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Ken Russell people



Strangers in the Night

Russell tends to create stars rather than work with them- Glenda Jackson, Oliver Reed.  And other appeared at the beginnings of their career- Donald Sutherland and William Hurt.  But a number have appeared in his films.


Vanessa Redgrave

Vanessa Redgrave in The Devils

When Glenda Jackson turned down The Devils, Vanessa Redgrave was Russell's next choice. 

Vanessa Redgrave in The Devils

 Redgrave was born into a famous acting family just as her own children became actors- Natasha Richardson appeared in Gothic 15 years after The Devils.  Although she is mainly a stage actress, she has appeared in over a hundred films including Julia, Blow Up, Prick up Your Ears, Howard's End and Mission Impossible.  She has long been a political activist from protesting against the Vietnam to being a prominent member of the Workers Revolutionary Party.


Hugh Grant

Hugh Grant Lair of the White Worm Ken Russell 

Given his later film success, Lair of the White Worm (above) is probably a film he wants to forget.  He had already gained acclaim for James Ivory's Maurice, but would later earn his reputation for light comedies such as Notting Hill and Bridget Jones's Diary.  On working with Ken he is quoted "'Ken Russell screamed at him: "Forget how it f***ing feels, do it how I f***ing showed you, you c**t.'" (NZ Herald, 1 Dec 2020 here).

His later career has some similarities with Dirk Bogart with the move from matinee idol to more serious work including Polanski's Bitter Moon, Merchant-Ivory's The Remains of the Day, Tom Tykwer- Wachoskis' Cloud Atlas and Stephen Frears' television A Very English Scandal (below) portraying Jeremy Thorpe, leader of the Liberal Party and caught up in a gay sex scandal, one of his best acting roles.

Hugh Grant A Very English Scandal


Kathleen Turner

Kathleen Turner Crimes of Passsion

Turner's career took off after Romancing the Stone.  She then appeared on John Huston's Prizzi's Honor and Francis Ford Coppola's Peggy Sue Got Married.  Later she would appear in Coppola's daughter Sofia's The Virgin Suicides.


Anthony Perkins

Anthony Perkins

A gifted actor but sadly again in his "Psycho" role in Crimes of Passion.  Ken Russell says that for his part Perkins slept in his clothes, to obtain the shabby look.  And the small box he stands on to preach was made by Perkins, and includes small alternating photos of angels and pornography, too small to see on the screen but helping Perkins establish his role.


Theresa Russell

Theresa Russell in Whore

Very good in Whore. The wife of Nicolas Roeg, she was in his Eureka, Bad Timing, the excellent Insignificnce, Track 29, Cold Heaven and part of the Aria compilation, in which Ken Russell also contributed.  Her career seems to have plummeted to SciFi Channel television and cheap straight to video films such as the 2001 remake Earth vs the Spider.  Despite her name she is no relation to Ken.

Ken Russell Whore Theresa Russell



Jack Nicholson and Ann-Margret

Jack Nicholson and Ann-Margret in Ken Russell's Tommy 

Although Nicholson can't sing Tommy was a logical step as he was being groomed for stardom with the best new experimental directors- Dennis Hopper and Easy Rider in 1969, Rafaelson and Five Easy Pieces in 1970, Polanksi and Chinatown in 1975, Antonioni and Reporter in 1975 and Tommy in 1975.

Jack Nicholson in Ken Russell's Tommy

Nicholson and Swedish Ann-Margret had appeared earlier in Carnal Knowledge. Ann-Margret looks like she is having fun covered in beans and soap suds. She was rebuilding her career after a near-fatal fall.  Her full name is Ann-Margret Olsson Smith.  Ken Russell's most star studded film and a hint of what he could have had if he wanted to go the conventional route.


Barbara Windsor

Ken Russell Barbara Windsor 

Famous for her bimbo roles in the British Carry On series of films, she appeared in The Boyfriend.  She says in her autobiography Barbara "At the start of filming, Ken took each one of the principals out for dinner individually, presumably in order to find out what made us tick... When he asked me about making the Carry Ons, I told him we never did more than a couple of takes at the most... I soon discovered that Ken can do as many as 50 takes before he is satisfied".

Barbara Windsor in The Boyfriend



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