Tomorrow evening, the 68th Emmy Awards will be broadcast from Los Angeles, where Keri Russell will be a contender for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for her role in The Americans—her first-ever Emmy nomination. Russell’s costar and real-life love, Matthew Rhys, is also a contender in the actor category. Because the FX series has been largely overlooked for three seasons running, the couple—who earlier this summer welcomed their son, Sam—didn’t even bother tuning into the live nominations announcement. “You just think if it hasn’t happened yet, it’s probably never going to happen,” Russell said in August. The subsequent celebration at their summer home in Woodstock, New York, included a pair of Pacíficos and a cheese quesadilla (“Because we’re classy”). Ahead of tomorrow night’s awards, here are five things you may not have known about the artist formerly known as Felicity.
1. After Russell infamously cut her signature curly hair during season two of Felicity, show ratings tanked and a media firestorm ensued. As a result, WB executives called for network approval of all future hairstyle changes requested by talent. “Nobody is cutting their hair again on our network,” WB’s entertainment president said at the time. “People still take it really personally,” Russell said. “They come up to me at breakfast places like, ‘When are you growing your hair back?’ It grows back, crazies!” Rhys was recently asked what his reaction would be if Russell came home with a similar chop. “I’d be like, ‘I hope you kept that hair, we can put it on eBay. Buy Felicity’s real hair.’ Baby Sam needs to go to college.”
2. Russell has said the sex scenes in The Americans can be a little uncomfortable. “No one wakes up on Tuesday morning at 6:00 a.m. and is [excited to be] like, ‘Hey! Nice to meet ya! Okay, here we go, whoooo!’ with 50 of our friends watching,” she has said. While the scenes are typically filmed at “some cheap-y hotel in Staten Island,” Russell takes a similarly laid-back approach to her pre-take getting ready routine. “There is no way this is going to happen unless there is a beer had. Are you serious? Hello, stranger!” It’s awkward for Rhys, too: “I get a little protective,” he said last month. “I’m like, ‘Can someone get her a f—in’ robe, please? She’s standing there naked, we’ve cut for five seconds, Jesus Christ. And they’re like, ‘Dude, this is the fourth season.’”
3. Russell got her start at age 15 when she answered an open casting call for the Disney Channel’s nationwide search for singers, dancers, and actors in The All New Mickey Mouse Club. Russell was hired as a dancer, but she was too good an actress to stay in the follies. “She ended up being this fantastic actor, so we started writing more sketches for her,” cohost Fred Newman later said. One of 19 kids on the show, Russell has said the cast often threw sleepovers and took trips together. “The job felt less like work and more like going to a really intense dance class. And um, my high school boyfriend was Tony Lucca. He was the James Taylor of our group.” (In 2012, Lucca competed on The Voice, where he butted heads with judge and former Mousketeer Christina Aguilera. He came in second. Russell voted for him.)
4. Before Russell was cast in Felicity, she was a contender to play Cher Horowitz in Clueless. “The one that—she was in that show and she cut her hair and everybody was mad? Keri Russell, yes,” Amy Heckerling, the writer and director of Clueless, later recalled.
5. Russell was almost too good-looking to play Felicity. “In the original script, Felicity was having lunch at high school with her best friend Maya, ‘a tragically beautiful girl,’” Russell said. “And I called my manager and said, ‘They’re gonna want me to play the stupid best friend. They’re gonna see me and go, No, thanks. But will you come back in and read the two-line character of Maya?”’ For the audition, Russell went makeup-free, wore her hair in a bun, and dressed in baggy jeans and a sweater, but it didn’t work. “When Keri came in, I was blown away,” Felicity creator J.J. Abrams said. “She was so pretty, I thought there was no way she could play the part. And then she started reading and was just funny as hell. And if you’re funny, I don’t care, you win.”