‘The Americans’: Keri Russell Almost Turned the Show Down But ‘Couldn’t Stop Thinking About It’

Dave and Breeders are two of the newest television series to join FX. Over the years, the network has released some of the most iconic titles to date. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, American Horror Story, and Pose are just a few of FX’s most popular television shows to air. Amongst the critically-acclaimed content is The Americans.

The dramatic and enthralling series garnered a lot of positive attention, viewers, fans, and awards during its six-season run. Take a look back at the show and why Keri Russell almost turned down The Americans

Keri Russell’s rise to fame 

Keri Russell
Keri Russell | Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images for Disney

Russell, 45 years-old at the moment, has been in the acting scene for quite some time. The actress’ career and reputation took off when she landed the main character in Felicity. However, her acting debut came much before the entertaining WB series that aired in the late 1990s. 

Some of Russell’s fans might be surprised to learn that she played the part of Mandy in Honey, I Blew Up the Kids. Before Felicity, Russell also guest-starred on highly-sought after shows such as Boy Meets World and Married…with Children

In 2002 Russell said goodbye to the fictional character of Felicity Porter. The ambitious actress spent the better part of the next decade focusing on the big screen and roles within the film industry. Waitress, August Rush, and Leaves of Grass were a few of the titles Russell appeared in during this time. 

Just a few years later, in 2013, Russell was offered the part of Elizabeth Jennings on The Americans. The unconventional and creative character wound up being a game-changing opportunity for Russell and her career, and, in reflection, it is hard to believe the star almost turned it down. 

Keri Russell almost turned down the part of Elizabeth Jennings on ‘The Americans’ 

FX wanted Russell from the start. John Landgraf, the network’s president, originally suggested the actress for the series. However, after reading the pilot script, Russell wasn’t so sure. 

Oddly enough, this just seemed to be a part of the actress’ process. In her interview with HuffPost Russell shed some light on her complex rationale. In the discussion the actress explained, “I thought the pilot script was just so interesting. It was so far from a procedural. And [originally,] I didn’t know that I wanted to do it. I always say no to everything. I never want to do anything. [Laughs.] But I just couldn’t stop thinking about it. I read it, and it was one of those things where I was riding my bike around Brooklyn or doing the dishes, and I kept trying to figure it out, because it’s so not clear. It’s still not clear to me. But there’s so many different levels to it.” Russell was absolutely right about that. 

The cast and characters behind the success of ‘The Americans’

The Americans portrayed the lives and stories of Elizabeth and Phillip Jennings. Appearing seemingly normal at every turn, Elizabeth and Phillip were posing as average Americans while they secretly worked as KGB officers. The couple’s double-life and facade surrounding foreign intelligence kept viewers guessing and on the edge of their seats for six seasons. Matthew Rhys was the lead playing alongside Russell. As for their children, Keidrich Sellati and Holly Taylor took on the parts of Henry and Paige Jennings. Taylor’s fans and followers might recognize her more recently from NBC’s Manifest

Over the five years that The Americans aired, the show was nominated for more than 150 awards while landing almost 40 wins. The cast and characters were a huge reason the FX show was such a hit, and it is safe to say that the fans, viewers, and, of course, Russell are pleased with the way everything turned out. Fortunately, fans can re-watch all six seasons of The Americans today on Amazon Prime. 

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