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Jay Russell Poster

Biography

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Overview (1)

Born in North Little Rock, Arkansas, USA

Mini Bio (1)

Best known for Directing critically acclaimed audience pleasing fare, filmmaker Jay Russell has an impressive track record of telling compelling stories with emotional resonance.

Russell got his first break at the age of 19, filming a series of commercials for the Arkansas Parks and Tourism division. Like his boss at the time, Governor Bill Clinton, Russell would go on to bigger and better things.

Russell completed his post graduate studies at Columbia University in New York City, where he studied under the tutelage of Academy Award winning director Milos Forman. After receiving his MFA in Screenwriting and Directing, Russell was invited to attend the Sundance Institute Film Workshop. It was there that Russell began development on what would become his first film, "End of the Line", a tale of two down and out railway workers named Leo and Will (played by Levon Helm and Wilford Brimley) The cast also included Kevin Bacon and Academy Award winners Mary Steenburgen and Holly Hunter.

Russell then developed a number of projects for Imagine Entertainment, as well as TriStar Pictures. Russell also produced a number of documentary series and specials for NBC, CBS, The Learning Channel, and the Discovery Channel. At that time PBS approached Russell to write, produce, and direct "Great Drives", a miniseries on America's most famous highways.

It was during the filming of "Great Drives" that Russell met Pulitzer nominated author Willie Morris. At the time, Morris was working on an autobiographical memoir about his childhood. When the book, "My Dog Skip", became a national bestseller, Russell - who had stayed in regular contact with Morris secured the movie rights to the book. Warner Bros. released the Russell Directed film adaptation of "My Dog Skip", which starred Kevin Bacon, Frankie Muniz, Luke Wilson and Diane Lane. The film was a hit with critics and audiences alike and eventually went on to score numerous awards, including the Critic's Choice Award for Best Family Film.

Russell followed up with Walt Disney's "Tuck Everlasting", starring Alexis Bledel (Handmaid's Tale) along with Academy Award winners, Sir Ben Kingsley, William Hurt, and Sissy Spacek. The well received fantasy was also nominated for a Critic's Choice Award for Best Family Film.

Next, Russell tackled his most commercial project yet with Disney/Touchstone Pictures "Ladder 49." The film, an ode to the heroism of firefighters starred Academy Award nominee John Travolta and Oscar winner Joaquin Phoenix as a pair of Baltimore firemen who share a father and son relationship that forges the backbone of this emotionally satisfying film. "Ladder 49" remains one of the top October weekend openers of all time and went on to make over $100 + million in worldwide box office.

Next, Sony Picture's "Water Horse: Legend of the Deep," was one of the best-reviewed family films of its year. Starring Alex Etel, Ben Chaplin, Brian Cox and Academy Award winner Emily Watson, the film was nominated by the Visual Effects Society for the groundbreaking digital work of the world-famous New Zealand FX company, Weta Digital. Worldwide, "The Water Horse," became Russell's second $100 + million dollar moneymaker in a row.

In different media, Russell produced the World Premiere of the theatrical stage production of the classic thriller, "Rear Window," adapted by Keith Reddin and directed by Tony Award Winner, Darko Tresnjak, starring Kevin Bacon, McKinley Belcher III, Melinda Page Hamilton, Robert Stanton, and John Bedford Lloyd. He also co-wrote his first graphic novel "Black Sparrow," published by John Carpenter's Storm-King Productions.

Russell has numerous projects in development and continues to make documentary films.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Anonymous 2022

Family (1)

Spouse Lee Cunningham (1991 - present)

Trivia (1)

First job: Directed parks and tourism commercials for the state of Arkansas. Boss: Bill Clinton.

See also

Other Works |  Publicity Listings |  Official Sites

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