Claire initially suspects that he is gay but he insists that he is not and they date briefly. However, he sleeps with teacher Olivier Castro-Staal, which leads to Claire breaking up with him. When she learns she is pregnant she has an abortion, which leaves Russell distraught. He starts sleeping with Claire's friend Anita in spite of still having feelings for Claire.
Claire goes on to enjoy success with an art project Russell helped her start and he becomes jealous when she gets a gallery opening, confronting her at the exhibit. She drops out of art school and does not talk to him for months.
He shows up at another exhibit, telling her he was hit by a car and while others believe he is in love with another student named Jimmy, he reveals to Claire that he is merely jealous and wishes he could be as talented as her before giving her a kiss and walking away.