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entertainment

Summer Fridays with Keri Russell

It’s getting hot in herre

Who can do the worm, skateboard, and play Nelly songs on the piano?

This girl: Keri Russell.

She can also juggle a badass leading role on The Americans, Gary Oldman and Gary Clarke in director Matt Reeves’s Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, one husband, and two littles.

For her latest trick, she plays a hopeless Jane Austen addict in Austenland, a Sundance rom com from Napoleon Dynamite co-writer-turned-director Jerusha Hess. We caught up with the wonder woman (who’s more charming and loveable than a Mr. Darcy blow-up doll) to talk movies, books, and beauty.

And Scott Speedman (what?).

q&a!

We need to talk about Jane: 30 years old, Darcy cutouts in the living room. What’s her story?
So Jane is a lonely heart stuck in her life. I think we all have a version who escapes into something, because life’s hard. But I think she truly delves deep with her room and stuffed animals on her bed. She has this obsession with all things Jane Austen. The great thing about her is she has some awareness that it’s weird.

It’s being pelted with the rom com label. Director Jerusha Hess even calls it a movie for girls. I saw it with a dude, who loved it.
Oh, good! I mean Jennifer Coolidge is in it, for the love of God. With her boobs! It’s not exactly just a movie for girls.

Agree completely. So how do our readers get their guys to see this film?
You know what? Jennifer just brought something up that’s really good: If the point for a guy on a date is to have something happen at the end of the date, what is going to make the lady more amicable to something happening? Seeing some blow-up movie that he wants? Or being tickled and delighted and romanced by a movie she would like to see? She’ll be in a better romantic mood to … have fun.

austenland!

Tons of great comedic moments with Georgia King and Jennifer Coolidge. Favorite on-screen moment?
Really anytime Jennifer was out there making up some weird shit that was not in the script. Whether it was about hanging yourself, which had literally zero to do with what we were talking about. Or her English accent.

And I love the take that they kept in the movie: She is prompting me to mimic her very colorful English accent, and then she not only does the English accent — this crazy version — but she makes this sound effect. And so I half do it, just the accent part, then she sees I’m not doing the sound effect afterward, so she does the sound effect again, and it was like, “No, Keri, do it!”

You know, she’s so good at that — off-the-cuff improv, like in her Christopher Guest movies. She’s one of those people [with whom] you just have to hang on for dear life and not laugh take after take — just let her ride.

We know you can play Nelly’s “Hot in Herre” on the piano (our favorite scene). Any other hidden talents?
I can do the centipede. Really well.

What is the centipede? Is that a dance move?
Some break-dancers might call it the worm.

Ah, yes. The wedding go-to.
Uh, yeah. I can bust that out at any point. I can also skateboard.

So the hairdo you wear in the film — what does one call that style?
Ugly. Harsh. Severe. Ugly.

austenland!

The Americans. What’s it like to work with a CIA agent?
I’m always afraid he’s going to report us. I always feel like he’s listening a little too intently to every conversation I have. No, it’s so fun. I have to say of anything I’ve done in the last year, that has been my most fun job. Maybe I’m just getting older and liking my job more or getting more comfortable with things, but I’m really loving that. And I’m really excited to be back in the fall.

Any teasers?
No! But if you find out, lemme know.

Felicity cast member(s) you still hang out with?
Just saw [Scott] Speedman and Mandy Foreman. Every time I go to L.A., they’re my first call. We always have dinner together. And I just spent the whole summer with Matt Reeves, who was one of the creators. We did [Dawn of the] Planet of the Apes together. Yeah, so a lot of them. It was just an informative time in all of our lives, and we love each other.

What are you reading right now?
A Moveable Feast, because I read The Paris Wife, and I wanted to go back and reread books I’d read earlier. I read a really great short story collection that a girlfriend gave me by Alice Munro called Something I’ve Been Meaning to Tell You. It has such a good title. I have a neighbor in Brooklyn who wrote a book that I think is really interesting. Her name is Katie Roiphe, and it’s called In Praise of Messy Lives.

Novel you want to see on the big screen?
You know what I read that would make a really great fantastical movie? The Elegance of the Hedgehog. There’s also a really amazing thriller by Donna Tartt called The Secret History, which I think would make a great movie.

So summer beauty. What’s your must-have …
Hair product: I’m all about oil. Josie Maran argan oil, but it comes in a cream/tub. You can use it on your elbows; I actually remove my mascara with it. I use it in my hair when my hair’s too fluffy. It’s good for summer. Any part of your body or hair you want to be shiny and good.

austenland!

Makeup product: Oh, there’s no such thing as one makeup product. There really isn’t. C’mon. I’m closer to 40 than I am to 30. I would say moisturizer — the richer the better — any kind of oil, concealer, and mascara.

What’s next for you?
I finished Planet of the Apes, I’m finishing the press for Austenland, and my next big job is getting my 6-year-old into a new school — big, first-grade, real school.

Austenland premieres today. Find showtimes at fandango.com. For more movies, flip through our August must-sees, GoWatchIt channels, or cinematic movie guide.

Photos: Paul Zimmerman / Getty Images; Giles Keyte / Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics