The birthday boy was born on St. Patrick’s Day in 1951 and by the tender age of 10, he had landed his first acting job, making his big screen debut in The Absent-Minded Professor.
One of the few child stars to carve out a lasting and successful career, Russell has been in over 40 movies in the past four decades.
And there’ll be another milestone for Kurt in May (11) - his partner Goldie Hawn's daughter Kate Hudson is due to welcome her second child!
To kick off the celebrations, WENN has compiled 10 fascinating facts about the star:
- He impressed Walt Disney as a youngster and landed a 10-year contract with the movie mogul’s studio, before shedding his wholesome image to become an action star.
- Kurt played professional baseball until a shoulder injury forced him to retire from the sport in 1973.
- He’s had plenty of links to Elvis Presley throughout his life - as a young boy, he kicked the King in the shin in 1963’s It Happened at the World Fair. And 16 years later, he was nominated for an Emmy Award for playing the singer in the 1979 TV biopic, Elvis. He reprised that role when he provided Presley’s voice in Forrest Gump. And in 2001, he played an Elvis impersonator in 3000 Miles to Graceland.
- Kurt’s dad was also an actor - Bing Russell is best known for playing Deputy Clem Foster on Bonanza.
- Kurt tried out to play Han Solo in Star Wars but lost the role to Harrison Ford.
- In 1968, he starred in The One and Only, Genuine, Original Family Band with his future partner, Goldie Hawn.
- Kurt married his Elvis co-star Season Hubley but they divorced in 1983, when he reconnected with Hawn. He’s been with the Private Benjamin star ever since.
- Hawn’s kids with Bill Hudson, Oliver and Kate Hudson, consider Kurt to be their dad since he raised them.
- He received a Golden Globe nomination in 1983 for Silkwood, but lost to Terms of Endearment star Jack Nicholson.
- Kurt has cemented his status as a cult hero with roles in fan favourites like Death Proof, Escape From New York and Big Trouble In Little China.
The Painted Veil is based on W. Somerset Maugham’s 1925 novel about British colonialism in China. The film's cohesion is largely helped by a user-friendly script from Ron Nyswaner (Philadelphia) who tackles amorphous movie-unfriendly themes like emotional longing. We meet Walter Fane (Edward Norton) a lovesick middle-class bacteriologist who spots Kitty (Naomi Watts) an upper-class socialite approaching the upper limits of marrying age at a party. Walter not smooth with women woos Kitty with his intensity and persuades her to join him in cholera-stricken China. With a wandering eye Kitty is soon caught in a lusty affair with a local British diplomat Charlie Townsend (Liev Schreiber) but Walter eventually forgives her but imprisons her in the desolate green south China countryside. The film's crucial problem is its setting of a Western-centric love story on top of a palette of Chinese human death and disease albeit framed beautifully and exotically. Norton and Watts take producers' credits as well. The actor pushed for years to get The Painted Veil made painstakingly and authentically co-produced with the China Film Board. These facts hint at the commitment and intelligence Oscar nominees Norton and Watts bring. Norton always impresses and surprises. Each role in his resume is tasty in its own way a wholly new creation and never derivative. In Norton's previous film The Illusionist he was a similarly powerful opaque character from a far away time and place. Although sometimes seeming she’s on autopilot Watts is also brilliantly underrated as the conflicted Kitty who doesn't love the man she married even though he loves her as much as she loves herself. Her tricky darting eyes mixed with uneasy body language tells us we don't know what to expect other than that she'll probably sabotage herself. Toby Jones--who played Truman Capote to critics' acclaim in Infamous--does a provocative turn as the mysterious opium-smoking neighbor. The Painted Veil falls short of greatness when the second half crumbles into laziness right when the emotional impact should be the strongest. Director John Curran is relatively untested ( We Don't Live Here Anymore) especially with difficult material and he stumbles a bit in this ambitious drama. Veil's storytelling meanders with a few unnecessary scenes. Lame mini-montages lapse into TV movie territory. Attention to detail however (minus Norton's highlighted hair) is superb. Four exquisite wisely picked Chinese locations were used in concert with local actors and crew to produce an internationally representative work of Chinese/American art. Interior sets are post-WWI prudish and upper-class underlying the movie's "painted " hidden ideas. Old-world rickshaws and water systems are true to the time. The haunting soundtrack feels postmodern and contemporary. But overall like last year's disappointing Memoirs of a Geisha the mish-mash of American and Asian story themes doesn't quite work.