Wish You Were Here: Rene Russo

I was originally going to call this new series “Where are they Now?” But that would’ve implied that the actor in question had disappeared entirely and that it was a sort of investigative journalism piece, which is not really my intent. Essentially the idea is to highlight an actor I enjoy watching who is not around nearly enough.

Now, when I thought of this piece I was reminded that my subject, Rene Russo, played Frigga in Thor, and reprised the role for the upcoming sequel. She popped into my mind as someone I hadn’t seen, and there truly was a long hiatus before that re-emergence.

Prior to joining the cinematic Marvel Universe she was last seen in 2005’s Yours, Mine and Ours. Now, that movie was just OK in my book. However, when you consider that it was the second remake of a 1960s comedy about a large family in short order (after 2003’s Cheaper By the Dozen) it was never likely to do much at the box office.

Major League (1989, Paramount)

Many of her headlining opportunities were in comedies that were less than ideal projects but she was a constant for me as I saw nearly all the films she appeared in during the 1990s.

Rene Russo was a unique case inasmuch as she debuted after the age of 30 following a modeling career. So she already defied the Hollywood odds stacked against her in that regard by being one of the most notable and in-demand leading ladies for a brief period. While it seems that some actresses have been able to transition from that 30s-40s range where the they are offered leads to the next phase where its mostly supporting work they can get, Rene hasn’t been afforded that opportunity, and she should be.

However, one thing I am hopeful of is that fantasy and/or superhero franchises do have a tendency to revamp and reinvigorate and actor’s career. Maggie Smith was well-known and well-regarded amongst those in her profession for years, but playing Professor McGonigall in the Harry Potter series got her a new audience and level of notoriety, thus opportunities. Much the same can be said for Ian McKellen playing Magneto and Gandalf. I hope that being in Thor, and potentially other Marvel ventures, opens up possibilities for Rene Russo becasue she should still be a presence.

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