May 9, 1958
Chicago, Illinois, United States
Director, Producer, Screenwriter, Maintenance man
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From a job sweeping soundstages, Charles 'Chuck' Russell worked his way up to line producer and assistant director on low-budget items for Sunn Classics and for producer Roger Corman (as on "Death Race 2000," 1975). He copped his first producing credit on the modestly made and rather routine horror flick "The Hearse" (1980) and moved to executive status for the similarly derivative "Hell Night" (1981) and "The Seduction" (1982). Russell's first produced screenplay, "Dreamscape" (1984), showed considerably more imagination, with Dennis Quaid discovering he has the ability to enter other people's dreams. For several years Russell continued making ordinary teen-oriented fare, reteaming with Corman for "Body Rock" (1984). His most notable film during this period was the popular and enjoyable Rodney Dangerfield comedy, "Back to School" (1986).Russell finally got hold of the director's reins for a reasonably well-done installment of Freddy Krueger's horrific misdeeds, "A Nightmare on Elm Street III: Dream Warriors" (1987). He brought a similar energy and familiarity with genre fare to the remake of "The Blob" which he wrote and directed the following year.Switching his billing from 'Chuck' to 'Charles', Russell essayed his most ambitious film to date with "The Mask" (1994). With the help of Industrial Light & Magic's impressive technical wizardry and comic star Jim Carrey's equally remarkable facial paroxysms, "The Mask" became a huge hit, grossing more than $35 million in its first weekend and eventually earning more than $100 million domestically. Russell's next film, the actioner "Eraser" (1996), starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, was Warner Brothers' only action hit that year, grossing more than $100 million during its initial summer release.After a four-year absence, Russell returned to features as a director-for-hire on the thriller "Bless the Child" (2000). Although he managed to wring suspense from the material, Russell's direction could do little to compensate for the weak script. Additionally, the cast performed in a variety of styles that didn't exactly mesh into a coherent ensemble. As a follow-up, Russell took on "The Scorpion King" (2002), which took a character that was featured in 2001's sequel "The Mummy Returns" and built an action-adventure around him. The director showed particular skill in coaching wrestler-turned-actor Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson as the titular character.