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Interview with Annet Mahendru of "The
FX NETWORK: The Americans
February 10, 2015/10:00 a.m. PST
Moderator: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by
and welcome to The Americans conference call. At this time,
all participants are in a listen-only mode. Later, we will
conduct a question and answer session and instructions will
be given at that time. As a reminder, this conference is
I would now like to turn the conference over to our host,
Rosy Baker. Please go ahead.
Rosy: Hello, and welcome to The Americans conference call
with series star Annet Mahendru, who plays Nina. Iíd like to
thank everyone for joining us today and remind you that this
is for print purposes only. No audio may be used.
Season 3 of The Americans airs Wednesdays at 10:00 p.m.
Eastern/Pacific only on FX. And as always, we respectfully
request that you are mindful of spoilers to help protect the
viewing experience for our audience. With that said, letís
go ahead and take our first question.
Moderator: Our first question comes from the line of Renee
Macek with Voice of TV.com. Please go ahead.
Renee: Hi Annet. How are you?
Annet: Good. How are you?
Renee: Good. I just want to say Iím loving the season so far
and, as always, your performance is fantastic.
Annet: Thatís good to hear.
Renee: Iím just curious. Obviously, it was a big blow to see
Nina get sent back to Russia at the end of last season. What
do you think was going on in her head, other than betrayal
from Stan? Do you think that that there was any relief that
it was finally over, that she didnít have to play both sides
Annet: You know, yes. She is definitely going to face her own
fate, and sheís decided to do it. She could have been
exfiltrated. We had the car ready for her and Stan and
already had the money for her and told her to run. I think
sheís just going to face whatever it is.
Moderator: Our next question then comes from the line of
Brandon Rowe with Spoiler TV. Please go ahead.
Brandon: Hi Annet.
Brandon: Obviously, in isolation, Nina is playing a bit of a
different role this season. Can you talk a little bit about
whatís in store for Nina in the coming episodes?
Annet: A lot of isolation. Itís finding your way to survive.
Sheís still tough. Sheís still Nina but without all the ways
she usually has to survive. Itís a really, really scary
time, and youíre really just facing yourself. Thatís it.
Brandon: Well, thank you.
Moderator: The next question is from the line of Bruce Eisen
with Here is TV. Please go ahead.
Bruce: Good morning. Iím wondering; when youíre not working
do you like to watch TV and if so, what do you like to
Annet: I do. Iíve been watching The Comeback, and I watched
Married; so, a lot of comedy recently.
Bruce: Thank you.
Moderator: We have a question from the line of Rebecca Murray
with Showbiz Junkies. Please go ahead.
Rebecca: Good morning. The scripts are so sharply written. Do
they still surprise you? Do the twists and turns still
surprise you? And what was your initial reaction to getting
the script for the finale of last season?
Annet: They always surprise me. Itís nice that way. I always
know that thereís something crazy happening to Nina. There
always is, but I never know what. The world is always
moving, and itís such a thrill for me as an artist. When I
got the finale, I, too, was hopeful. There was stillóStan
was in the car, and she wasnít alone yet. She wasnít on the
plane yet. There was a lot of possibility. Then you wait for
the next one and then you find out that youíre in prison.
Rebecca: Thank you.
Moderator: We have a question from the line of Fatima
Elidrissi with El Mundo. Please go ahead.
Fatima: Hello Annet. Iím calling from Spain. First of all, I
wanted to ask you because I read you were born in
Afghanistan, that your father is Indian, and your Mother is
Russian, you speak six languages, so you have the profile to
be a natural spy. I want you to tell me a little bit about
your upbringing. How was your childhood and then why did you
travel to live to the US?
Annet: Because I was a spy. No, I think thatís how I got the
job, though, because they asked me the same questions in my
audition. I think I felt, for a second, maybe thatís enough.
I donít have to do my scene anymore. Because they were like,
wait are you a spy, is your dad a spy?
