Born in San Diego, California, Betsy Russell is best known for her starring role as “Jill Tuck,” the ex-wife of the Jigsaw Killer in the Saw film franchise.
Russell was born into a family of educators, her father, iconic economist Richard Russell wrote news letters about the stock market for over 50 years called the Dow Theory Letters, and her grandfather, Max Lerner, was an author and syndicated columnist, and said to be one of the great minds of our time.
Russell was destined for greatness, and decided to set the bar high for herself when making career moves and goals. At 16 years old, she landed her first real gig in the business, a Pepsi commercial in her hometown of San Diego. This sparked a fire within her, and she immediately made the move to Los Angeles to pursue acting full time.
Russell landed her first television role on a series called “The Powers of Matthew Star” (1982) with one line. Television roles began to pour in, until she landed an audition for a film that would change her career, the 1983 sex-comedy, cult classic film Private School (1983). She booked the role on the spot, being cast as “Jordon Leigh-Jensen,” playing opposite her idol Phoebe Cates.
The film launched Russell into Hollywood stardom, and she quickly became known as the “it-girl,” known for her ability to play a sexy bitch, with innocence. Her scene riding a horse topless in slow motion would change the lives of young boys forever, touted as one of the sexiest scenes in movie history and making Russell an 80′s icon. She continued to work steadily in film, starring in movies such as Tomboy (1985), Avenging Angel (1985), Cheerleader Camp (1988), and made cameos in top television series including “The A-Team” (1983), “T.J. Hooker” (1982) and “Family Ties” (1982).
In the height of her career, she met actor and tennis star Vincent Van Patten at The Playboy Mansion, where she visited frequently as her grandfather was a close friend of Hugh M. Hefner.
Van Patten and Russell married in 1989, and had two beautiful boys. Russell decided to take a hiatus from acting, to focus on her family, and raising her children.
Van Patten and Russell divorced in 2001, and Russell decided to move to Malibu, California, to continue raising her family. Soon after her divorce, she received a call from Saw producer Mark Burg about an upcoming role in the franchise.
Russell jumped at the opportunity to work with one of the biggest horror franchises in the history of film, and returned to the silver screen starring as “Jill Tuck” in Lionsgate and Twisted Picture’s Saw III (2006), Saw IV (2007), Saw V (2008), Saw VI (2009), and now, the highly anticipated Saw 3D: The Final Chapter (2010), which will be released internationally in 3-D in fall 2010.