Alex Russell’s lineup reached peak of production
Alex Russell apologizes profusely for being a little late for our scheduled Zoom interview. He’s trying to find medication for his partner, Diana, who suffers from back pain, possibly caused by the long-haul flight from LA the two took the day before. Thanks to the new Omicron COVID variant, they are now locked in an Airbnb apartment in Tamarama in Sydney, where they are isolated for three days.
As the iso stays go, this one in a pretty spot by the beach isn’t too bad, says Russell. The last time he returned here in June, he had to do a two-week quarantine in a hotel in the city. “An ocean breeze is a little nicer, a little more palatable,” he says with a smile.
Dressed in a black crewneck, with short hair, a hint of thatch, and betraying the odd snort, Russell appears slender and angular.
His day job, playing the sarcastic Jim Street on a hit American TV show TO CRUSH., forces her to be in better shape to absorb the grueling physical demands of the action-packed drama. But Russell has stepped up his training over the past four months to prepare for the desert photoshoot that accompanies this story. So, in effect, he’s done something of a high-end transformation – upgrading his gear from good to excellent or simply raising eyebrows to mind blowing. We caught it in its prime.
It’s a nice place, but Russell is wise enough to know that his current physique is not one he can maintain for long. “I am by nature an extreme person and one of the challenges in my life is to seek more balance, not to go up and down so much,” he says. “I can’t live where I was for these photos. I can’t live there. My body is not meant to live in this place, but how far away can I live while maintaining a healthy lifestyle and having fun? Try to find that balance. . . this is the difficult part.
Anyone who has strived to achieve an ambitious physical goal – say losing 5kg or training for an Ironman – knows the mental load involved in balancing sacrifice and indulgence, in dealing with the pendulum swings between restraint and reward. The tightrope that you have to walk. The same balancing act applies to career goals. The intensity and discipline that Russell can bring to his performances helped him build an IMDB profile that most actors would kill for. But also, he said, there were times when he cared a little too much about the results of his work. Like many of us, he was his own worst enemy.
“I used to put a lot of pressure on myself,” he says. “Before, I was very results-oriented to an unhealthy degree. . . To say the least. I was
very hard on myself, there wasn’t a lot of self-esteem. And I was obsessed with being awesome and real and being all of those things that as an artist is a recipe for disaster.
Now, after a decade on the Hollywood wire, Russell has managed to strike that elusive balance. The sweet spot in which you strive without stressing too much and move forward without falling. How to stay there? This is, as Russell admits, the difficult part. The best you can do is keep looking ahead. And don’t look down.