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In The Diplomat, Keri Russell Lets Loose—And Maybe Saves the World

Keri Russell was not ready for more TV. After making six highly acclaimed and intensive seasons of FX’s The Americans, in which she starred as the enigmatic Russian spy Elizabeth Jennings, she came out of the experience ready for a life of shorter-term—and perhaps less emotionally draining—work commitments. “I definitely wasn’t looking to do another series,” she says. When the script for the London-set The Diplomat by Debora Cahn came her way, Russell was also planning on moving to a new home across the country with her family. So shooting in Europe for seven months seemed completely unfeasible, even beyond the shift in focus. And yet here Russell sits, in a Zoom window right beside Cahn’s, with the first season of The Diplomat completed and set for an April 20 release on Netflix. (Watch an exclusive clip below.)

“I just couldn’t stop thinking about it,” Russell concedes. “So I was like, This is impossible—and I’m going to do it.”

Following the B movie phenomenon that is Cocaine Bear, The Diplomat continues a theme for Russell in 2023: fun. That may sound unlikely given that the drama series hails from Cahn, a veteran of high-stakes political TV like The West Wing and Homeland. Its premise sounds similarly weighty: An Afghanistan-bound diplomat (Russell) is instead named the unexpected new US ambassador to the United Kingdom, where she’s tasked with averting international crises—brewing war on one continent, boiling conflict on another—in an unfamiliar milieu. But The Diplomat is hardly stodgy. The show has as much in common with Veep as it does Homeland in its focus on the way people actually operate in spaces of such power and impact—behavior that is thoroughly, brutally human.

As Cahn describes her show’s philosophy: “The world might end on Tuesday because of a decision that they do or don’t make, but that doesn’t mean they remember the name of the person they’re talking to, and that doesn’t mean that they didn’t forget to take the tag off of their pants.” She came up with the idea for The Diplomat during her tenure as a writer-producer on Homeland. A range of experts came in to tell their stories, including ambassadors. “They’re quiet and unassuming. Like, this woman who looks like my Aunt Ruthie—she was in the middle of a crisis involving nuclear waste and a truck driving off an icy Siberian road and bombs dropping,” she says. “Nobody knows what these people do. It’s such front-lines-y kind of activity, and nobody ever knows about it.”

Enter Russell’s Kate Wyler, a brilliant crisis manager without much affection for the spotlight, as evidenced by her brusque demeanor, plain attire, and political skills behind the scenes. Russell’s performance is vivacious and dynamic—a true actorly joy flows into her character’s neuroses and frustrations, to say nothing of her faculty with wry dialogue, in a way that feels fresh. “I was like, Keri’s an incredibly gifted actress, she can play this role—but I didn’t know that she was this role,” Cahn says. “I was like, Kate is a little bit neurotic and kind of itchy, and Keri Russell is graceful and statuesque. But it turns out she’s that.”

With this being Russell’s first interview about the project, that link between performer and role effortlessly reveals itself. “Please let someone else wear the pretty dress and the makeup—it’s always more fun to be the normal person,” Russell tells me, describing what enticed her to take on The Diplomat—at which point I remind her that a key story line in the show’s pilot revolves around Kate’s new handlers trying to get her to wear, yes, a pretty dress that she does not want to wear. (“That’s true!” Russell says with a laugh.) The series’ fish-out-of-water concept finds Kate especially thrown off by the customs and manners of life inside centuries-old mansions. Russell describes filming inside them with a similar befuddlement: “It was a good time, but these fancy big houses where there’s a million people working in them and just opening doors—it makes me sweat just thinking about it,” she says. “All the people staring at you when you have to walk in!”

Continue reading In The Diplomat, Keri Russell Lets Loose—And Maybe Saves the World

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‘The Diplomat’: Keri Russell-Led Political Thriller Drama Gets Netflix Premiere Date

Netflix has set a spring premiere date for The Diplomat, a political thriller drama series starring Keri Russell. The eight-episode, one-hour series will launch April 20 on the streamer.

