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Interview with Joe Weisberg and Joel
Fields of "The Americans" on FX 4/30/13
Joe Weisberg and Joel Fields
FX NETWORK: The Americans
April 30, 2013/12:00 p.m. PDT
Moderator: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by.
Welcome to The Americans conference call. At this time all
lines are in a listen-only mode. We will be conducting a
question and answer session. Instructions will be given at
that time. As a reminder, this conference is being recorded.
I would now like to turn the conference over to your host,
Ms. Roslyn Bibby. Please go ahead.
R. Bibby: Hello, everyone. Thank you, Joe and Joel, for
finding a moment to be with us today despite your hectic
schedules. I know you guys are busy wrapping up this current
season and making preparations for the next, so thanks for
making the time.
Thank you to all the press out there for your support during
the season of the show. We really do appreciate you guys, of
course, as always. So Kathy, letís go ahead and open up for
Moderator: [Instructions given.] One moment for our first
question. The first question is from the line of Earl
Dittman with Digital Journal. Please go ahead.
E. Dittman: Hello, guys. How are you all today?
J. Fields: First of all, this is Joel. Joe and I are sitting
here gesticulating wildly to each other. Itís very hard for
us to resist pressing star one ourselves. Thank you all.
Itís been so fun to do this show and weíve been in a bit of
a bubble and reading what everybodyís writing when we can.
Itís great to get on the phone with everybody.
E. Dittman: Congratulations to you, to both of you. You
created an incredible series, one that Iím addicted to and I
know a lot of people are addicted to it. Itís just
incredible, so thank you, more than anything else.
Where did the idea initially come from to do this? Has this
been around for a while, youíve been kicking it around? Give
me a timeline.
J. Weisberg: This is Joe speaking. In 2010, if you remember,
there were a bunch of Russian intelligence service spies who
were arrested in the United States and a lot of people were
very surprised that after the collapse of the Soviet Union,
Russia was still sending this type of deep cover spies to
spy on the United States. They were posing as everyday
Americans. They were, in other words, illegal, like Philip
After the FBI arrested them and carted them off to jail, I
got a call from the heads of DreamWorks Television, Darryl
Frank and Justin Falvey, who asked me if Iíd be interested
in developing a television show based on what had happened.
I said yes, that would be great, I would love to do that,
and then I wandered the streets for a little while until I
thought of putting it back in the Cold War, which would make
it a little more exciting. That was the genesis of the show.
E. Dittman: Casting-wise, were you always set on both of them
being the leads or did you have different ideas and talked
to a lot of different people? Or you knew who you wanted to
play the leads?
J. Weisberg: No, I had no idea. In fact, Iíd only been
working in television at all for about two years at that
point, so even when we were developing the show and even
after Iíd written a version of the script people would ask
that very common Hollywood question of who do you see as the
lead. I know youíre supposed to have an answer to that, but
I never did. I would always sort of bumble and mumble and
say I didnít know, I didnít have anybody in my head. I
didnít have much of an idea at all.
Then when it was time to actually shoot the pilot and we
started thinking about people and looking at lists of
people, two things happened. One is that John Landgraf, the
president of FX, had a light bulb go off and went, ďKeri
Russell.Ē That was pretty much where the idea of Keri
Russell came from. With Matthew Rhys, Leslie Feldman, whoís
the head of casting at DreamWorks, saw him in a play. That
was the original inspiration for casting Matthew.
Moderator: Our next question is from the line of Ileane
Rudolph, TV Guide. Please go ahead.
I. Rudolph: Hello. Congratulations. That was a wonderfully
suspenseful season one finale with some terrific unexpected
reveals. I have a million questions, but Iíll boil them
down. Of course, more than reveals was that ... really nice
send off for Claudia, if she indeed is leaving. Margo
Martindale has a pilot. If the pilot gets picked up could
she remain in that position?
