The cast and executive producers of "The Americans" sat down on April 26 for a panel discussion of the FX drama at the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences in Los Angeles, and we've got the entire hour on video for you.
If you're a fan of the show, you may want to watch the whole thing. But be aware, developments that occurred late in Season 1 and in the season finale are discussed by panelists Joe Weisberg (executive producer/creator), Joel Fields (executive producer), Matthew Rhys (who plays Russian spy Philip Jennings), Noah Emmerich (who plays FBI agent Stan Beeman), Margo Martindale (Claudia) and Annet Mahendru (Nina). You'll also want to check out our recent interviews with Rhys, Martindale and Emmerich, and a post-finale chat with Fields and Weisberg.
If you don't have time to watch the whole hour, we've provided the approximate time stamps of different topics of discussion, which include: Keri Russell's propensity for slapping Rhys just before the director shouts "Action;" wigs; the effect of clandestine work on family life; and Stan's complicated love life.
By the way, the panel was moderated by yours truly, and I must confess -- if I had known the camera would be on me that much (or at all), I would have gotten a better wig.
Time stamps for "The Americans" panel discussion:
- 0:00 Opening remarks
- 4:00 Introduction of the cast (including the audio of a greeting from Keri Russell, who could not make it due to a film commitment).
- 6:00 The producers talk about the scene that ended the second season. Rhys jokes about about how laundry loomed so large in the story of the Jennings family. So much folding, so much knitwear!
- 7:25 Rhys talks about the advanced Soviet wig technology and his various be-wigged identities (and this is where I got the idea to ask him about Fernando, Gordo and his other undercover personas).
- 8:55 Martindale talks about the scene in which Elizabeth beat up Claudia, Martindale's desire to come back and do more Claudia-Elizabeth scenes, and Claudia's relationship with the Jennings. "I always thought it was a love triangle," Rhys opines.
- 11:02 Emmerich talks about the love triangle in Stan's life and Mahendru talks about the feelings Nina has for Stan.
- 13:12 Rhys discusses Clark and his deception of Martha.
- 14:51 The actors talk about how much their characters are driven by ideology and how much they're motivated by personal agendas.
- 17:50 The producers share possible time frames for the second season: Ho much time will have passed when Season 2 begins, and what the future may hold for the Russian characters (keeping in mind that Brezhnev dies in 1982).
- 18:48 Rhys talks about Philip's priorities for the future, and there's talk about the fashions of the early '80s.
- 20:30 The actors talk stunts, bruises and action scenes. Rhys talks about the thrill of driving the kinds of cars that he saw in his favorite American TV shows of the '80s.
- 22:30 Does Stan have real feelings for Nina? Could he have done committed the brutal thing we saw him do if he had not seen for himself what the Soviets were capable of? I found Emmerich's response to this question surprising and illuminating (he said, in his view, Stan's murderous act was a matter of strategy and it wasn't a vengeance-driven act). Emmerich also talks about his suspicions (or lack thereof) of his neighbors and he and Rhys pitch an episode in which Philip and Stan go on a fishing trip.
- 27:48 Martindale talks about the finale scene in which she killed a man, and about the scariness of working with a 1980s Taser, which doesn't sound easy to use.
- 29:10 Mahendru talks about whether Nina would kill for Russia.
- 31:05 First audience question: What's the response been from U.S. and Russian authorities? Weisberg talks about the feedback he's gotten from his former colleagues in the CIA.
- 34:08 Rhys (who is Welsh) talks about maintaining his American accent.
- 36:28 Rhys responds to a question about whether he prefers the spycraft scenes or emotional moments, and then he talks about how Russell (building on something that happened the first time they read through a scene together) slaps him before cameras roll.
- 39:35 The producers and Rhys address whether Clark's name is a reference to Clark Kent and Superman.
- 40:50 Weisberg discusses the fact that, decades ago, the KGB did have agents marry women like Martha (especially in Europe). "Regardless of the outcome, they had fantastic sex lives," Rhys says. "I've been told."
- 42:35 The actors talk about the research they did for their roles.
- 46:30 Rhys and the producers talk about how CIA agents tell their kids (when they're old enough) about their real jobs.
- 48:53 The producers talk about how the focus of the show will remain the Jennings' relationship.
- 50:08 I ask Rhys whether the chemistry that he and Russell share on screen was apparent in their first meeting. Please note: At about 50:30, there's a glitch in the recording. Move your cursor past that point to about 51 or so -- you won't have missed much. Rhys talks about how he was nervous going into the "chemistry read" meeting with Russell, but he notes that they had an excellent rapport right away.
- 52:11 Weisberg talks about the premise and origins of the show, and he and Fields talk about their overall goals for "The Americans."
- 54:03 The producers talk about real-life events affecting their characters (as happened in the episode in which there was an attempt on Reagan's life).
- 55:38 Rhys talks about Clark's cover story with Martha.
- 57:06 A question about possible foreign missions from the audience from an American man who grew up in Berlin during the Cold War (the man's father was a journalist -- or was he?).