Before Felicity even premiered, Keri Russell was hailed as TV’s next “It” girl. With her head of lush ringlets and her intriguing take on the title character, the 22-year-old rookie made the coming-of-age college drama a hit. She even won a Best Actress Golden Globe before making headlines with a haircut that chopped ratings.
Post-Felicity, the former Disney Mouseketeer retreated to New York to break from her star-making role. She took supporting turns in Neil Labute’s Fat Pig off-Broadway, the Sundance hit The Upside of Anger, and Tom Cruise’s Mission: Impossible 3. In 2007, Russell made audiences laugh and weep as a Southern pregnant pie-maker in the indie hit Waitress, written by Adrienne Shelly, who was murdered before the film’s release. The CoverGirl spokeswoman married longtime boyfriend, contractor Shane Deary, with whom she had a baby boy named River.
Five Fun Facts:
1. At her first press junket for Felicity, Keri Russell, who previously starred in a failed nighttime soap and a few TV movies, was reminded of her less than stellar resume. “Literally the first question from this guy to me was, ‘Keri, you’ve done some real low-quality projects…'” she tells the Los Angeles Times. “It was like the worst experience.”
2. On Felicity, Keri Russell’s character goes to the fictional University of New York. She was originally slated to attend New York University, but the college declined to lend its name to the show, wary of issues such as drugs and suicide being covered.
3. Keri Russell’s first meeting with Mission: Impossible 3 costar Tom Cruise involved a hula hoop contest at director J.J. Abrams’ house.
4. After cutting her hair for the second season of Felicity ratings declined for the show. “It must have been a boring year to have so many people worried about my hair,” Keri Russell told the New York Times in 2004.
5. Keri Russell says she’s clearly not an everyday fashionista: “I wear my same jacket, jeans and Vans skater shoes every day,” she tells PEOPLE. “I know photographers are like, ‘We don’t want her. She’s boring.’ I’m like, ‘This is all I’ve got.’