J. Fields: Thank you so much for the good words on the
finale. Iím excited that you guys have seen it. This is
Joel. As for Claudia, boy, we love Claudia and we love Margo
Martindale. You know, we know that thereís some pilot that
weíve been told about, some CBS, little startup Ė I donít
even know that you could call it a network Ė but the KGB has
a very, very long reach and we believe that when given the
opportunity, they will return Claudia to her rightful
position doing what it is she should be doing.
J. Weisberg: If they know whatís best for them, right?
J. Fields: Exactly.
I. Rudolph: One quick follow up. This season, of course, was
as much about, as you often have said to me, the story of a
marriage as much as about spycraft. At the end of the
episode ... there is a touching moment when Elizabeth
whispers in Russian, ďCome home.Ē What do you see as the
main challenge next year? Maybe they realize they canít hide
it from their kids any longer? Any ideas on how youíre going
to keep this marriage thing going in an exciting way, in a
deep, exciting way?
J. Fields: Itís Joel again. We were just talking about this.
Itís interesting. I just flashed on the fact that Joe and I
are sitting in the writers room at the table in the exact
spot where we wrote those lines. You know, you work on these
shows so intensely and youíre sort of following where the
characters lead and looking for what it is you want to say.
Having been here at probably 2:30 in the morning writing
that theme to now being here on the phone with you talking
about how it felt on the other end.
We spend a lot of time talking about next season and what we
want to explore. We know that this is a show about marriage,
about a marriage and about marriage, relationships and
identity. We know that we donít want to tell the same story
next season that we told this season. What we want to
explore is the next phase, the next iteration of that. We
have a lot of ideas and a lot of thoughts.
We donít know where itíll end. If you asked us when we were
shooting episode three where we were going to go with the
rest of the season we would have given you some very clear
and firm answers. What we would have told you about Nina
turned out to be exactly where we went. What we would have
told you about Philip and Elizabeth grew and changed as the
stories unfolded for us, as they led us in other directions.
What we look forward to is another exciting, surprising and,
we hope, rich season.
J. Weisberg: At the end of the season, Philip and Elizabeth
are on the same page, but I think most people who are
married would agree that in marriage youíre on the same page
and then youíre off the same page Ė on and off. This is Joe
by the way, but please attribute that comment to Joel.
J. Fields: I was going to say, that was definitely Joe. In my
marriage weíre always on the same page.
Moderator: Our next question is from Amy Amatangelo with
A. Amatangelo: Hello. Thanks so much for talking to us today.
You know, I wanted to ask you a little bit about how the
direction of the season changed once you knew youíd been
picked up and there would be a season two and how much that
informed how you closed out this season.
J. Fields: Iíd say none, really. I mean, it changed in the
sense that it had its own process. I think there clearly was
a weight lifting from us when we knew that the second season
was ordered. There was a great sense of confidence and
support from FX and we felt Ė not that we werenít before Ė
even more challenged to make it great. We certainly didnít
have that looming question that some writer producers have
as they go into the end of their season, which is, ďGod, am
I writing the final episode of the show and closing the book
or am I just closing a chapter and launching into next
season?Ē All those weights were lifted from us.
There was nothing that changed in terms of storyline that
wouldnít have otherwise changed. It was all part of a
process. What the early renewal did was, for us, I think,
was instill a sense of confidence and support as we
A. Amatangelo: Can you talk a little bit about Paige? I loved
that the final shot was her going down to the room and
seeing if there really was laundry indeed there that her
mother had been folding. At least that was my interpretation
of what she was doing. Can you talk a little bit about your
plans for the kids, particularly Paige, who seems to be at
least suspicious at this point?
