Kurt Vogel Russell was born in Springfield, Massachusetts in 1951. His first roles were as a child in television series, including a lead role in the Western series The Travels of Jaimie McPheeters (1963–64). In the late 1960s, he signed a ten-year contract with The Walt Disney Company, where, according to Robert Osborne, he became the studio's top star of the 1970s.
In 1984, for his performance in 1983's Silkwood, Russell was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture. During the 1980s, he was cast in several films by director John Carpenter, including anti-hero roles such as army hero-turned-robber Snake Plissken in the futuristic action film Escape from New York and its 1996 sequel Escape from L.A., Antarctic helicopter pilot R.J. MacReady in the horror film The Thing in 1982, and truck driver Jack Burton in the dark kung-fu comedy action film Big Trouble in Little China in 1986, all of which have since become cult films. He was nominated for an Emmy Award for the television film Elvis in 1979, also directed by Carpenter.
In 1994, Russell had a starring role in the military science fiction film Stargate. In the mid-2000s, his portrayal of U.S. Olympic hockey coach Herb Brooks in Miracle in 2004 won the praise of critics. In 2006, he appeared in the disaster-thriller Poseidon and in Quentin Tarantino's Death Proof, segment from the film Grindhouse in 2007.