SAN FRANCISCO -- Keri Russell has been working most of her life, but she can't remember a time when acting was more fun thanks to her work on the FX series "The Americans" and in the big summer blockbuster "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes."
"I am enjoying acting more now. I feel more comfortable now with acting than I ever have," Russell says. "It's really interesting. I love 'The Americans,' it's so bizarre and weird. And, it was so special to get to work with ('Apes' director Matt Reeves) again. I just feel like things are getting better. I hope things keep getting better with age."
Russell, who is 38, seems like she should be older because she started working when she was 15 on "The All New Mickey Mouse Club." She made a huge splash at age 21 as star of the college drama "Felicity," which was co-created by Reeves and J.J. Abrams.
It wasn't the special effects and big battles that attracted Russell to "Dawn." She was more interested in the human drama that she knew Reeves would bring to to the story, such as her character being a member of the medical community that couldn't stop the epidemic that wiped out most of the world's human population. Russell's character also deals with the death of her daughter and tries to connect with the son of the man she loves.
"That's what I think is special about this movie. It's the combination of Matt's sensibility with an action movie like this," Russell says. "Matt told me he wanted to make a movie about these people and intimate moments. There are heavy-duty action scenes but the film also has a lot to say about our own tendencies and capacities for empathy for communities that are not are own."
Russell is always happy to find stories that deal with family relationships.
"The loudest and most profound relationship you are in is usually with your family — either your parents or your kids. Both the cable show and the film have these strong relationships," Russell says.
She loves that a central theme in "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" is the compassion that must be maintained even in the darkest and most difficult battles for survival.
"When we meet these characters, they have lost everything. So there's this tremendous sense of loss in all of the individuals. But, to have been able to stay alive means they have a strength, a pretty tough person to get through all of this," she says. "When it comes to the roles I like to do, it all comes down to the material. I don't care if it's a TV show, movie of the week, whatever. I just wanted to be moved by it. I want to feel something."