Russell in 1976
Theresa Lynn Paup
March 20, 1957
San Diego, California, U.S.
|Alma mater||Lee Strasberg Institute|
(m. 1982; div. )
Theresa Lynn Russell (born Theresa Lynn Paup on March 20, 1957) is an American actress. Russell made her film debut in The Last Tycoon (1976), followed by a lead role in Straight Time (1978). She was then cast in Nicolas Roeg's controversial thriller Bad Timing (1980), which earned her critical praise. After marrying Roeg in 1982, she appeared in many films directed by him, mainly arthouse and experimental films, including Eureka (1983), Insignificance (1985), and Cold Heaven (1991).
Russell starred in Whore and Kafka, both released in 1991. Russell appeared in the box-office hit thriller Wild Things (1998), starred in the critically acclaimed drama The Believer (2001) and, in the later 2000s, appeared in HBO miniseries Empire Falls (2005) and had a minor role in Spider-Man 3 (2007).
Russell was born Theresa Lynn Paup in San Diego, California, the daughter of Carole Platt (née Mall) and Jerry Russell Paup. Her parents divorced when she was five years old, and she relocated with her mother and stepfather to Burbank, where she was raised. Russell is the oldest of five siblings. According to Russell, she grew up in poverty, and her family was on food stamps to help support herself and her siblings. She attended Burbank High School, but did not graduate. At sixteen, she dropped out of high school and moved in with a 28-year-old boyfriend who was a primal scream therapist. At age seventeen, Russell enrolled at the Lee Strasberg Institute in West Hollywood to study acting.
Russell had begun modeling at the age of 12, and acquainted with photographer Peter Douglas (son of Kirk Douglas) as a teenager. Through Douglas, she was introduced to film producer Sam Spiegel, who suggested her for the part of Cecilia Brady in Elia Kazan's The Last Tycoon (1976), starring Robert De Niro. After meeting with Kazan, Russell was cast in the part, playing the daughter of Robert Mitchum. Russell's next notable appearance was in the crime drama Straight Time (1978), opposite Dustin Hoffman and Kathy Bates.
In 1979, she was cast as Milena Flaherty in the thriller Bad Timing (1980), the first of six films starring Russell directed by Nicolas Roeg, whom she married in 1982. Though Bad Timing was controversial upon release, Russell's performance was praised by critic Roger Ebert, who wrote: "If there is any reason to see this film, however, it is the performance by Theresa Russell (who was Dustin Hoffman's lover in Straight Time). She is only 22 or 23, and yet her performance is astonishingly powerful. She will be in better films, I hope, and is the only participant who need not be ashamed of this one." Other Roeg/Russell collaborations include Insignificance, Eureka, Track 29, Cold Heaven, and Aria. Overall, however, Russell and Roeg's film collaborations were box-office failures and critically divisive.
She is the subject of a photocollage by David Hockney entitled Nude 17th June 1984 #10.
In 1987, she played Catharine Peterson, a serial killer who seduces and murders wealthy men in the noir thriller Black Widow, co-starring Debra Winger. Russell's performance earned praise; Vincent Canby of The New York Times said Russell's "clear-eyed sweetness...adds unexpected dimension to the homicidal Catharine." She has also received positive comment for her roles in The Razor's Edge (1984) and Impulse (1990).
Russell was then cast in Ken Russell's Whore (1991), based on the play by David Hines, playing a Los Angeles prostitute. Though the film received a mixed reception from critics, Russell's performance was praised by The New York Times and Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times. The same year, she was cast in a lead role opposite Jeremy Irons in Steven Soderbergh's Kafka (1991), a black-and-white surrealist adaptation of Franz Kafka stories.
Russell was the narrator of the British drama Being Human (1994), starring Robin Williams, followed by the British comedy The Grotesque (1995), opposite Alan Bates and Sting. Russell was then cast in the thriller Wild Things (1998), playing the mother of Denise Richards, which was a box office success. After appearing in the crime drama Luckytown (2000) opposite James Caan and Kirsten Dunst, Russell was then cast in The Believer (2001), a drama written and directed by Henry Bean, and starring Ryan Gosling as a Jewish man who becomes a neo-Nazi. The film was critically acclaimed and received the Special Jury Prize--Drama at the 2001 Sundance Film Festival.