J. Weisberg: This is Joe. You know, we think a lot about
these kids and what it is to be young kids who have been
raised by these parents who are telling such an enormous
fundamental lie about who they are and how thatís going to
affect the kids over time. I at least like the idea that
even though they donít know anything, thereís some level on
which, of course, they know everything, they know it all,
and itís a question of how and when it might bubble to the
surface. I donít think we know yet when and how that will be
revealed in the storytelling, but the idea of it coming up
to the surface in dribs and drabs, in different horrifying
pieces is very appealing as a storyteller, to think about
You know, I like to talk sometimes about the thing that I
found most compelling and fascinating when I worked at the
CIA, which is that the families that served abroad together,
the parents obviously couldnít tell their kids, whether it
was the mother or father or both, that they worked at the
CIA because if you told a young kid that, the young kid
would go tell their friends and that would be the end of the
assignment. As the kids got older there would be a point
eventually where the parents would sit down and have what
was known as ďthe talk.Ē Maybe the kid would be 13, 14, 15
or whenever the kid was mature enough to keep a secret. It
just always seemed so sad and powerful and strange that a
kid could sit down at 15 and have their parents say,
ďListen, weíve been telling you this huge, huge lie your
entire lifeĒ and what that can do to a family. I think
different families responded to it very differently.
The idea of a family where the parents are spies and how
that affected them, the idea of being able to tell a
television story where that was central to the whole dynamic
is, I think, one of the appealing things about The
Americans. I donít think that means that necessarily Philip
and Elizabeth will sit down and have ďthe talkĒ one day, but
I think that it does mean that the question of the parents
telling the kids such a big, fat lie that affects their
whole identity is central to the show.
J. Fields: This is Joel. Iíll just add to that. One of the
things that Joe and I talk about from time to time is
imagining either of these kids in therapy in 20 years,
suddenly finding out what really happened with their parents
and going, ďThat explains so, so, so much.Ē
We just had a note asking us to identify ourselves when we
speak to you. We will, although weíll say weíre amusingly
often interchangeably quoted in the press now, much to our
wivesí amusement. We say that this is a show about an
arranged marriage and Joe and I have an arranged marriage,
too. Fortunately, itís one thatís working well.
J. Weisberg: We have almost the same first name, so that
makes it not easy to get us straight.
J. Fields: That was Joe.
J. Weisberg: Sorry. This is Joe Weisberg.
J. Fields: The last thing Iíll say about Paige Ė this is Joel
Ė is part of the creative appeal and power of what Joeís
created in the show is that there are these personal
relationships that are so strong, so interesting and so
real, but they also have these great allegorical properties.
Paige is this daughter in a fake marriage from this family
of spies, but really, you know, in a way all thatís going on
in that finale scene in that laundry room is sheís doing
what every adolescent does, which is starting to question
whether or not her parents are who they really, really said
they were, which is something every adolescent goes through
and we all can relate to. Itís just that in her case, boy is
Moderator: Our next question is from Alyssa Rosenberg,
ThinkProgress. Please go ahead.
A. Rosenberg: I apologize for the wonky policy question in
advance. Most spy shows spend an awful lot of time building
up to the reveal that a threat is actually as big as someone
has suspected that it is all along. You have this
interesting moment in the finale when itís revealed that the
Russian fears of this missile program are misguided, itís
fiction, itís ... I was wondering, especially in a season
where thereís been a lot of escalation based on the idea
that the threat is real Ė you have these cross-border
assassinations Ė if the next season is going to deal either
with the idea that these spy agencies have sort of sent
themselves down a black hole or whether thereís interest
that they sort of want to keep this Cold War hotter, the way
itís gotten over the course of the season.
J. Weisberg: This is Joe Weisberg. I donít know, Joel and I
may have different thoughts on that. Iíll give you my
answer, which is: the great thing Ė and I donít mean great
necessarily as a positive, I mean ďgreatĒ in the sense of
incredibly bizarre Ė about spy agencies is I think theyíre
kind of unstoppable in their need to work and the need to
keep spying. So I think itís going to be interesting to see
where this goes.
For example, we donít know yet if the KGB is even going to
believe Philip and Elizabethís intelligence, that it was all
true...or will one faction believe it and another wonít? Or
will they be sent off to gather further intelligence to see
if itís true or not? Iím not suggesting weíre going to spend
a whole other season on Star Wars, but it is certainly true
that Star Wars issues kept going and going and going
historically and that the Soviet Union continued to fight
against it. We do have to stay somewhat true to that
history. I think there are still rich veins to tap in the
spy versus spy world in a realistic sense.
