There are few actors that my husband and I love more than Kurt Russell. My husband might love Kurt Russell more than he loves me; in fact, he’s even starting to emulate Kurt’s iconic long-shag hairstyle.
You won’t hear me complaining; Kurt Russell was and still is so easy on the eyes, and he’s been long overdue for one of my Top 10 lists. In honor of this freedom-loving Hollywood patriot and thanks to the persistent pestering of my husband, I give you my Top 10 Kurt Russell roles.
Notice the wording, folks; this is my top 10 list…not my husband’s or editor’s. I have no doubt that by the time this article is published, I’ll be in both of their dog houses…but I’ll have images of Kurt in my mind to keep me company.
Wyatt Russell on him & his dad Kurt Russell playing the same character in ‘MONARCH: LEGACY OF MONSTERS’:
“We’ve been asked to be in the same movie as father & son but the idea of playing the same person had an artistic element to it that drew us”
— DiscussingFilm (@DiscussingFilm) November 4, 2023
#10 Lieutenant Gabriel Cash – Tango & Cash – 1989
Surprisingly, with how much my husband adores Kurt Russell, he had never seen this gem of a buddy cop movie until I forced it upon him last year. Starring opposite Sylvester Stallone, who plays Lieutenant Raymond Tango, the two heartthrob cops are forced to work together to find out who has set the two of them up from within their police department.
This movie has everything you could ever want from a campy 80’s buddy cop flick. Tango and Cash are hilariously opposites, with Stallone’s Lt. Tango always dressed to the nines, looking fine as ever…if that’s your thing.
Whereas Russell’s Lt. Cash looks lovably rugged and dirty in his jeans, wrinkled shirts, and a fabulous head of hair. The only complaint from this viewer is the awkward high-five the two characters share, where they touch not just their palms but their whole forearm.
Try it out with a friend; it’s weird.
I often think about this scene in Tango & Cash (1989) and wonder if Russel and Stallone filmed their shots separately. it’s like 5 shots in 4 seconds for a HIGH FIVE. pic.twitter.com/yViOz6LeC7
— Jonathan Mitchell (@jonphilmitch) March 10, 2022
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#9 Sergeant Todd 3465 – Soldier – 1998
If you aren’t much for dialogue, this movie is for you. Kurt Russell says maybe 7 lines the entire film; however, his brilliance in looking like a soulless, highly-trained soldier of death can only be compared to perhaps Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Terminator performance.
In this futuristic science fiction action flick, Kurt Russell has been conditioned since he was a baby to be a mean, lean killing machine, only to be replaced by DNA-altered upgrades. After getting dumped on a planet dedicated to trash, he befriends the local refugees.
On his journey to relearn what it means to be human, he protects the refugees from the upgraded soldiers of death and helps relocate them to another planet. Bonus: lots of Kurt Russell shots without his shirt on.
Who needs dialogue anyway?
— Josh Sawyer (@jesawyer) September 22, 2023
#8 Nick Frescia – Tequila Sunrise – 1988
Starring alongside Mel Gibson and Michelle Pfeiffer, Kurt Russell plays a detective forced to go after his long-time childhood friend. In this romantic crime drama, Lieutenant Frescia uses Michelle Pfeiffer’s character to get intel on his old pal Mac, only to fall in love with her.
Who wouldn’t fall in love with Michelle Pfeiffer? Unfortunately, she finds out Frescia has been using her the whole time and leaves him only then to fall in love with, you guessed it…Mac.
All is not lost in this love triangle with a dash of drug lords and gunfights. Even reformed drug dealers like Mac deserve happy endings; at least, they did in the 80s.
#7 Captain Ron Rico – Captain Ron – 1992
I will probably get a fair share of hate mail for this entry on my Top 10 list, but I don’t care; Captain Ron was hilarious. Starring opposite Martin Short, Kurt Russell steals the comedic show as the laid-back, boisterous, charming Captain Ron.
Hilarity ensues as Captain Ron’s antics cause all manner of hijinks to include run-ins with weapons trafficking and guerrilla soldiers. When things seem to be at their worst, and there is no way out for the unsuspecting family that has stumbled into Captain Ron’s chaos…the rugged man of the sea pulls through in the end in this heartwarming comedy.
Kurt Russell doesn’t get nearly enough credit for the genius of Captain Ron pic.twitter.com/m9fxNxWE2L
— Cui Boner (@CuiBoner) June 22, 2023
#6 Stuntman Mike McKay – Death Proof – 2007
I initially saw Death Proof as the Grindhouse double feature in the theaters with Planet Terror. I loved both of these flicks for what they were: shameless nods to throwback 70s cinema with gratuitous violence.
In Death Proof, Kurt Russell plays Mike McKay, a homicidal stuntman driver who claims his vehicle is rigged to be death-proof for the driver. He proceeds to track women and kill them with his vehicle – which is not death-proof for the passenger.
Still, like most of these murderous mayhem movies, Mike McKay picks on the wrong group of sexy women, eventually meeting his end in a vicious beating.