In the early 2000s, Russell mainly appeared in low-budget and independent films, such as The House Next Door (2002), Now & Forever (2002), and The Box (2003). In 2005, she was cast in the role of Charlene in the HBO mini-series Empire Falls, opposite Ed Harris. She also appeared in the supporting role of Emma Marko in Spider-Man 3 as the wife of Flint Marko (Thomas Haden Church).Spider-Man 3 was a major box office success, grossing nearly $900 million worldwide. The following year, she appeared in the independent drama Jolene, starring Jessica Chastain, and also had a minor role playing the mother of Scarlett Johansson's character in the romantic comedy He's Just Not That into You (2009), though her scenes were eventually cut from the film.
Russell married English film director Nicolas Roeg in February 1982 in Westminster, London. The couple had two sons, Statten (born 1983) and Maximillian (born 1985); Roeg and Russell divorced at an unspecified date.
|1976||The Last Tycoon||Cecilia Brady|
|1978||Straight Time||Jenny Mercer|
|1980||Bad Timing||Milena Flaherty|
|1983||Eureka||Tracy McCann Maillot Van Horn|
|1984||The Razor's Edge||Sophie MacDonald|
|1987||Black Widow||Catharine Petersen|
|1988||Track 29||Linda Henry|
|1989||Physical Evidence||Jenny Hudson|
|1991||Cold Heaven||Marie Davenport|
|1994||Being Human||The Storyteller|
|1995||Hotel Paradise||Short film|
|1995||The Flight of the Dove (aka The Spy Within)||Mary Ann Curran|
|1995||A Young Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court||Morgan le Fay|
|1995||The Grotesque||Lady Harriet Coal|
|1996||Public Enemies||Kate "Ma" Barker||Direct-to-video|
|1996||The Proposition||Catherine Morgan|
|1998||Wild Things||Sandra Van Ryan|
|1998||Running Woman||Emily Russo|
|2001||The Believer||Lina Moebius|
|2002||The House Next Door||Helen Schmidt|
|2002||Now & Forever||Dori Wilson|
|2003||Water Under the Bridge||Jackie O'Connor|
|2003||The Box||Dora Baker|
|2007||Spider-Man 3||Emma Marko|
|2007||On the Doll||Diane|
|2008||Chinaman's Chance: America's Other Slaves||Mrs. Williams|
|2009||He's Just Not That into You||Mrs. Marks||Scenes deleted|
|2009||16 to Life||Louise|
|2011||Rid of Me||Mrs. Lockwood|
|2011||Born to Ride||Frances Callahan|
|2011||1 Out of 7||Lexi's Mom|
|2012||The Legends of Nethiah||Nethiah's Mother|
|2014||Moving Mountains||Trish Bragg|
|2016||A Winter Rose||Rachal Love|
|1979||Blind Ambition||Maureen Dean||Miniseries, 1 episode|
|1993||Thicker Than Water||Debbie / Jo||TV film|
|1993||A Woman's Guide to Adultery||Rose||Miniseries, 3 episodes|
|1995||Trade-Off||Jackie Daniels||TV film|
|1996||Once You Meet a Stranger||Margo Anthony||TV film|
|1999||G vs E||Reesa Tussel||Episode: "To Be or Not to Be Evil"|
|2000||Nash Bridges||Ellen Holiday / Sarah Williams||Episodes: "Jackpot: Parts 1 & 2"|
|2001||Earth vs. the Spider||Trixie Grillo||TV film|
|2002||Glory Days||Hazel Walker||Main role, 9 episodes|
|2002||Project Viper||Dr. Nancy Burnham||TV film|
|2003||Love Comes Softly||Sarah Graham||TV film|
|2003||Chasing Alice||TV film|
|2005||Blind Injustice||Joanna Bartlett||TV film|
|2005||Empire Falls||Charlene||TV miniseries, 2 episodes|
|2006||Law & Order: Criminal Intent||Regina Reid||Episode: "On Fire"|
|2007||American Heiress||Jordan Wakefield||Recurring role, 14 episodes|
|2009||Fringe||Rebecca Kibner||Episode: "Momentum Deferred"|
|2010||Cold Case||Rachel Malone||Episode: "One Fall"|
|2012||Liz & Dick||Sara Taylor||TV film|
|2012-13||Delete||Fiona||Miniseries, 2 episodes|
Hockey [sic] continues to advance his theories about how various modes of representation might be complicated through photography, for example by making a photocollage of the actress Theresa Russell playing Marilyn Monroe posing naked for a centerfold shot. Hockney divides Russell's body up by taking myriad shots of it, then reassembles her full figure as Nude, 17th June 1984.