FX’s slow burn thriller The Americans has emerged as one of the most emotionally complex dramas on TV. Its captivating premise has remained intriguing thanks to poignant and thought provoking writing, stylized editing and gripping performances.
Set during the height of the Cold War, the series follows Philip and Elizabeth Jennings (Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell), a pair of KGB operatives posing as a married couple. Travel agents by day, the two spend their nights carrying out covert missions that often involve manipulating, seducing and even killing those with intel that could serve Mother Russia.
The role has allowed to the Welsh-born Rhys to showcase his talent for playing a multitude of characters. He effortlessly portrays Philip’s many alter egos – whether it’s a gun-crazy cowboy, sluggish Vietnam vet or the uptight, pencil-pusher Clarke. The 39-year-old, who got his start on the London stage and later became known to U.S. audiences for his turn as a gay lawyer on Brothers and Sisters, has won considerable praise for his work on the spy series.
Season one focuses on Philip and Elizabeth’s struggle to maintain their operation while grappling with the authentic feelings they’ve developed for one another. The show’s sophomore season centers on their struggle to protect the two children they’ve raised as part of their cover, Paige (Holly Taylor) and Henry (Keidrich Sellati). Furthermore, Paige’s growing suspicions about her parents have proved troublesome.
“All of a sudden they’re coming of age and the parents’ suspicious behavior and the long absences, the phenomenal amount of laundry that they have to do; questions are going to be raised,” Rhys said during a conference call on Tuesday. “It seems to be a very natural progression, and it raises questions in Philip, certainly with Paige that—I think he’s desperate for her not to take over a life…of just duplicity, deceit and lies; he’s desperate for her to avoid that. It pulls on him emotionally in an enormous way.”