Keri Russell is someone you can have a beer with. (She’ll take a Peroni, thanks.) Someone who, even after a good 15 years in Brooklyn, still exudes the sunny, girl-next-door ease of her roots out West, by way of Arizona and Colorado. The “uniform” she’s wearing today at an elegantly hip Italian restaurant she frequents is what she describes as “Sam Shepard from The Right Stuff”: a buttery leather bomber from Celine, rolled-up Gap khakis —“the ones I wore on an adventure trip with Bear Grylls” (Look it up)—Rag & Bone T-shirt (she’s friends with the designer; their kids go to school together), and leopard-print kitten heel Aquazzura booties.
It was actually Matthew Rhys, her partner of six years and former costar on The Americans, who coined the look, and it stuck. “We laughed really hard about it, but I realized that’s my true fashion—like tough guys,” she smiles. “Growing up, I didn’t play with Barbies or dolls. I wanted the adventures.” It wouldn’t be too long before her Hollywood joy ride would begin, as a 20-year-old Keri, onetime Mouseketeer, was cast as the lead in the hit cult drama series Felicity. The real magic is how she managed to do celebrity on her terms in the years that followed. “After Felicity, I didn’t want to act anymore because I was so tired, and I didn’t want to be more famous than I was,” she says. Since then, Keri has alternately pumped the brakes and hit the accelerator on a thriving movie and TV career while having three kids, 12-year-old son River and 8-year-old daughter Willa with former husband Shane Deary, and 3-year old Sam, her son with Rhys.
These days, she trades off doing film shoots with Rhys so they can be “on duty” for the kids. Keri, 43, is home at the moment, and she’s got brownies to bake (from scratch!) this afternoon for Willa to take with her to school tomorrow.
“They say you can have everything—just not all at once. I think that’s really true. There are times when you’re living for your career and times when you get to make cakes.”
So what’s a girl like Keri, who jumps at the word boo, doing in a horror film like Antlers? Well, who better to relate to that audience? “I’m a total scaredy-cat, but I think the reason why it’s OK for me to do scary movies is because I’m scared all the time,” she says. “I’ll be in the bathroom getting ready, and Matthew will be coming down the hall and he’ll warn me, ‘I’m about to come in.’ And I’ll still scream!” In this film, a lushly shot, creepy mix of supernatural evil and blood and guts premiering this month, Keri plays a quietly badass teacher with her own broken past. And then, of course, there’s a monster.
What’s undeniable is that Keri knows how to keep her cool in navigating the alternate universes of Hollywood and home. Her relaxed approach to food, fitness, fashion, and, well, life may be our new wellness goal.