Rene Russo: 8 Facts About The Lethal Weapon Actress That Fans Will Love!

Rene Russo

American actress, producer, and fashion model Rene Russo became a household name in the 1970s, appearing on magazine covers such as Vogue and Cosmopolitan. She made her film debut in the 1989 comedy Major League, and rose to international prominence in a number of thrillers and action films throughout the 1990s, including Lethal Weapon 3, In the Line of Fire, Outbreak, Get Shorty, Ransom, Lethal Weapon 4, and The Thomas Crown Affair. 

After headlining the family comedy Yours, Mine and Ours, Russo took a six-year break from acting. She returned to the screen as Frigga, the mother of the titular hero, in the superhero film Thor, a role she reprised in Thor: The Dark World and Avengers: Endgame. In 2014, Russo starred in the acclaimed crime thriller Nightcrawler, for which she won the Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actress and was nominated for the BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role.

8 Things We Know To Be True About Rene Russo

1. Best Rene Russo Movies To Check Out

PC: Nightcrawler 

The actress paired up with Mel Gibson in Lethal Weapon and Ransom. Her other film credits include Nightcrawler, Tin Cup, In the Line of Fire, and The Thomas Crown Affair.

She plays Karen Flores, the ex-wife of Danny DeVito’s Martin Weir, in the 1995 crime/comedy Get Shorty.

  • Former model Rene Russo’s first dramatic role was on the 1987 TV series Sable, in which she played Eden Kendall, the literary agent to a children’s author-turned-crimefighter. 
  • Her breakthrough theatrical feature was Major League (1989), wherein the statuesque blonde actress was saddled with portraying the “misguided” heroine who foolishly prefers marriage with a stable, secure lawyer over a relationship with boozing, philandering ballplayer Tom Berenger. 
  • Since then, happily, the message conveyed by Russo’s characters has been “Don’t mess with me: I can cope.” In One Good Cop (1991), she played the strongly supportive wife of police officer Michael Keaton, for whom she successfully tackles the sudden responsibility of caring for the surly children of Keaton’s late partner. 
  • In Lethal Weapon 3 (1993), Russo could be seen as the karate-chopping cop who wins the confidence (and the love) of “loose cannon” Mel Gibson by proudly showing off her line-of-duty wounds. 
  • In In the Line of Fire (1992), Russo was partnered with Secret Service agent Clint Eastwood; one of her best scenes featured her sound wiring despite a most revealing evening gown — at a Washington social affair. 
  • In 1995, some observers seemed surprised that Russo, playing a biohazard-suited military research operative in Outbreak, was “as good as” her male counterparts Dustin Hoffman and Morgan Freeman. 
  • Russo has continued to do strong work playing strong women: The acclaimed Get Shorty (1995) featured her as a B-movie actress, while she re-teamed with Gibson for Ron Howard’s crime thriller Ransom (1996) and Lethal Weapon 4 (1998). 
  • She also played a psychologist who puts the swing back into washed-up golfer Kevin Costner’s game in the well-received Tin Cup (1996), and generated considerable heat as a crime investigator who hunts and then beds down with art thief Pierce Brosnan in the 1999 remake of The Thomas Crown Affair. 
  • 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 film is a cynical, unapologetic tale of a sociopath named ‘Lou Bloom,’ played by Jake Gyllenhaal, who prowls in the city during nights. Her husband, Dan Gilroy, specifically created the character of ‘Romina’ with his wife Russo in his mind. 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.
  • Russo was then in the live-action adaptation of Rocky and Bullwinkle. 
  • In 2005, following her supporting performances in Two for the Money and Yours, Mine, and Ours, Russell took a long break from acting. 
  • It wasn’t until 2012 that she appeared on the big screen again for the mythological fantasy adventure Thor in the role of Frigga, Thor’s mother. 

2. Rene Russo Before Fame

PC: Vogue

She worked in an eyeglass factory and as a movie cashier after high school.

  • Rene Russo came into this world 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.
  • 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.

3. Cool Facts About Rene Russo 

PC: Vogue
  • She was discovered at a Rolling Stones concert when she was 18. 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Being in a profession thoroughly afflicted by ageism, she was getting less and less work as she entered her 30s. Russo reacted pragmatically, took a hiatus from the show business for a short while and started studying acting and theatre. She managed to take lessons from veteran actor Allan Rich and appeared in several plays.
  • Did you know this weird fact? Rene Russo is allergic to sesame.

4. Rene Russo’s Personal Life

She married Dan Gilroy in 1992, and their daughter Rose was born in August 1993. Rene Russo met the screenwriter on the sets of ‘Freejack.’ They got married on March 14, 1992, and have a daughter named Rose Gilroy who grew up to become a model, actress, and writer (a combination of both her parents’ respective profession). 

She’s very similar to her mother, born with a sharp mind as well as her good looks, Rose also graduated with a double major in psychology & political science from Colgate University, an achievement which she attributes to Russo, telling Vogue: “my mother always told me that she wanted me to get my education, and I felt it was important, because it was something she’d worked so hard to give me.”

Russo and her husband currently reside in Brentwood, California. The couple turned out to be regular collaborators, most notably with the critically acclaimed and Oscar nominated Nightcrawler in 2014. 

5. Rene Russo Mental Health Issues 

From childhood, Russo has suffered from bipolar disorder and takes medication to combat it. She is a born-again Christian.

6. Reason For Her 6 Year Break

Russo took a break from acting in 2005 after starring in family comedy Yours, Mine and Ours alongside Dennis Quaid. Why? Basically she’d “had enough” of acting, and was starting to burn out. According to one interview with Buzzfeed in 2014:

“I worked constantly. I didn’t really ever take a break. I just think I hit a wall. I mean, even emotionally. I was not in any shape to do a movie. I was depressed. It was not a good time for me. One of the reasons I hit the wall is I really wanted to do other things, but I didn’t know how to get off the treadmill.”

Part of the reason Russo decided to end her self-imposed acting hiatus and return to the fold was due to meeting fans who told her that they missed seeing her in movies, as she told Buzzfeed News.

7. During Those 6 Years She Became Addicted To Watching Documentaries

Partly due to dropping out of school at such a young age, Russo admitted to Buzzfeed that she had “huge holes in [her] education”. 

Her solution to this problem was to watch tons of documentaries on world history and other subjects that interested her.

Russo then went on to work for the Department of Water and Power in L.A., in an effort to revitalize native gardens in the midst of a California drought. 

Interestingly, she also started her own business! White Cow Dairy is a milk and yogurt producer located in Upstate New York that Russo runs. 

And she much prefers milking cows to “getting up and having makeup on my face at 4:30 in the morning.”

8. She Won’t Return To TV Because Of THIS 

PC: LA Times 

Though Russo is firmly, if only occasionally, back into the movie making business, there seems to be an unlikely return to television show any time soon. She’s only appeared on a TV show once for the limited TV show Sable back in the 1980s, which only aired seven episodes.

Speaking to Collider, Russo doesn’t think she’ll be sinking her teeth into the TV series world again anytime soon, mainly due to the “brutal” schedules that come with working in TV. She says it would have to be something pretty “spectacular” to entice her to appear on this realm. Rene Russo, we won’t count anything out just yet! 

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