Couldn't believe 'The Americans'? Noah Emmerich explains
Shocked fans dropped their jaws Wednesday after watching the latest episode of TV's hottest Cold War spy drama.
We're talking, of course, about the "The Americans" - FX's new series about Soviet spies living in the U.S. in the '80s. Words like "nuts" and"crazy" popped up on the show's Facebook fan page.
The episode showed a disturbing new dark side to FBI agent Stan Beeman, who made it clear that he's willing to do just about anything for his FBI partner Chris Amador, as played by Max Hernandez.
"Stan crossed the line," posted Randy Dunn on Facebook. "Don't really care for him anymore," added Facebook fan Sarah Gregory. "He really has turned into a villain."
But to the actor who plays him, Noah Emmerich, "Stan is a ferociously loyal human being," as he told reporters during a conference call Wednesday. He doesn't see Beeman's motivation to retaliate for the kidnapping by shooting a KGB spy in cold blood as an emotionally rash decision, but rather "a calculated chess move that he feels must be made."
"It is revenge," Emmerich admitted. "I don't think it's personal. I think it's political."
Yet as loyal as Beeman is, he's complicated too. The guy is cheating on his wife with a Russian embassy worker.
"There's a conflict sometimes in life between loyalty and emotional need and the things we need to survive in life," said Emmerich. "I don't think Stan thinks of it consciously - analytically - as a betrayal. It's just a human need that emerges to which he surrenders to some degree."
The new developments make it clear things are going to get "even crazier" for the show's characters in the coming weeks, wrote TVFanatic. "The Jennings will need to be even more careful."
One of the great things about "The Americans" is its ability to make us sympathize with just about all the characters. Unlike Emmerich's boyhood movie hero Billy Jack in the 1971 movie of the same name, "The Americans" has no clear-cut Good Guys or Bad Guys. Each character has good qualities and fascinating flaws. "It's a very complex, messy, unclear world," Emmerich said. "There's our true self and there's our prescribed self. And betwixt and between the two, there's a lot of gray."
Initially, Emmerich almost turned the role down.
"I didn't want to be a guy who carried a badge or a gun, I've had too much of that," he said. So when the part of Beeman was offered, Emmerich kind of dismissed it.
Enter Gavin O'Connor, who directed Emmerich in the 2008 cop film "Pride and Glory." O'Connor - who was directing the pilot for "The Americans" - asked Emmerich to re-read the script.
"I really realized that this show is actually not about guns and badges at all," Emmerich said. "It's really about characters; it's about relationships; it's about identity and our understanding of each other and ourselves and how we relate. ... So I took the leap, and I'm ever so grateful that I did."
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