On The Americans, Philip (Matthew Rhys) has become an increasingly complicated and compelling character. He has embraced his life in America, while questioning his job spying for his homeland. His growing relationships with both his wife, Elizabeth (Keri Russell), and FBI Agent neighbor, Stan (Noah Emmerich), have been intriguing to watch play out.
Last week, Matthew Rhys spoke to reporters about his role on The Americans. Below is an edited excerpt of the interview where he discussed both of those challenging relationships.
The relationship between Stan and Philip has really developed with Stan almost becoming an unwitting informant for the KGB. How does Philip kind of balance that friendship and spying going forward?
I think he’s a little torn about Stan, to be perfectly honest. Philip does come from a decent moral place in many ways and he has a love for the lifestyle they’ve created. I think part of that is this sort of white picket idyllic idea of having a best friend in a neighbor. I think he genuinely does like Stan, although he tells Elizabeth it’s good to keep your enemies closer, I think with Stan there is a genuine fondness there. It’s unfortunate that in a way he is manipulating him for information.
How do you think the recent bonding between Stan and Philip is affecting the already strained marriage of Philip and Elizabeth?
It certainly is. I think Elizabeth has a great mistrust of Stan and Philip being friends. She regards, understandably, the fact that he’s an FBI agent as incredibly dangerous and distance is what they should be putting between them. Yes, in the multitude of things that’s already wrong with this marriage that certainly doesn’t help.
We get the impression that Philip’s commitment to the motherland is kind of wavering slightly. Do you think that Philip would put his children before his country or his country before his children?
I think where you find him in the first episode is exactly that. I think he’s come to a point in his life where he is no longer defined by his job. His job no longer defines him and as you said the priority now in his life is his children. I think he’s realized that their job has a shelf life and that the vice is slowly tightening and it’s something they can’t sustain. I think his real ambition in life is to secure the future for his children and for him and Elizabeth, really. I think that’s his super-objective is to make sure that they’re all safe. The only real way to do that is to get out.
What have been some of your favorite moments from filming?
I suppose the scenes for me the most satisfying, the boundaries we push emotionally and psychologically as sort of Philip and Elizabeth further push their own relationship in striving for potential or possible relationship, you realize for two people to spend so long together and who are trained to gather, glean, and gain information, they’re incredibly bad communicators with each other.
It’s been a slow creep for the two of them in getting to where they are. There is a lot of push and pull in the relationship that sort of sets them back and pushes them forward and sets them back further. It’s those scenes I find most rewarding as you very slowly, and sometimes painfully, chip away at the veneer of what their relationship is.
Check out a preview for “Mutually Assured Destruction.”
The Americans airs on Wednesdays at 10 pm ET on FX.
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(Image and video courtesy of FX.)