J. Fields: This is Joel. Iíll say unhappily for drama between
us, I donít disagree with Joe. Weíre in sync on that. Part
of the fun of next season is maybe that story. Certainly
there are a lot of other spy stories and international
intrigues that led matters between the Soviets and the
United States in the early Ď80s that weíre anxious to
explore. The question of whether or not Philip and
Elizabethís handlers will believe their intelligence to us
is a fun one. Clearly, that issue went on.
J. Weisberg: Alyssa, did we answer your question? I feel like
we might have out-wonked your question.
A. Rosenberg: Sure. To follow up, one of the things thatís
interesting about the FBI plot this season is Gaad talking
about this being a hot war, that the civilian agency, the
FBI, which isnít law enforcement, is sort of escalating and
itís only to kill people and becoming more militarized. I
guess part of the question was whether they have an interest
in keeping their hot part of the cold war hot because it
gives them prestige and pride. I was curious about the
institutional imperatives there. Iím sorry, I know thatís
J. Fields: Alyssa, itís great. Thank you. We love the fact
that you think about all these things. We do. Tom Stoppard
wrote this great line in his play ďHapgoodĒ regarding the
spy agencies, which is, ďYou people should send each other
holiday cards,Ē which goes to your question. I think on one
level youíre right, they have an institutional interest in
that, but these are also people who are deeply sincere in
their beliefs. I think when you look at Arkady in the
Rezedentura and Gaad in the FBI, these are people who know
in their hearts that they are fighting for the future of the
world and their nationsí place in it. The fact is, as
history tells us, because we know weíre sitting on the other
side of it, they were right.
J. Weisberg: Iíll say another thing, too, that as I think you
rightly point out, the institutional imperatives to allow
these organizations to prosper and survive, but then you
also have the bureaucratic imperatives, which are god knows
what. Just for the bureaucracies to continue spinning their
wheels in all kinds of crazy directions, it makes me think
about the fact that when I was at the CIA there were all
kinds of very explicit rules. I could probably kick off a
few of them, if I remember, things like you cannot use
journalists, you cannot use journalists as a cover, you
cannot assassinate foreign leaders. There were half a dozen
of these different things that were all absolute rules ...
director of operations.
Very late in my tenure there I somehow stumbled across
something Ė I donít remember what the exact circumstances
were Ė where I learned that every single one of these was
subject to a directorís special memorandum by which he could
make all of it irrelevant. You could do whatever you wanted
if you got a directors special memorandum. None of the rules
were actually rules.
In the same vein, it was always said that the U.S.
intelligence agencies and FBI did not do what the KGB did in
that our organizations didnít out and out blackmail people.
That was only the really rotten intelligence agencies that
did that. Of course, once the Cold War ended and the files
all came out, that was just completely false. We just
blackmailed people left and right all the time just like
they did. Itís a strange world.
Moderator: The next question is from Suzanne Lanoue with The
TV MegaSite. Please go ahead.
S. Lanoue: Hello, this is Suzanne Lanoue. How are you guys
doing? I really enjoyed the show. I watched every episode
and the finale earlier today. It was really great. I love
all the twists and turns in the show. I love how the finale,
it was a cliffhanger but it wasnít one of those really awful
cliffhangers where literally you could have ended it with
her being shot or Paige finding something in the room. It
was like kind of resolved but still things are coming,
right? I like that. Thatís great.
J. Fields: Thank you, Suzanne. This is Joel. We actually talk
a lot about this in the writing of the stories and the
writing of the scripts. Something Joe and I, just in our
first early meetings, talked about what do we want the show
to feel like and where do we want it weighted. Ultimately
for us, we really wanted to do something that was set in the
spy world but was a character study and was about the people
and about relationships and about themes that interested us.
What we specifically did not want to try to do was a
super-charged ultra cliffhanger escalation where with each
episode we had to out-crisis ourselves.
