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Also Known As: Rene Marie Russo Died:
Born: February 17, 1954 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Los Angeles, California, USA Profession: actor, model

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

With sparkling blue eyes, exquisite cheekbones and a sassy, down-to-earth attitude, Rene Russo has parlayed a successful modeling career into an equally prosperous acting one. While still a high school student, she caught the attention of agent John Crosby who arranged a contract with modeling diva Nina Blanchard. Russo was an immediate success and became one of the top models of the 1970s and early 80s, appearing on the covers of many fashion magazines including Vogue and Harper's Bazaar. Russo moved to the Eileen Ford Agency where she worked with top photographers like Richard Avedon and Francesco Scavullo and went on to be featured prominently in a series of print ads and commercials for Revlon.Segueing to acting in the mid-80s, Russo landed the role of Eden, literary agent and romantic interest of the title character, on the short-lived adventure series "Sable" (ABC, 1987-88). It marked the first of many seemingly thankless wife of "girlfriend" roles that she went on to play, like her feature debut in David S Ward's baseball comedy "Major League" (1989) as a librarian reluctant to rekindle a romance with Tom Berenger. She played spouse to James Belushi in "Mr. Destiny" (1990) and Michael Keaton...

With sparkling blue eyes, exquisite cheekbones and a sassy, down-to-earth attitude, Rene Russo has parlayed a successful modeling career into an equally prosperous acting one. While still a high school student, she caught the attention of agent John Crosby who arranged a contract with modeling diva Nina Blanchard. Russo was an immediate success and became one of the top models of the 1970s and early 80s, appearing on the covers of many fashion magazines including Vogue and Harper's Bazaar. Russo moved to the Eileen Ford Agency where she worked with top photographers like Richard Avedon and Francesco Scavullo and went on to be featured prominently in a series of print ads and commercials for Revlon.

Segueing to acting in the mid-80s, Russo landed the role of Eden, literary agent and romantic interest of the title character, on the short-lived adventure series "Sable" (ABC, 1987-88). It marked the first of many seemingly thankless wife of "girlfriend" roles that she went on to play, like her feature debut in David S Ward's baseball comedy "Major League" (1989) as a librarian reluctant to rekindle a romance with Tom Berenger. She played spouse to James Belushi in "Mr. Destiny" (1990) and Michael Keaton in "One Good Cop" (1991) before landing the career-making role of Detective Lorna Cole in Richard Donner's "Lethal Weapon 3" (1992). As the no-nonsense Internal Affairs officer who blossoms when she interacts with Riggs (Mel Gibson) and Murtaugh (Danny Glover), Russo displayed not only her acting ability but her facility as an action heroine. Her romantic scenes with Gibson were both humorous (they compare battle scars) and sensual. Their onscreen chemistry led to a reunion as the concerned parents of a kidnapped child in "Ransom" (1996) and the unnecessary but inevitable "Lethal Weapon 4" (1998).

While she was clearly capable of more, Russo seemed content to rest in the niche of playing strong women who took a back seat to men like her competent Secret Service agent (and romantic interest for Clint Eastwood) in Wolfgang Petersen's "In the Line of Fire" (1993) and her ex-wife and fellow scientist opposite Dustin Hoffman in the thriller "Outbreak" (1995). Barry Sonnenfeld gave her a slight change-of-pace, casting her as a B-movie actress with a penchant for blonde wigs and tight skirts in "Get Shorty" (also 1995). That Russo managed to hold her own against such powerful screen presences as John Travolta, Danny DeVito and Gene Hackman, as well as displayed impeccable comic timing brought her critical praise. Continuing on a similar theme, she lent her sexy presence to the role of a small-town shrink caught between a golf pro (Don Johnson) and his buddy (Kevin Costner) in Ron Shelton's breezy but lightweight "Tin Cup" (1996).

Russo finally headlined a film, the biopic "Buddy" (1997), in which she essayed the real-life eccentric millionaire Gertrude Lintz who raised a menagerie on her estate. While she delivered a fine performance, the old adage about working with children and animals proved truthful: most of the actors were upstaged by the chimpanzees dressed like humans and the titular gorilla, Gertrude's favorite of her "collection." Critics panned the film and audiences stayed away-her attempt to carry a film and prove her bankability failed.

Still sexy and vital in her mid-40s, Russo confounded Hollywood stereotypes by delivering her most accomplished performance as an insurance investigator who romances the prime suspect in an art theft in the remake of "The Thomas Crown Affair" (1999). At first concerned over the required nudity and the frank sexuality of the character, the devoutly Christian actress reportedly prayed before accepting the role ("I don't know where in the Bible it says 'Don't be nude in motion pictures.'"). At the director's insistence, Russo also adopted a more sophisticated look, cropping her hair and dyeing it red as well as wearing a sleek wardrobe. Her onscreen chemistry with co-star Pierce Brosnan (abetted by several steamy love scenes) helped to impress reviewers and audiences, winning her new fans. Russo followed with another sultry female, Natasha Fatale, in the mixed live action-animated feature "The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle" (2000).

