Joe Weisberg and Joel Fields Q&A: ‘The Americans’
"Nothing beats Ronald Reagan," proclaimed Joe Weisberg, co-creator of the hit FX drama series "The Americans," during our recent webchat, which also included fellow executive producer Joel Fields (watch below). He elaborated, "The way that he started talking about the evil empire and the quiet period during Ronald Reagan ramped up that tension again and made it such a high stakes period when everyone was wanting to kill each other. You thought the nuclear weapons might fly at any time."
Their show is set in the early 1980s, the peak of the Cold War between the United States and Russia. While Phillip and Elizabeth Jennings (Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell) seem like an all-American couple with two children, they are actually highly trained agents who murder people, steal secrets and disrupt our way of life. They have been in the U.S. since the 1960s and are deeply hidden in their cover disguises.
Regarding this provocative premise, Weisberg explained, "The most interesting thing about it was these illegals. This very intelligent type of spy that worked under this incredibly deep cover, and that was a real specialty of the KGB. Developing a series around this kind of spy, these people who lived as citizens of foreign countries, would be a very compelling idea for a series."
The show recently reaped bids at the upcoming Critics Choice TV Awards for Best Drama Series, plus Rhys as Best Drama Actor, Russell as Best Drama Actress, and Annet Mahendru as Best Drama Supporting Actress. Rhys is also in contention at the upcoming TCA Awards as Best Drama Individual, and the show is up for Best Drama Series.
While most showrunners are leery of giving up any intel about an upcoming season, both men did provide some details. Weisberg revealed, "We know from season two that there were some tough things going on in Afghanistan. We know from history that war is picking up and getting uglier. I think that's going to continue to be a difficult, painful, ugly war for the Soviets and therefore for our characters."
Fields added, "Much of the first season exposed the struggles in this fake marriage as they were trying to find each other. The second season found them as a couple really in a good marriage trying to figure out what the equilibrium was. As suggested at the end of season two, this is now a couple who will find themselves grappling with some really big conflicts about the most important thing in their lives: their children. We will see how that affects them."