The Americans (FX) is a Reagan-era drama that follows two undercover KGB officers, brilliantly portrayed by Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys, as they infiltrate Washington, D.C. By day, the couple lives a fairly innocuous suburban life. At night, they will do anything – ANYTHING! – to gather intel for their homeland.
The Americans is nominated for “New Series” at the 2014 Writers Guild Awards. Tickets for the February 1st Writers Guild Awards New York Ceremony are available here.
The WGAE Write On Blog interviewed the show’s creator and executive producer Joe Weisberg and executive producer Joel Fields. Here’s what they had to say:
Congratulations on The Americans being nominated for “New Series” at the 2014 Writers Guild Awards. Can you talk a bit about the writing process for the show and how you personally like to work?
We spend a lot of time taking walks and talking about character and theme before we break story… then we walk more as we talk about story. The colder it gets, the faster we walk and the more motivated we are. Fortunately we work on the East Coast… otherwise there might not be a show. We and our writing staff rely heavily on our network and the other producers we work with who are great creative partners for us and often provide perspective that helps us see the work in new ways. We try to have every script be both an expression of the individual writer’s passion and voice while at the same time having the entire staff weigh in and provide creative support and insight.
What piece of dialogue/scene from the first season is your personal favorite?
JOEL: Elizabeth beating the shit out of Claudia actually brought us to our feet in the editing room, chanting, “KGB! KGB! KGB!”… but the real moment that resonates from that sequence is the scene after, where Philip and Elizabeth walk out of the safe house and confront the cracks in their relationship, and the meaning of trust, love and betrayal.
JOE: Gregory leaving the safe house after refusing to be exfiltrated to Moscow, and then Philip and Elizabeth going to their separate cars, acknowledging each other’s decency in the middle of their painful separation.
What are the key things you need to remind yourself when you’re writing scenes with Elizabeth and Philip?
That’s easy: they are not self-aware or articulate. They feel strongly, but aren’t necessarily in touch with their feelings, so often they have to be expressed in unconscious, non-linear ways.
Season 2 of The Americans debuts on February 26th. What can you tell us?
In Season One, we struggled a lot as we figured out what the show was. This season we started in a very clear place and, for better or worse, we’ve followed that singular path all season. We hope you like it!
Whose writing – or what films/shows – grabbed your attention in 2013?
We’ve been so busy with the show that there is a lot waiting for us to watch after wrap! That said… Joel binged on Breaking Bad, we both loved Game of Thrones. We both watch and love Justified. Joel watched every episode of Masters of Sex and loves escaping into The Mindy Project. Joe has been watching Veep and an Israeli show called Srugim. Joe loved Saving Mr. Banks, which Joel can’t wait to see during hiatus. We both loved Captain Philips and Her. Billy Ray: would you like to write an episode? Spike Jonze?
If you could write a scene for any fictional film or television character throughout history, who would it be?
JOE: NYPD Blue.
JOEL: HILL STREET BLUES… Joel gets to call Steven Bochco for advice from time to time, for which he is eternally grateful!