Keri Russell has some stern words for paparazzi who hound young entertainers, publicizing their every fault, foible and fall:
“I really want to say, ‘Leave them alone. I’m going to follow you around, because I promise you that your life is not so squeaky clean either,’” said the actor.
Russell, star of the series “The Americans” and “Felicity,” as well as the feature film “Austenland,” knows how difficult it can be to keep from melting in the media spotlight. She attributed her staying grounded to “luck” - and to coming of age in a less-rabid media environment.
She observed, “It’s so different now. They get you going out of the grocery store. They get you when your kid is crying. It’s a different news culture. … I don’t wish it upon anyone.”
Russell’s words came on the heels of Jennifer Garner’s tearful testimony on Tuesday to a California State Assembly committee in support of an anti-paparazzi bill.
“I have such compassion for all of these kids these days who have to grow up in this incredibly public way,” said Russell. “I feel bad for them because I didn’t have to go through that.”
Though she has been acting since her teens, Russell felt she wasn’t subject to the same kind of scrutiny as today’s young stars. She’s thankful for that.
“It is the point of being young: to mess up, to be able to make mistakes. That’s how you learn," she said. "You don’t learn life and what you want out of life by doing everything perfect. I think that’s the incredible obstacle that [faces] any of these kids who have paparazzi following them every 5 seconds. … You see some young actress go make out with someone and it’s all over the place. That’s the point of being a teenager. You’re not supposed to be 45 and have it all figured out. And it makes me really sad.”
Over the years, Russell has amassed a fine portfolio of starring roles while avoiding the uninvited attention of the paparazzi press. Her goal is to act in projects she enjoys.
“I want to be a part - small, medium or large - of a great story,” she said.
She will return for the second season of “The Americans” on FX this fall, and will appear in “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” in 2014.
In her new film, “Austenland,” Russell plays a modern-day woman who’s obsessed with one of the great male heartthrobs of recent centuries: Mr. Darcy, from Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice.”
On the Darcy character’s enduring appeal, Russell mused, “He’s lasted for so long, this myth of a man. The idea of this ever-elusive guy that ends up liking the not-prettiest sister and loving her for the rest of her life.”
Austen’s characters are models for contemporary romantic leads, and Russell sees in them an “emotional and intellectual banter back and forth between someone whom you really find attractive, maneuvering and navigating your mind.”
For these characters, romance is a fascination with “what makes you tick, more than what you’re wearing or what you look like” - in other words, things difficult to capture while spying through a telephoto lens.