Actor Russ Russo was born in Gloucester, Massachusetts. When he was 5-years old, his mom separated from his dad and they moved to Sacramento, California. He remembers moving around a lot as a child. His mother remarried a couple of years later and they finally settled in Long Branch, NJ.
He began his love for theatre, with classic plays such as Clifford Odets’ ‘Awake and Sing’ and Oliver Goldsmith’s ‘She Stoops to Conquer,’ but eventually, his passion turned to film.
His first break came playing “Irish” Jonah Joe in “The Land of College Prophets” “I had been nervously auditioning around NYC for four years at that point, going to acting school, but this was a Feature Film with Distribution and I went in to audition for a character described as a ‘ Tall Cowboy type,’ I knew I wasn’t. I felt like a lot of my rejection up until that point in a film centered around me just never fit the character description. This time I just decided that I was going to be completely the opposite of the character description and just own it and really commit to it. I decided upon coming in as an Irishman, fresh off the boat, trying to audition for a role in America and they believed it and cast me. I ended up staying in that character the entire month of filming. Only the Directors knew who I really was, but nobody else on the cast or crew knew that I wasn’t Irish or just this ‘Jonah Joe’ type of guy in real life. That’s when it dawned on me in order to really do this, I need to live whoever the character is to the fullest, short of arrest or death.”
Russo was cast in the lead role of “Jacob Nicks” in “An Act of War.” “It was a really personal film for me. I hadn’t seen my biological father in 25 plus years and I got cast in this movie as the lead role just as I was learning that he was dying of cancer. He passed away on the first day of filming and I was locked away in this windowless Brooklyn apartment which was the set for most of the movie. It was the most emotional month of my life, but I had lived it mostly through this soldier returning from war. Ironically, my biological father probably experienced something very similar to this when returning from Vietnam.”
What would people be surprised to know about you? “What you see is not what you get. Perception is the filter in which we sift everything into categories and neat little boxes, but I love living outside the parameters of what people expect.”
Russ was cast in Ryan Phillippe’s directorial debut, “Catch Hell” playing Eastern European Action Movie Director, Tim Remmit. “The film was originally titled ‘Shreveport,’ so when it came time to fly from LA to film in Shreveport, Louisiana, I arrived and got a call from production that they were filming six hours away in Baton Rouge. It was one of those moments in a comedy movie that you laugh about when it’s happening to somebody else, but it was happening to me. I just went with the hilarity of the moment. I rented a car and drove the entire day to be ready for a 6 AM call the next day. I arrived at the hotel close to midnight and then just as I set my bags down in the hotel room, Ryan Phillippe, who had written, directed and was starring in the film, calls me to meet at the hotel bar. He had heard of the debacle and was very empathetic and made me feel relaxed about getting on set in the morning. I worked for a week on that film and had some really funny scenes with Ryan as well as James Dumont that unfortunately ended up on the cutting room floor, but I learned an incredible lesson on that film. You can knock it out of the park, but when it comes time to edit a picture, if your storyline no longer fits with the overall ‘tone’ of the film, it can end up nowhere to be seen. I still had a couple fun scenes that made it into the movie and I count Ryan and a few others I met on this set amongst my friends these days and that to me is more meaningful than overall screen time.”
In his new TV series with James Franco & Maker Studios, Russo was cast as ‘Manson II’ in ‘The Ultimate Evil,’ which was about the Son of Sam murders in the late 70’s.
For 2019, Russo will be playing ‘Eddi Sebastian’ in the movie ‘Chaser,’ Directed by Daniel Roemer and Produced by Andrea Wittmer. The film will be out in the Summer.
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