S. Lanoue: Like 24, yes.
J. Fields: By the way, I, I think Joe, too, huge fans of 24.
Maybe our desire not to do that was just the knowledge that
we couldnít, or couldnít do it as well as they do. We
purposely wanted to do something that was different to the
extent that if there were cliffhangers, they were more of
the emotional and character kind. Whatís going to happen
with this relationship? What is it like, the universal
marriage experiences and family experience that we all face,
get expressed through this crazy, crazy intensified life and
death world that Philip and Elizabeth and Stan and everyone
else are in.
S. Lanoue: Yes, the relationships are great. You do the story
well, too. Itís a good balance. What I wanted to ask you was
are both of you old enough to have been adults of that time
or do you have to have an early Ď80s expert to help you out?
J. Weisberg: This is Joe Weisberg. Weíre the Ď80s experts. We
were both teenagers in í81 and seem to remember it quite
J. Fields: Yes, we talk about it all the time. Itís one of
the things thatís so much fun about the show, being able to
see that wardrobe and those locations and the production
design and cars, music. The music. We see the wardrobe
photos come in and say, ďMy mom bought me that shirt,Ē or,
ďMy dad had that sweater.Ē Itís really something.
Then Joe and I are virtually the same age. I know I remember
as an elementary school student being marched out of the
class one day being told to stand up and march single file
outside of the class and turn. We all faced the red brick
walls of the Irwin School in East Brunswick, New Jersey, and
were told to cup our hands over our eyes so that if there
was flying glass from the nuclear blast the glass wouldnít
get in our eyes. I remember even as an elementary school
student thinking boy, if thereís a flash and glass from a
nuclear explosion, boy, glass in my eyes is going to be the
least of my concerns.
I think thatís something thatís so unique about the setting
of this show. Itís set at a time when there was a real sense
in the air that the entire world could end in a moment, the
entire world, all humankind. It was the time of the big ABC
movie The Day After or the feature film Testament or the
movie War Games. This was in the national consciousness and
both of us grew up with it.
J. Weisberg: I remember early on when we were talking about
this Ė this is Joe Ė and out of design, all the period
stuff, I said, ďYou know, the Ď80s wasnít that long agoĒ and
every person in the room looked at me like I was crazy.
Since then Iíve had to back down and admit it was a really,
really long time ago.
J. Fields: This is Joel. Iíll tell you two more things, one
about me and one about our writers room. About me, yes, I
did own a Members Only jacket at one point in my life.
J. Weisberg: He still wears it.
J. Fields: Two, at one point in our writers room we mentioned
Oliver North and received a blank stare from one of the
younger writers on the staff. Blank. Nothing.
J. Weisberg: And Al Haig. That whole period was ancient
history to our younger writers.
J. Fields: We just had a whole story about the Reagan
assassination, which I remember vividly, Joe remembers
vividly. You remember where you were and what happened. Itís
hard and sometimes humbling to realize that things, recent
memories in your life are actually part of history, but itís
J. Weisberg: Itís a comment, too, that a lot of people make
that I really relate to, which is they are slightly aghast
that this is a period show.
J. Fields: That was Joe, which I only say because it was
Moderator: The next question is from Karen Moul from SciFi
Vision. Please go ahead.
K. Moul: Hello. Thanks for being with us today. Itís been a
great season. Iím wondering how much time you guys have, how
much down time you have in between this and gearing up for
the next season. How will you reenergize or recharge
J. Weisberg: Not enough down time, Karen.
J. Fields: That was both of us. Itís gotten shorter and
shorter. We were under an enormous crunch Ė this is Joel Ė
this season with a late pickup, an early air date, a move to
New York and then Sandy, which affected our set and wiped
out our production office. Weíve been digging out of it as
weíve gone. Weíre going to start earlier next season, so
thereís a shorter break. I mentioned Joeís and my arranged
marriage. I will say that at one point after we got back
into our writers room our wives had made arrangements to
take our kids on vacation together themselves, without us.