Why did I come here? I came here to learn English. I
essentially grew up here, so it was a surprise for me to do
a Russian part. I hadnít beenóIím an American, I guess, in
Fatima: Okay, thank you.
Moderator: Our next question is from the line of Renee Macek
with Voice of TV.com. Please go ahead.
Renee: Hello again. I know that you and Keri donít really
share any screen time but when Iím watching the show I see a
lot of similarities between Nina and Elizabeth. I feel like
youíre both very good at your jobs, sometimes even more so
than someone like Stan or someone like Philip. I was just
wondering; do you see any similarities between Nina and
Annet: Yes, thatís a great point. I do. I do in the fact that
Nina chooses to go back, not chooses, but she doesnít run
away. She doesnít take Stan up on his plans because she was
brought up in the Soviet Union. Sheís a child of that belief
system. The thing Stan is offering her is an American way;
to have a choice, to get what you want, to succeed and then
to be important. Her ways are youíre doing something for the
greater good, for the people. Sheís essentially jeopardized
her people, and now sheís facing the consequences and sheís
going for it. So that says a lot about, I guess, who she is.
Elizabeth is also very true to her upbringing.
Renee: Right. Well, thank you so much. I appreciate it.
Annet: Thank you.
Moderator: We have a question from the line of Brandon Rowe
with Spoiler TV. Please go ahead.
Brandon: Hello again. I was wondering if you could tell us
anything about what weíll see happen with Nina and her
cellmate in the coming episodes.
Annet: Evi comes, and sheís a horrible intrusion to Ninaís
life in prison now to her little cell of privacy. And itís
notóshe greets her with suspicion and hate because in her
experience connecting with people has gotten her in trouble.
Now she has nothing and who knows why this woman is there
now and why sheís been joined with Nina. Thereís just no
trust at this point and no interest either.
Brandon: Thank you.
Annet: Youíd think itíd be good to have someone to share
with, but, again, what can you share. You canít in the world
that she lives in.
Moderator: Our next question comes from the line of Melissa
Girimonte with The Televixen. Please go ahead.
Melissa: Hi Annet, pleasure to speak with you today.
Melissa: What I was interested in, you mentioned that thereís
a lot of isolation for Nina this season. Iím kind of
wondering if weíre going to see her, basically where her
loyalties lie. Sheís basically kind of been betrayed on both
sides and played both sides. Will you get to explore that at
all this season; the idea of loyalty and the cause that she
was originally brought into this whole world for?
Annet: Yes. Sheís been there for four months now in
isolation. One day sometimes is a long time. Sheís been
staring at those cracks on the wall and they kind of branch
off and itís kind of like her life. Had she done this, she
would have been somewhere else. Had she never met Stan or
actually never confessed where would her life have taken
She went from an accomplished KGB officer whoís done so much
in her first tour, second in charge at the [indiscernible]
to a criminal. Sheís thinking about Stan, and sheís thinking
about Oleg and about having nothing at the end and possibly
facing 15 years at a prison camp. Just mulling over all that
and going crazy.
Melissa: Well, thank you.
Moderator: The next question then is from the line of Ernie
Estrella with BuzzFocus.com. Please go ahead.
Ernie: Hi Annet.
Ernie: Itís nice to speak with you today. I wanted to ask
about the motivations of Nina through the seasons. For
Season 1, it was purely about survival, and then in Season 2
she felt that she could play both sides. You didnít know
what her ultimate goal would be because she could easily go
to either side. Whatís her motivation this season? Is it
survival? Is it trying to find a way out or maybe trying to
find a loophole to escape?
Annet: I feel like sheís been doing everything that sheís
been told to do. Sheís been a really good student, and that
has gotten her places. And now sheís, I think, really
discovering who she really is and, I think, what her beliefs
really are and what, maybe, what she wants. I think maybe
weíll really meet her now, this season.
Ernie: Thank you.
Annet: Thank you.
Moderator: We have a follow-up from the line of Fatima
Elidrissi with El Mundo. Please go ahead.
