He had multiple Disney roles. As a child, he portrayed Dexter Riley in The Strongest Man in the World, Now You See Him, Now You Don't, and The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes, as well as Edward "Whitey" White, Jr. in Follow Me, Boys!. As a teenager, he played Sidney Bower in The One and Only, Genuine, Original Family Band. As an adult, he voiced an adult Copper in the 1981 animated film The Fox and the Hound, and portrayed the titular character in Captain Ron, Steven Post in The Barefoot Executive, Ray Ferris in Charley and the Angel, Ronnie Gardner in The Horse in the Gray Flannel Suit, Bart in Superdad, Coach Herb Brooks in the 2004 biographical sports film Miracle, The Commander in the 2005 superhero film Sky High, and Ego the Living Planet in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.
- Russell originally auditioned for the role of Han Solo in Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope. However, Harrison Ford was cast instead at the end. Years later, Russell was originally considered for the role of Qui-Gon Jinn in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace along with several other actors. However, Liam Neeson was cast at the end.
- Russell was also considered along Jack Davenport and Tommy Lee Jones to voice Commander Lyle Tiberius Rourke in Atlantis: The Lost Empire, but the late James Garner was selected to voice the character at the end.