Filed in Articles & Interviews

Keri Russell Takes a Stab at Comedy: ‘It’s Such a Different Ride’

After eight long years, Keri Russell is making a return to TV in the new comedy Running Wilde, opposite Will Arnett. The 34-year-old actress, who enjoyed four successful seasons on college drama Felicity, told reporters why she was ready for the switch.

Plus, why she couldn’t wait to work with Arrested Development creator Mitchell Hurwitz, and what she does to keep funnyman Will Arnett in line.

Why she decided to return to the small screen.
“I certainly wasn’t shopping around to do a series again. I think I had such a great run on Felicity. It was such a positive experience in every way, so I wasn’t looking to recreate that. But when I read this, and I’m obviously a huge Arrested Development fan, I just was so taken by Mitch Hurwitz that I couldn’t pass it up. When I read it, I couldn’t say no. It’s hilarious; I feel like I’m hanging out with my older brother and all his cool friends and I’m just tagging along every day.”

She’s always been a fan of absurdist comedies.
“Who isn’t? It’s so refreshing. I love that it’s something you can watch the second and third time and notice new things and get different jokes. That’s what this is all about, I think.”

Any plans to get the rest of the cast of Arrested Development on board?
“There was already some talk of Jeffery [Tambor], but he wasn’t available. I think when something works well, you have this chemistry together and you want to keep using that chemistry. I feel the same way with J.J. Abrams and Matt Reeves, the creators of Felicity. J.J. calls me all the time to do stuff and I always want to work with him because when you have a shorthand with someone, you know what to expect. So yes, there is the Arrested Development flavor, but it is innately a different show.”

Does she relate to her character, super-focused humanitarian Emmy Kadubic?
“I don’t think I’m as bossy as she is, but I certainly think I know everything, and I think my husband would agree with that. Will keeps joking that my husband Shane is an uncredited writer, that he gives him all the bad things about me and then they write it in the show.”

Fitting in on set.
“I’m definitely the new kid. I’m a nerd. I feel between David Cross and Will and Mitch, I’m still trying to be on my best behavior and show up on time and just put forth my shiniest, best version of myself. I just feel like I’m surrounded by a group of big brothers just constantly making fun of me all day long.”

Will Arnett, behind-the-scenes.
“He’s either humiliating me or berating me in front of the crew. But I feel like they are 75% on my side. They like me better than him. I tell him every day, I have an older brother already, I don’t need another one. And by the way, I throw it back. Any chance I can say he’s balding or getting old, I let everyone hear it.”

Putting her comedic chops to the test.
“This show is unlike anything I’ve ever done before. It’s such a different ride, and I feel like I’m learning so much every day, especially with Mitch. He’s rewriting things seconds before we shoot them. I’m not talking about a line, I’m talking pages of rewrites and he says, ‘I’ll just stand off to the sides and I’ll give you your lines.’ And I’m like, ‘That’s not how it works.’ But for Will it does. He’s just so sharp like that, and he has such a great relationship with Mitch that they know each other’s jokes. It’s working completely different muscles for me. But I have to say, it’s such a delight. I’m enjoying it so much. I’m laughing all day. It’s an absolute change of pace.”

Balancing work with her most important role as mom to 3-year-old son River.
“Any time you’re working and have kids, I think it’s hard. My little guy’s first week of preschool was last week, and of course I want to be there for that. I never imagined that I wouldn’t be walking him to school. Luckily, I didn’t have to go into work that day until the afternoon, so I got to drop him off at least and then my husband picked him up. But of course it’s hard. But it’s hard for my lawyer friends and advertising friends, too. You just have to make time. During the weekends, I try to do less friends stuff and try to be there to make dinner and be there for breakfast time. And he does come visit me on set, and the great thing about this show is that Will and Amy [Poehler] have two little guys, too. So we’ve gotten them together already to play.”