The Welcome Return of Kurt Russell

Here are a few of our favorite Kurts

Reveling in the Ridiculous
While many other action stars have tried their hand at humor (often to distressingly awkward results), few have been so comfortable discarding their macho-man guises for out-and-out nonsense like Russell, whose turns in 1987’s Overboard and 1992’s Captain Ron allowed the star to express his inner goofball. While the latter is an uneven comedy bolstered by Russell’s willingness to embrace caricature, it’s the former that truly stands as a testament to his skills. As a rube who tricks an amnesic heiress (Goldie Hawn) into thinking she’s his wife and the father of his white-trash kids, he's all fast-talking deviousness and rubbery physicality, carrying himself like a mulleted muscleman whose limbs are a little too loosely hinged. By so enthusiastically acting the fool, Russell comes across as perfectly comfortable in his own skin, thereby enhancing his aura of unassailable confidence and cool.

Russell as Elvis
Russell as Elvis


The Art of the Steal was written and directed by Jonathan Sobol. Available on demand.

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The Everyman, Albeit More
Over-the-top absurd or larger-than-life heroic, Russell’s best performances never lose sight of a more basic, engaging fallibility and humanity. It’s no surprise, then, that the actor has had such success playing average Joes thrust into overwhelming circumstances. Be it the Antarctic research team member suddenly forced to contend with a shape-shifting alien in 1982’s peerless The Thing, the husband whose wife goes missing on an open stretch of desert highway in 1997’s phenomenal Breakdown, the firefighter tasked with a baffling arson case in 1991’s Backdraft, the military man contending with an interstellar portal in 1994’s Stargate, or the head coach of the 1980 men’s Olympic hockey team in 2004’s stirring Miracle, Russell colors his characters’ heroism with a no-frills, down-and-dirty stoutness and resourcefulness. It’s that quality, that someone’s-got-to-do-it approach to tackling daunting hazards and odds, which gives even his legendary gunman Wyatt Earp (in 1993’s Tombstone) a relatable, down-to-earth ruggedness and resolve. As in his greatest roles, he’s more man than myth.

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