Phillip Morris, the demure Arkansas native whose jailhouse romance with Texas' most notorious jail-breaker inspired a series of remarkable escapes and the campy Jim Carrey film I Love You Phillip Morris, hardly sounds like the kind of man who would tie his fate to the so-called King Con, Steven Jay Russell.
But one day back in 1995, in the law library of a Harris County, Texas jail, Morris did just that. He thought he'd found his soul mate in Russell, a hulking charmer with such a powerful sway he seemed to bewitch everyone in his orbit. As it turned out, Morris had his own hypnotic power over Russell. Years after that first meeting, the intensity of their connection would lead Russell to brazenly escape prison twice on a harrowing mission to reunite with him.
Steven Russell, played by Jim Carrey in the “gay prison” movie, I Love You Phillip Morris, is serving 144 years in prison after four escapes. He talks to Nicole LaPorte from behind bars.
“All right, this needs to be flat, but you can take a stainless steel razor blade, cut it like this…”
Steven Jay Russell is sitting across from me, behind a bulletproof window of glass, using his finger to make a cutting motion. We are in prison. In the middle of Texas, where on the other side of the gates, there are cowboy churches (“Come As You Are”) and signs that say “Stop the Porn and Be Reborn—Jesus.”