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Keri Comes Clean About Being a Mom, Actress and Neat Freak

From her early start as a Mouseketeer to her Golden Globe-winning performance as a college student on “Felicity” to starring in critically acclaimed films including “Waitress,” Keri Russell has done a lot of growing up on screen.

Now, Russell, 34, is returning to TV with “Running Wilde,” premiering Sept. 21 on Fox, where she plays opposite funnyman Will Arnett.

ParentDish recently caught up with Russell, a married mom to River, 3, who calls Brooklyn, N.Y., home. The actress talked about the new show, being a working mother and her love of — seriously — laundry.

ParentDish: You play an environmental activist on “Running Wilde.” Are you a greenie?
Keri Russell: No. Well, look, I’m not an outright polluter, but I’m by no means living in a rain forest saving perishing tribes. I think of any part of the character that I relate to is the know-it-all control freak.

PD: So, are you a know-it-all control freak?
KR: I think my husband would say so.
PD: Really? Why?
KR: I’m just a nerd. Well, maybe not as controlling as much as a nerd. I like everything organized. I like everything very clean. I don’t like to bend the rules. I’m a nerd. I go to sleep really early. I’m like, “I don’t think that’s the way we should do that,” and my husband’s like, “Alright, nerd. Calm down.” I’m the opposite of cool.

PD: Your son is 3. Is it hard to let go of stuff?
KR: Oh, my God! It changes everything. I feel like the moment I put him to sleep I can clean the kitchen the way I like it and then when he’s awake and he has every toy out you just have to walk away.

PD: Do you make him help pick up?
KR: Yes, of course. We sort of sing a little song about it together, but he’s not as excited about cleaning up as I am. He says, “You, Mama, you.”

PD: How do you juggle the work and the kid?
KR: I take it day by day. Yes, I work really hard during the day, but I had this week off so we got to register for preschools. I got to put him to sleep at night and have breakfast in the morning. That’s, I guess, sort of the good thing about being a working parent. When you are at home, you really appreciate those mundane every day little things.

PD: That previously irritated you.
KR: Yeah! Before you were expected to do it and now it’s a luxury.

PD: Been on any date nights with Will Arnett and Amy Poehler?
KR: No. We haven’t had enough time off for a date night and, for the love of God, the last person he wants to see is me and likewise.

PD: Do you even say hello to each other in the mornings?
KR: Oh we’re like, “Eh,” and then we usually make fun of each other.

PD: Does that mean you’re comfortable with each other?
KR: Oh, we are so over being polite with each other, are you kidding me? I am attacked the second I step into that world. Basically, I’m working with eight older brothers, but I’m good at sticking up for myself. I do some pretty serious fighting. Will calls it dance fighting. He says, ‘Every time you go to fight it looks like you’re doing a dance move — and a 5, 6, 7, 8.

PD: So you’ve never knocked out a tooth?
KR: No, but that would be a pretty good story.

PD: You were on the “Mickey Mouse Club” when you were a teenager.
KR: Again, this confirms how uncool I am. Most 16-year-olds were, like, smoking pot and stealing cars or something, as I was on the “Mickey Mouse Club” singing about Mickey Mouse and doing dance moves to Bell Biv Devoe.

PD: What’s your favorite show on TV now?
KR: I love “So You Think You Can Dance.” I watch it and totally think I could do the moves and the reality is there’s no way I could.

PD: A couple of years ago we saw pictures of you schlepping your laundry in a bubble trolley and remember thinking, surely Keri Russell can afford to get her laundry picked up.
KR: Again, I’m a nerd. I love doing laundry and, at the time, we were living in an apartment that my husband was renovating.

PD: OK, but laundromats do have pick-up service.
KR: It’s so true, but it was probably right when my son was born and it was probably an excuse to get out of the house. I like cleaning, I like doing laundry. It’s relaxing to me.

PD: So, your favorite cleaning chore?
KR: Oh, God, there’s so many. Ironing is pretty gratifying because it smells nice and it looks nice at the end. I really like, in my house, when the downstairs is clean.