After the embarrassment of "Rocky and Bullwinkle," Russo took another misstep with the limp action comedy "Showtime" (2002), playing the producer of a reality show that pairs a showboating actor (Eddie Murphy) and an old-school cop (Robert De Niro). She then played an unhappy housewife with an unhappy daughter (Zo y Deschanel) in "Big Trouble" (2002), a ensemble comedy about a group of people brought together by a suitcase nuke at a Miami airport. The feature languished for six months because of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 and was finally released with little fanfare or audience attendance-something about bombs and hijacked airplanes kept people away. Russo spent a few years away from film, but returned in 2005 to star alongside Al Pacino and Matthew McConaughey in "Two For the Money," a gambling drama about a college basketball player (McConaughey) turned to sports wagering after being groomed by a consultant (Pacino) who notices his knack for predicting the right outcome for games.

She then starred opposite Dennis Quaid in the romantic comedy, "Yours, Mine and Ours" (2005), a remake of the 1968 Lucille Ball-Henry Fonda comedy about two high school sweethearts who reunite after the deaths of their spouses and rush to get married only to discover their children hate the new arrangement.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Intern, The (2015)
2.
 Frank and Cindy (2014)
3.
4.
 Thor (2011)
5.
 Two for the Money (2005) Toni Morrow
6.
 Yours, Mine & Ours (2005) Cast
7.
 Showtime (2002) Chase Renzi
8.
 Big Trouble (2002) Anne Herk
9.
 Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle, The (2000) Natasha Fatale
10.
 Thomas Crown Affair, The (1999) Catherine Banning
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1972:
Began modeling after being spotted at a Rolling Stones concert
:
Appeared in layouts and on the covers of several fashion magazines in the 1970s and 1980s
1987:
TV acting debut in "Sable" (ABC)
1989:
Film acting debut, "Major League"
1992:
Breakthrough film appearance, "Lethal Weapon 3"
1993:
Starred opposite Clint Eastwood in "In the Line of Fire"
1995:
Earned plaudits for her turn as B-movie actress in Barry Sonnenfeld's "Get Shorty"
1996:
Played a woman torn between Don Johnson and Kevin Costner in "Tin Cup"
1997:
First film lead, the family picture "Buddy"
1999:
Won rave reviews for her performance in the remake of "The Thomas Crown Affair"
2000:
Cast as Natasha to Jason Alexander's Boris in the mixed live action-animated feature "The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle"
2005:
Co-starred with Dennis Quaid in the remake of "Yours, Mine and Ours," a comedy about a blended family
2005:
Portrayed Pacino's muse and wife in D.J. Caruso's "Two for the Money"
2011:
Portrayed the wife of Odin (Anthony Hopkins) in Kenneth Branagh's big screen adaptation of "Thor"
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Burroughs High School: Burbank , California -
Jordan Middle School: Burbank , California -

Notes

"I've been around, and I know the ups and downs of business. In this business I have the turn of the century looming, I have that long. So I'm going to be a smart businesswoman and make as much money as I can for the short amount of the ride that I have here, and then I'm out. That sounds cold, in a way, but it's because there are no guarantees, especially for a woman in this business." --Russo quoted in New York Newsday, March 5, 1995.

"I'd rather play a girlfriend in a good movie than the lead in a mediocre movie" --Russo quoted in Daily News, October 22, 1995,

"I have days when I'm completely in control, a warrior, strong, full of faith, knowing where I'm going. And then I have days when I say to my husband . . . I feel like I'm having a panic attack. I work on it day by day." --Rene Russo quoted in Newsday, August 1, 1999.

John McTiernan had to fight to cast Russo in the remake of "The Thomas Crown Affair" because MGM executives were doubtful that the actress would be able to appear sexy enough. As McTiernan explained to Los Angeles (August 1999): "They wanted Sharon Stone. And I said, 'It's a thousand times easier to make Rene Russo sexy than it is to make Sharon Stone trustworthy.'"

Companions close complete companion listing

husband:
Dan Gilroy. Second husband; father of Rose.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Nino Russo. Sculptor. Abandoned family when Russo was two years old; reportedly contacted her after she began her modeling career; had a total of eight children by four different women; died of congestive heart failure in 1996 at age 74.
mother:
Shirley Russo. Raised Russo; Russo revealed in a March 14, 2002 "Good Morning America" interview that her mother raised her with a lesbian partner.
sister:
Toni Russo. Born in April 1956.
half-brother:
David Russo. Writer. Born c. 1957.
daughter:
Rose Gilroy. Born on August 23, 1993.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

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