He swaggers, a little bow-legged and squinty-eyed, into Beverly Hills as though he owns the place and one of these days Kurt Russell might well have the keys to this range of real estate driven mostly by chauffeurs and almost all by avarice. This is Hollywood 's patio where status is determined by the points percentage negotiated on every one of your latest movie's dollars.
Image can totter on a dime or a decimal point. Ego demands the constant contest is over who is the biggest man in town. With Hollywood pay packets there is no need for surveys on male discrimination. Even if Demi Moore is getting $12.5 million dollars for taking off her clothes to better display her enhanced and by now famous double act in 'Striptease' she's still several mansions short of a full-house action man salary. Stallone, Schwarzenegger and baby-faced Cruise are the top guns at $20 million a film and counting.
And Kurt Russell who as a child star used to play ping-pong with Walt Disney is the new hot-shot in town. He's is the $60 million dollar man -- that's the average amount his past six films have taken at the American box office. And, equally important, all the films have rated number one or two in their opening weekends. And made a fortune in Europe and Japan .
For the money-men in the Armani suits and the newly back in fashion Gucci loafers and ties this cocksure, grungy, been-around-forever actor who fancies himself as a Mountain Man and lives by the little known code of the West which says 'it's not the way you wear your hat, it's the way you moves your ass' is pay dirt.
' Tombstone ', his take on the legend of the OK Corral, was much faster on the cash drawer that Kevin Costner's 'Wyatt Earp.' Two years ago his science-fiction outing 'Stargate' opened as America 's number one movie and went on to make $71 million dollars.
Which made him first choice for prolific mayhem and big money producer Joel ('Die Hard', 'Lethal Weapon') Silver as the star of 'Executive Decision'. The faith is so heavy in Russell that one of his co-stars, that former action deity Steven Seagal, only gets fifteen minutes of screen time inthe film which opens in British cinemas this week (May 10).
It was well placed. In success terms Russell and 'Executive Decision' made it: $12.1 million dollars and the number two film in its first weekend. Russell plays intelligence officer David Grant who has to save the world or, well, the East Coast of America from extermination by evildoers led by Islamic fundamentalist David Suchet ( he loses the Poirot accent to speak like a maitre 'd) who are up to no good with a 747 jet loaded with nerve toxin.
Some might see this terrorist movie as an error at 20,000 feet but in action movie terms Russell and Company jolly around properly aided by stunts and bombs, sabotage and hostages and even a President who has to make an 'Executive Decision'. This is a Joel Silver movie but it is a powerful Kurt Russell vehicle.