There’s a mini United Nations going on in the head of “The Americans” star Matthew Rhys. He’s a Welshman who is playing a Russian spy that is pretending to be an America. Keeping track of which accent is right to use takes some special preparations by the actor.
“It’s a heady balance of the right amount of alcohol and caffeine that usually gets me there,” Rhys says. “At first, I sort of thought this journey I have to make is sort of a Russian to American, and then I was confusing myself — which is easily done by doing that. I eliminated one element and just reminded myself I am a foreigner trying to deceive people that I’m American, so I sort of simplified it to myself.”
As for the right accent, it also depends on how long a day Rhys has been working. It’s easier for the wrong accent to slip out the more exhausted he gets. It hasn’t helped the show has been shot in the New York area during an arctic vortex.
Rhys credits being on the ABC drama “Brothers & Sisters” with helping him perfect his American accent before filming on “The Americans” started.
He also gets a lot of accent breaks because he’s playing one very lucky KGB agent. Being the perfect husband to the fellow spy played by Keri Russell hasn’t slowed him from bouncing from bed to bed.
“That’s in my contract,” Rhys says with a laugh. “When I first read the pilot script, what I was interested in was that you saw two people who sort of upheld a mandate to be operatives for X amount of time, and then for the first time real emotion between the two creeps in.
“It is an incredibly interesting journey in that you have these two people who are evolving as a couple and all of a sudden these layers of complexity are added as they now have to figure out another marriage. It becomes layer upon layer, which makes it incredibly interesting dynamics between the two.”