From 2013 to 2018, Joseph Weisberg’s The Americans told the gut-wrenching story of a marriage unraveling against the backdrop of the Cold War — but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t time for fun in the writers’ room. .
At the Paley Center for Media on Wednesday at a panel for the show’s 10th anniversary (via People), producer Joel Fields recalled a prank that star Matthew Rhys played with his co-star Keri Russell and the show’s writers.
“Joe (Weisberg) and I went into (the writers’ room) one day and somebody put up pictures of Matthew and Keri — they were defaced. Matthew has a devil and Kerin has a funny mustache, Fields said. “And we called in the assistants, we called in the staff, and we’re like, ‘Guys, it’s good to have fun, that’s fine, but this is a professional and respectful workplace, and we really need to know who did this?’ And one of the assistants finally says, “This is Matthew.”
Rhys had no qualms about admitting his behind-the-scenes debauchery. He told the audience that he got the idea to screw up his own headshot after a day’s worth of drinking put him in a jovial mood.
“We had a splendid lunch,” said Rhys. “And I was like, ‘New camouflage options!’
None of the behind-the-scenes alcohol-fueled antics got in the way of the team’s excellent television prowess. “The Americans” was a consistent critical favorite for six seasons on FX, and many complained that the spy drama didn’t get more love from the Emmys.
“It’s about ruining — or saving — a marriage,” wrote IndieWire’s Ben Travers in his review of the show’s final season. “This is a war for the soul of a country – or a peace treaty. The stakes are high and the rewards are rich. This is why The Americans was and remains one of the best shows on TV: it challenges viewers for all the right reasons. It pushes back expectations and makes you have a lot of fleeting moments that collectively shape who you are.”
The beloved series also produced a lasting romance between Rhys and Russell, who are now married. The pair recently reunited with The Americans co-star Margo Martindale in Elizabeth Banks’ comedy thriller Cocaine Bear.