''Pastime'''s William Russ -- We talk to the actor about playing a minor-league baseball player


In Pastime actor William Russ steps up to the plate in his first starring role as the steadfast Roy Dean Bream, an aging minor-league baseball player with dreams of the majors. For Russ, who has had a long career of small parts in television and film (most notably as a steely hit man on CBS’ Wiseguy), it was a role he could really relate to. ”I’ve been dealing a lot with Hollywood and career decisions, and a lot of times this business has us comparing ourselves to who has this and who has that,” says Russ. ”But like Roy Dean says, just being in the game is the main thing.”

While Russ connected with Roy Dean, playing the seasoned pitcher still had its challenges. When filming began two years ago, Russ, now 40, was a few years younger than his character, and — thanks to his frequent windsurfing, skiing, and racquetball — much too fit. Adding gray to his hair and slowing down his movements helped, but Russ felt the character presented a more cosmic hurdle to overcome. ”On a spiritual level he is very advanced,” says Russ. ”He has a nice karmic code. It’s like a certain kind of guru; he understood life through baseball.” The result is an amiable, memorable character, and a performance that just may be the actor’s ticket to Hollywood’s major leagues.

For now, though, Russ is content living in Los Angeles with his girlfriend, Clare Wren (of the TV series The Young Riders), and their 8-week-old daughter, Georgia. ”I’m just really happy to make my living as an actor,” says Russ. ”As I always say, it’s better than a real job any day.”

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