Fatima: Hi Annet. I wanted to ask you if playing this part
does have any special meaning for you. I donít know if it
reminds you of your childhood in Russia or it reminds you
maybe of your mother or anything, something apart from the
thrill of playing a spy. I donít know if it has any special
meaning for you.
Annet: It has a lot of special meanings for me. I went to
school for international relations, and I wanted to use my
languages and to shake something in the world. And now,
Nina, I think, embodies all that.
Yes, Russia, of course, I was a little girl, and I was
looking up to my mom and she wasó
And actually when she ends up in prison, someone very close
to me has been there in those times and experienced a little
bit later in the 90s. I got to talk to them personally about
being alone and being cold. Itís been completely mind
blowing. Everything comes from the heart.
I left Russia, so I never had that experience Nina has in
her 20s, a Russian woman coming to America during that time.
Something my mother would have experienced that I got to
experience now. Itís brought me closer to all my roots,
including my Indian roots and then just illuminated many
things in my life.
Fatima: Okay. Thank you very much.
Moderator: We have a question from the line of Renee Macek
with Voice of TV.com. Please go ahead.
Renee: Hello again.
Renee: I know that we obviously donít know whatís going to
happen, but Iím curious, in an ideal case scenario, what
would you like to happen to Nina in the endgame? Would you
want her to defect or to run off with Oleg? What would your
ideal ending for Ninaís story be?
Annet: I want her to find her truth and her mission.
Everythingís been part of someone else, a man, many men.
Sheís just maneuvering through and trying her best. Iíve
been really ready for Nina to have her own mission; then you
really discover who she is, and I think thatís really
Renee: Thank you so much.
Moderator: Our next question comes from the line of Ernie
Estrella with BuzzFocus.com. Please go ahead
Ernie: Hi again. My question is about, each season weíve seen
Nina confide in a new person. Somebody to release her
thoughts or maybe her feelings that maybe sheís not
necessarily allowed to show in her job. Obviously thereís a
guard that she puts up with her cellmate this season, but is
there somebody that she can run to this season? Is it Olegís
father? Do you get to explore that this season?
Annet: Iím sorry. You mean does she have anyone in her new
Ernie: Yes, like does she have somebody that she can show us
her personal side, maybe let her guard down and really show
us who she is outside of the guard that she shows?
Annet: Yes. Itís always a tough one because she was trained
to be a spy, so sheís always shape-shifting. She can be
anything. Thatís what sheís cut out to be, so to say. Sheís
had great training to connect with people. Again, but itís
all part of the job. She may enjoy it, or you may see her
being her but, again, she knows the consequences. She knows
if she opens too much, or if she doesnít open enough, then
Her job so far has been seeing through people, working with
these men. That was her mission, is people. Itís never just
been, even with Oleg. Stan is a detective and Oleg is a spy,
so she hasnít yet met, I guess, a human being thatís just
being real, being who they are without anyó
Annet: Anyone to answer to. So, I donít know. Then Olegís
father comes to see her, and thereís a lot of hope and itís
bizarre that heís there. Heís a man of great influence, and
again, he can do something for her just like the other men
were able to, at least promise her survival. At the same
time, itís so embarrassing. Here she is sitting, a criminal.
Oleg really loves this woman, and it's very touching that
someone actually loves you and is still fighting for you
when you can have completely failed and have nothing. I
think that really moves something in her.
Ernie: Awesome. Thank you.
Moderator: We have a question from the line of Fabiola Avila
with Excelsior. Please go ahead.
Fabiola: Thank you. Yes, how are you?
Fabiola: I want to know, how much of, sorry?
Annet: Go ahead. I didnít say anything.
