The heat’s on with Cold War spies

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TO the americans SLEEPING WITH THE ENEMY: Keri Russell is back on the small screen with a fascinating role as Elizabeth Jennings, a spy, alongside Noam Emmerich as FBI Agent Stan in Joe Weisbergs period drama The Americans.

KERI Russell makes a return to the small screen – this time eradicating all traces of her former beloved TV character.

Now if you were a teenager in the late 1990s, chances are Felicity, starring Russell, was an iconic series. Hormonal and rebellious as you most likely were, that is most understandable. Aside from the series becoming a sort of salvation for most teenagers, Russell became their hero.

And, after almost a decade, the actress returns (her appearances in Scrubs and Running Wilde notwithstanding) with Joe Weisberg’s espionage period drama, The Americans. Just for the record, she hasn’t been quiet on the acting front by any means.

Having bagged roles in the movies Mad About Mambo, Mission: Impossible III, Waitress, August Rush and Extraordinary Measures to single out a few, she kept her fans appeased.

What is most commendable about Russell is her versatility – she has played the gamut of characters from a waitress, pregnant woman, graduate student to a concerned mother. In this way she ensured she never became pigeonholed in the industry.

Thankfully, it has worked to her advantage, with her having bagged a lead role in The Americans. And, in playing Elizabeth Jennings, she shares the limelight with Matthew Rhys as her husband, Phillip, and Noah Emmerich (Brothers & Sisters) as Stan, her new neighbour.

The period spy drama centres on Russell and Rhys, a pretend married couple who are actually KGB plants on American soil.

Meanwhile, Emmerich’s character strikes up a relationship with Elizabeth, who is unaware of his FBI agent status and his counter-intelligence mission.

For viewers who have seen the movie, The Joneses, this show has a likeness to it, but it is set in the final years of the Cold War.

Creator Joe Weisberg shared: “For the past two years, I’ve worked with the most incredible people at FX, FTVS, DreamsWorks and my personal television guru, Graham Yost, on this project.

“Gavin O’Connor joined our team and turned the script we’d been working on for so long into a beautiful pilot.

“Keri Russell, Matthew Rhys, Noah Emmerich and Max Hernandez were sensational in it and a joy to be around.

“To have all of this come to fruition has been indescribably exciting. Really, I’m a writer, and I can’t describe it. It’s a great privilege and opportunity to get to make this television show.”

Now this show isn’t quite in the same award-winning league as Homeland – yet – but Weisberg, who has worked on Falling Skies and Damages, is no amateur writer. And his insight as a former CIA officer lends heaps of realism to what could be a spellbinding series.

That’s not forgetting about Russell’s brilliant return!

• The Americans airs on M-Net (DStv channel 101) tonight at 9.30pm.

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