|Russell Casse (1996)|
|Played by:||Randy Quaid|
|First appearance:||Independence Day|
Russell served as a pilot in the Vietnam War in the 1960s/early 1970s. Around 1986 he was abducted by the aliens. They did a lot of experiments on him that led to trauma's. When his wife got sick, he could not give her enough attention, because he was searching for clues about his abduction. This led to her death, and to Russell's drinking problem. He and his children live in a camper, and he worked as a crop duster.
A popular theory regarding Russell Casse is that he ejects at the last minute even though Bill Pullman explicitly says this isn't possible without the plane leveling out and the kamikaze mission failing. Proponents of this theory believe that Casse manages to wrap his belt around the throttle in a way that the plane is kept in an upward trajectory and then, immediately after screaming "Hello, boys!! I'M BAAAAAAAACK," bails out of his fighter jet and parachutes safely to a nearby field.
Supporters of the theory cite the fact that Russell Casse is too hardcore to die and the fact that Jeff Goldblum/Will Smith "don't seem sad enough that he's dead for him to actually be dead."
Opponents of the theory, however opine that none of the evidence cited by supporters of the theory consists of actual footage from the film; they also usually mention the fact that Casse surviving the final assault completely ruins his fairly standard redemptive arc from crazy drunk to sacrificial hero.
The issue is hotly debated to this day.
Russell wasn't Real Theory
A controversial theory regarding Russell Casse is that he was already deceased at the start of the film. His character had been abducted prior to the events in the film and many clues point to the "Russell" in the film being an alien impostor. Russell's behavior is erratic and inhuman; he also has trouble relating to his children and other members of the community. His ability to "think like an alien" is clearly evident and can only be easily explained by this theory. Prior to conquering a species the aliens would first need to understand their culture and would obviously use "sleeper agents" to infiltrate all levels of society. Some have theorized that when Russell says "Hello, boys! I'm BACK!" he is simply trying to return to his people when he accidentally crashes his plane into their ship. This theory was first proposed by filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan who credits this film with providing his inspiration for the Sixth Sense. In a 2001 interview with Vanity Fair, Shyamalan was quoted as saying "...when I realized that Russell was dead the entire time and we were given clues throughout the film, I just had this AHA moment. That night I wrote the first draft (of Sixth Sense.)"