Rene Marie Russo (born February 17,
1954) is an American film actress.
Russo, an Italian American, was born in Burbank, California, the daughter
of Shirley (née Balocca), a factory worker and barmaid, and Nino Russo, a
sculptor and car mechanic who left the family when Rene was two. Russo
grew up with her sister, Toni, and their single mother. She attended
Burroughs High School (where her classmates included director Ron Howard),
but eventually dropped out in the tenth grade. Due to financial
constraints within the family, she began taking a variety of part-time
jobs including working in an eyeglass factory, and as a movie cashier.
In 1972, the 17 year old was attending a Rolling Stones concert when she
was approached by John Crosby, a scout and manager from International
Creative Management. He told her she should be a model and had test photos
made of her. Within a few months, Rene signed a contract with Ford
Modeling Agency and within a year had become a successful print and
photographers model. Soon her modeling breakthrough came when she appeared
on the cover of Vogue. By 1975, she had appeared on numerous magazine
covers, was one of the most successful models in America, and was also
starting to be seen in several TV commercials through the 1980s.
By her 30th birthday, demand for her began to dwindle, as it does for most
models at that age. She did a few more commercials and then turned her
back on modeling and show business for a while. She began to study theater
and acting, and began appearing in theater roles at small regional
theaters in Los Angeles and elsewhere in California.
Russo made her television series debut in 1987, with a supporting role in
the TV series Sable. Two years later, she made her debut in film as the
girlfriend of the Tom Berenger character in Major League. Her breakthrough
role is generally considered to be her part as internal affairs detective
Lorna Cole in Lethal Weapon 3 (and again in Lethal Weapon 4) opposite Mel
Throughout the 1990s, Russo appeared in a number of high-profile thrillers
that were hugely successful at the box office, including In the Line of
Fire with Clint Eastwood, Outbreak with Dustin Hoffman, Ransom (directed
by high school classmate Howard) and The Thomas Crown Affair.
She also tried her hand at comedy in Tin Cup with Kevin Costner, Get
Shorty with John Travolta and as Natasha Fatale in the live-action film
version of The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle. She starred in at least
one major studio film per year from 1992 to 2002.
Russo more recently co-starred with Al Pacino in Two for the Money and
with Dennis Quaid in Yours, Mine and Ours. She has not appeared in a film
Russo recently joined the cast of the upcoming film, Thor, in which she
will play Frigga, the mother of the titular hero.
Russo has been married to screenwriter Dan Gilroy since 1992. They have
one daughter, Rose (born August 31, 1993), and the family currently lives
in Brentwood, Los Angeles, California. Her sister Toni was married to
lyricist Bernie Taupin in the 1980s, and Rene appeared alongside her
sister in the 1987 video for Taupin's solo song, "Citizen Jane."
On her nude scenes in The
Thomas Crown Affair (1999): "It never really dawned on me that, gee,
I'm 45 and I'm taking off my clothes. For me it was a matter of
living inside the character."
"All of us are broken - some of use more than others. It might be a
nurturing, mother thing. I do think there is that, "Oh my God,
you're hurting. I know what that feels like and I'd like to be there
and support you in that.""
"That's a really good question - what is it like living with a
writer? I guess it depends on the writer. You know what? They live
in a fantasy world a lot of the time. My husband lives in a fantasy
world. It's really hard for him to be in the world, because if his
head isn't in a script, I guess to write what he does, he has to
sort of twist the world a little bit and live in a fantasy. And I
think he doesn't live in reality - in my reality, let's put it that
way. He's much more "Everything's fine fine fine and everything's
good good good," and I'm like, "What, are you nuts? Everything's
rotten and sucks.""