Margo Martindale is the latest victim of my obsession with ‘The Americans’

Poor Margo Martindale.  On a brisk Sunday morning in New York, the Emmy Award winner was paired with Oscar winner Chris Cooper to discuss  their impressive performances in John Wells’ big screen adaptation of Tracy Letts’ acclaimed stage play “August: Osage County.”  Both actors have outside chances at best supporting Oscar nominations and, of course, what do I want to talk about?  All I want to do is ask Martindale questions about a television show she isn’t “officially” a regular guest star on anymore, “The Americans.”  

(Well, to be fair, it’s the last question I asked during our interview, but considering I was more excited to quiz Martindale about “The Americans” than having a rare one on one with Julia Roberts the same morning it might be a red flag about my obsession with the show. Maybe.)

Yes, if you’re a cast member of the FX drama I have probably bugged you about the upcoming season 2 sometime over the past five months.  Noah Emmerich during Cannes? Check. Keri Russell during “Austenland” interviews?  Check.  And now, Martindale.

Of course, the reason I wanted to talk with the talented actress was because until a few weeks ago it was unclear if she was coming back to the show at all.  But first, some back story for those of you not in the know…

Martindale plays Claudia, a senior KGB agent who communicates instructions from Moscow to longtime undercover spies Elizabeth and Phillip Jennings (Russell and Matthew Rhys).  She joined the show four episodes into the first season and took it to another level as the perfect frustrating foil for our “heroes.”  The performance actually earned Martindale her second Emmy nomination (she previously won in 2011 for another FX show, “Justified”).  Unfortunately, the TV business interceded with a seemingly ideal creative situation.

It’s unclear when Martindale joined the show whether the plan had been for her to become a regular or a one season stop by, but the TV veteran had already committed to star in a pilot alongside Will Arnett last winter. That show eventually became “The Millers.” Meanwhile, on “The Americans’ Claudia kept teasing about her “returning to Moscow,” but at the end of the season finale she was still in D.C. So, when the “Millers” was picked up there may have been no member of the media hoping it was cancelled fast enough so Martindale could permanently return to “The Americans” more than me.  Unfortunately, too many people are watching and “The Millers” has been picked up by CBS for an entire season.  And yet, we still had hope that Claudia would return to make Philip and Elizabeth’s lives more complicated and dangerous. Couldn’t she just shoot her scenes on the weekends?  

There is hope “Americans” fans.

In October, new broke that Martindale was going to be able to fit in at least one episode during a break from “The Millers.” So, when I had the chance to ask Martindale in person if we might get even more Claudia in season 2, she smiled and said, “let’s just say Claudia is returning.”  

Read into it what you will. Martindale also noted she’ll be shooting her scenes this week (no Thanksgiving rest for the weary).  To see Margo’s reaction check out the video embedded at the top of this post.

Now all this reporting on one show from someone whose primary beat is movies might have you puzzled. Trust me. The show is better than “Homeland.”  It’s a gem waiting to explode with a larger audience.  If you haven’t caught “The Americans” you can still catch up before it returns for season 2 in February. You can watch the first 13 episodes on Hulu, on some In Demand services and on NetFlix.

In the interim, you can enjoy  Martindale’s superb work in “August: Osage County” when it opens close to nationwide on Christmas day.  Look for more of my conversations with Martindale, Cooper, Roberts and her other co-stars Dermot Mulroney, Abigail Breslin, Julianne Nicholson and Juliette Lewis over the next few weeks on HitFix.