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CONFIRMED! KeriRussell is in #StarWars: Episode IX after all

One name conspicuously absent from Disney and Lucasfilm’s unveiling today of the full cast of Star Wars: Episode IX was Keri Russell. The Americans star was confirmed earlier this month to be in talks for a role in the pic, which begins shooting next week in London.

The reason her name wasn’t on the cast list: she hadn’t signed her deal by the time the studio wanted the news to go out today via Deadline hears though that she has now officially inked for the unknown role, and that she will be in the finale of the Skywalker Saga movies that has a December 20, 2019 release date.

The casting reunites Russell and Star Wars director and co-writer J.J. Abrams, who created her series Felicity, which ran from 1998-2002. Russell and Abrams also worked together on Mission: Impossible III. Abrams co-wrote the Episode IX script with Chris Terrio.

Russell recently wrapped on the sixth and final season of FX’s Americans.

The main cast of the Episode IX now: Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Domhnall Gleeson, Kelly Marie Tran, Joonas Suotamo, Billie Lourd, Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels, Billy Dee Williams, Naomi Ackie and Richard E. Grant, with Carrie Fisher appearing as Leia Organa via unused footage from The Force Awakens.


Filed in Articles & Interviews The Americans

‘The Americans’ Fans, Be Calm: Keri Russell Is Still on Track to Win Her First Emmy

Much like the heartbreaking but hopeful finale, “Americans” fans are feeling a lot of mixed emotions post-Emmy nominations. On the positive side of things, the FX drama snagged key nods for Outstanding Drama Series, and its two leads — Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell — snagged their third nominations in a row, for Outstanding Actor and Actress in a Drama Series, respectively.

Co-showrunners Joel Fields and Joe Weisberg even landed a critical writing nod, but that was it. Noah Emmerich, Margo Martindale, Holly Taylor, director Chris Long, and so many others went home empty-handed, as “The Americans” snagged just four nominations in 2018; that’s the same as it pulled in a year ago, when it missed out on Outstanding Drama Series, and one nod below its highest ever (five in 2016).

Many prognosticators were predicting more. In its final year, coming off rave reviews and a buzzy series finale, some thought “The Americans” could benefit from the final season bump (and years of snubs) to see a jump from four or five nominations to nine or 10. That didn’t happen, and worse still, it has the lowest number of nominations of the series up for Best Drama: “Game of Thrones” (22), “Westworld” (21), “The Handmaid’s Tale” (20), “The Crown” (13), “Stranger Things” (12), “This Is Us” (8), “The Americans”… (4).

But fear not, comrades. Best Drama Series may be out of reach — maybe — but there’s still hope for the most important Emmy race of 2018: Keri Russell vs. the world. Ever since “The Americans” earned its first major nominations, the show has pacing with another perennial-snubee-turned-winner: “Friday Night Lights.” So if that precedent holds up, Keri Russell is walking away with the gold… and the show would take home one more trophy, too.

With recognition in Drama Series, writing, and acting categories, “The Americans” hasn’t been ignored by the TV Academy. They may still feel obligated to reward the series after years of snubs, and Keri Russell seems like the choice — from outsiders and insiders — if only one person is going to walk away with a trophy.

The only chink in the armor is an issue that shouldn’t be an issue — likability; specifically, the character’s likability. Kyle Chandler played a beloved father, husband, and mentor, while Russell’s Elizabeth Jennings has seen a wave of backlash over the years because of a few cold-blooded choices. Even Russell has said in the past that Elizabeth could be a tough character to love, so some voters may prefer to cast votes for an unabashed feminist icon (such as Elisabeth Moss’ role in “The Handmaid’s Tale”).

Still, Moss already got her long-awaited Emmy last year. Now it’s time to give the other neglected, out-of-this-world-great actress her due. And if Russell wins, that ups the odds for “The Americans” in one more category, too: In “Friday Night Lights’” final year, not only did Kyle Chandler win, but so did series showrunner Jason Katims. So as long as voters follow along with the “Friday Night Lights” precedent, Joel Fields and Joe Weisberg should conquer Outstanding Writing in a Drama Series and join Russell in the winners’ circle.

Have hope, comrades. The war may be lost, but battles can be won.


