Born In: Burbank, California, United States
Rene Marie Russo is an American actress, filmmaker, and former supermodel. Known for her elegant beauty, her longevity in the highly competitive film industry reflects her talent and skills as a performer. She started her career as a model in the 1970s and soon became one of the most prominent figures in modeling. At the beginning of the next decade, she studied theatre and acting before making appearances on stage in Los Angeles and elsewhere in California. Russo made her screen debut in ABC’s drama series ‘Sable’ in 1987, portraying the character of ‘Eden Kendell.’ Two years later, she played Tom Berenger’s love interest in her first movie ‘Major League.’ Initially skeptical about her capability as an actress, the critics were won over by her consistency. They especially loved her in Wolfgang Petersen’s ‘Outbreak,’ in which she held her own against the likes of Dustin Hoffman and Morgan Freeman. However, by her own admission, she has never been passionate about acting. In 2005, she took a long, self-imposed break. She then made a comeback with a role in the superhero flick ‘Thor.’ She also starred in her husband’s ‘Oscar’ award-winning film ‘Nightcrawler.’ She then went on to star in light-hearted comedies, such as ‘The Intern’ and ‘Just Getting Started.’
Also Known As: Rene Marie Russo
Spouse/Ex-: Dan Gilroy (m. 1992)
father: Nino Russo
mother: Shirley Balocca Russo
siblings: Anthony John Russo, David Russo, January Debra Russo, Jim Russo, Toni Russo
children: Rose Gilroy
Born Country: United States
Ancestry: German American, British American, Italian American
U.S. State: California
Rene Russo was born on February 17, 1954, in Burbank, California, USA, to Shirley (née Balocca) and Nino Russo. Shirley, who was of English, German, and Italian ancestry, worked in a factory and as a barmaid. Nino, who was of Italian descent, was a sculptor and car mechanic. Her mother raised her and her sister Toni after their father left them when Rene was two years old. From her father’s side, she has three half-brothers—Jim, Anthony, and David—and one half-sister January Debra.
When she was in middle school, Russo was diagnosed with scoliosis, a medical condition where a person’s spine has a sideways curve. Fortunately, an early detection helped her in treating the condition by wearing back braces and she did not have to undergo invasive and painful surgeries.
She studied at ‘Burroughs High School’ in Ridgecrest, California till tenth grade, after which she dropped out of school. Aware of her mother’s struggles to keep the family afloat, she took up several off-the-wall jobs. She worked as a movie theatre cashier for a while and also worked at an eyeglass factory.
Rene Russo began her modeling career in the early-1970s, after being spotted by an ‘International Creative Management’ agent named John Crosby at a 1972 ‘Rolling Stones Concert.’ Crosby helped her get a contract with the ‘Ford Modelling Agency’ and she subsequently became one of the top supermodels working in the industry, making an appearance on the covers of ‘Vogue,’ ‘Mademoiselle,’ and ‘Cosmopolitan.’ She also participated in ad campaigns for various perfume and cosmetics.
Being in a profession thoroughly afflicted by ageism, she was getting less and less work as she entered her 30s. Russo reacted pragmatically, knowing that she had not finished school and hence did not have the education to fall back on. Thus, she took a hiatus from the show business for a short while and started studying acting and theatre. During this period, she took lessons from veteran actor Allan Rich and appeared in several plays.
She debuted on television in the short-lived series ‘Sable,’ which was based on the comic book ‘Jon Sable: Freelance.’ In 1989, she made her big screen debut in the sports comedy film ‘Major League.’ She made a cameo appearance in the film’s sequel ‘Major League II’ (1994).
In her next project ‘Mr. Destiny’ (1990), she played Bill McCutcheon’s daughter. In the 1991 crime drama ‘One Good Cop,’ she was cast as Michael Keaton’s wife.
She was nominated for the ‘Saturn Award’ for ‘Best Supporting Actress’ for her performance as ‘Julie Redlund’ in the science fiction film ‘Freejack’ (1992). In the same year, she starred opposite Mel Gibson as ‘LAPD Sgt. Lorna Cole’ in the third installment of the ‘Lethal Weapon’ films. She also appeared in the fourth and final film in the series, ‘Lethal Weapon 4’ (1998).