Can we just say how absolutely brilliant and terrifying Kurt Russell was in Quentin Tarantino’s
DEATH PROOF 2007 pic.twitter.com/PpWzjbydIl
— Hollywood Horror Museum (@horrormuseum) June 25, 2021
#5 Robert Ramsey – Poseidon – 2006
The Poseidon movies are two of my favorite adventure-style survivor movies and one of the few remakes that did an excellent job of refreshing the story without ruining the original. Kurt Russell stars in the 2006 remake as a retired firefighter turned mayor on a trip to New York via the RMS Poseidon, with his daughter and her boyfriend.
Just as with the original movie, a massive wave hits the ship, and a group of survivors, including Kurt Russell, are forced to traverse through the ship in the hope of eventually getting saved. The cast is fantastic in this film, and Kurt’s character is a wonderful balance of protective father and citizen hero.
Now onto my NYE tradition: a Kurt Russell marathon. First up is POSEIDON, a disaster movie set on NYE. On Netflix! pic.twitter.com/B5dIVu12nc
— Meagan Navarro (@HauntedMeg) January 1, 2021
#4 Jack Burton – Big Trouble in Little China – 1986
You can’t go wrong with Kurt Russell and Kim Cattrall. This dynamic duo stars as Jack Burton and Gracie Law.
Jack is a truck driver who tries to help his friend rescue his fiancée from bandits who took her into San Francisco’s Chinatown. Little do they know they’ve stumbled upon an underground ancient world of magic as a sorcerer kidnapped the fiancée because he must marry a green-eyed woman to release him from a curse.
Jack Burton’s lines are some of the best in cinematic history, including this favorite of mine:
“Just remember what ol’ Jack Burton does when the earth quakes, and the poison arrows fall from the sky, and the pillars of Heaven shake. Yeah, Jack Burton just looks that big ol’ storm right square in the eye and he says, “Give me your best shot, pal. I can take it.”
If only we all had that sort of Jack Burton resilience.
KURT RUSSELL asking question after question as Jack Burton in BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA (1986). pic.twitter.com/zyO86NMJLE
— FilmFrame (@FilmFrameATRM) March 15, 2021
#3 Snake Plissken – Escape from New York – 1981
Escape from New York seems to be perpetually on television, or perhaps my husband has it always in the queue to play for whenever I leave the room. There is something about Kurt Russell’s Snake Plissken that seems appealing to men; perhaps it’s the eyepatch.
Regardless of how many times I’ve been forced to watch this movie, it has to be in the Top 3 of this list because even I have to admit Snake Plissken is one of the coolest characters ever written. This movie has the usual 80s theme of a dystopian future, with the United States looking vastly different than we know due to a battle between the Land of the Free and the Soviet Union.
In the movie, Manhattan has been converted into a walled-off prison due to a massive increase in criminal activity in the country, which, now that I think about it, perhaps we should start thinking about building a wall around New York City and Los Angeles today. Anyway, Snake is an ex-soldier doing hard time who is offered a pardon if he can save the President, who has been kidnapped by terrorists.
The storyline is ridiculous, the lines are even more comical, and yet it is an enjoyable flick thanks mainly to Kurt as Snake Plissken.
Snake Plissken aka Kurt Russell pic.twitter.com/iPKOax0JQx
— Kyle Walters (@waltersboyz02) November 2, 2023
#2 R.J. MacReady – The Thing – 1982
My husband and I met while stationed in Greenland, and I often used to think about this film when we were in the Arctic. This movie, set at the other end of the world in Antarctica, is one of the best scary movies ever.
Scientists discover an organism that invades organisms and assimilates them before ultimately killing them. MacReady is the helicopter pilot who ends up being the smartest of the entire batch as he attempts to figure out who has been assimilated, how to kill this thing, and maybe even survive.
This movie is wonderful but doesn’t get the #1 seat, much to my husband’s dismay, who is obsessed with all things MacReady, including his terrible floppy hat.
Kurt Russell as MacReady in Carpenter’s classic sci-fi horror film The Thing, 1982.
Image courtesy of Universal pic.twitter.com/1kmlJ2aUqT
— Edward the Movie Buff 🎥🎞📽🎬💻 (@midgetmoxie) January 12, 2023
#1 Wyatt Earp – Tombstone – 1993
My #1 pick for the best Kurt Russell role is Wyatt Earp from Tombstone, and I fully admit I’m biased; we named our son after the famous lawman, and to be honest, it really is Kurt’s best role. This movie came out around the same time as Kevin Costner’s movie on the same title character and is far superior.
If you think Kevin Costner’s Wyatt Earp is even CLOSE to the awesomeness of Kurt Russell’s Wyatt Earp…you need to dial some kind of help hotline. Seriously. (Yeah…I’ve been watching westerns this week.) pic.twitter.com/OXnKBZ42tv
— Seth Andrews (@SethAndrewsTTA) December 4, 2018
Kurt plays a wonderful Wyatt Earp, equal parts charming, flawed, passionate, and disciplined. Both my husband and I have every line memorized, and when it is on television, which is often, you can bet it’s probably on in our house.
The lines in this movie are also immediately recognizable, with many women like myself admitting that they’d be happy to be Kurt Russell’s huckleberry with his flawless ‘stache and brushed-back hair. And with that, I’m off to see what Kurt Russell flick is on TV today…something tells me my husband already has either Snake or MacReady up on the screen glued to it as if it’s the first time he’s ever seen these timeless and always fun characters.
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