Date of Birth: February 17, 1954
This Burbank, California, native is one of the legions of models turned actresses that walk the streets of Hollywood. But unlike many others, Russo has been fortunate enough and talented enough to stand head and shoulders above the pack. It may have been the adversity she faced as a child that gave her the drive to succeed. When she was two, her father left the family. Her mother, Shirley, had to raise her two girls alone.
In junior high school, Rene was diagnosed with scoliosis and had to wear a back brace for four years. She dropped out of high school in the tenth grade and worked at a variety of odd jobs. When she was 17, a scout/manager from International Creative Management spotted her at a rock concert and encouraged her to become a model. Russo signed with Ford Modeling Agency and by 1975, had graced the covers of many magazines. She began acting in commercials, and after studying theater and acting in Los Angeles, began to land theater roles.
"I didn't want to be an actress when I was younger," Russo says. "Not even when I was older, to tell you the truth. As crazy as it sounds, I needed a job. They wanted a girl with a certain look, and I guess I had it. I'm not a technical actress. I don't have any technique, really. It's just raw emotion, If it's there, it's there."
In 1999, Russo won a Blockbuster Entertainment Award for Favorite Supporting Actress - Action/Adventure for Lethal Weapon 4. Most recently, she starred in Nightcrawler (2014) alongside Jake Gyllenhaal and in The Intern (2015).
She met her husband, screenwriter Dan Gilroy, in 1991 when they were both working on the film Freejack. They were married in March 1992 and in August 1993, their daughter Rose was born.