Theresa Lynn Russell (née Paup; born March 20, 1957) is an American actress whose career spans over four decades. Her filmography includes over fifty feature films, ranging from mainstream to independent and experimental films.Born in San Diego, Russell was raised in the Los Angeles suburb of Burbank, where she had a turbulent upbringing marked by poverty, and dropped out of high school at age 16. Russell subsequently began modeling, which brought her to the attention of film producer Sam Spiegel. Through Spiegel, she was cast in Elia Kazan's The Last Tycoon (1976), playing the daughter of a prominent film executive.In 1978, Russell starred opposite Dustin Hoffman in the critically-acclaimed crime drama Straight Time. Her next role was a lead in English filmmaker Nicolas Roeg's controversial thriller Bad Timing (1980), which earned critical praise. Russell and Roeg began a romance while shooting the film, and it marked one of six projects they would collaborate on following their 1982 marriage. She next appeared in Roeg's drama Eureka (1983), followed by the John Byrum-directed The Razor's Edge (1984). Russell portrayed Marilyn Monroe in Roeg's experimental alternate history film Insignificance (1985), followed by a lead role as a serial killer in Bob Rafelson's neo-noir film Black Widow (1987), which garnered her significant commercial attention.Russell continued to collaborate with Roeg throughout the late 1980s and early 1990s, appearing in a Roeg-directed segment of the anthology film Aria (1987), as well as the features Track 29 (1989) and Cold Heaven (1991). Other roles from this time included the crime dramas Physical Evidence (1989) and Impulse (1990). In 1991, Russell starred as a prostitute in Ken Russell's satirical drama Whore, followed by Steven Soderbergh's experimental black-and-white feature, Kafka, co-starring Jeremy Irons. After appearing in a number of independent films in the mid-1990s, Russell had a supporting role in the commercially successful neo-noir Wild Things (1998), and the critically-acclaimed drama The Believer (2001). In 2005, she had a supporting role on the HBO miniseries Empire Falls, followed by a minor part in Sam Raimi's Spider-Man 3 (2007).
Russell was born Theresa Lynn Paup in San Diego, California, the eldest of three children born to teenage mother Carole Platt (née Mall) and Jerry Russell Paup. When she was five years old, Russell's parents divorced, and her father relocated to Mexico. Her mother subsequently remarried, and moved the family to Los Angeles County, where Russell was raised primarily in Burbank. Through her mother's marriage to her stepfather, she has two half-siblings. Russell has said she grew up in poverty, and that at times her family required food stamps to survive. She had a turbulent relationship with her stepfather, whom she described as "hideous", "incapable" and "an asshole," and by age thirteen, she had begun experimenting with recreational drugs. Despite her early struggles, Russell commented in 1991: "I hate it when actors talk about what a hard time they had as kids. That was just my life. It wasn't horrible. When you're free, white, and over 21, how hard can it be? Get over it."At age fourteen, while a student at Burbank High School, Russell was approached while walking on a street in Los Angeles by a photographer who suggested she model. Suspecting the photographer merely wanted to exploit her, Russell requested that he meet her mother first, to which he obliged. She subsequently began modeling for a fashion photographer who was a friend of her mother's. "I ended up having what I realise now was a long, almost like a Lolita/Humbert Humbert relationship with him—without the sex. He was madly in love with me and took pictures of me a lot. He would come round and we would go off and shoot pictures up in the mountains."Russell dropped out of high school at 16 and moved in with a 28-year-old boyfriend who worked as a primal scream therapist, whom she later described as "one of the most fucked-up people I have ever met." She enrolled at the Lee Strasberg Institute in West Hollywood to study acting at age 17.
Movies & TV shows
Nicolas Roeg: It's About Time...
The first major profile of the great British film director Nicolas Roeg, examining his very personal vision of cinema as in such films as Don't Look Now, Performance, Walkabout and The Man Who Fell to...
1 TV show
In an all-too-fragile digital world, all computers could become dangerously self-aware with one systematic purpose and destroy mankind. There is only one way to avoid extinction and that is to create ...
Liz & Dick
On the set of Cleopatra, Hollywood's most beautiful star, Elizabeth Taylor, fell into the arms of one of the world's greatest actors, Richard Burton - and she didn't leave. Their subsequent white-hot,...
1 Out of 7
Lexi is pregnant on the streets. She must turn to a woman with her own demons in order to find a way back from her past mistakes.
The Legends of Nethiah
A young boy with his parents going through a bitter divorce is given hope and courage by his grandfather. The stories give the boy strength to face the inevitable challenges.
Born to Ride
The stars of Starship Troopers are back in action! Mike (Casper Van Dien) decides to hit the road on his refurbished classic motorcycle along with best buddy Alex (Patrick Muldoon), but their trek tak...
Rid of Me
A black comedy of embarrassment shows the emotional breakdown and rebirth of a woman.
Interviews with the cast of INSIGNIFICANCE are featured in a behind-the-scenes look at the film.
3 Movies · 1 TV show
An ex police officer in Los Angeles sets out to solve a series of missing person cases with his ex partner.
Railroad to Hell: A Chinaman's Chance
America in 1870's. A Chinese immigrant wrongly accused of murdering a white woman will have to prove his innocence in a time when people of color had no legal rights. The exploitation of Chinese worke...
Walter Bishop, brilliant but formerly institutionalized scientist, and his scheming, reluctant son Peter, uncover a deadly mystery involving a series of unbelievable events and realize they may be a p...
A teenage orphan is traveling for ten years.
2 Movies · 1 TV show
On the Doll
A lurid, dark look into the lives of sex workers, where victims of child abuse deal with the consequences of their actions later in life.
The shape-changing Sandman is one of the new villains that Spider-Man goes up against. While Spider-Man's powers are altered by an alien organism, his alter ego, Peter, deals with nemesis Eddie Brock ...
American Heiress is a telenovela which debuted on March 13, 2007 at 8 p.m. ET/7 p.m. CT on the American television network MyNetworkTV. This romantic melodrama tells the story of a roughneck pilot and...
Film Noir: Bringing Darkness to Light
Film Noir is a film that burrows into the mind. Noir provides intimate peeks at its tough, scheming dames, mischievous misfits and flawed men, all caught in the wicked web of a twisted fate.
Molls and Dolls: The Women of Gangster Films
A documentary on the roles of women in gangster movies.
1 Movie · 1 TV show
A blind woman finds herself the target of an attacker again after the person originally convicted of her rape is found to be innocent of the crime.
The humorous, poignant story of a declining New England town and its inhabitants, whose lives are deeply influenced by the Knox River and its vacant mills, their class differences, and ghosts of the p...
Z Channel: A Magnificent Obsession
The Z Channel is one of the first pay cable stations in the US. The LA-based channel's eclectic slate of movies became a prime example of the power of cable television.
4 Movies · 1 TV show
An ex-con tries to go straight but also wants to get back money he's owed for the job that put him in prison. He meets a waitress who's also seen her share of trouble and they start up a tenuous relat...
A widow and her husband died at sea. The widow's teenage daughter wants to be a professional gambler and she convinces her mother to date a British man. The Brit is a professional gambler and pretends...
When she is assigned cases that have never been solved, the Philadelphia homicide squad's lone female detective finds her calling. Lilly Rush combines her instincts and technology to bring about justi...
Love Comes Softly
Marty is a pioneer. They are moving west. Marty is alone with a baby. Clark Davis offers her a marriage of convenience because he needs someone to take care of his daughter and she needs food and mone...
Water Under the Bridge
Jake O'Connor saw his father shoot his best friend dead when he was a child. Jake is trying to find the truth about what happened that fateful night. Incognito is moving into an apartment owned by a s...
4 Movies · 1 TV show
Now & Forever
John Myron andAngela Wilson form a powerful bond against a backdrop of clashing cultures. John saved her from a betrayal. As a result of the aftermath,Angela flees town, unaware that she has put into ...
