Russell jumps into new role

By Heather Leszczewicz
Marquette Tribune 4/27/2006

She’s been in an exclusive club, she’s followed a crush to college, she’s been to the West and seen the upside of anger – it’s easy to say that Keri Russell has had a full and thriving career. Now she’s jumping off buildings and putting together machine guns blind-folded under 30 seconds in the third “Mission Impossible.”

What attracted her to the project was the fact that J.J. Abrams, creator of “Felicity,” “Alias” and “Lost,” was at the helm.

“I feel it’s less about being a special agent and more about J.J.’s writing. I just get his voice. That was easier for me to think of. He’s just so good at writing people,” Russell said in a recent conference call.

After four seasons starring as the title character in “Felicity,” Russell should know a bit about Abrams’ direction and writing style.

“Felicity” has somewhat haunted Russell, as people can’t seem to let go of the fact that she is not that college student in New York. After the end of the show, Russell decided to take a much needed break from acting. It was a chance to clear her head.

“That break I took after ‘Felicity’ hugely impacted me and what roles I would take. I had that separation from ‘Felicity’… my imagination and feeling about it. I was coming at it from a different angle,” she said. “When I finished ‘Felicity’ I didn’t want to do anything. I needed a break to be a kid, kind of, again. ‘Mission Impossible’ came after I had that break. It was rejuvenating and necessary for me to do that. I slowly got interested in scripts again. I just knew it was time for me to work again after getting interested in stories again.”

The rule Russell decides to follow when it comes to roles is the interest factor.

“I’m just trying to constantly do things that interest me. I think that’s what all of us want to do. No one wants to do the same thing.”

Now what could be more interesting than a movie involving some of the biggest names in Hollywood? Besides Tom Cruise, M:i:III hosts Ving Rhames, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Billy Crudup and Laurence Fishburne.

Russell plays Lindsey, an agent-in-training.

“I’m an agent-in-training. Ethan (Cruise’s character) is training us all. We get sent out on a mission and I kind of get into a situation,” Russell said. “The story comes into place whether or not Tom’s character would help me out of this situation.”

The group went through months of training, hence putting together machine guns. For anyone who’d like to know, Russell’s proud to say her fastest time was 13 seconds.

She also got interested in the secret agent world along with the “M:i:III” world.

“I find that whole world fascinating. Where does the government recruit these people?” She asked. “Granted, it’s a fantasy movie. I love movies like this. Endlessly fascinating.”

Russell said having Cruise, media magnet, on the set wasn’t distracting.

“Well it didn’t affect me at all because I’m not dating him or in his family. His personal life is his personal life. As far as I’m concerned, he was so great with me,” Russell said. “We were brother and sister on the set, pushing each other around. I can only speak for myself and I had a great experience.”

Russell has already seen the movie and says that it passes her “Cringe factor,” because she is very critical of herself.

“I saw it for the first time and thought it was awesome. I can’t believe I’m in it.” she said.

She says that Abrams has packed in many gadgets and techie things into “M:i:III” and she alluded to a scene that she’s in, but won’t let on to what happens. All she says is, “I feel like a real badass when it happens.”

“Mission Impossible III” hits theaters May 5.