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Watching Kurt Russell

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Is Kurt Russell about to get a Travoltaesque makeover? After a 35-year career that has seen its share of nosebleed-inducing highs (Backdraft) and ego-fracturing lows (Captain Ron), Russell could break into the upper ranks of action stars with the high-altitude thriller Executive Decision. ”I’ve been in the right place at the right time with Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Mel Gibson,” says Decision producer Joel Silver, ”and this is the right time for Kurt.”

Russell’s pharaonic 1994 hit Stargate, which grossed $190 million worldwide, convinced Warner Bros. to give him a reported $7.5 million for Decision, as well as top billing over Steven Seagal (who isn’t even on the movie’s poster). ”Stargate launched Kurt into a new level,” says John Carpenter, who is directing Russell’s next film, Escape from L.A., a much-anticipated sequel to 1981’s Escape from New York. Given the original’s cult popularity, the follow-up promises to keep the Russell comeback on track. And taking another cue from Travolta, Russell has reportedly raised his fee to the $10 to $12 million range for his next project, Dino De Laurentiis’ crime drama, Breakdown. Welcome back, indeed.

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