Who’s News (interview)

by: Lorrie Lynch 11/14/99

Keri Russell, star of the WB network’s critically acclaimed drama Felicity, stopped between takes one recent afternoon to talk with USA WEEKEND’s Maggie Gallant about celebrity life, romance, body image and her new hairdo.

Q: Do you feel that you are a role model? If so, does that affect the way you behave? How has life changed for you?

A: I think you have to feel that responsibility at least peripherally even if you are not admitting it. I don’t know that I changed the way I act. I mean, hopefully, I am acting respectably anyway. I definitely feel a responsibility, somewhat.

Q: Is Felicity the icon of a young ’90s woman? If so, what gives her that quality?

A: I think Felicity’s character is incredibly likeable. She is very admirable in the sense that she is a teenager … young adult breaking away from her parents and really going for something that she really wants to do. She is also incredibly brave. I don’t know many people who go all the way across the country for this romantic idea and that is so appealing in people. I know I find it very appealing in people when they are so courageous and romantic like that. And also, I just think she wears her heart on her sleeve and that is admirable as well. She is smart and funny and self-deprecating and all those things that are attractive in people.

Q: How different is Keri Russell, the person, from Felicity, the character?

A: I always say that I think and feel everything Felicity says. I tend to hold back a lot more than Felicity. I think Felicity is so naive in relationships, but it is easier for her to just be honest, because she doesn’t really know that is wrong yet or that it should be wrong at all. I think I tend to be a little bit more reserved in saying exactly what I am feeling at the time.

Q: Where do you want to be in five years from now?

A: I have no idea. Just hopefully happy. I mean, whatever that means. I don’t know if that is going to be so far away from this business or what. I don’t know. We’ll see how it goes.

Q: Has Hollywood created an image of women that promotes unhealthy habits? Do you ever feel that pressure?

A: That’s really sad. I don’t personally have any experiences with that. I think luckily my body just has a really fast metabolism. The truth is that I am going to have the body of a 12-year-old for the rest of my life. I’m never going to be this voluptuous, womanly type girl. I also think that everything changes. We were just having this conversation in the makeup room. We were talking about how women’s bodies, it’s all economic. In Marilyn Monroe’s time, if you had enough money, you could eat very well and you were very voluptuous and round, and now if you have enough money, you have a personal trainer, and you can be skinny enough so you look like you have a personal trainer. It’s all economics and horrifying that girls feel that. I know so many different types in my personal life between my girlfriends, and I don’t feel that pressure. I know really good examples of people who aren’t stick skinny who are amazingly sexy to me and beautiful.

Q: What prompted you to cut your beautiful long hair? How do you feel now?

A: I love it. It’s so liberating in the most acute way. I never imagined that a haircut could really alter your personality, but there is an honesty that is not there when you have long hair, because I think you can hide a lot. I think it is really easy to slump your shoulders and hide and laugh and fling your hair. There is this openness and this reality that I didn’t know before. It is a really cool adjustment.