It's no surprise that Adam Sandler picked Keri Russell to star in his new Disney movie, "Bedtime Stories," set to open in theaters nationwide on December 25. With her girl-next-door persona and natural beauty, who wouldn't want to play Keri's on-screen love interest? I got a chance to speak with the busy mom (who ironically starred in the all-new "Mickey Mouse Club" from 1991-1994) while she was promoting the family-friendly flick in Los Angeles and, not surprisingly, found her to be super sweet and down-to-earth. Read on to see what she had to say about the film, being a mother, and her steamy Details photo shoot.
How would you describe "Bedtime Stories"?
"I would describe it as this amazing adventure that Adam Sandler [Skeeter] takes his niece and nephew on through a series of bedtime stories. When [The kids] begin contributing to the tales, the stories start to come true and Skeeter finds himself having to survive in his real life. Somehow I end up in these crazy adventures that Skeeter creates with the kids."
I saw a screening of it and it was really cute.
"I loved it. I was [watching it with] an audience full of kids and when they laughed it made me feel so good. Adam Sandler and I were almost crying. You get crazy, I guess, when you're a parent, and it makes you so happy that little kids love something because suddenly every kid is your own kid and that's one of the good things about becoming a parent."
What attracted you to the role?
"Honestly, Adam called me. I was very pregnant at the time, about to have a baby, and he called and said [doing her best Adam Sandler impersonation], 'Hey, I have a kid and you're about to have a kid and I think I want to make a movie that our kids can see. Could you come do it? It will be fun.' I'm not kidding. That's what he said to me. And I was like, 'Done, sold, where do I sign?!'"
Did the fact that you were going to be a mom influence your decision at all?
"I had just done a few dramas. I had done "Waitress" and I had to be sad through a lot of it, so the thought of doing a movie in the dead of winter in Los Angeles with Adam Sandler and a new baby crawling around on the grass in the sunshine sounded right up my alley."
How old was your son River when you began filming?
"When we started filming he was like 7-8 months."
I noticed that Adam's daughter, Sadie, makes an appearance in the movie.
"Yes, Sadie is in it! Isn't she cute?"
Is River anywhere in the film?
"No, and we thought about it. Adam actually said, 'Do you want River to be in the scene?' But my guy was so much younger that he was so unpredictable and it would have been much harder [to work with him]."
There are several fantasy sequences in the movie. Which was your favorite to film?
"There were so many cool things about everything. Seeing the live elephants in ancient Greece was amazing, but then I would also say I loved the space scene, or at least seeing it on-screen. When we were shooting that scene I had no idea what was going on because it was all in CGI, so actually seeing it was so cool. And any of the scenes in which Adam had a long flowing wig on ... highly enjoyable."
How was it working with Adam? Was it a laugh a minute?
"So fun. It was a laugh a minute, but he's also a real guy and I genuinely really like him, respect him, want to work with him again. He's such a good dad, just so cool, I love his wife. You have to spend so much intimate downtime with people when you're in a movie with them, which is such a strange thing. When they're great and good it makes it really nice."
Did you have a favorite bedtime story as a child?
"Is it strange that I don't remember them? I'm sure [my parents] told them, I'm sure I wasn't a deprived child. I just can't think of them at this moment."
Is River old enough to appreciate bedtime stories yet?
"He's kind of too squiggly right now, so bedtime is more about bath and a bottle and conking out. [Laughs] There's not a lot of storytelling."
Courteney Cox plays Adam's uptight sister in the movie who doesn't let her kids eat anything that's not healthy for them. Are you the same way with River?
"No, I'm not going to be one of those moms. Yes, I think we have a lot of information now and it's easier to be aware of it, but no. Actually, we were at Sadie [Sandler's] birthday party when River was pretty young and I remember Judy [Adam's mom] coming up with a finger full of chocolate icing. I don't know that River had ever had sugar before like that, but What are you going to say? No to the grandma? The grandma fed him icing from the cake and he survived ... and he loved it!"
Speaking of cake, after you gave birth, you were one of those moms who seemed to return to your pre-baby weight immediately. Did you do anything special to get back in shape so quickly, or are you just lucky?
"I'm just incredibly lucky. I know it's not fair and it's disgusting to admit it, but I'm really lucky. I was a dancer, I am physical when I have the time. I do like working out, but my dad's whole side of the family is very thin and thank the lord I got those genes because I eat dessert after every meal. I should literally be 500 pounds. It's so wrong."
You live in NYC. How will you and your family be spending the holidays?
"I can't wait to stay home after all this traveling [to promote 'Bedtime Stories']. My husband [Shane Deary] is a carpenter and he renovated our house, so it will be our first Christmas there and I can't wait."
Do you and your husband hope to have more children?
"I'd love to. I'm also very aware that we both work and I want to make sure that we're being responsible and that at least one of us can be home all the time. I don't want to bite off more than I can chew!"
Is it easier having a film career with a child than doing TV?
"I think there are pros and cons to both. For me, right now, it does seem that film is easier because you can work really hard for three months, but then you can be home for like four months or six months. I really enjoy being home for the everyday mundane things. I like waking up with him and being the one to put his clothes on, and going grocery shopping with him, and putting him down for his nap, and having him help me clean the dishes. I would miss that if I was at work on a TV show every single day."
So I have to ask about the rather risque photos of you that appear in the December issue of Details magazine. You're known for your good girl persona. Was this an attempt to shed that image?
"It's never calculated like that. If anything, that's the magazine's point of view. You show up at a photo shoot -- at least I do -- and you're like, 'Can I be out of here by one?' I think getting my picture taken is so uncomfortable. That [shoot] was [Details'] type of thing. Clearly, I am who I am, which is ... not that. They're like, 'Let's make her edgy! Cool!'" [Laughs]
That's the great thing about being an actress I suppose, is that you can take on so many different personas.
"You don't always hit 'em out of the park. That's all I've got to say about that shoot!"
Check out a preview of "Bedtime Stories" -- in theaters December 25 -- below!