House of Spies: The Americans’ Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys

PHOTOGRAPHS BY MARCO GROB
Soviet-spy love has a real Ike and Tina meets Mr. & Mrs. Smithvibe. As the early-’80s KGB couple in The Americans, last year’s breakout show, Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys threaten to shiv each other every now and then. In real life, too: Russell beats on Rhys. Seriously. “The smack usually comes the second before they say ‘Action,’” Rhys says of Russell’s pre-take pump-up routine. “Basically, I am starting every scene with a slightly shocked look on my face and a red handprint on my cheek.” The FX drama is pretty much just that: an unexpected slap of dirty politics, lustful betrayal, Reagan-era propaganda, and tons and tons of тpaxaньe (that’s Russian for “boning”). But among the explosions and honey traps that occupy the forthcoming second season, the most hazardous material concerns parenthood and marriage. “I love that she’s a mom who doesn’t always get it right,” Russell says of her character, Elizabeth Jennings. “She’s making a bologna sandwich for her kids one minute and then blowing a guy in a hotel for intel the next.” It’s safe to assume Russell is referring more to the blow jobs than the bologna when she says The Americans is “a guy’s show.” She continues: “There’s a lot of action, definitely some tits and ass showing. But it has a psychological-thriller element I think really appeals to women.” High-speed espionage. Sex-favor interrogation. And a pretty lady slapping around her husband. What woman’s resisting that?

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