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Earlier this month, Keri Russell scored her third best drama actress Emmy nomination for her role as Elizabeth Jennings in FX’s The Americans.
While she’s yet to win a primetime TV trophy for her work in the Cold War drama, which aired its sixth and final season earlier this year, Russell has already had a memorable Emmys experience: She nearly missed the opening of last year’s show after her driver went to the wrong location.
“I had to jump out of the car and walk in heels to this back area, which was like a parking lot, and then there were like five minutes until the show started,” she explains. “Someone finally in a golf cart did let us in.”
While that’s an extreme example, Russell says attending the awards show is often a “high-stress situation.”
“It’s such a double-edged sword because the whole idea is so fun, like as a girl, of getting dressed up and going with my guy. But in reality, it’s not really as fun as you wish it was,” she says. “I think my goal this time would just be to have as much fun as possible. Don’t worry about being nervous. Don’t worry about how you look, which is impossible. Try to have fun and enjoy the moment.”
And she does have a suggestion on how to make it easier for herself others in attendance at the Emmys to enjoy themselves: “I wish someone on the red carpet would just pass out beer.”
Russell spoke with The Hollywood Reporter about the challenges of The Americans‘ final season, how her work as a tough Russian spy will affect her career going forward and why she can’t even explain how her upcoming role in Star Wars: Episode IX came about.
How did you find out you were nominated?
I was in the park with a screaming 2-year-old in Ireland. People were asking if I’d checked and I said, “I can’t right now! I’m doing mom duty.” And then [husband and co-star] Matthew [Rhys] came home from work, and once all the kids were down, we had a beer.
Looking back on the season, is there a moment that you found particularly challenging?
I feel like The Americans is always challenging. That’s sort of the beauty of the beast, shooting late nights and cold New York winters, and it sort of becomes part of a character of the show, this tightness and stressful quality that everyone has. They were trying to make Elizabeth so tired, and I was tired for most of it, because I was pulling the weight where normally I shared it with Matthew. But Philip was too busy looking nice and driving his new car and listening to his car radio. What was particularly challenging was just the exhaustion of this year. There was so much more to do and so many different disguises, but I really loved it.
What’s the most unexpected response you’ve gotten to this season?
I was just so relieved that the people who had followed the show liked the ending.
How will your future choices be influenced by your work on The Americans?
This is going to be a tough one to beat because it was just so rare on so many levels. I relished getting to be that strong character, who was many things, but I don’t think I ever had to really sell out and be some soft, doting, self-sacrificing, nice mom. And the variety of it all: There were really sexy things; there were really emotional scenes.
You’ve already lined up a couple of movies over the past few weeks, including a role in Star Wars: Episode IX. Can you tell me how that came about?
To be totally honest, I don’t know if I’m allowed to say anything. Seriously. I think I’ll get hit by a bus if I do. I wish I was kidding. Hopefully, soon I will be able to [talk about that].
Who would you most like to talk to at an Emmy afterparty?
Sharon Horgan. She’s amazing. Who else? I mean anyone, all of them. It’s such a cool, fun moment to be a part of, where TV’s just hit this stride where it’s just such a creative place to work and watch.
Finish this sentence: There ought to be an Emmy category for….
Worst shooting conditions. There were so many times on The Americans where it was 4 in the morning and there’s like a blizzard warning and I’m wearing some bad 1980s pleather jacket and freezing. You should definitely get an award for having to even speak let alone emote anything other than “I’m so fucking cold, get me the fuck out of here and into bed.”
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