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May 9, 1958
Park Ridge, Illinois, US
|Occupation||Film director, producer, screenwriter, actor|
Some of Russell's best known films include the slasher fantasy film A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, the 1988 remake of the 1958 monster horror film The Blob, the fantasy superhero comedy film The Mask, the action film Eraser, and the action-adventure The Scorpion King. Russell also executive produced the critically acclaimed Michael Mann-directed neo-noir crime thriller Collateral.
Russell was born in Park Ridge, Illinois and grew up in Chicago. He attended Maine South High School and was a graduate of the 1976 class. While attending the University of Illinois, Russell became fascinated with Chicago's active theater scene and began writing, acting and directing one act plays. Chicago's famous Second City Theater was an inspiration for Russell, where he saw such comedians as John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd get their start. Russell became fascinated with comedy improv, studying techniques he later applied in the development of such films as Back to School and The Mask.
After graduating from the University of Illinois, Russell left Chicago to begin work in film production in Los Angeles. He worked his way up, assistant directing and production managing independent films while writing screenplays.
Russell made his directorial debut in 1987 with A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors. At that time, New Line Cinema was uncertain about the future of the Elm Street franchise. Russell convinced them that the series could take a step further into Freddy's nightmare world through cutting edge visual effects… and dramatize the bond among Freddy's youthful victims with the concept of Dream Warriors. The success of the film redefined the franchise for New Line, earning more at the box office than the first two films put together. At the time of its release A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors was the highest grossing independent film ever made.
Russell went on to write and direct the cult horror film, The Blob in 1988, once again stretching the boundaries of visual effects on a limited budget. He then found international acclaim with the blockbuster The Mask about a bank clerk who discovers an ancient mask that transforms him into a malicious prankster. Russell created ground breaking digital technologies for The Mask with George Lucas's Industrial Light and Magic, combining live action performance with radically new concepts in visual effects. Russell's work earned the film an Academy Award nomination for Best Visual Effects. The Mask also created international stardom for both Jim Carrey and Cameron Diaz. With a production budget of $18 million, The Mask earned more than $350 million in worldwide box office.
Russell then went on to direct the action/adventure blockbusters Eraser with Arnold Schwarzenegger, which grossed over $240 million internationally, and The Scorpion King, which was the first leading role for WWE star Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. Both films were #1 box office hits upon their release.
Fourteen years after directing The Scorpion King, Russell's next film was 2016's I Am Wrath starring John Travolta.
- Joyride (1977) (production manager and assistant director)
- The Hearse (1980) (line producer)
- Hell Night (1981) (executive producer)
- The Seduction (1982) (executive producer)
- Dreamscape (1984) (co-writer and associate producer)
- Body Rock (1984) (producer)
- Girls Just Want to Have Fun (1985) (producer)
- Back to School (1986) (producer)
- A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987) (director and co-writer)
- The Blob (1988) (director and co-writer)
- The Mask (1994) (director and executive producer)
- Eraser (1996) (director and executive producer)
- Bless the Child (2000) (director)
- The Scorpion King (2002) (director)
- Collateral (2004) (executive producer)
- Fringe (2010) (TV series) (guest director)
- I Am Wrath (2016) (director)
- Junglee (2019) (director)
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