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The Americans Season 3 Premiere & a Q&A with Matthew Rhys

The Americans-Russell-RhysIf
you’re not excited about the return of The
Americans
tonight on FX, then you haven’t been watching. It’s time to
start. The Season 3 premiere begins at 10pm EST.

The
back story for those playing catch-up: Welsh born thesp Matthew Rhys with co-star
Keri Russell portray Philip and Elizabeth Jennings, an attractive couple and
parents to one boy and one girl. It’s early 1980s. They own a travel agency, live in the suburbs and drive a gas guzzling automobile. Trouble is they’re KGB spies; Russian operatives masquerading as Americans, and they’re really good at it.  

Matthew,
as Philip, slips in to and out of a host of outfits, hairstyles, accents and
personalities with skill and aplomb. He’s a smart one and more than physically
adept, whether using martial arts moves or a lethal weapon.

The Americans

Recently,
I participated in a Q&A with the versatile Rhys who, before his Americans
fame swept the land, was known statewide for playing a sibling on the
popular series Brothers and Sisters.

Q: Because you get to play such a wide variety of characters… in this job, would you consider this your dream role?

Matthew:
… I’d say this was my dream role.  As a
sort of box ticker for actors, I don’t think you could get better than
this.  It’s been a real dream.  As I said, the
layering, the complexity of it keeps getting deeper and more varied.  There’s no danger at all of it ever becoming
dull or repetitive.  It’s incredibly challenging
and dynamic.  It’s everything you want or
ever wanted to do in one part.

On the challenges of playing many different personalities: “The harder part for me
is to land him in a place of reality, somewhere that’s real for me and
hopefully real for an audience in that someone who has to juggle, in its
reference, and keep as many sort of plates in the air as Philip does, but sort
of the pressure that that would bring, it’s landing that in a real place.  For me, it’s the sort of hardest balancing
act.”

The Americans-Keri Russell-680

The
other part of the balancing act for the duo, that appears even harder than the subterfuge
they present as real, lies behind closed doors. What happens in between the
spying. That which started out as Memorex has quietly become their truth.  Therein lies the heart of the show as the
intricacies of loving one another becomes genuine. As their children—sometimes
tended to, but often ignored—start to require the attention of a mom and dad
who is present. 

These
two were vetted and groomed, separately, for this life when they were barely
older than their teenage daughter. As strangers they came together to marry and
raise a family to establish an unbreakable cover. They have been near death, seen
their colleagues die and had their loyalty tested. They are continually pushed
to the edge for The Motherland, which is all the motive Elizabeth needs. She despises
what she views as the glut and over abundance of American lives.

“Don’t
you like any of this?” Philip asks her in the middle of Season Two after he’s
just purchased a Camero Z28.

“We’re
living like this because we have to,” she tells him.

Paige - Holly Taylor

“Yes,
but do you like it?” he insists.

For
her to answer outright ‘yes’ is impossible and would be the ultimate betrayal of all that
she has ever believed. She refuses to be seduced by the softness of the western lifestyle and only concedes that things are “…different. That doesn’t make it better.” 

Material
seduction is minor however. The Jennings are about to be tested in a way they
either never saw coming or were in denial about. Word has come down from the Directive;
Paige is being considered for recruitment. Philip and Elizabeth now know that their
14-year-old is on the KGB radar.

Matthew:
I think, ultimately, as we’ve seen a flashback in one and two, Philip and
Elizabeth were children when they were picked, you know?  They were in late teenage years and I think
heavily indoctrinated.  Really, you look
back at your own age, you’re not very sure who you are at that time.  He’s found himself in a vocation that he
really didn’t choose in a way; I think it was kind of chosen for him in a way,
thrust upon him, and he’s evolving at a time and bursting out at a time when he
realized it probably isn’t the life that he would have chosen nor is it the
life he wants, and the same applies heavily for his daughter. 

He
doesn’t want her pushed into something at such a young, vulnerable,
impressionable age whereby in a few years she’s in up over her head because
it’s not something you just – it’s not a job you can quit overnight or walk
away from and he doesn’t want her to have to do the many awful things that he
has to do in order to stay alive and, therefore, keep the family alive.

Watch HERE  for a bit of what’s in store.

Every
once in a while a drama slips onto the TV landscape and makes an indelible
impression. The Americans is one of
those.

Series
creator: Joseph Weisberg

Season 3, Episode 1 writers: Joseph Weisberg, Joel Fields

Cast includes: Keri
Russell as Elizabeth Jennings, Matthew Rhys as Philip Jennings, Noah Emmerich
as Agent Stan Beeman, Holly Taylor as Paige Jennings, Keidrich Sellati as Henry
Jennings, Alison Wright as Martha, Annet Mahendru as Nina, Lev Gorn as Arkady, Susan
Misner as Sandra.

Richard
Thomas returns as Agent Frank Gaad.

Other
guest cast includes: Frank Langella as Gabriel and Costa Ronin as Oleg Burov.

Season 3 premieres January 28th on FX. Make a date with The
Americans
every Wednesday at 10pm EST.

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