Not enough of a break, but we will get some break. The hope
is that we will be able to unplug and let our
unconsciousness do some work as we prepare for next season.
J. Weisberg: This is Joe. Recharging is a tricky question. I
daydream of just lying on the couch and resting and thinking
about nothing, but my wife has rightly pointed out that I
canít really keep my brain from thinking about the show.
With so much to do to plan for the second season Iím
concerned both about all the thoughts rushing in and then
finding a way to jot down all those thoughts without my wife
going, ďYouíre working. Youíre working. You should be
J. Fields: This is Joel. As you see, it all comes back to the
K. Moul: It sounds like it. Do you enjoy this kind of
breakneck pace? Do you thrive on it? Or is it important to
you that you get a chance to just turn off the show and your
brain for a little while and have a life?
J. Weisberg: This is Joe. I find it to be a bit of a killer,
to be honest. Iím not used to it. I previously wrote novels.
The pacing of that is not breakneck. I would get up at
around noon and go to the restaurant, order a waffle and
relax and write for half an hour. If I was worn out after
that half hour Iíd go take a two hour walk and maybe that
would be it for the day. I like that pace.
J. Fields: This is Joel. I thrive on it. I canít lie. Thanks
to Joe, I am learning the value of taking a breath and
taking a break, which I also appreciate.
Moderator: Our next question is from Carla Day with TV
Fanatic. Please go ahead.
C. Day Hello. One of the most interesting aspects of the
show really is the dynamic between all the different
relationships with the Jennings kind of being aware of
Stanís job but everyone else kind of unaware of the complex
but close proximity of all the players. Then in the finale
you see Stan agreeing to watch the Jenningsí kids but he
doesnít really know it because he shot Elizabeth.
J. Fields: He really owes it to them, doesnít he?
C. Day Youíve done an excellent job of making the
relationships and the situations really believable. How do
you make sure to keep those interactions and secrets
J. Fields: This is Joel. You know, itís a feeling,
ultimately. Thereís logic to it. We can tease out the logic
to it, but itís also about the feeling. The show, as big as
some of the drama is, we want to keep it grounded in a
reality, at least a reality thatís within the context of the
show. It has to feel plausible within itself, and we hope it
does. I guess our test is if it doesnít feel right to us
itís not right. If it doesnít feel true to the characters
itís not right.
We know that with every story we break in the writers room
we do we have a couple exercises we always do. One is no
matter how interesting, exciting the spy story, no matter
how high stakes and high octane the twists and turns are, we
always stop and say whatís the marriage story? Whatís the
family story? If itís not working, if we canít answer that
question, if itís not moving us, then we move on to
something else. I think thatís part of what helps us keep it
true and plausible, at least for ourselves.
Another thing we do is we invert every story at one point
when weíre developing them. At some point we always ask
ourselves okay, if these characters were CIA operatives,
undercover in Moscow in 1981, would we believe what theyíre
doing? Would we want them to do what theyíre doing? Would
they have to do what theyíre doing? Would we understand it?
If the answer is no to that we move on.
J. Weisberg: This is Joe. Iím just going to add that when
youíre talking a spy story, I think not everybody is going
to have the same response to whatís believable and what
isnít. I think like Joel said, you go by the barometer of
what you find believable. If you feel it, then ultimately
that will work for most people.
The test of what you find believable isnít always 100%
reliable. One thing that really caught me off guard was when
there were some people who responded to the pilot and said,
ďWell, I have a lot of trouble. I canít believe that this
family lived right across the street from them. That seems
absurd. That seems very contrived to me.Ē You know, to me, I
have lived in Washington and out in these suburbs of
Washington. Everybody lives in these condo complexes Ė CIA,
the FBI, people through the foreign embassies, people in
foreign embassies are intelligence officers. That just felt
totally realistic to me, but it didnít matter that it felt
realistic to me in a way because that was just from my
experience. Some viewers without that experience felt that
it was not believable to them. I suddenly saw that point
Itís sort of an interesting test to always think about in
Moderator: Our next question is from Dan Calvisi with Act
Four Screenplay. Please go ahead.
