‘Felicity’ alum Keri Russell talks about being in the fright club

From: The Chicago Sun-Times 2/14/2013
by: Cindy Pearlman

In her new movie “Dark Skies,” Keri Russell looks beautiful and ageless. Just don’t tell her that.

“Are you out of your mind? I look 85 right now!” says Russell, 36, from her home outside Manhattan. “I’m stressed in so many places. It’s out of control.”

There’s no pretending her life is just a bunch of roses.

“I’m trying to do the show and I have two kids. I look so frickin’ old right now, plus I’m in the middle of a snowstorm,” Russell says. “We’re wading out of tons of snow, and the kids are going crazy.”

Just a few years ago as TV’s Felicity, her biggest problem was a cute guy liking her. Nowadays, screen life is a tad more complicated.

She’s a Russian spy living in suburban Washington, D.C., in the new FX show “The Americans.” In “Dark Skies” (opening Friday), she’s Lacy Barrett in the story of a deadly force that’s quite peeved with a suburban family.

Russell says the film “is in the vein of a ‘Poltergeist.’ ”

For her, acting scared for take after take is pretty easy stuff. “I do think that I’m scared all the time, so it wasn’t that tough. I’m scared by life … in real life,” she says with a laugh. “So acting scared wasn’t that hard to do.”

Russell made sure the film passed the horror test by doing her own market research. “I bought a gaggle of girlfriends to watch an early screening. It was so fun. I forgot about the joy of seeing a really scary movie. You want to jump with your friends and then laugh at yourself,” she says. “My girlfriends were perfectly scared and tickled at the same time.”

There are few laughs in “The Americans,” which has garnered rave reviews. She plays Elizabeth Jennings, part of a Russian sleeper cell operating in the United States in the 1980s.

“I love that the character of Elizabeth is so unreachable in many ways,” she says. “The idea was to cast someone like me — someone people already knew and liked a bit because of ‘Felicity’ — in a role where I’m suddenly the cold one. I love that she’s so cut off from her own emotions.

“There are so many cool places yet to explore on the show. I love the angle that we can explore about relationships and marriage. We ask, ‘How much do you really know somebody? How much can you compromise your core belief system and still maintain respect for each other?’ ”

The Fountain Valley, Calif., native has been exploring different roles since beginning her career on “The Mickey Mouse Club” in 1991.

After the WB series “Felicity” ended in 2002, Russell was a bit burned out. “I wasn’t worried about finding more work. I didn’t want to work anymore,” she says. “After the show, I said good riddance to acting. I was tired.

“I thought, ‘I can rent a nice apartment now and I’ll be fine.’ I just wanted to meet with my girlfriends and hang out. I guess I just needed a break. I missed acting, but now that I’m a mom, I’m still not the kind of person who wants to work 18 hours a day.”

Now she’s married to Shane Deary and the mother of River, 5, and toddler Willa.

“I would never want to be back in my 20s,” she admits. “The 20s were so confusing. It’s so much better now being almost 40. I realize now that I don’t have to fix the little things.”