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Freewheeling excursions help Keri Russell outrun stress

Keri Russell does not want the limo. She doesn’t even accept an Uber.

On the way to the interview, she’s on two wheels, biking through the streets of Manhattan, sweating in the summer heat and loving every minute of it.

“Cabs pull up next to me, and you can see the look on the driver’s face,” she says. “He must be thinking, ‘Nah, that isn’t her.’ ”

But it is the down-to-earth Russell — star of Netflix’s “The Diplomat” — who craves a little alone time and finds nothing wrong with it as a 47-year-old mother of three.

“I do like being on my own from time to time,” she says in an interview conducted before the Screen Actors Guild strike. “I’m a bit of a loner. Sometimes, I just get on my bike and I’m flying through the city doing my own thing.”

“It’s OK to take that little bit of time for yourself,” she adds. “You shouldn’t feel guilty about it. The mom and the actress that you see after that alone time can make all the difference.”

Whatever she’s doing is working. Russell’s career includes the summer hit “The Diplomat,” already greenlighted for a second season. Russell plays Kate Wyler, a career diplomat navigating a new high-profile job as ambassador to the U.K. during an international crisis and a turbulent time in her marriage to a political star (Rufus Sewell).

“She’s a player, a big player and she loves it. I love it,” says Russell, who also recently starred in the grizzly thriller “Cocaine Bear.”

She lives in a New York brownstone with her significant other, actor Matthew Rhys, and their 6-year-old son. Russell also has a son and a daughter from a previous marriage.

Her good life tips:

Embrace the mess

“It’s great to play a woman on ‘The Diplomat’ who is often an unpolished mess and a ball of nerves, while at the same time bossy to everyone,” Russell says, laughing. “She’s this uncomfortable, weird, flustered person, which is so great. She’s the one running in late and sweaty into a meeting at the Oval Office.

“I’d much rather play someone who is a bit of a mess rather than this suave, hair blown out to perfection, completely in control type. It’s more real,” she adds. “I love the mess of her and the mess of her relationships because life is messy. Life can be hard. It’s not the perfection of an Instagram post.”

Surprise yourself

“I wasn’t shopping to do a series at all. I still have three little kids at home,” Russell says. “I’m a mom. But this was so much. I couldn’t let go of the fun part of it. I couldn’t let it go, so I just took a chance.”

‘That’s real life’

Is she polished in real life? “I’m so polished and calm that you never hear me sweat or even talk about sweat,” she jokes. “In real life, I’m often the stressed mom who is working and juggling. That’s real life.”

Add a little crazy

Starring in “Cocaine Bear,” filmed during the pandemic, was probably a crazy thing to do, Russell admits. Director Elizabeth Banks won her over. “She said, ‘Hey, do you want to read this crazy movie that I want to direct. I think it’s going to be called “Cocaine Bear,” ’ ” Russell recalls. “I remember talking to my best girlfriends about it. We were all up in the mountains together, kind of living together during COVID times. And I said, ‘This idea is crazy!’

“My girlfriends said, ‘You have to add a little crazy to your life.’ ”

Embrace aging

Russell insists that she has no interest in turning back time. “I would never want to go back to my 20s,” she says. “I look at my girlfriends and they’re wise and beautiful and fun. Every age really is a great age.”

Feeling better costs nothing

“I think we would all be healthier if we danced and walked more in life,” Russell says. “You have to keep moving, and dancing keeps it fun, while walking clears your mind and gets you there.”

Stop obsessing

“I realize now that I don’t have to fix the little things,” she says. “Maybe I’ll go to bed with my mascara on. You do as much as you can in a day.”

Pedal anxieties away

“To get rid of stress, I ride my bike into the city from my home in Brooklyn and over the bridge into Manhattan like I did today. I’ll do it at 5:30 in the morning when the city is quiet,” Russell says. “When we shot ‘The Diplomat,’ I rode a bike all over London, which was wonderful. You get exercise and really see the city.”

Her other way to get rid of anxiety? “I like to sit in a cafe anywhere and pretend I’m in Paris!”

Look for the good

“I can proudly say I really like where I am in this moment,” Russell says. “I’m having so much fun. Maybe it’s my age or I’m playing such fun characters. But I do stop and feel so thankful. I just hope it all continues.”

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