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This Is Keri Russell’s Time To Shine — Welcome To The Russell-ution, Comrades

Fresh off a lead role in what was arguably the best show of the last decade, Keri Russell is poised to take over Hollywood. The actress has just been nominated for an Emmy for Lead Actress in a Drama Series (her third as Elizabeth Jennings on FX’s The Americans), is about to enter the Star Wars stratosphere of fame and glory, and is now in talks to star in a Guillermo del Toro–produced supernatural thriller.
In other words, Keri Russell is having a moment, and it’s been a long time coming.
It’s tempting to compare her career to Laura Dern’s, whose casting in 2017’s major HBO hit Big Little Lies propelled her to renewed stardom, dubbed the “Dern-aissance.” Except unlike Laura Dern, who kind of faded from Hollywood for several years before reappearing in 2011’s highly underrated HBO series Enlightened, Russell never really went anywhere. It’s just that we never noticed her.

Russell has always been kind of an underdog. Though she started acting at 15, Russell appearing (alongside Justin Timberlake, Ryan Gosling and Britney Spears) for a couple of seasons of The Mickey Mouse Club, the actress rose to fame playing Felicity Porter on J.J. Abrams’ and Matt Reeves WB series Felicity, a role for which she won a Golden Globe in 1999. (But her real headlines moment came when she cut her long hair short in the show’s second season.)
Felicity ran from 1998 to 2002, after which Russell continued to work. She teamed up with Abrams once more as Lindsey Farris in Mission Impossible III, guest-starred on Scrubs, and appeared on her own reality series, The Keri Kronicles, on MySpace.

She stuck around (in feature films like August Rush, and Waitress), but mostly flew under the radar — until The Americans, which premiered in January 2013. As Elizabeth Jennings, a Soviet agent posing as a suburban mom in 1980s Washington DC, Russell finally got her opportunity to shine, alongside co-star turned husband Matthew Rhys. People started realizing that Felicity could really act. And I mean really. The Americans required a chameleon star, who, like her character, could shed her own skin at will, disappearing into the various nuances and complexities of the role. That could range from having to make a supremely ridiculous wig look credible, to carrying moments relying entirely on eye contact, with little to no dialogue. Russell’s screen presence is magnetic from the very first scene, which shows her seducing a government official in a bar to gain access to information he has about a Soviet defector. She could be sultry and seductive, coldly furious, anxious, or passionate — often all at once. Her throbbing angry forehead vein alone deserves an Emmy nomination.

Even her off-screen promotion of the show was noteworthy, giving off major star charisma. Russell gives a great interview, and is as willing to speculate about Putin’s potential involvement in Philip and Elizabeth’s mission as she is to dish about Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes.
And yet still, it took a while for audiences to catch on. For years, The Americans was hailed as the best show on TV that nobody actually watched, snubbed for awards and healthy audience numbers.
But not anymore! Back in May, the nearly perfect series was capped off by a beautiful and moving finale, which means the show can live on undisturbed in the streaming heaven reserved for shows that didn’t crash and burn their landing (*cough* Dexter). Some have predicted it’ll be the next Sopranos, the kind of shows that generations discover and continue to watch long after it’s been off the air. (I’ll take this as an opportunity to reveal my secret identity as a recruiter for young Americans-fans in training. Take that, Paige Jennings!)
Revolutions usually take place when things have reached their lowest possible point, and I’m pretty sure the bleak prospect of a Russell-less future qualifies. Clearly, Hollywood is starting to catch on. Grab your scythes and hammers, comrades. Welcome to the Russell-ution!
P.S. Putting this out there into the universe: Big Little Lies season 3, with Keri as Nicole Kidman’s sister.


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Awards Chatter Podcast — Keri Russell (The Americans)

One of the few people who has played multiple iconic TV characters reflects on child stardom as a Mouseketeer, becoming “America’s Sweetheart” at 21 on ‘Felicity’ and then, after almost quitting the biz, re-emerging as a Soviet spy for six seasons on one of the best shows of the Peak TV era.
“I have a feeling I’ll kind of go into my little world for a while and read my books and see my kids and take adventures,” says Keri Russell, as we sit down at the offices of The Hollywood Reporter to record an episode of THR’s ‘Awards Chatter’ podcast, and begin talking about what her life will be like now that The Americans, the massively acclaimed FX drama series on which she has starred since 2013, has come to an end. (Its series finale aired May 30.) Russell, who is 42, has been acting almost without interruption since she was just 15, starting out as a child performer on The Disney Channel’s The All-New Mickey Mouse Club, then morphing into a twentysomething fan-favorite on The WB’s Felicity before blossoming, as an adult, into one of the most respected actresses of her generation on The Americans. Her portrayal of Elizabeth Jennings, a Cold War-era Soviet spy posing, like her husband (played by her real-life partner Matthew Rhys), as an American, has been hailed by New York magazine as “one of the most complex performances ever on television,” and has brought her two Emmy nominations, four Critics’ Choice noms and a Golden Globe nom for best actress in a drama series. Later this month, she will almost certainly receive another Emmy nom, which could put her on the path to her first-ever win. “This was a good one — like, this was a really, really good one,” Russell says of the show, “so it’s tough to beat.”


