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Kicking back with Kurt

Whether it's been leaving acting for a stint as a second baseman or taking on roles that would one day become iconic, actor Kurt Russell has always been a maverick.
Betsy Model
From the Print Edition:
Kurt Russell, May/June 2006

(continued from page 5)

Obviously marriage wasn't and isn't a very big issue in the Hawn-Russell household. More of an issue recently, it seems, is public reaction to some of what Hawn had to say in her memoir and on the subsequent author tour with regards to monogamy. In summary, Hawn's take on the subject is that men were never built to be monogamous—it's not in their genetic makeup—and to force the issue is to lose some of the characteristics that drew a woman to the man in her life to begin with. Feminists and talk-show hosts have had a field day with the concept, most notably following an interview Hawn did while on the female-hosted morning show "The View," but if her belief that men "by nature need to spread their seed" raised some serious eyebrows on network television, the concept seems scientifically solid to Russell.

He also wants to be clear that this is a concept that he and Hawn have talked about. A lot.

"What I like about Goldie is that she is [committed] to not only examining things, but does so understanding that she may come to a conclusion which may not be peaceful to her but is a reality. She forces me to do the same, which is what I really love about her. We both have the same opinion on [this] and I think it's very misunderstood."

What it all boils down to, says Russell, is genetics, DNA and "what's really great about the next 25 years is that they're actually going to understand, scientifically, why men and women are the way they are. Look, men have to suffer tremendous rejection based on women's ability to smell [their] DNA from 50 feet away in a crowded room. You can't do that as a man, so you go over and make a fool of yourself to someone who's never going to be interested in you, [because] if her nose has already told her that you're not going to make offspring with [her], don't bother.

"Men are hardwired to spread their seed," Russell continues, "as far and wide as they can to perpetuate a species. So what has mankind done with this in terms of creating a society? It's created a society where men are supposed to be with one woman…let me see you [explain] that one scientifically. It's not true! But here's the thing that wasn't talked about [and] is what Goldie and I find. Are there instances, rare instances, when people may be just hooked into one person? Yeah. I got news for you, there are. I'm living in one of those relationships," he says. "That doesn't mean I'm immune, it doesn't mean she's immune. It's not without its potential for failure, but when I hear 'oh, they have an open marriage,' then they've gotten the wrong message."

Mainstream concepts? Maybe not, but the Hawn-Russell collaboration seems sturdy and strong enough in terms of family, home and shared interests. Besides the home in Malibu (and a new property being built nearby), the family shares a home in British Columbia and the 72-acre "Home Run Ranch" outside of Aspen. Skiing is a shared passion, as is sailing and traveling the globe.

And, of course, there's the shared career. Although Russell and Hawn have made multiple films together over the years—the most notable ones being Swing Shift and Overboard—it's been decades since they've appeared in a movie together. They're hoping to change that with a script Hawn's written called Ashes to Ashes. A drama based predominantly in India, which is one of Hawn's favorite countries, both Hawn and Russell would star in the film, with Hawn also directing.

At 55, Russell looks…good. And if "good" on Russell isn't necessarily what might be deemed the same by much of Hollywood, so much the better. Russell's good looks are rugged. You aren't likely to find plucked brows or artfully streaked hair on this guy, at least off the set. And if he's sporting a light tan, it's not from lying on a bed or being sprayed with tanning foam. Russell loves the outdoors, and the squint lines around his blue eyes—no nip-and-tucks there, either—are proof of a life spent batting and fielding balls, skiing, sailing and playing on the beach. He's also remarkably down-to-earth and, as the time approaches for a photo shoot, remarkably unconcerned with how he's going to look in the photographs. He doesn't want a fashion stylist, doesn't want a hairstylist or a makeup artist. He simply sits down on a bench, still barefoot, with the breeze off the ocean ruffling his shaggy hair.

Russell's disregard and seeming disinterest in the "fame game" often associated with life in the limelight only adds to his rugged, guy's-guy charm. It also adds to the challenge of figuring out what makes Russell, the man, and Russell, the actor, tick.

He's got a sharp, analytical mind and a cobra's instinct for striking during debate that he rarely lets on to in public. He's a strikingly handsome man who doesn't appear to care much about his appearance or even in appearances. He's a consistently busy actor who professes to be able to walk away from Hollywood at any moment, an athlete who doesn't pencil in regular dates with a trainer into his BlackBerry and, well, forget the whole BlackBerry thing, anyway; Russell may be comfortable enough with his mechanical skills to perform preflight checks on his plane and handle his boat halfway up the western seaboard, but he professes to not know how to turn on a computer or use e-mail.

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