Keri Russell loved her experience shooting “Austenland,” a comedy about a group of modern-day Jane Austen fans who travel to what is essentially a theme park filled with characters from the novelist’s books.
She loved the script, her cast mates, working with a new director — loved it all. Except for one thing: the dresses.
“I definitely am one of those actors who likes the least amount of time in hair and makeup as possible,” said Russell, who entered the cultural zeitgeist with the WB show “Felicity” in the late 1990s and scored an indie hit as the lead in 2007’s “Waitress.”
“If I can do it in 20 minutes, I will. The idea of then adding an extra 20 minutes just to put on the clothes — I’m like, ‘No! That’s crazy.’ I dare you to put on a corset that you have to lace up every single day, and the bloomers and the lace-up boots and the tights, and then the underdress and the petticoat, and then the dress, which has to be laced and buttoned. It’s un-be-lieve-able.”
And try it when you’re six months’ pregnant, as Russell was at the beginning of the shoot.
“Certainly the chest region grew over the shooting,” Russell said, her laughter booming.
“Austenland” stars Russell as Jane Hayes, a mopey single woman in her 30s who can’t find a man — or when she does find one, she drives him away with her obsession with Austen.
She decides to spend her life savings on a Jane Austen experience, traveling to an English manor that has been decked out in 18th-century accoutrements and stocked with actors who dress and speak as Austen characters.
Jane Seymour has a delicious role as the micromanaging woman who runs the whole show.
The film is the first directing effort by Jerusha Hess, the Salt Lake City writer and filmmaker who, with her husband, Jared Hess, created a string of oddball comedies, including “Napoleon Dynamite” and “Nacho Libre.”
“I did it because of her,” Russell said. “Jerusha is young and smart and definitely has her own voice, which I appreciate. She has a real sense of style, and is great to work with. I’m really curious to see what she does next.”