Exclusive: Keri Russell on Marriage, Motherhood and Scrubs

From: TV Guide 4/11/2007
by: Michael Ausiello

I never thought I’d say this, but my 19-second cameo as Dr. Kim’s insanely irresistible obstetrician is not the biggest thing to happen to Scrubs this season. No, that honor belongs to my reigning BFF Keri Russell, who on April 26 returns to her small-screen roots with a two-episode arc as an old friend of Elliot’s. To mark the occasion, I did something I haven’t done since I misplaced her digits nearly two years ago: I got her on the phone. Since last we connected, my beloved Felicity grad died in Tom Cruise’s arms, posed nude in Vanity Fair, became the new face of CoverGirl, turned 30, became a waitress, was the toast of Sundance, got pregnant, married a carpenter and made out with Zach Braff. Long story short: We had much to discuss.

You’ve been busy since last we spoke.
[Laughs] I’ve had a few life changes.

Congratulations on the wedding…
Thank you.

… and the baby.
Thank you.

How’s everything?
Everything is really good. It’s a really fun, exciting time in my life, that’s for sure.

How far along are you?
I’m in the third trimester, so I’m at the beginning of the end here.

Anything surprise you about pregnancy?
The thing that surprises me is how great it is. You hear horror stories. I have a few friends who are pregnant and they’re so sick — miserable sick — and I’m having such a nice experience. Knock on wood. I haven’t been sick. I’ve been really active. I’m not too huge yet. I’m kind of a tiny girl anyway. But they say at this point every week the baby gains at least a pound. [Laughs] So, we’ll see how that will change. It’s thrilling. It’s like a daily science experiment.

How is married life?
News flash: It doesn’t really change anything. Everything’s the same. But I’m so happy. I’m with someone I really enjoy and respect and love hanging out with.

Your wedding was a very low-key affair. How come?
It was kind of a last-minute thing. We wanted to be in the hospital with the baby as a family. It really was just, “Oh, when is this private room in the restaurant available? Valentine’s Day? Oh, is that too cheesy? OK, well, let’s do it anyway.” We had a justice of the peace do this quick little thing. It was really just beautiful, nice and simple. If we decide to actually have a [traditional] wedding, we might do it a little later.

So you are thinking of doing a big wedding, with the white dress and everything?
Oh, I don’t think it would ever be like that. But, you know, [something] where we actually get to say vows to each other. But this is what it needed to be. We wanted to make everything legal and nice.

How’s your husband, Shane, adjusting to life in the spotlight?
It’s definitely something to get used to. But I think it’s good that it makes him uncomfortable. I think anyone who is too comfortable with all this stuff is strange. It’s normal that he’s uncomfortable. Like, if someone takes our picture on the street, I tell him, “Act however you want to act. It’s uncomfortable; you can look uncomfortable.” It’s strange when someone jumps out in front of you. The other day Shane was helping me load bags for the airport in the car and somebody was taking our picture. And he was like, “That was so weird!” And I said, “I know. That is weird.” He’s still so fun to go to all those events and parties with. We were just somewhere and he was like, “There’s free food here!” I’m like, “Yeah, there’s going to be free food.” [Laughs]

That’s awesome.
Isn’t that fantastic? It makes everything more fun.

How did Scrubs come about?
[Series creator] Bill Lawrence is friendly with my manager, and they’ve been talking about it. And I had just finished the films [Waitress and August Rush], and they were kind of sad. I thought it would be nice to do something fun and wacky.

Did you have a blast?
It was such a blast, I can’t even tell you. They are so professional on that set, and I think it has so much to do with Bill. He’s just so cool and keeps everyone so aboveboard. When we met about me doing this role, he said, “Basically, I just wanted to meet you because we have a ‘no a–hole policy’ on the show.” And it’s true. They have huge monologues to do, and they just show up and bang it out. And that’s not usual for a show in its sixth year. By the third year of a show everyone’s usually showing up late, people don’t want to be there, they don’t have their lines memorized. But they were so sharp and professional. If anything, I was the slacker. Because when you’re pregnant, you kind of have pregnancy brain. It’s strange. People don’t believe you, but your memory goes. I had these monologues to do with Zach and there were times I was like, “Uh-oh. I don’t know what I’m saying. This is horrifying.”

Tell me about your big make-out scene with Zach.
[Laughs] I told him, “Do girls just get hired to make out with you?” Like, every new girl makes out with Zach. But, you know, he said I was his first pregnant girl.

Waitress (opening May 2) really wowed ’em at Sundance. What was that experience like?
It was such a unique Sundance experience. I’ve been there a few times now with different films, but I’ve never been there with one like this. It was so well-received. I didn’t realize until I actually watched it that it really has this completely hopeful message, and I think people really responded to that.

