Keri Russell on Why Child Stars Stuck Together on The All New Mickey Mouse Club

Keri Russell once again reiterated her long-held belief that she was “the least talented” cast member of the Disney Channel’s ’90s revival of The Mickey Mouse Club. But, she says, that’s not the reason she ended up leaving the show.

On the most recent episode of Jesse Tyler Ferguson’s podcast Dinner’s on Me, the host and Modern Family star asked Russell, who left The All-New Mickey Mouse Club when she was 17, whether the series had rules about cast member aging out.

“Yeah, it’s usually, like, girls who looked like they were sexually active,” the Diplomat star, 48, joked. “Which, probably, I was one of the first. They were like, ‘She is out!’ ”

“Meanwhile, the boys stayed till they were like 19,” Russell added. “I was like, ‘By the way, I had sex with that person, so I know that they’ve had sex.’ For real.” (PEOPLE reached out to Disney for comment.)

Keri Russell and JC Chasez with the cast of ‘The All New Mickey Mouse Club’ in 1993.

Disney/Kobal/Shutterstock 


Russell has previously talked about feeling like she didn’t quite measure up to the rest of the show’s cast, which included Ryan Gosling, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera and Justin Timberlake. “I say this completely truthfully: I was literally the least talented one there,” she told W Magazine last year.

With Ferguson, however, she did admit to being “a great dancer,” a talent she says got her a spot on the show when she was 15.  

“I was living in Colorado at the time,” Russell said of the audition process. “And some of my friends were going to a giant casting call for Disney at the downtown Denver Convention Center. And I went, I stood in line, and did my little nerdy, you know, dance. And they had me read a little skit, like, about a mermaid brushing her teeth, or something, with chocolate, or something stupid like that. And then I just happened to get it.”

“I think back then, Disney was looking for kids that were kind of, like, normal,” she added.

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Keri Russell at the 2024 Primetime Emmy Awards.

Frazer Harrison/Getty


Asked how she avoided some of the all too typical pitfalls of child stardom to become a serious, two-time Emmy-nominated actor, Russell chalked it up to the unique environment of The All-New Mickey Mouse Club.

“I think what’s really the creepiest part of kid acting is usually it’s one or two kids with all adults,” she explained. “So, that really accelerates the adultification of everything. And for The Mickey Mouse Club, there were 19 of us. The adults were invisible to me.”

“So, I wasn’t completely alone with all the adults,” she added. “And I think that was helpful.”

Keri Russell and Jesse Tyler Ferguson at the ‘Cocaine Bear’ premiere in 2023.

Michael Buckner/Variety via Getty


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Like so many of her fellow cast members, Russell’s star only continued to rise after her tenure on the show. She went on to star in the beloved WB series Felicity, as well as films like Mission: Impossible III, Waitress and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.

The mom of three earned widespread acclaim for her role as a flinty Russian spy posing as an American housewife in FX’s The Americans, and currently stars in Netflix’s political drama The Diplomat. She also recently starred alongside Ferguson in the 2023 horror comedy Cocaine Bear.

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