Created by Debora Cahn (Homeland, The West Wing), The Diplomat is a high-stakes, contemporary political drama about the transcendence and torture of long-term relationships between countries and people. It centers on Kate Wyler (Russell), the new U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom. She was supposed to go to Afghanistan. She’s great in a crisis zone. In a historic home … less so. War is brewing on one continent and boiling over on another. Kate will have to defuse international crises, forge strategic alliances in London and adjust to her new place in the spotlight — all while trying to survive her marriage to fellow career diplomat and political star Hal Wyler (Rufus Sewell).

David Gyasi, Ali Ahn, Rory Kinnear and Ato Essandoh also star.

Cahn serves as executive producer and showrunner under her overall deal with Netflix. Russell also will executive produce the series alongside Cahn and Janice Williams (Pieces of Her, The Magicians). Simon Cellan Jones directs and executive produces the first two episodes, and Debora Cahn and Janice Williams also serves as EPs. The series films in the UK and Paris.


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Interview: Keri Russell on the “outlandish ridiculousness” of Cocaine Bear and why she had to say “Yes!”

Cocaine Bear, inspired by the 1985 true story of a drug runner’s plane crash, missing cocaine, and the black bear that ate it, is a wild dark comedy that finds an oddball group of cops, criminals, tourists and teens converging in a Georgia forest, where a 500- pound apex predator has ingested a staggering amount of cocaine and gone on a coke-fueled rampage for more blow … and blood.

Ahead of the film charging into cinemas from February 23rd, Universal Pictures invited Peter Gray to speak with one of the film’s ensemble cast members, Keri Russell, to discuss the “big swing” of joining such a project, how being a mother has affected her film choices, and the darkness of a pandemic informed her to say yes.

Hello Keri.

Hey, how are you doing?

I’m very well, it’s lovely to talk to the babysitter from Honey, I Blew Up the Kid!

(Laughs) Thank you.
Continue reading Interview: Keri Russell on the “outlandish ridiculousness” of Cocaine Bear and why she had to say “Yes!”

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‘Cocaine Bear’: Keri Russell Spills on the Kills, and How the Film Embraces the Ridiculous Gore

Elizabeth Banks’s star-studded dark comedy, Cocaine Bear, is fast approaching. Since it was first announced, the buzz for Pablo Escobear’s big-screen debut has been nonstop. Not only is the premise pretty “crazy, wacky, out-there,” as star Keri Russell describes it, but it also boasts a pretty phenomenal cast. In addition to Russell, the movie stars Isiah Whitlock Jr., Margo Martindale, Matthew Rhys, Kristofer Hivju, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Alden Ehrenreich, and the late legacy, Ray Liotta.

Inspired by true events that took place in the mid-eighties, Cocaine Bear gives a blow-by-blow account of the unbelievable mishap… only, with a lot more blood. When a drug runner drops an outstanding amount of cocaine on the aptly-called Blood Mountain in Georgia, a 500-pound black bear ingests a brick of it before it can be picked up. Coked up, the bear goes on a rampage, leaving a trail of gore in its wake. Unlike what actually happened, if this bear is going down, he’s taking dug dealers, tourists, and cops down with him.

Before Cocaine Bear’s worldwide release in theaters on February 24, Collider’s Steve Weintraub spoke with Russell about this insane movie. During her interview, Russell shares what ultimately convinced her to do the movie, how her The Americans co-star and husband, Matthew Rhys, got involved, and what about the script appealed the most to her. She also tells us how Banks leaned into the absurdity of the movie, what it was like playing the most normal role amid the chaos, her favorite kills, and shares a little about her upcoming Apple TV+ series, Extrapolation. For all of this and more, check out the interview in the player above, or you can read the full transcript below. Continue reading ‘Cocaine Bear’: Keri Russell Spills on the Kills, and How the Film Embraces the Ridiculous Gore

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Cocaine Bear Images

Cocaine Bear is inspired by a true story from 1985 where a convicted drug smuggler named Andrew C. Thornton II threw a duffel bag full of cocaine out of a plane he was piloting to get rid of some weight. A bear found the duffel bag and ingested all of its contents, and the drug smuggler died when he jumped out of the plane with a faulty parachute. The bear was found dead three months later next to 40 plastic containers.

Cocaine Bear hits theaters on February 24.

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