It must’ve been surreal being there without the film’s guiding force, Adrienne Shelly. [Shelly was murdered last November, shortly after Waitress wrapped.]
I still don’t even have words. It’s so unfair. Everything about this movie is her. It’s not like she just wrote it. She wrote it, she directed it, she’s in it, she picked out our clothes, she wrote the songs — everything about it is her. And also, I’ve never worked with a director who was so specific about our parts. This was very much her voice, and it’s so unfair that she isn’t here to see it. She would’ve been the toast of Sundance. I mean she still was, but for her not to be there is just a tragic, tragic thing.

What was going through your mind when you watched the film at Sundance?
Adrienne was strong-willed. She knew what she wanted, and she got it. We would definitely have conversations [Laughs] about how things were going. And there were so many times in watching the movie that something would happen, and it would get this huge laugh, and I wanted to say to her, “F—, you were right — that gag totally worked. You were right, and I was too afraid to go for it, and you said, ‘Go for it!’ And it worked. It got a huge laugh.” It’s just sad because I wish I could’ve told her she was right. She had it down. She knew the tone. ‘Cause at points in the film it’s so wacky, and at other points it’s really real and sad and tender, and she knew what line she wanted to walk and it really worked.

Have you seen a final cut of August Rush?
I actually just saw a screening. It’s really great. It’s so different than Waitress. It’s like this beautiful, magical fairy tale. And the music in it is amazing. Freddie Highmore and Jonathan Rhys-Meyers are great in it.

Do you sing in it?
No, but Jonathan does. I think families will really like it. And every girl and gay guy will love Jonathan.

Scrubs aside, is it fair to say you’re focusing your career on films now?
Never say never with TV. I still talk to [Felicity cocreators] J.J. [Abrams] and Matt [Reeves] all the time. If it was the right situation, I would totally do another television show. It’s just about timing, and where the story is. I don’t think I’d take something this year for TV, just because we’re about to have a baby and I don’t want to work eight months out of the year. But never say never.

Maybe you could be in the new Star Trek movie J.J.’s directing!
[Laughs] I don’t know about that.

I have to say, your death scene in Mission: Impossible III was very disturbing.
[Laughs] I brought Shane to [a screening], and he didn’t know anything about it. All this time we were shooting, all he knew was that I was training to do these fight scenes with Tom Cruise. I didn’t tell him I died and I didn’t tell him how it happened. So when that happened he was like, “Oh my god! That’s disgusting!”

What was it like working with J.J. again?
Are you kidding? He’s my favorite. It’s not work, it’s so fun and so comfortable. We laughed the entire time. There was this shot during the big shootout in the factory where Tom just rescued me and J.J. wanted me to, like, shoot [my gun] right into the lens, and he was like, “If you can get your hair to flip around this will be your bad-ass shot!” [Laughs] He’s like, “I’m telling you, you’re going to love this.”

That’s hysterical. You know, there was a rumor going around that you became a Scientologist during filming. Someone apparently “spotted” you buying Scientology books.
[Laughs] That is crazy.

I was getting e-mails from concerned fans….
Oh, I’m sure you were. My friend’s grandmother called, “Is Keri all right?” I said, “Tell everyone that everything is fine.”

Was the shoot pretty insane, given everything that was going on with Tom at the time?
It wasn’t for me, because we were shooting a lot of nights. And his world is pretty protected, so it’s not like people were showing up on set. It’s not like Lindsay Lohan’s life or something like that. He has it so down. He’s been famous for so long, that I think he’s figured out a way to make it work for him. And also, my experience on that movie was with J.J. If I was on the set, I was with J.J. It’s not like I was part of the “other world.”

I was flipping through Vanity Fair a few months ago and came across you… naked!
[Laughs] You do an entire photo shoot full of beautiful clothes for an entire day, and then the last five minutes as you’re walking out the door they’re like, “Wait! Let’s do one more thing!” It was a total of seven minutes and that’s the one they chose.

Were you upset?
No. I thought it was fine. I thought it was totally tasteful. I don’t think there’s much about me that’s provocative or over the line, so I thought it was fine. But Shane, at the time, was like, “You did what?”

You still keep in touch with your Felicity peeps? I know you and Amanda Foreman are tight.
I just talked to Mandy, and I just talked to Scott Speedman. Rob Patrick Benedict just had his second baby. They were all at my baby shower. They’re still very much a part of my life and they always will be.

Before I forget, are you enjoying your thirties?
Life only gets better. And 31’s been a huge year. We bought a house, I got married, we’re having a kid. We’re trying to jam it all in in one year.