Dissecting Actor Kurt Russell

“Kurt Russell”


There have been few actors out there that have embodied the truest notion of badassness: John Wayne, Steven McQueen, and… the exemplary Kurt Russell. Seriously, the current generation of actors could learn a thing or two about how to be cool, bleed testosterone, and how to rock a serious mane from Russell, a guy who’s been making movies for most of his life. But it wasn’t until the early ‘80s did Russell find his own (with the help of John Carpenter), and the rest, as they say, is history. Let’s take a look at that history so we can all feel a little more badass by mere association.


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As mentioned earlier, Russell had been starring in Disney movies and TV shows since he was a kid, but it wasn’t until he starred as the impeccable Snake Plissken in 1981’s ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK did the world begin to notice Russell, not as a child star, but as a true f*ckin’ man’s man. The toughest motor scooter out there that wasn’t bursting with muscles or a thick accent, but rather rockin’ an eye-patch and full head of hair. From there, he teamed up with Carpenter again with THE THING and hammered the notion of awesomeness home even harder to the masses… and the world has been a better place ever since.

There’s always a charm, and it was the case when he took on one of the greatest movie characters of all time: Jack Burton, in 1986’s John Carpenter’s BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA, where tank tops, snarky come-backs, and uzis came back into style (did they ever leave????). From there, Russell did more action with TANGO & CASH (alongside fellow action star Sylvester Stallone), rocked the thriller with UNLAWFUL ENTRY, hit the Western front with TOMBSTONE, entered the realm of sci-fi with STARGATE, and took the skies with a “DIE HARD on a plane” scenario with EXECUTIVE DECSION. And if that wasn't enough, he was the lead in Quentin Tarantino’s DEATH PROOF, a film that has split movie-fans since its release. I’m in love with it, others hate it, but regardless of your opinion of the movie, you cannot deny Russell’s awesomeness in it. In other words, the man has done it all… and I even left out all of his dramas, comedies, romantic comedies, and other shenanigans that has no place here on Arrow in the Head. The guy’s well-versed… and that’s why he’s a f*ckin’ living legend.



Even a legend like Russell has had a few bad seeds, but honestly… even his “bad” stuff isn’t all that bad. Except maybe ESCAPE FROM LA… that shit is just awful. Sure, bringing Plissken back to the big screen seemed like a good idea at the time, but in retrospect, it’s just too hokey, too goofy, and not near as badass as ESCAPE FROM NY was. Also, it’s f*cking horrendous. I always kind of liked his sci-fi action flick SOLDIER, but even I can recognize that while it’s somewhat entertaining, it’s mostly forgettable and not even close to being in the same league as his other quality flicks. Otherwise, the man has had almost a flawless run… and that’s as rare as it gets.



Kurt Russell’s a man’s man… but he’s also a ladies’ man, and that’s part of his appeal. Also, he has a magnificent head of hair. I keep coming back to his hair, but seriously, the guy’s hair should be embodied and saved in a museum, if that’s even possible. They should take an imprint of that thing and slap it in cement on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Russell’s charming, he’s also the roughest, toughest, manliest dude in the world, and he has the acting chops to match. Plus, he’s at his best when he’s angry, when he’s yelling, when he’s delivering monologues, or when he’s being the everyman that gets thrust into a difficult situation. When the shit goes down, pray you have someone like Russell in your pocket, as he always knows what to do.



I don’t know if BREAKDOWN is hidden as much as it is underrated. The flick’s about a couple on a road trip who encounter car trouble, which leads them in a thrilling battle with local thugs, criminal undergrounds, shady cops, kidnapping, truckers, and all around intensity that doesn’t let go for the full 90 minutes. Russell is great as your average middle-aged dude who has to turn into a hero to save his wife from the scum of the Earth. Then you add up the supporting cast, including Kathleen Quinlan and J.T. Walsh, and director Jonathan Mostow (SURROGATES and TERMINATOR 3: RISE OF THE MACHINES) and you pretty much have an exhilarating time at the movies.


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A guy like Russell is never short of work, and at this point of his career, he can pick and choose whatever the hell he wants, and can make as many (or as little) movies he feels like. This is probably why he only really has a few upcoming projects up his sleeve, one of which dips into the genre we hold so dear to our hearts: horror. The flick’s called BONE TOMAHAWK, and according to IMDb, it goes a little something like this: Four men set out in the Wild West to rescue a group of captives from cannibalistic cave dwellers. Ok, so it’s partly horror (cannibalistic cave dwellers) and partly a western (set out in the Wild West), both of which point to awesome (remember how great Russell was in TOMBSTONE), so count me in, for sure! Also: is it me, or does it sound like a Cowboy version of C.H.U.D. (Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers)?



There are true Hollywood badasses and then there’s Kurt Russell, a guy who practically defines what “badass” truly means, and is practically a living legend of the Hollywood elite. From classic collaborations with John Carpenter (ESCAPE FROM NY, THE THING, and BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA), to westerns (TOMBSTONE) to the buddy-cop action flick (TANGO & CASH) to taunt thrillers (UNLAWFUL ENTRY and BREAKDOWN) and everything in-between, the guy has (practically) a flawless record, even without the help of Quentin Tarantino. And good God, does the guy have magnificent hair.

Extra Tidbit: What's your favorite Kurt Russell flick?



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