"I have this theory, that every now and then a person should get what they want right when they want it. It keeps you optimistic."
Shy, sensitive and self-effacing, Russell was for a brief time the love of Claire's life. They met as first-year students at art school and had an immediate rapport; Claire found she could talk to Russell about anything, including her travails with men. When she once expressed guilt at bending his ear so often, Russell was quick to set her at ease. "Women tell me this kind of stuff all the time," he assured her, "I'm the guy who listens."
Unlike other guys to whom Claire's been drawn, Russell's nature isn't testosterone-driven, but sweet; he painted blue streaks in Claire's hair and confessed that as a child he cried whenever he saw "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory." As a result, his sexuality seems ambiguous to most people - even Claire, to whom he finally had to state, "I'm not gay...Most people think I am, but I'm not." When he and Claire had sex for the first time, it was Russell's first time ever.
Although his relationship with Claire seemed strong, one day he did something that caused her to abruptly end it: he confessed that he'd had sex with Olivier Castro-Staal. Russell tried to explain that he was drunk and high when it happened and that Olivier took advantage. But he finally had to admit that while he'd never had sex with a man before this incident, he'd thought about it many times. "I think I might be bi," he told her, "but...I'm so confused."
There's one thing, however, of which Russell is certain - he loves Claire deeply and is not giving up hope that they'll get back together. Even as Claire becomes enrapt in others - from Edie to Jimmy to their new art instructor, Billy Chenowith, Russell does not seem ready to let go. He has a fling with her friend Anita in what appears to be an attempt to get Claire's attention. His preoccupation turns darker when Claire's photo spread for art class, inspired by the pictures he took of her one drug-infused afternoon, earns Claire accolades and a prestigious gallery show. But Russell is determined not to remain in the shadows of Claire's sudden glory - or her life.
played by Ben Foster