Keri Russell on why 'The Americans' is so important


The award-winning FX drama "The Americans" returned this week with an unforgettable Season 5 premiere. Set in the early 1980s, Keri Russell plays KGB agent Elizabeth Jennings who alongside fellow KGB agent, Philip Jennings, pose as an ordinary American married couple. The official website describes it to be: "a period drama about the complex marriage of two KGB spies posing as Americans in suburban Washington D.C. during the Reagan administration."

The hit show's appeal in a post-Trump America is not a behind-the-scenes look at today's news; it's an escape from it. "The Americans" is not focused on Russia, but rather who these characters are to each other and what their relationship is like. In Russell's own words, the story is "about a marriage and a family." The new season keeps a "safe distance" from the Russian allegations in today's papers.

In a BUILD interview Wednesday, Russell dished on why storylines reminiscent of today's political climate are merely coincidental. "The safety of our show is: it's the eighties. So, we have nothing to do with what's going on now," the actor explained. She further clarified, "although there is some twisted interest [Creator Joe Weisberg and Executive Producer Joel Fields] have, being the topical element of it, it has nothing to do with our story."

Playing Elizabeth isn't totally removed from today's society. Part of Russell's character prep included researching Putin. "I've always sort of been fascinated by spy stuff. I read a little bit on Putin," shared the actress. "It's just so different from how Americans are raised," she concluded.

Russell believes it is a mistake to focus on history when playing a complex female character such as Elizabeth. "You have to mostly start from a personal standpoint," she said, stressing the importance of justifying the behavior that leads to her character's choices. "I tend to go mostly with the reality and less of the history and Cold War."

New episodes of "The Americans" air on FX Tuesdays at 10pm. Catch up on Season 1-4 on Amazon Prime Video. Stream interviews with all your favorite celebrities now on Coming to New York City? Don't miss your chance to attend a live BUILD Series taping.