constantly in real life— especially going from set to set. I just finished a movie in Ireland, and that was like college for me. I was across the ocean and the only American on set. [Every day was a challenge:] Deal or not deal, fit in or not fit in. I think that’s as much college as we’re trying to depict [on Felicity].

I think the show is really funny and smart. And it’s responsible, too. I mean, especially since I’m a young girl, I don’t choose parts that compromise my morals or make me say, “That’s so stupid. Girls are smarter than that.” The only drawback could be that [Felicity] followed this boy across the country. But the great thing is, in the first two episodes we dealt with the fact that she realizes what a big mistake that was, that going all the way across the country and dropping everything she had was maybe not the best choice she could have made.

YM; In what way does Felicity get to you?

KR: Most teenage girls feel as if they have to impress everybody. I even find that in myself. You just want to make sure everyone’s okay. And that’s not always okay. You have to gain a sense of self-worth and be independent. And I think boys do that much more easily than girls do.

YM: Do you catch yourself feeling extra responsibility because you’re the star of the show?

KR; Oh, yeah. Absolutely These last few months have been overwhelming. Even photo shoots tend to feel like a responsibility of mine. Like, I want to make sure that everyone’s happy. And when someone’s having a problem with his or her hair, I feel like it’s my responsibility to go and say, “So-and-so doesn’t like her hair. Can you help her?” I feel like if I don’t say it, no one will.

YM: So what do you need in your dressing room to keep you calm?

KR: Candles and pictures, I take a lot of black-and- white pictures, and I’ve been using a lot of the photos I have in my dressing room on the set—in [Felicity’s] room. Pictures of my goddaughter and people I love.

YM: Do you have a boyfriend?

KR: I do. He’s my best friend.

YM: What does he think about your huge success?

KR: He thinks it’s great. I mean, the cool thing is [this show] has been the first thing that I’ve really enjoyed working on and been proud of. And he and the rest of my friends just, they love it, too.

YM; One more question: In the shows you’ve taped so far, have Felicity and Ben kissed?

KR: Oh, no. The show would be over once that happens!