Continue reading Awards Chatter Podcast — Keri Russell (The Americans)

Filed in Articles & Interviews The Americans

Here’s why ‘The Americans’ will kill the competition at the Emmys for its final season

Acclaimed FX spy drama “The Americans” will be given a fitting farewell at the Emmys this year, without the need for any collusion or Russian meddling in the voting process.

Although “The Americans” was a slow-burn at the Emmys to begin with, managing a total of five nominations over its first three seasons (including a guest acting win for Margo Martindale in 2015), it finally broke through in a big way 2016 with five bids, including for Best Drama Series, Best Drama Actor (Matthew Rhys), Best Drama Actress (Keri Russell) and a second consecutive win for Martindale. Last year, although it missed the cut in Best Drama Series, it racked up four big nominations, including for both leads, writing and Alison Wright taking Martindale’s place in Best Drama Guest Actress.

According to our combined odds, “The Americans” is currently sitting in seventh place with 10/1 odds in Best Drama Series, which bodes well for it to return to the drama lineup. It helps that two series nominated last year are out of contention (“House of Cards” and “Better Call Saul”). But also in the show’s favor is that the Emmys can be sentimental when it comes to swansong seasons of drama series already on its radar.

This year look for leads Rhys and Russell to return for a final shot for their work on the show. A potential spoiler in the wide open Best Drama Supporting race could be the overdue Noah Emmerich, who shines in the series finale as the ultimately defeated Agent Stan Beeman. Three-time Emmy winner Martindale is submitted in the Best Drama Supporting Actress category again this year, after being nominated four consecutive times (and winning in 2015 and 2016). She didn’t make the cut last year in the more competitive supporting field, but is a very good chance to return to the Emmys after having much more to do this final season. Also a possibility is fellow supporting player Holly Taylor, fantastic in the series finale as daughter Paige, who’s torn between her secret agent parents and her desire to stay in America with her younger brother, played by Keidrich Sellati.

Elsewhere on the ballot, a fourth consecutive writing bid for show co-creators Joel Fields and Joe Weisberg series finale “SMART” is almost guaranteed, as “The Americans” has been nominated in Best Drama Writing for the last three years. A possible first win in that category is also a real possibility. The show might also break into the directing category for the first time, with two submissions in contention; Chris Long‘s helming of the series finale and “The Great Patriotic War,” the fifth episode of the show’s final season (directed by Emmy vet Thomas Schlamme).


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Felicity Cast Talks Series End, Sexual Assault Storyline, Potential Reboot

Two decades after “Felicity” premiered the cast and producer-director Lawrence Trilling reunited at the ATX Television Festival and addressed its controversial double ending.

“The network canceled us — kind of. And then they were like, ‘Just kidding,’ do a few more,’” titular star Keri Russell said in Austin, Tex. Sunday.

She added that series co-creators and executive producers J.J. Abrams and Matt Reeves had agreed with the cast that Felicity had to graduate by the end of the show, so they planned for that moment to come in the 17th episode of the fourth season “regardless if they [were] going to give us [more].”

Then, when the WB did come back with an order for five more episodes that would ultimately wrap up the series permanently, the show was tasked with the question of what life-post graduation would look like for a character whose journey started by following her high school crush across the country to attend the same school as him.

Continue reading Felicity Cast Talks Series End, Sexual Assault Storyline, Potential Reboot

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Inside the Felicity 20-Year Reunion at ATX Festival

Ahead of September’s 20-year premiere anniversary, the cast of former WB Network drama Felicity closed out the seventh “season” of the ATX Television Festival in Austin, Texas.

Stars including Keri Russell (Felicity), Scott Speedman (Ben), Scott Foley (Noel), Tangi Miller (Elena), Amanda Foreman (Meghan), Ian Gomez (Javier), Greg Grunberg (Sean), Rob Benedict (Richard) and Amy Jo Johnson (Julie) as well as director Lawrence Trilling looked back on the J.J. Abrams- and Matt Reeves-created cult favorite about a girl who follows a guy to New York and discovers who she is along the way.

