The Americans: A conversation with Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys

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Credit: FX

After a six-season run, The Americans has officially come to an end with an explosive, dramatic series finale. Show Snob, along with other outlets, had the opportunity to speak with stars Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys about The Americans series finale and their journey as an on and off-screen couple.

The Americans  made its mark as Russian spy thriller drama and fans became invested from day one in the Jennings family and the dark secrets that ruled their lives. We had to bid farewell to the series last night, and while it was soul-crushing and bittersweet, the series ended on an uncertain future–but one filled with hope.

We spoke to Keri and Matthew about the series, their favorite moments, working together, and what memories they will cherish from the six-season run.

When you first got the script for The Americans finale what elements surprised you or perhaps shocked you the most? Oh, and the look on your face was when you saw Paige leave the train that scene must have been pretty emotional.

"Keri Russell: God all of it surprised me. I had no idea that they would pick such an emotional route of devastation with the kids. I think the kids – I had – I did not see the Henry aspect coming at all and that was just devastating to me. It’s funny because you’re watching this couple go through the series and you’re rooting for them but you want them to pay in some way for what they’ve done and they chose the most painful way for them to pay. They like took their kids away and it’s something I could not have seen coming at all and I just think it was so – I mean it was – and what’s great about Paige is they’ve already lost Henry and you can’t imagine that they would take Paige too and she chooses to stay behind and you’re just like wow. As a parent as a mother it was just like too much too much."

Elizabeth had killed so many people, did you expect that she would survive by the end of the show?

"Keri: I have no idea– the thing that I have really enjoyed about this project, this series is I’ve been continually surprised in a good way. Like I’ve always been surprised with the turns and the twists and I’ve never been bored by them. So I had no idea what was in store and then the way the season was going by about the third or fourth episode, I thought oh well  they’re setting her up to die because she’s so unlikable and she’ll never redeem herself. So I had no idea but I was like I was ready I was on board for whatever they wanted because I had liked it so far."

Credit: FX

How do you feel about Elizabeth’s story arc over the course of the series?

"Keri: I mean I love it. For me to get a chance to play what feels to me as a woman this true character and see out the full arc and the full story of it. When, you know, a lot of times the female part is like the doting wife or the comforting wife or so it feels incredibly satisfying to begin this process six years ago what we did and then to start to end here. I mean just I just relished it was a real treat to get to do this job."

What were you most excited for long-time fans to see in the series finale of The Americans?

"Keri: I just hope they like it. I really hope the people who have watched it feel the way I do as a reader and I read the scripts. I hope they get the same feeling I got which is of a flowing kind of emotional journey and then an ending. I hope they’re satisfied."

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Philip and Elizabeth’s marriage has always been pretty rough but it was particularly rough in this final season. What do you imagine for the future of their marriage?

"Keri: I mean it’s pretty devastating what the loss of children would do to a marriage. But interestingly Joe and Joel were talking about this scene and about those end moments. I think what they wanted to convey was hard at times, no matter what, we’re going to have each other. We’ve come this far together and we’re going to get each other through this. And I think that’s what they really wanted. And ultimately it was this story, of this marriage, of this relationship. So I think that this is their hope that they will pull each other through this moment."

Credit: FX

Can you talk about watching the young actors grow up around you over these six years and particularly watching how Holly developed as Paige throughout the seasons?

"Keri: It’s crazy, you know, they were like 10 when we started, and now they’re full fledge teenagers and Holly’s in college. I mean it’s wild it’s such a strange thing and they became a little bit more and more involved as the years went by. But it’s crazy I mean they become sort of like the little brother and sister of the set in a way and I mean I think they handled it really well. They’re both really good kids and Holly’s very graceful and I think this business is pretty creepy for kids to be totally honest. But I think they handled it very well and with grace–I think it was a cool job for them to be a part of."

Out of all the ways, it could have ended do you feel that the way it did end was fair to the characters after all that they’ve done over the years? Do you think they were punished enough or not enough?

"Keri: I do. I mean because I think the story they’re telling is an emotional story. I think they chose such an emotional way to make them pay. Yes, one of them could have died or one could have gone to prison or something but to take your kids away is pretty hardcore. You could argue a million things, like they didn’t take their kids but well they never paid attention to them anyway or, you know, whatever you want to say. But it doesn’t matter, you know, no one thinks you’re going to have your kids taken away and I think it was such an Americans appropriate heartbreaker."

You and Matthew Rhys are so great together! What is a favorite memory of working with him and what are you going to miss most about working with him on The Americans?

"Keri: Well, many things but I would definitely say just having a professional partner like that. He’s fun to work with because he’s so good. It’s sort of like playing tennis with someone you’re only as good as your partner, as your opponent. And, you know, he’s fun because he’s good. So I will definitely miss that. And, you know, just the intimacy you have with someone that you’re so familiar with. And it’s easy and hard, I guess in some ways too but I will miss that. And he’s so funny. We had a lot of fun together. So I think it’s time for it to end before we kill each other."

Credit: FX

One of the most pivotal scenes in the Americans finale is Stan finally confronting the Jennings, something we’ve been waiting years for. Can you talk about filming that scene and what you remember from that day– how it felt emotionally and how you feel personally about Stan not arresting the family?

"Keri: So we shot that all in one day. I want to say it took about nine hours and we shot in the same garage just standing there. And I have to say, you know, credit to Matthew and Noah because I can’t remember the page count on that but it had to be like a nine-page scene and just so many monologues. And I don’t care how much you love a show by year six you’re sort of lazy, it just happens. And they came in and just killed it. I mean they knew every word and they kind of just did it right there. And it was amazing to watch. And, you know, I actually don’t say much in it so I got to just kind of watch it unfold. I love that Stan doesn’t turn them in. I mean I think that’s the complication that Joe and Joel present so well, that there is no bad guy, there is no good guy. And I think Stan and Philip were friends they just had this whole other story going on privately but I think that’s what they told very well in this story. So I’m just glad Stan let them go."

What do you think pushed Paige to make the decision to get off the train when she did?

"Keri: In my mind, she’s already kind of implicated by her parents because she knows so much. Henry is kind of a little clearer because he’s still so clean and he’s really succeeding in his life. And to take him away from that would be cruel in some way. But I don’t know. Maybe she’s just had enough. But it’s such a painful choice. It’s hard to say, “No not me, I’m not you guys and the decisions made for me are over now-now I make my decisions.” Maybe you should ask Joe and Joel that question because I’d be really curious to hear their response."

Next: The Americans season 6, episode 10 recap: Start

What was the last scene you filmed and how did that finality feel?

"Keri: Well, the last big scene we all did was actually super late at night. We were doing a night shoot north of the city at some random payphone and it’s when we were calling Henry. And it started to snow and it wasn’t snowing in the other shots and we were freezing and it was probably about 3:30 in the morning. And we kind of had to go back and reshoot other people’s coverage because it didn’t quite match and it was so sad. And then, you know, really we wanted to be warm so we got through it and got in our cars and went away. But then the truth is there was one tiny little pickup scene we had to do on another day which was literally a quick shot of me noticing Philip taking the ax out of the ax case and going oh shit he’s going to chop her head off. And that was really the last scene of the whole series. So it was a pickup from another episode."