Keri Russell

Keri Russell in August Rush

Keri Russell in “August Rush”

Like her most famous creation Felicity Porter, Keri was born in California – in the Orange County community of Fountain Valley. It would not be the Russell family’s only dwelling, as stays in Texas, Arizona and Colorado followed. For Keri, though, she found a home on television in 1991 when at the age of 15 she had a role on “MMC” – more commonly known as “The Mickey Mouse Club.” As a chance to showcase her passion for dance, Keri’s run on the show lasted until 1993. It was enough for her to develop the acting bug, so much so that in 1992 she made her feature film debut as Mandy Park in the out of control Rick Moranis comedy, “Honey, I Blew Up the Kid.”

Brief appearances in family sitcoms led to the brief, 10-episode soap “Malibu Shores,” in which Keri appeared alongside her former MMC star (and then-beau) Tony Lucca. Set around teens in California (and with the tagline “Dreams. Danger. Desire.”), Keri caught the eye of young producer J.J. Abrams who felt that Keri’s California background – and her trademark hair – would be the perfect fit for the main character of his new series “Felicity.” And so, beginning in 1998, Keri became synonymous with Felicity Porter as audiences on the WB followed the college student’s New York adventures.

When the show ended in 2002, Keri found herself at a crossroads. At 26 and out of a steady job – despite being the owner of a Golden Globe – Keri considered retiring. But in 2005, she returned to the screen in no less than three projects, most notably Mike Binder’s “The Upside of Anger,” where she shows off her skills in an extended ballet sequence. A year later, under the direction of J.J. Abrams, she was in the biggest blockbuster of her career – “Mission: Impossible III.” And in 2007, any thoughts of Keri retiring surely had vanished. She married, bore a child, appeared as the lead in “Waitress” and “August Rush,” and now seems she has finally vanquished the stigma of being recognized only as Felicity Porter. But what’s wrong with that?

Keri is back in the spotlight with her role as KGB spy Elizabeth Jennings oppositeMatthew Rhys in “The Americans” on FX. This new drama made our list of the best shows on television in its first season, and we listed Keri as one of the 30 sexiest actresses on TV for her role where she often gets to show off some skin in sexy situations.

Keri Russell in The Americans

Keri on the Screen

She begins her big screen career as Mandy Park in “Honey, I Blew Up the Kid” in 1992. Appearances on TV’s “Boy Meets World, “Married…with Children,” and the TV movie “The Babysitter’s Seduction” followed in 1996. That same year, she’s Chloe Walker for 10 episodes on “Malibu Shores,” Felice Dunbar in the TV movie “The Lottery,” Erica French in “When Innocence is Lost,” and one of the college kids in Dan Rosen’s “Dead Man’s Curve” in 1998. She’s the Princess in the 1999 Elmo vehicle “Cinderlemo,” Lucy McLoughlin in the teen dance comedy “Mad About Mambo,” and the wife of Chris Klein in the Vietnam-Mel Gibson movie “We Were Soldiers.” During this time, she held the post of Felicity Porter on the WB’s “Felicity” for four seasons. After a three-year lapse, she returned in 2005 as one of Joan Allen’s daughters in “The Upside of Anger,” back to TV with “The Magic of Ordinary Days,” and a part in the mini-series “Into the West.” 2006 brought “M: I-III” and the very independent “Rohtenburg,” in which she’s a grad student who strikes up a relationship with a cannibal. In 2007, she’s on two episodes of “Scrubs,” is Celeste in “The Girl in the Park” co-starring alongside Kate Bosworth and Sigourney Weaver, and closes the year with “August Rush.”

Keri Says

On choices:
“Sometimes it’s the smallest decisions that can change your life forever.”

On the meaning of existence:
“The whole point of life is to experience a little bit of everything.”