Keri Russell interview: ‘The Diplomat’

This article and video contains spoilers about the first season of “The Diplomat.”

After six seasons on and three Emmy nominations for “The Americans,” Keri Russell returns to the world of international affairs on television in an entirely new way in the Netflix series “The Diplomat.” While both shows boast “sweeping political themes,” the actress stresses, “What attracted me to them is a much more intimate aspect of the people and usually the relationship.” Watch our exclusive video interview above.

Russell stars in the title role of “The Diplomat” as Kate Wyler, an American field officer in the foreign service previously based in Afghanistan who gets unexpectedly sent to London as the American ambassador after a British carrier is attacked, since the motives behind the attack seem to be to draw the U.S.’s attention. The “giant backdrop of political intrigue and London and U.K.-U.S. relations and world relations” certainly appealed to the actress, but what really grabbed her attention was “the specific-ness of this character being plucked from a job that she’s really good at and put in this place that’s really uncomfortable for her.”

WATCH our exclusive video interview with Debora Cahn, ‘The Diplomat’ showrunner

Kate indeed has a bit of difficulty and trepidation acclimating to her new, high-visibility role. Russell relished the opportunity to play the character’s “messiness and her awkwardness,” sharing, “To watch someone who’s at such a high level in politics, doing meetings in the Oval Office, being brought in to debrief the President on certain specialities that she has, but those people can be not polished and awkward and sweating and have yogurt on their clothes and have a foul mouth.”

To prepare for the incredibly complex dialogue and to understand the thorny international relations that evolve throughout the eight-episode first season, Russell did a lot of reading and listening to real-life diplomatic figures such as Samantha Power. She also immersed herself in the book “The Ambassadors” by Paul Richter, revealing, “I listened to it on tape as well, just to hear, to be in constant hearing of all the new pronunciations of cities and places and leaders… It was just good to hear it constantly because it’s so foreign to my world of school drop-offs and pickups in Brooklyn Heights.” The series star and executive producer also shares that she loved learning more about the “shadowy unsung force that keeps our government going and our country alive.”

SEE New Netflix political drama ‘The Diplomat’ starring Keri Russell drops first trailer

Aside from her new position navigating the fallout of the attack on the British carrier and the possibility of further aggression, Kate has to handle her relationship with her husband Hal (Rufus Sewell), a superstar diplomat with a controversial reputation. Russell calls this aspect of the series “so fun” to portray, and says of their dynamic, “At the core of Kate and Hal’s relationship, I think they have a meeting of the minds. I think they really are good partners in that way. I think as frustrating and maddening as Hal can be, I think Kate can always see his brilliance.”

The two performers also get ample opportunities to show off their comedic prowess, including an unforgettable confrontation scene in the third episode, “Lambs in the Dark,” which was penned by series showrunner, executive producer, and writer Debora Cahn. “I love those moments, the humor and the sparkle of it,” beams Russell, who notes that her formal training as a dancer helps her to “translate” emotions physically. “It’s so fun to get to do something like this at this point in my life. I’m just incredibly grateful.”

One thought on “Keri Russell interview: ‘The Diplomat’”

  1. You and Rufus Sewell play off each other so well. Your dynamics elevate an ordinary show to believable levels. Thank you just for being you.

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UPLOADED Apr 24, 2023 9:06 am