D. Calvisi: Hello, guys. My audience are screen writers, so I
had a couple questions for you about writing the show. The
first one is how do you write main characters who have such
a strong inherently unsympathetic trait? In this case,
theyíre spies and theyíre anti-American. Secondly, how do
new writers get the details right with the FBI and the CIA
and military characters if we have never been in the CIA?
J. Weisberg: This is Joe. Iíll answer part of the first
question, which is that when we were developing the show,
for a while we worried about if people would sympathize with
these characters. The more we worked on it the more we felt
great sympathy for them and liked them, cared about them and
the more we got used to them and got to know them it just
didnít bother us that they were on the other side,
essentially. We didnít know how the audience would react.
After a while we were just sort of in for a dime, in for a
dollar, but like I said, we didnít know.
Then an interesting thing happened, which is that once we
cast Keri and Matthew and saw them read for the first time,
our concerns literally evaporated. They just brought so much
of themselves and so much sympathy and likeability to the
roles that we just were pretty certain that people were
going to feel a great sympathy for the characters, even for
Elizabeth with all her toughness.
J. Fields: This is Joel. How can you not sympathize for them?
You know theyíre going to lose. You know, I think part of
the trick Ė I agree with everything Joe said and will just
add Ė we have that exercise, that inversion exercise where
we try not to let them do anything that we feel that a true
believer, CIA officers undercover in Moscow, wouldnít do
faced with the same dilemmas.
Interestingly, unlike some other antihero shows that feature
sociopathic protagonists, Philip and Elizabeth are
believers. It may not be in a cause that we care about, it
may not be in a cause that we support, and itís true, we all
know that totalitarian socialism didnít work, but they do
believe and they have their own backgrounds, their own
reasons and their own feelings. One of the things that the
show explores that we find interesting is the question of
where those beliefs come from. We all have logical reasons
for our political beliefs, but are they really born
exclusively out of logic or are these things much more
sociological, much more psychological, much more
D. Calvisi: How about getting the details right with CIA, the
government and the time period? Did you interview a lot of
J. Fields: Well, the time period, again, Joe and I know the
time period because we were there, so that helps, but we
also have a terrific team, our production designer, our
costume designer, our music supervisor, all of whom help a
great deal. Yes, a lot of research. A lot of research into
the time period, a lot of research into the history, a lot
of research into even the spycraft. Joe knows a lot of
details. All of that.
Then you try to put it in and make it feel integrated so
that it doesnít show that you did research. By way of
example Ė this is Joel Ė this goes to your and the prior
question about making things feel true and things being
true, Philip as Clark marries Martha. It seems preposterous.
It goes right to our theme and it was really fun to write.
They did a wonderful job performing it. It gave us some
heartbreaking moments and such dramatic stuff to explore.
But that wasnít, Iím sad to say, our invention. This is
something that deep cover Soviet operatives did. In fact,
they had a whole program for it called the Secretary of
Defenses, where they had deep cover agents marrying
secretaries of influential people and intelligence officers,
mostly across Europe. It sounds crazy that they did it, but
they did it.
The challenge for us was to take something from history that
was real, that seemed so preposterous but worked for our
story, and try to make it feel true in the context of our
Moderator: Our next question is from Gabrielle Gold from
Hypable. Please go ahead.
G. Gold: Hello. Thank you very much for doing this conference
call. This show is absolutely incredible and the season
finale had me on the edge of my seat the entire time. It was
My question has to do with the Beemans and the relationship
between the Beemans and the Jennings. First off, can we
expect the relationship between Sandra and Elizabeth as well
as between Philip and Stan to develop further next season? I
know the later episodes have featured a lot of vulnerable
moments between the couples and it seemed like a real
friendship was going to develop despite everything else.
The second question has to do with Nina. Will her
relationship with Stan continue to be explored or can we
expect it to all have been an illusion in the next season?
