Pursuing life with passion

Natural Communicator

Pursuing life with passion

I come from three generations of deaf people,” says Russell Harvard, the charming American actor, who was in the City to promote his film Words, a film made by Anup Bhandari.

Born in Pasedena,Texas, Russell and his brother, Renny, were born deaf. “My grandmother named me Russell since my mum couldn’t come up with a name for me for three whole days after I was born. We moved to Austin to attend the Texas School for the Deaf. After graduation, I enrolled at Gallaudet University, a deaf college, in Washington DC,” he says.

Russell communicates very effectively using sign and body language and sometimes with the help of an interpreter.  “I always wanted to be an actor but I didn’t think I would be able to make it in films so successfully. I also wanted to teach theatre. Deaf people are natural communicators and because we can’t speak, we communicate at many different levels,” he smiles.

Being deaf has obviously not stopped Russell from pursuing life with a passion. As a Theatre Arts major, he was exposed to deaf theatre at a very young age, an exposure which groomed him well.

From performing songs by signing them in American Sign Language (ASL) in high school to taking on Shakespearean roles in college, Russell pursued his interest in the performing arts with single-mindedness and commitment.

His big film break came when his college professor received a casting call for deaf actors for a Hollywood production and encouraged Russell to apply.  He eventually won the role of H W in the movie, There Will Be Blood, which was nominated for eight Academy Awards.  “I want to return to India and visit Bollywood. And get a look at the Indian movie industry,” he says.

As far as relationships go, the actor is currently unattached. “I would prefer to have a relationship with a deaf woman. It’s much easier to communicate. Otherwise, it’s very tedious for her to constantly convey what other people are saying and equally tedious for me to keep asking!” he says.

Currently shooting for Hammil, a film based on the true life story of a deaf wrestler, he has put his schedule on hold to visit India on this promotional tour. With several films, plays and even television serials to his credit, Russell Harvard has plenty of goals, he has set for himself, still lined up. Who knows maybe even a Bollywood film will soon be on the cards!

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