The Real Reason You Don't Hear From Rene Russo Anymore

Once upon a time, Rene Russo was one of the hottest actresses in Hollywood. It was the 1990s and she had crashed onto the scene following her film debut in the 1989 sports comedy Major League.

She was accidentally discovered by her manager John Crosby at a Rolling Stones concert at 18 years old. She was a high school dropout, and suddenly entered the star-studded world of the public eye. She started as a fashion model, later going on to become a leading lady. Best known in her heyday for lead roles in Lethal Weapon 3, In The Line Of Fire, Get Shorty, and The Thomas Crown Affair, Russo majorly slowed down (and even took a long hiatus) since 2005. Let's take a look at the reasons why, and see what she's been up to in the meantime.

She took a six-year hiatus from Hollywood

Back in 2005, Russo took a break from acting, after starring in family comedy Yours, Mine and Ours alongside Dennis Quaid. The main reason for Russo's sabbatical was the same as most who decide to take time off from work, she'd "had enough" of acting, and was starting to burn out. As she told Buzzfeed in 2014:

"I worked constantly. I didn't really ever take a break. I just think I hit a wall. I mean, even emotionally. I was not in any shape to do a movie. I was depressed. It was not a good time for me. One of the reasons I hit the wall is I really wanted to do other things, but I didn't know how to get off the treadmill."

She returned to the scene six years later for a role in Disney's Marvel movie Thor in 2011, playing the titular character's mother, the ancient goddess Frigga. She returned to this role again in 2013 for the sequel Thor: The Dark World, and, at the time of writing, has appeared in four other movies since 2011. 

Part of the reason Russo decided to end her self-imposed acting hiatus and return to the fold was due to meeting fans who told her that they missed seeing her in movies, as she told Buzzfeed News.

She worked for the government and became a dairy farmer

So what does a movie star do when she takes some time off from work? If she's Rene Russo, that downtime involves watching a lot of documentaries. Partly due to dropping out of school at such a young age, Russo admitted to Buzzfeed that she had "huge holes in [her] education". Her solution to this problem was to watch tons of documentaries on world history and other subjects that interested her.

Russo then went on to work for the Department of Water and Power in L.A., in an effort to revitalize native gardens in the midst of a California drought. And after that? She started her own business: White Cow Dairy, a milk and yogurt producer located in Upstate New York. As she told Buzzfeed News in 2014, Russo runs the dairy and its 40 cows with a farmer friend. And she much prefers milking cows to "getting up and having makeup on my face at 4:30 in the morning."

She's been collaborating with her husband

Russo has been married to screenwriter and director Dan Gilroy since March 1992. The two met on the set of Gilroy-penned movie Freejack and were married soon after, with Gilroy moving to Los Angeles to be with her, where he has lived and worked ever since.

The couple turned out to be regular collaborators, most notably with the critically acclaimed and Oscar nominated Nightcrawler in 2014. Russo co-starred in Nightcrawler alongside Jake Gyllenhaal, which was written and directed by Gilroy.

Indeed, Russo tells Buzzfeed that the part of Nina in Nightcrawler was penned specifically for her by her husband, a role with which she swept the board, gaining numerous award nominations for Best Supporting Actress — including a BAFTA nod — and three wins for her role, from the AARP, the San Diego Film Critics, and the Saturn Awards.

She's working on a project that will be "Nightcrawler-ish... but completely different"

After Nightcrawler's success, Russo, Gilroy, and Gyllenhaal are teaming up again to make a film set in the world of contemporary art, as Collider reports. Shooting on the currently untitled project begins March 2018, and fans of Nightcrawler can expect to see a similar dark vibe at work, though Russo insists that it will be "something completely different" to their previous collaboration.

Clearly working with her husband as writer and director suits Russo well, as she tells Collider that she prefers hashing out work-related problems with him at home rather than on set. And if the accolades awarded to Nightcrawler are any indication of quality, their next project together sounds just as intriguing.

She's been raising a "strong and empowered" daughter

Russo and Gilroy's only child, 24-year-old Rose Gilroy was only a pre-teen when her mother took her sabbatical from acting. Rose is following in Russo's footsteps with a foray into the world of modelling, where she's beginning to make some waves after signing with Elite Model Management in 2016.