Fabiola: Okay. Thank you. I was wondering how much of reality
and how much of fiction is on this TV show because I know
that itís inspired on the Cold War and all that stuff. But
in your experience and the things that you know and the
things the producers know, how much is reality and how much
Annet: You know, for me when I take a story, all of it comes
so true, and that world is so real, and it exists. Any
cultural references hit home like, yes. Iíve never had to
argue anything, or say hey thatís not, a Russian person
wouldnít do that. The creator has worked in the CIA, Joe,
and a lot of the things are from his experience and are very
But again, we use our imagination in storytelling and go to
places that donít usually get talked about or seen. But itís
really about the story. We follow a timeline, so everything
is based on events that happened. But it's ultimately
aboutóThe Americans is about exploring the human condition
and time and what a person fromówhen Nina sits with Stan,
thatís the two sides of the Cold War, and yet, thereís so
much intimacy and understanding in all the difference.
Thatís, I think, the essence of the show, is that when these
two people sit together and what happens.
Fabiola: Thank you.
Moderator: Our next question is from the line of Emily Morgan
with Headlines & Global. Please go ahead.
Emily: Hi Annet.
Emily: I recently spoke with your co-star Alison Wright and
she said that you guys check in with each other about if
your characters are still alive that week. Has it surprised
you that your character has stayed alive as long as she has?
And is there been any point where youíre like, this has got
to be the end for Nina?
Annet: Yes, the finale of Season 2. I remember I hadnít
gotten the script yet, and things were looking really bad.
Nina knew from the start that it would be impossible to turn
Stan. And yet she did what she could and then comes to know,
and of course, heís notóheís unturnable. I was just waiting
for the script, and then I get a phone call from Joe and
Joel and I was like, this is deep, is this the youíre going
to die? Oh, great. And theyíre like, no.
I live for the story, and sure itís going to, thereís an
aspect that, oh great youíre dead, but youíre so in the
story that hey, if she needs to die. These writers, they
create our world. Theyíre our father. You believe in their
plan, and if youíre going to die, youíre going to die.
Youíre doing it for the story. Itís so intense, even when I
sit down and watch it on Wednesdays. I watch it, Iím there
for the story, and Iím always laughing and screaming. Itís
an incredible world. Itís so much fun.
Emily: Alright. Thanks so much.
Rosy: We have time for one more question.
Moderator: That question comes from the line of Ernie
Estrella with BuzzFocus.com.
Ernie: Hi Annet. My last question is about the themes and the
wonderful women that we have to watch on this show, whether
itís Martha, Elizabeth, Nina or even Stanís wife. This comes
at a time when 80s American culture was trying to put down
the woman, yet thereís something like Working Girl and the
rise of women starting to come up in the working field. Can
you talk about Ninaís place within this kind of discussion
of women empowerment and on this show?
Annet: Thatís a great, great topic. Itís been so interesting
because sheís with these men ultimately, but thereís so much
strength to her, and the men value that and see that in her.
They work together, and itís so important when that happens.
It feels like 50/50 with Stan and her other interactions and
thatís what it should be like. They play their separate
roles, as a woman and as a man, but they come together, and
they do together and they understand each other. Thatís
Nina comes from a working-class family. Sheís a very young
pioneer. She went to school, studied her butt off, and got
herself to this posting with her own merit and her
abilities. Sheís capable of anything. Sheís worked really
hard, and sheís got her first posting in America. Sheís
there to protect the interests of her country, in a
Itís such a position of strength and to see this woman
survive is empowering, I guess. Even though Stan is a
married man, itís not definitive circumstances for this
exploration but it comes all from a deeper place. Itís not
selfish. Itís not conniving. Itís not any of that. Sheís
truly just finding her own way, working. Yes, I guess, sheís
the example of a woman in those times and making really
difficult decisions, but making them, and following through.
She really inspires me.
Ernie: Great. Awesome, thank you so much.
Annet: Thank you.
Rosy: Alright. Well, thank you so much to everyone joining us
today and especially Annet, thank you. We really appreciate
As a reminder, Season 3 of The Americans continues
Wednesdays at 10:00 p.m. Eastern/Pacific only on FX.You may
now all disconnect.
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