"Dark Blue," which opens Feb. 21, is set against the tumultuous backdrop of the Rodney King verdict and ensuing riots. It is based on a story by writer James Ellroy; the screenplay was written by David Ayer with Russell in mind.
In it, Russell's character plays fast and loose with the rules and goes over the line - until another cop vows to bring him down.
"Perry's a change from characters I've played in the past," says Russell. "This is a contemporary film about real people, and Perry is as real as it gets. More than any other character I've played, he's a very real person; he's got a full 360 degrees to his character."
Directed by Ron Shelton, "Dark Blue" also stars Brendan Gleeson, Scott Speedman, Michael Michele, Lolita Davidovich, and Ving Rhames.