The Americans: A conversation with Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys

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Credit: FX

What was it like filming that pivotal scene with Stan in the finale and were you shocked at his decision to let them go?

"Matthew: Yes I was. It’s strange. Those things are always kind of strange in that your expectations of the shooting will be far harder than it is. And that has always been the case with The Americans. The writing was so good that it kind of shot itself. You know it was a marathon because obviously, we shot a number of angles on it that we don’t usually for The Americans. We don’t usually spend that amount of time rehearsing it but we did get to on that one. The pieces fell into place much easier than usual. The other thing I think on scenes like that is actors tend to turn up, you know when there’s a kind of a bit of a mountain to climb they turn up with all their gear ready to go. So we all turned up, you know, ready to take a bite out of a steak that was that scene. And I haven’t seen it yet. Hopefully, it turned out okay."

What was your favorite scene from the finale or one that you enjoyed overall during your time on The Americans?

"Matthew: Maybe enjoy isn’t the right word for it but the scene would be Henry in the booth. I found it difficult to do just because the picture is always hard on the show. But the kind of way they pitched that scene was what I found difficult. I enjoy those scenes because it’s such an enormous challenge. So I enjoy the challenge. I didn’t necessarily enjoy the scene and ironically it was the last scene in the season we ever shot and it was in a snowstorm at 4:30 am."

Credit: FX

What have you enjoyed the most about your journey from Season 1 to Season 6?

"Matthew: I thought it was executing this writing, you know, I’ve never kind of encountered a show of this caliber where the kind of layering of the writing and where the character’s been so textured really. The challenges that came with this part and kind of landing in a real believable place has always been large and varied. So I’ll miss the day-to-day challenges of this part which were tenfold daily."

Let’s talk about the other surprise–Paige’s decision. She was the eager spy and then she left. Did that surprise you?

"Matthew: It did surprise me but I kind of loved it. You know I think what the boys do so well is kind of present these very open-ended questions to the audience. And I think that was one of them. And, you know, they led us down the path so far that Paige was going to come with us and on the train, I think it’s just such a U-turn, kind of a violent U-turn. But it’s not for the shock–it gives the audience I think enough to go well, you know, any number of things she can go in any number of directions now. She can, you know, continue her work, look after Henry. There’s so many variables kind of presented to you in that moment and in a very poignant way."

Next: The Americans season 6, episode 9 recap: Jennings, Elizabeth

What do you think is the state of the Elizabeth/Phillip relationship at the end of the show and how has having to flee to the Soviet Union affected the relationship?

"Matthew:  It’s sort of interesting because what is left you don’t know really how it will work out. Ultimately they’re the only allies each other have– in that someone else who understands this incredible journey they’ve been on so they do need each other in that respect. You know I always harken back to the third episode of the first season when Phillip wanted to defect. And I think that was kind of brought back in those moments where I’m sure he could have gone, you know, what could be in a very cushy witness protection program at this moment where the kids are doing okay as opposed to this. So I think it’s a tragic ending, you know, for all intents and purposes because I think as I said earlier I think the cost of what they had to do with their children in order to get out alive I think is so taxing."

Credit: FX

What was more heartbreaking for you personally when you read the finale to when you were filming it. The Henry phone call, watching Paige get off the train or seeing the betrayal on Stan’s face in the garage?

"Matthew: I think it was the Henry phone call still. You know as a new father just, you know, it came very easily to kind of put yourself in that situation and go I can’t even fathom doing this to my own son. So I did and still just think about that as one of the most heart-breaking moments of our show. More from Show Snob The Santa Clauses season 2, episode 6 recap “Wanga Banga Langa!” Lawmen: Bass Reeves season 1, episode 7 preview: Non-spoiler thoughts for Part VII Goosebumps season 1, episode 6 recap: “Night of the Living Dummy” Beacon 23 season 1, episode 3 recap: “Why Can’t We Go on as Three?” Upload season 3, episode 2 recap: “Strawberry”"

Did you have any favorite memories of working with Keri and what are you going to miss most about working with her?

"Matthew: Oh God, I don’t know. I haven’t got the time to tell you what I’ll miss most about her because she is kind of everything you want in a co-star. I thought in Season 2 there were kind of these moments where it was a throwback to the audition where she had to slap me in the face and I didn’t react. So there were these very kind of inopportune moments she’d slap me in the face to see how I’d react. And perversely I kind of look back and go those were really great moments."

Credit: FX

This question is regarding Oleg and Costa Ronin since you two had never really acted together until the final season. And I really enjoyed those scenes together and considering that you got to go back to Russia and he’s stuck in prison what was it like working with him finally? And after three years, both of your characters were out of the business. I thought that was ironic that you were sucked into the same project. What was that experience like?

"Matthew: It was great. We never got to act with the Russians. We were kept apart. And then the irony is you had these two characters and, you know, they stayed in place in the same position with the same goals, the same fears, the same resistance. So it was great just to kind of step outside the box especially given Phillip’s trajectory of trying to make the travel agency work. All of a sudden you have this huge other thing in his life that he kind of circumnavigates with someone who has the same fears. So it was just great to kind of, you know, mix it up."

The Americans has been a whirlwind journey and following the Jennings family through it all was one of the best experiences fans had during its dramatic run. It will surely be missed and we are crossing our fingers for a spin-off in the future–because there’s always more story to tell, right?

Catch up on episodes of The Americans on FXNow!