With green eyes, clear skin, and a head of hair that any pre-Raphaelite would envy, Keri Russell became one of the most recognizable young actresses of the late 1990s. Propelled to fame by her title role on the WB Network's Felicity, Russell quickly endeared herself to critics and viewers with her searching and honest portrayal of a college freshman facing life on her own for the first time.
Born Keri Lynn Russell on March 23, 1976 in Fountain Valley, California, Russell studied dancing from an early age. She later found that her love of dancing was good preparation for acting, insofar as both disciplines demanded self-discipline and an adherence to timing and choreography. Dancing led to a modeling stint, which in turn led to a trip to Los Angeles, where in 1991 she was cast as herself on the newly-revived Mickey Mouse Club. Russell stayed with the show until 1993, during which time she lived at Disney World, where the show was taped.
During her time on the Mickey Mouse Club, Russell landed her first film role in 1992's Honey, I Blew Up the Kid. After her TV commitment ended, Russell moved to Los Angeles and in 1996 was cast in Aaron Spelling's Malibu Shores. In the same year, she did more film work in the little-seen The Babysitter's Seduction, and she continued her film work in 1997 with the comedy Eight Days a Week. In 1998, with her career flagging, Russell got her big break playing confused college freshman Felicity Porter, a part she nearly wasn't considered for because the show's creators felt she was too beautiful to have the problems her character did.
Suddenly the subject of countless interviews and magazine covers, Russell found herself as one of television's hottest commodities, especially in the wake of the Golden Globe she netted for her portrayal of Felicity. Unsurprisingly, this new status led to a new range of opportunities, including her role in The Curve (1998), a thriller which had its premiere at Sundance and co-starred Matthew Lillard.
After the conclusion of Felicity in 2001, Russell worked steadily in small but valuable roles in the films We Were Soldiers, The Upside of Anger, and The Management of Ordinary Days. Russell played a major role as a covert operative kidnapped by a weapons dealer in Mission Impossible III. Though she didn't manage to secure the role of Lois Lane for Superman Returns (2006) (that honor went to Kate Bosworth), Russell snagged the lead role of a small-town waitress in the highly acclaimed independent comedy Waitress (2007) and also played the lead in the modest hit August Rush (2007). The following year, she played Adam Sandler's love interest in Bedtime Stories.
In 2010, Russell made an attempt to return to television in the Fox series Running Wilde, opposite Will Arnett. The show was canceled after only 13 episodes. However, in 2013, she scored a hit series with FX's Soviet spy-drama The Americans, playing a KGB officer posing as an American in 1980s Washington DC; she nabbed an Emmy nomination for her work on the show in 2016.