“My favorite aspect of the show has so little to do with them being spies,” actress says of FX espionage drama
For Keri Russell, sometimes filming a compelling scene can be like pulling teeth. Literally.
With Emmy nominations voting underway, TheWrap spoke to Russell, star of FX’s period spy drama “The Americans,” about Season 3’s highlights.
Among them: An excruciating scene during which her TV husband Philip (played by Matthew Rhys) yanks a chomper out of her mouth with a primitiveness that would make the dentist from “The Marathon Man” wince.
TheWrap: What was the toughest thing you had to do this season?
Keri Russell: The tooth-pulling scene [from the episode “Open House”]. It was such an abstract scene … But luckily Tommy Schlamme directed the episode and had a really clear idea of how he wanted to do it. And I just love working with him. So I just kind of came in with no expectations and just went for it, with whatever he said. His whole take on it was he wanted it to be like a really intimate, almost sex scene. So we just kind of did that. And luckily Matthew [Rhys] is so good. Read the rest of this entry
I have added scans from newest issue of The Wrap magazine.
– Magazine Scans The Wrap – June 22 2015
All this week, we’re presenting the Vulture TV Awards, honoring the best in television from the past year.
The nominees are:
Better Call Saul
And the Best Drama is …
How many years in a row will The Americans top lists of the “Best Dramas You’re Not Watching?” As long as it’s on FX, probably — and no matter how long it runs, the writers, actors, and filmmakers involved in its production should take it as a compliment. The Americans’ commitment to its dramatic mission is so uncompromising that the show’s heroine, Elizabeth Jennings (Keri Russell), a warrior for Mother Russia, would approve of it.
Created by Joe Weisberg and co-executive-produced by him and Joel Fields, the series is subtle and quiet and often works in a minor key; it never had the extravagant visuals and grandiose cultural aspirations of, say, Mad Men, this summer’s Vulture TV Award–winner for Best Show, a series which, at its best, combined the exhaustive invention of a John Dos Passos novel and the ebullient showmanship of a fireworks display. And yet, week in and week out, no U.S. drama is more exactingly calibrated than this blue-gray chamber piece about Soviet infiltrators posing as suburban American travel agents. Every scene, line, cut, and performance moment reinforces the characters’ emotional journeys within the episode and the season. And the journey is ultimately tragic, because Elizabeth, her husband Philip (Matthew Rhys), FBI agent Stan Beeman (Noah Emmerich), and most of the other major characters are working in jobs and living out lives that are shaped largely by various forms of ideology and propaganda, and serving masters who are obsessed with replicating those worldviews without question. They seem to have little or no self-awareness, save for what little they glean in the show’s self-help groups. Every now and then you get a spectacular one-off action sequence, like the one at the end of “Walter Taffet,” or a GIF-packed squirm-inducer like the scene where Philip yanks out Elizabeth’s shattered tooth. But these scenes are exceptions. The Americans is more often concerned with the lies that characters tell each other and themselves, and the agony that results when the deception is finally revealed, as it was in the devastating “Stingers,” possibly the most perfect hour of TV I watched in the last 12 months.
Whenever I write about The Americans, I always end up comparing it to architecture and carpentry rather than fine art, because when I think about the totality of the series, I picture blueprints being drawn up, and pieces of material being cut and sanded and bolted or fitted together. This, too, sounds diminishing — the phrase fine art is somewhat diminishing in itself, when you think about all the other kinds of creative expression that implicitly aren’t as “fine” as painting or sculpture — but perhaps less so if you imagine the most elegant and imaginative end product: not an Ikea chair but a Chippendale; not a prefab McMansion but Fallingwater.
Emmy season is here! Voters have until June 26 to fill out their nomination ballots before the big announcement on July 16. We have a few selections in mind ourselves. Our last wish list: Outstanding Drama Series.
If you like great storytelling, there is no show more carefully plotted than The Americans. Patient but fast-paced, the intricate series uses adrenalized, disturbing (see: tooth extraction, suitcase corpse) spy games and the bleak Cold War era to explore issues of marriage, family, faith and morality. That reached a fever pitch in Season 3 when Philip un-Clark-ed for Martha and Paige finally learned the truth, only to betray her parents’ trust that was built on lies. The Americans has a big hill to climb at the Emmys: It’s only ever been nominated for three awards.
Emmy season is upon us! Voters have until June 26 to fill out their nomination ballots before the big announcement on July 16. We have a few selections in mind ourselves. Up next: our wish list for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series.
Keri Russell, The Americans
Elizabeth masks much of her vulnerability, which Russell has played with steely ruthlessness. In Season 3, though, she chipped some of that robotic armor away in “Do Mail Robots Dream of Electric Sheep?”, thanks to the wrong-place-at-the-wrong-time Betty. The doomed old lady knew the right buttons to push, forcing Elizabeth to think twice about her resolute belief in the cause. “That’s what evil people tell themselves when they do evil things,” Betty says. The mix of confusion, doubt and sadness in Russell’s face, as she watched a woman she forced to kill herself, is utter perfection.
I have added scans from newest issue of EW to gallery.
– Magazine Scans Entertainment Weekly – June 26 2015
Thanks to Colleen I have added scans from TV Guide issue ‘Shows to Binge Right Now’.
– Magazine Scans TV Guide – June 22 2015
THR asked: When were you the most panicked as an actress this season and how did you overcome those fears?
The Americans (FX)
“The first thing I think of is that scene when we have to tell our daughter, Paige [Holly Taylor], this incredible truth that’s going to change her life forever: We’re spies. It felt like such a big moment in the story. My favorite thing about our show is when the spy stuff falls back and it becomes a family or marriage drama. I had to watch this teenager who’s in so much pain and realize that, as parents, we’re a cause of that because of all these lies. It was complicated on many levels. Holly’s a sensitive, graceful creature, so watching her cry, instantly I’m crying and trying to stuff it in. You just want to make sure she’s OK. And also, I was a kid actor, which I think is Creep City anyway. It’s a complicated way to grow up, and it’s not something I think I’d ever let my kids do. So there was that part of me watching her on this tightrope, and my heart was going out to her. As painful as it was, it became easy to shoot because you’re just reacting in a human way. The character of Elizabeth can be perceived as a not-great mom, but I feel like in that moment, she was trying to be there for her daughter.”
The Variety Emmy Portrait Studio: Drama Contenders
“I wear these silk shirts and high-heeled boots and I feel like that armor has become very much
a part of that character to me. I feel very panther-like. It’s much more grown-up than I look in real life. I like the way it makes me feel. It’s much tougher and cooler than I am, than Keri actually is.”
– Photoshoots 2015 – Variety