J. Weisberg: This is Joe. It was great seeing Elizabeth and
Sandra. Obviously, the relationship hasnít gone that far,
but just in the scenes they have together and the little
early stages, little embryonic stages of whatever itís going
to be Ė a friendship, whatever Ė thereís something great
about those two together, I thought, so Iím sure weíll want
to explore that further.
As for Nina and Stan, you know, thatís been such a powerful
and intense part of the season, both the spycraft and the
emotional journey. Seeing where that goes next season is
going to be one of the cornerstones of the season next year.
Moderator: Our next question is from Diane Morasco with
Morasco Media. Please go ahead.
D. Morasco: Good afternoon. How are you? I want to know, did
Keri and Matthewís remarkable portrayals change the scope of
what was originally written or planned?
J. Fields: This is Joel. I donít know quite how to answer
that question except to tell you that weíre so blessed with
Keri and Matthew and with the rest of this cast. Noah
Emmerich is astonishing. Margo Martindale, Annet Mahendru is
such a revelation coming into this part. Holly and Keidrich
playing the kids, phenomenal. We have such a great cast.
What I will say is there is nothing we shy away from
writing. We feel now, knowing this cast, free to explore
anything creatively. We know that anytime we give them a
scene they make it better. They find nuance and depth and
always make us look good.
I hope thatís an answer to your question. Itís kind of a
true and honest one, which is there are times when you find
yourself writing defensively and boy, there are times when
you just feel liberated. This show is incredibly liberating
thanks to this incredible cast.
D. Morasco: Thank you. I do have a follow up. First of all,
congratulations on an outstanding inaugural season and best
wishes on season two. What do you guys want to accomplish
this season for yourself that you did or you think that you
want to accomplish going into season two maybe for
yourselves professionally and personally?
J. Weisberg: This is Joe. You know, I think when we started
out we talked about trying to do a show that would really be
about a marriage. In being about a marriage, it would be
something that even though it had a lot of high octane
spycraft around it and was about a married couple in these
crazy, dangerous situations doing these things that almost
nobody could really imagine doing themselves, it was because
they were, at the end of the day, a married couple doing it
Ė fake marriage, arranged marriage, real marriage, whatever.
Essentially, a married couple doing it that people would
relate to and understand and feel and feel that they could
see themselves in the kinds of situations that the couple
was in. Not that they could see themselves about to die in
that situation, but they could see themselves in the
conflict with their spouse or they could understand the
emotional terms that the stories were being told on. I think
not every time or in every story, but I think in an overall
sense we did largely pull that off. I think thatís the thing
I feel proudest of about the season.
My personal goal is to survive, which I accomplished also.
How about you, Joel?
J. Fields: All of that creatively Ė this is Joel Ė and yes, I
would just echo that. We wanted to explore relationships and
marriage and family. Yes, all of these international
conflicts were really through the prism of the family.
Personally, this year the goal was to survive and next year
Iíd say the goal is to creatively, continue and personally,
I think if we could make it home for dinner one night a
week. It can be any of the seven nights. That would be good.
Moderator: There are no additional questions in queue at this
J. Weisberg: Thank you all so much. It was a pleasure talking
to you guys. Thank you for all your support on the show. We
really appreciate it.
J. Fields: Yes.
R. Bibby: Yes, yes. Thank you to the journalists. A big
thanks to you for your questions today and thank you for the
love youíve given the show throughout the season. Your
features, profiles, reviews, recaps, thank you so much.
Thanks, Joe and Joel, for your participation and for making
such an excellent show. We certainly look forward to seeing
the show next season.
The finale of The Americans will air on Wednesday, May 1st
at 10:00 p.m. Eastern/Pacific. A transcript from this call
will be available one to two days following this call, so
Iíll send it to you as soon as I receive it. If you have any
other questions about the show, please contact the showís
publicist, Lana Kim, or me, Roslyn Bibby.
Thank you. Bye-bye.
Moderator: Ladies and gentlemen, that concludes your
conference for today. Thank you for your participation and
for using AT&T Executive Teleconference. You may now
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