She got a chance to work with Clint Eastwood and John Malkovich in the action thriller ‘In the Line of Fire’ (1993), which was also her first collaboration with German director Wolfgang Petersen. In ‘Outbreak’ (1995), their second collaboration, she showcased her acting skills with an assertive performance as ‘CDC Scientist Dr. Roberta Keough.’
In the ‘Golden Globe’ award-winning film ‘Get Shorty’ (1995), Russo got the part of ‘Karen Flores,’ one of the central figures around whom the plot revolves. She starred alongside Kevin Costner in the romantic-comedy ‘Tin Cup’ (1996). She then reunited with Gibson in Ron Howard’s crime thriller ‘Ransom.’ In 1997, Russo played ‘Gertrude Lintz’ in the New Zealand/American film ‘Buddy.’
Rene Russo set the screen on fire with her sizzling chemistry with Pierce Brosnan in the 1999 remake of the 1968 heist film ‘The Thomas Crown Affair.’ Between 2000 and 2002, she appeared in three films: live action/animated movie ‘The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle’ (2000), Robert De Niro and Eddie Murphy starrer ‘Showtime’ (2002), and Barry Sonnenfeld’s ‘Big Trouble’ (2002).
In 2005, she shared screen space with two ‘Oscar’ winners, Al Pacino and Matthew McConaughey, in the sports drama ‘Two for the Money,’ which was also her first outing as an executive producer. That year, she did one more movie titled ‘Yours, Mine & Ours’ before taking a six-year break from acting.
Russo made a grand comeback, playing ‘Frigga’ in the superhero film ‘Thor’ (2011). She reprised her role as ‘Frigga’ in the 2013 sequel ‘Thor: The Dark World.’ She later reprised her role in the 2019 movie ‘Avengers: Endgame.’ Meanwhile in 2015, she was involved in two comedies, namely ‘Frank and Cindy’ and ‘The Intern.’
She then appeared alongside Morgan Freeman and Tommy Lee Jones in the action comedy film ‘Just Getting Started’ in 2017. Two years later, she was cast in her husband’s supernatural horror film ‘Velvet Buzzsaw.’
Rene Russo is best known for her role in ‘Nightcrawler’ in which she portrayed ‘Nina Romina,’ a morning news editor desperately clinging on to the power and position that she has garnered over the course of her professional life. Dan Gilroy’s directorial venture, the film is a cynical, unapologetic tale of a sociopath named ‘Lou Bloom,’ played by Jake Gyllenhaal, who prowls in the city during nights.
Gilroy specifically created the character of ‘Romina’ with his wife Russo in his mind. He had feared that the character could very easily be relegated to a "hard-nosed corporate bitch" and that his wife could bring a sense of vulnerability to the character. Never having played a desperate woman on screen before, Russo initially struggled with the role. She evoked the past experiences from her own life when she was compelled to cross moral boundaries due to fear and desperation. She received a BAFTA nomination for her performance in the film.
For ‘Lethal Weapon 4,’ Rene Russo won the ‘Favorite Supporting Actress – Action/Adventure Award’ at the 1999 ‘Blockbuster Entertainment Awards.’
Arguably the best movie of her career, ‘Nightcrawler’ has brought her multiple awards and accolades. In 2014, she was honored with the ‘San Diego Film Critics Society Award’ for ‘Best Supporting Actress’ and ‘Saturn Award’ for ‘Best Supporting Actress.’ In 2015, she won the ‘AARP Award’ for ‘Best Supporting Actress’ for portraying ‘Nina Romina’ in the film.
Rene Russo met screenwriter Dan Gilroy on the sets of ‘Freejack.’ They got married on March 14, 1992, and have a daughter named Rose Gilroy (born 1993). Rose Gilroy grew up to become a model, actress, and writer. Russo and her husband currently reside in Brentwood, California.
From childhood, Russo has suffered from bipolar disorder and takes medication to combat it. She is a born-again Christian.
Rene Russo Movies
(Drama, Crime, Thriller)
(Crime, Thriller, Action, Drama)
(Crime, Romance, Thriller)
(Fantasy, Action, Sci-Fi, Adventure)
(Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Action, Adventure)
(Thriller, Comedy, Crime)
(Crime, Action, Thriller)
(Crime, Thriller, Action)
How To Cite
People Also Viewed