While the male and female leads of FX’s The Americans are KGB agents, you can’t help but root for them.
Luckily there is one “real” American worth rooting for on the show: next door neighbor and FBI Agent Stan Beeman.
Stan’s portrayer Noah Emmerich recently participated in a conference call with reporters. Here are the highlights. (Spoilers if you aren’t all caught up with the show.)
On how much research he did to prepare for playing an FBI Agent. “I spoke to a couple of ex-FBI agents, one of whom had been in counterintelligence, one of them had just been with the bureau in a more domestic situation. I read a couple of books about the foundation of the FBI and the history of the FBI, sort of the evolution of the FBI through time, and that was sort of the center foundation of my research. And then sort of reading a little bit also about the Cold War, about the shifting dynamics between the Soviet Union and the United States and the different periods and the different phases of the Cold War, and, obviously, most importantly, the dynamic in the early ‘80s, which I actually was alive for. I was a young boy but I remember very well, but I was just curious to get an adult’s point-of-view, which I had never really studied on the political dynamics of the Cold War. Just too sort of get a sense of the … of the time and our understanding of each other.”
On his relationship with Nina, the woman he’s having an affair with and supposed to protect, and the relationship with his wife. “I think in his relationship with Nina he’s found sort of a counterpoint to himself, someone else who’s isolated and alone, she’s removed from her family, she’s in a foreign country, she’s living in a world of shadows where you don’t know who to trust, and there’s a simpatico resonance between the two of them in that world, there’s a recognition of each other, I think, in their isolated, lonely positions in the universe. I think that the human need for connection, the human need for reflection, for being seen and understood, is quite powerful, and although superficially it’s a conflict with the loyalty of his fidelity to his wife, I think the need that he has for connection and reflection and understanding trumps, somehow in his soul in that moment, the notion that it’s a betrayal. I don’t think Stan thinks of it consciously, analytically as a betrayal, it’s just it’s a human need that emerges and to which he surrenders to some degree.”
On whether or not we’ll see more of Stan interacting with his son, Daniel. “Yes, I hope so, I hope so. It’s certainly an interesting area to go to. Certainly I think Stan’s career has been very hard on his relationship, both with his wife and with his son, maybe more poignantly with his son, who’s at a developmentally fragile age. I think that the distance between them is something that provides lots of interesting material to explore, and hopefully we’ll have a chance to do that.”
On Stan’s relationship with Philip. “I think there’s a real affection and relationship evolving between Stan and Philip. I think they like each other. How it impacts Stan’s suspicions I think I won’t touch that. I think it’s better to let the audience try and figure that out. I hate to deflate that balloon. But I think, again, life is gray, so we have people in our lives that we like, maybe even love, that maybe we don’t necessarily trust entirely, maybe we do trust entirely. That changes over time with different experiences and different events how well we really know each other and how much we believe that we know each other. But I do think there’s an authentic bond and amicability between the two of them that hopefully we’ll get to explore more as the season and the series progresses. And how it impacts Stan’s suspicions is for you to answer more than me.”
On whether or not we’ll get a flashback to Stan’s undercover work. “I certainly hope that we will. I’m certain that we will, actually. The question is when. But clearly Stan’s background and the three years he spent with the white supremacists had a huge impact on his life and his character, and it’s something that we’re going to need to find more out about. I feel keep watching the show and give us time to get to that.”
On whether or not new fans would have difficulty catching up with the show. “I would say you can certainly, it’s not a long season, so catching up doesn’t take that much time. I think it is worth watching from the beginning, but it’s quite readily available on many different platforms. I’m not totally aware of all of them, but I know Hulu, I know FX On Demand, I know a lot of the cable carriers have it On Demand. And again, it’s only a 13-hour season, so I think it is worth following chronologically. I think if you don’t you could still jump in and hopefully you find the characters compelling and interesting. It’s not like it’s so convoluted and conflated that you won’t be able to figure out what’s going on; there is a lot of episodic quality to each episode, although there is a through line for sure that goes through, and it would be better to experience it chronologically.”
The Americans airs Wednesdays at 10 pm ET on FX.