The House Next Door
A newlywed couple move into their dream home only to find that their next door neighbor isn't as nice as they thought.
Wunderkind author Mike Dolan achieved literary fame at age 21 with a steamy expose on his seemingly idyllic Maine town. Four years later, he hasn't written another word and reluctantly returns home in...
Searching for Debra Winger
As women working in the entertainment industry, they face a lot of pressures.
Project Viper is a 2002 movie starring Patrick Muldoon, Theresa Russell, Curtis Armstrong, Tamara Davies. The movie was directed by Jim Wynorski under the pseudonym "Jay Andrews." When a terrifying, b...
2 Movies · 1 TV show
Earth vs. the Spider
A shy comic book fan is injected with an experimental serum and starts turning into a spider. A policeman is investigating a strange case when web covered bodies start appearing.
Law & Order: Criminal Intent
The third iteration of the "Law & Order" franchise takes viewers deep into the minds of its criminals while following the intense psychological approaches the Major Case Squad uses to solve its crimes...
A racist skinhead in the US leads a gang that fights the enemy because of his intelligence. He's hiding a secret because he's a brilliant scholar who's questioning the tenets of his faith has left him...
Emily and her son were victims of a carjacking. Emily is accused of committing the murder herself in order to get away with it. On the run from the police, she tries to find killers on her own and dis...
A guidance counselor who was accused of rape by a teen and a bad girl is suspended by the school, rejected by the town and fighting to get his life back. A cop thinks there is a conspiracy.
In early 19th century Wales, Catherine Morgan, a widow with two daughters, must endure the bumpy road to a distant market in order to sell her cattle to save her farm and family.
Once You Meet a Stranger
The genders of the lead characters in the television remake of "Strangers on a Train" have been changed from male to female. The first husband of a former child star is unwilling to give her a divorce...
The Flight of the Dove
A spy trades sex for secrets. An explosives expert is haunted by his past. The sparks fly when these two meet.
Ma Barker and her sons were wanted by the FBI.
A man has an affair with a mysterious woman and shares with her his desire to end his troubled marriage. When his wife is found dead, his lover admits to the killing and persuades him to kill her husb...
A Young Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court
A modern take on the novel by Mark Twain.
A bride-to-be wakes up next to a man chained to the bed, but can't remember what happened the night before.
Sir Hugo is more interested in reconstructing dinosaur bones than paying attention to his wife. When Sidney was brought home, he wasn't happy. Fledge gives LadyHarriet the attention she's been missing...
1 Movie · 1 TV show
Thicker Than Water
They are identical twins. After Jo was killed in a car accident, Debbie started to act like her. Sam suspected that the accident was not an accident at all.
A Woman's Guide to Adultery
The story of three women who are involved in adulterous affairs and Rose, who believes that anyone who sleeps with another's husband is committing a crime against womanhood. Will Rose be able to resis...
While working alone undercover with a vice squad boss she dislikes as much as he dislikes her, she is living on the edge. An assignment was given to the assistant D.A. It may be the start of a serious...
A police officer suspended and now accused of murder is forced to join forces with his court-appointed attorney to assemble the pieces of a deadly puzzle to find the missing link before time runs out....
Years after a desperate teenage Linda gives up her baby for adoption, she finds herself face-to-face with Martin, a young man who claims to be her long-lost son. Linda found a reprieve from her unhapp...
There were ten different directors who directed the short pieces. An aria is used as a soundtrack in each short.
According to Barnes, Catherine is a serial killer who murders rich men for their money. Catherine is a master of disguise and can't be proved with conventional detective work. With no other choice, sh...
Four 1950s cultural icons who could have met but probably didn't, fictionally do so in this modern fable of post-WWII America. The film has a fluid progression of flashbacks and flashforwards centerin...
Alex and Milena have a friend who is a doctor. Alex is attracted to the young spirit of Milena even though he is a bit older than her. Despite the fact that Milena is already married, their friendship...