Inheriting her mother's sharp mind as well as her good looks, Rose also graduated with a double major in psychology & political science from Colgate University, an achievement which she attributes to Russo, telling Vogue: "my mother always told me that she wanted me to get my education, and I felt it was important, because it was something she'd worked so hard to give me."

Proud mother Russo describes her daughter as "strong and empowered", and tells Today that, though she may be the mother of the pair, it's her "amazing" daughter Rose who is always teaching her new things.

She's been taking care of herself — and isn't shy about how she maintains her youthful glow

Russo still has that incredible Hollywood beauty about her in her 60s. But unlike a lot of women in the public eye, she isn't shy about how she maintains her youthful look.

Talking to People following the release of Nightcrawler in 2014, Russo reveals that she's dabbled in laser skin treatments, which she loves, but also believes that she shouldn't go overboard with the cosmetic procedures. Because, as she tells Today, taking good care of herself is what matters most to her.

She keeps up a regular workout routine, exercising every day, but she doesn't believe in working out "like a maniac." These days she's content with 20 minutes on the bike and some light weights, as well as following the basic tenets of not smoking, not drinking too much, and avoiding the sun. Smart woman.

She's been managing her bipolar disorder

In 2014, Russo revealed on The Queen Latifah Show that she suffers from bipolar disorder, which she views as something that she really had to push through to get to where she is today. This was the first time Russo publicly revealed her struggles with the disorder, surprising everyone on set — including herself.

She appeared a few weeks later on Good Morning America (via ABC News), where she opened up a little bit further regarding her diagnosis, revealing that the bipolar medication she takes really helps to manage her disorder. And though she doesn't think that her confession was particularly outspoken or brave, she does want to open up the dialogue about mental health. As she told Good Morning America: "What people don't need is to feel bad about themselves because they like to go on medication".

On The Queen Latifah Show she reached out to viewers directly, telling other people suffering: "You will make it through." And in doing so, she became that voice of inspiration we needed to hear.

She refuses to take on a "watered down version" of a role she's done before

With everything going on in Russo's life, it's not surprising that she's chosen to take a step back with her acting over the past decade. Even though she hasn't hung up her acting shoes for good, it does take something quite special to get her to take on a new gig these days.

As seems to happen in Hollywood, when actresses leave their 30s and dare to grow older, roles become more difficult to come by, and less interesting when they do come along. This is something Russo feels strongly about. As she told BUILD in a 2017 interview, she won't accept a job if she feels it's just another "watered down version" of something she's done before.

This was a sentiment echoed when she spoke to Collider, also in 2017, saying that she finds the parts she's usually offered are typically ones she's done before, and ones she's performed "better than this character that's been written." So take note, if you want to get Russo to work with you, you'd better have a pretty solid script locked down first.

If you "write beautifully for women," she may accept the role without reading the script

Despite turning down a lot of roles, Russo still snaps up the good ones when they come along. As she told Collider, "If it's a really good script, then it's worth getting up for".

This is a sentiment that describes how she feels about her work on 2017's Just Getting Started, a project for which she accepted the role without even reading the script. Just Getting Started was written and directed by Ron Shelton, whom Russo has had a fondness for ever since working with him on rom-com Tin Cup in 1996.

Russo says she accepted the role in Just Getting Started immediately because she enjoys working with Shelton, and "he writes so beautifully for women." And, despite a poor reception for the movie, she had a blast working on set with legendary actors Morgan Freeman and Tommy Lee Jones, whom she describes as "funny" and "perfectly matched."

Don't expect to see her on TV any time soon

Though Russo is firmly, if only occasionally, back into the movie making sphere these days, we shouldn't hold our collective breath to see her appearing on a television show any time soon. She's only appeared on a TV show once, the short lived Sable back in the 1980s, which only aired seven episodes.

Speaking to Collider, Russo doesn't think she'll be sinking her teeth into the TV series world again anytime soon, mainly due to the "brutal" schedules that come with working in TV. She says it would have to be something pretty "spectacular" to entice her to appearing on the little box, but with Rene Russo, we wouldn't count anything out just yet.