Here are the highlights from the sold-out 20-year reunion, held at the Paramount Theater, moderated by self-professed Felicity super-fan Lennon Parham (Playing House). Foley opened the panel by noting that much of the cast hasn’t seen one another in about 20 years, which made Sunday’s reunion extra special.

1. Felicity was the first big gig for much of the cast. Russell recalled her audition process and sitting in a hall with 55 other girls. “I had choked in the audition,” Russell said. Abrams and Reeves pulled her to another room and made her laugh and that helped her get back on track.

2. Foley was originally cast to play Ben. “What a shitty show that would have been!” Foley said. “For a week I was doing wardrobe fittings [for Ben] … they were having a hard time casting Noel and they liked [Speedman] better as Ben and J.J. didn’t want to fire me.” He was then asked to play Noel instead. “Nobody could have played Ben Covington better than Scott Speedman,” he added.

3. Parham asked the differences between Ben and Speedman, who admitted that he and his character were very similar. “At that time? Not a lot,” he said. “And I feel like on television they do try to write a lot toward you. I was a tortured, brooding 22-year-old at that time and it really worked out on the show.”

4. Trilling recalled the cast’s willingness to be vulnerable and credited that for much of the show’s success. “These guys were very trusting with Matt, J.J. and me and they gave their hearts and souls to the show, and that’s why we’re here 20 years later.”

5. There are a few lingering questions left surrounding the show, but none more pressing that what, exactly, was in the box belonging to Felicity’s mysterious roommate, Meghan. The truth? “I don’t know,” said Foreman. “Neither does J.J. If you ask J.J. he’s like ‘I don’t know.'” She does have a theory: “I thought maybe it was a confession to a murder or something. … It has to be dramatic and small enough to fit in the box. Or it could be a finger.” Cracked Trilling, “It was a key to the hatch in Lost.”
Continue reading Inside the Felicity 20-Year Reunion at ATX Festival

Filed in Articles & Interviews The Americans

Keri Russell On the “Surprising” End of FX’s “The Americans”

FX last night telecast the series finale of its much-lauded thriller The Americans, ending the story of Philip and Elizabeth Jennings, two KGB spies posing as Americans in suburban 1980’s Washington, D.C., that began six years ago. No one was more surprised by the events of the ending than Keri Russell, who had no idea throughout the run of series how the couple’s story might conclude. “One thing I’ve always loved about the series is [being] continually surprised, in a good way; always being surprised by the turns and twists as they never bored by me,” she revealed during a post-mortem conference call for the series. “I had no idea what was in store. The way the season was going, by the third or fourth episode I thought they were setting [my character] up to die. She was so unlikable and could never redeem herself — but I was on board for whatever they wanted. I’d kind of grown accustomed to trusting them and not guessing because I’ve always been so far off. I didn’t know how it was going to go at all. [Warning: The rest of this column contains spoilers about the series finale.]

“All of [the final] script surprised me,” she continued. “I had no idea they’d take such an emotional route of devastation [with their] kids. I did not see the Henry (Keidrich Sellati) aspect coming at all and that was just devastating to me.” The writers’ decision to have the couple lose custody of their children indeed blindsided the actress. Continue reading Keri Russell On the “Surprising” End of FX’s “The Americans”

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The Delicate Fury of Keri Russell on The Americans

When we first meet Elizabeth Jennings — the highly trained Russian spy hiding under the cover of a perfect American family with her husband, Philip (Matthew Rhys) — she is unlike herself. At a loud bar, over a cocktail, she works a government agent several notches below her cunning and spiky beauty. She wears a leather bustier and a flirty, salacious demeanor, her chestnut tresses hidden under a full platinum blonde bob. This first scene has the sort of slinky sexiness and allure I’ve come to expect of an espionage drama. As The Americans continued, soon to finish with its currently airing sixth season, it has leaned as far away as possible from the glossy pleasures you’d expect from its first scene into something wholly harder to shake. As Emily Nussbaum wrote in The New Yorker, “Dread is its specialty and also its curse; it’s what makes The Americans at once a must-watch and a hard sell.” Continue reading The Delicate Fury of Keri Russell on The Americans

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The Americans bosses on writing the series finale, and the scene that took them ‘months’

WARNING: The following contains spoilers for the series finale of The Americans. Read at your own risk! Continue reading The Americans bosses on writing the series finale, and the scene that took them ‘months’