The Americans, which airs Wednesday nights on FX, is finally beginning to be that show the Internet talks about the morning after. It’s been an incredible second season so far, not just in terms of a strong, intelligent narrative, but for the way it has pushed the boundaries of basic cable. While I’m not saying it’s the next Breaking Bad or anything, I think it’s going to be one of those shows that slowly develops an audience over three, four, or five seasons and suddenly becomes a huge cultural television event by its final season. It’s so good, and the more we talk about it, the quicker it gets the recognition it deserves.
As such, here’s an opportunity to get to know the cast — previously largely unknowns and character actors, save for Keri Russell — ahead of tonight’s episode.
1. Matthew Rhys (Phillip Jennings) is Welsh (in fact, he’s close friends with fellow Welshman Michael Sheen, who he has lived with in both London and Los Angeles). Rhys is also AMAZING at accents, as he demonstrates in the video below, where he delivers iconic film lines in various accents on command (and unlike his The Americans character, he’s also super charming. I can see why Keri Russell might leave her husband for him. NOT THAT THAT IS OK. Just understandable).
2. Before landing the role that would make her famous, Felicity, Keri Russell (Elizabeth Jennings) was in:
The Mickey Mouse Club
Honey, I Blew Up the Kids
Boy Meets World
and the Lifetime movie, Babysitter’s Seduction
3. Noah Emmerich (Stan Beeman) studied acting at Yale, where he was roommates with Josh Malina (Scandal, Sports Night, West Wing).
4. Susan Misner (Sandra Beeman) was actually a professional dancer before turning to acting. She was in Chicago (the film), and she was good. (Beginning at :40)
5. Alison Wright (Martha Hanson), the day after she was named a series regular, dropped her agency, which in turn sued her for $1.5 million, based on the agency’s expectation that Wright would earn $5 million from the role, which pays $15,000 an episode (meaning, she’d have to be on the show for five years, which seems unlikely).
6. Annet Mahendru (Nina Sergeevna) is kind of amazing. She knows six languages, plays competitive chess, is a brown belt in karate, went to graduate school at NYU for a Master’s in Global Affairs, although she dropped out to join the Groundlings. And yeah, she’s funny, too. She can even tell a pretty good joke.
7. Richard Thomas (Frank Gaad) is best known for his five years on The Waltons. He actually has 50 percent hearing loss, wears tiny hearing aids, and is a National Chairman of the Better Hearing Institute.