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Inside the Felicity 20-Year Reunion at ATX Festival

Ahead of September’s 20-year premiere anniversary, the cast of former WB Network drama Felicity closed out the seventh “season” of the ATX Television Festival in Austin, Texas.

Stars including Keri Russell (Felicity), Scott Speedman (Ben), Scott Foley (Noel), Tangi Miller (Elena), Amanda Foreman (Meghan), Ian Gomez (Javier), Greg Grunberg (Sean), Rob Benedict (Richard) and Amy Jo Johnson (Julie) as well as director Lawrence Trilling looked back on the J.J. Abrams- and Matt Reeves-created cult favorite about a girl who follows a guy to New York and discovers who she is along the way.

Here are the highlights from the sold-out 20-year reunion, held at the Paramount Theater, moderated by self-professed Felicity super-fan Lennon Parham (Playing House). Foley opened the panel by noting that much of the cast hasn’t seen one another in about 20 years, which made Sunday’s reunion extra special.

1. Felicity was the first big gig for much of the cast. Russell recalled her audition process and sitting in a hall with 55 other girls. “I had choked in the audition,” Russell said. Abrams and Reeves pulled her to another room and made her laugh and that helped her get back on track.

2. Foley was originally cast to play Ben. “What a shitty show that would have been!” Foley said. “For a week I was doing wardrobe fittings [for Ben] … they were having a hard time casting Noel and they liked [Speedman] better as Ben and J.J. didn’t want to fire me.” He was then asked to play Noel instead. “Nobody could have played Ben Covington better than Scott Speedman,” he added.

3. Parham asked the differences between Ben and Speedman, who admitted that he and his character were very similar. “At that time? Not a lot,” he said. “And I feel like on television they do try to write a lot toward you. I was a tortured, brooding 22-year-old at that time and it really worked out on the show.”

4. Trilling recalled the cast’s willingness to be vulnerable and credited that for much of the show’s success. “These guys were very trusting with Matt, J.J. and me and they gave their hearts and souls to the show, and that’s why we’re here 20 years later.”

5. There are a few lingering questions left surrounding the show, but none more pressing that what, exactly, was in the box belonging to Felicity’s mysterious roommate, Meghan. The truth? “I don’t know,” said Foreman. “Neither does J.J. If you ask J.J. he’s like ‘I don’t know.'” She does have a theory: “I thought maybe it was a confession to a murder or something. … It has to be dramatic and small enough to fit in the box. Or it could be a finger.” Cracked Trilling, “It was a key to the hatch in Lost.”
Continue reading Inside the Felicity 20-Year Reunion at ATX Festival

Categories Articles & Interviews The Americans

Keri Russell On the “Surprising” End of FX’s “The Americans”

FX last night telecast the series finale of its much-lauded thriller The Americans, ending the story of Philip and Elizabeth Jennings, two KGB spies posing as Americans in suburban 1980’s Washington, D.C., that began six years ago. No one was more surprised by the events of the ending than Keri Russell, who had no idea throughout the run of series how the couple’s story might conclude. “One thing I’ve always loved about the series is [being] continually surprised, in a good way; always being surprised by the turns and twists as they never bored by me,” she revealed during a post-mortem conference call for the series. “I had no idea what was in store. The way the season was going, by the third or fourth episode I thought they were setting [my character] up to die. She was so unlikable and could never redeem herself — but I was on board for whatever they wanted. I’d kind of grown accustomed to trusting them and not guessing because I’ve always been so far off. I didn’t know how it was going to go at all. [Warning: The rest of this column contains spoilers about the series finale.]

“All of [the final] script surprised me,” she continued. “I had no idea they’d take such an emotional route of devastation [with their] kids. I did not see the Henry (Keidrich Sellati) aspect coming at all and that was just devastating to me.” The writers’ decision to have the couple lose custody of their children indeed blindsided the actress. Continue reading Keri Russell On the “Surprising” End of FX’s “The Americans”

Categories Articles & Interviews The Americans

The Delicate Fury of Keri Russell on The Americans

When we first meet Elizabeth Jennings — the highly trained Russian spy hiding under the cover of a perfect American family with her husband, Philip (Matthew Rhys) — she is unlike herself. At a loud bar, over a cocktail, she works a government agent several notches below her cunning and spiky beauty. She wears a leather bustier and a flirty, salacious demeanor, her chestnut tresses hidden under a full platinum blonde bob. This first scene has the sort of slinky sexiness and allure I’ve come to expect of an espionage drama. As The Americans continued, soon to finish with its currently airing sixth season, it has leaned as far away as possible from the glossy pleasures you’d expect from its first scene into something wholly harder to shake. As Emily Nussbaum wrote in The New Yorker, “Dread is its specialty and also its curse; it’s what makes The Americans at once a must-watch and a hard sell.” Continue reading The Delicate Fury of Keri Russell on The Americans

Categories Articles & Interviews The Americans

The Americans finale recap: The truth comes out — shattering the Jennings family

“His life was full of loneliness.”

That’s what Claudia told Paige in the second episode of The Americans’ final season — titled “Tchaikovsky” — when she played a record of the Russian composer. And those words turned out to be hauntingly true as the series reached its conclusion tonight.

The final episode was ironically named “START,” after the nuclear arms treaty that would ultimately be signed by the Soviet Union and the United States, although the summit was not addressed in the show. Instead, we saw Philip and Elizabeth’s flight from everything they’ve known, everything they’ve built. They lost one child. Then both of them.

And yet, in the last image of them together, looking at the cityscape of Moscow, what were they doing except starting over, truly? They were home. But they were strangers. They were together. But their shared life was now hollowed out, filled with loneliness.

To American viewers, rooting for Philip and Elizabeth had the thrill of cheering for the bad guy, but they always believed they were doing the right thing, even when that meant doing unsavory things. Their goal, their ideals, their pledge, was noble. And in the end, by betraying The Center and protecting Gorbachev, they fulfilled their promise. Continue reading The Americans finale recap: The truth comes out — shattering the Jennings family

Categories Articles & Interviews The Americans

‘The Americans’ Bosses Break Down “Tragic” Series Finale

Showrunners Joel Fields and Joe Weisberg speak to The Hollywood Reporter about the big moments in the 90-minute episode as FX’s Cold War spy drama comes to an end.
[This story contains spoilers from the series finale of The Americans]

Philip and Elizabeth Jennings (Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell) left the United States and returned to their native Russia in the series finale of The Americans on Wednesday night.

But in a tragic twist, the Russian spies, who’d spent years posing as an American couple living outside of Washington, D.C., had to leave their children behind. The pair early on made the decision to let their son, Henry (Keidrich Sellati), who didn’t know his parents’ true identities, stay in the U.S. But eldest child Paige (Holly Taylor), who had entered the family business this season, spying alongside her mom, was set to make the trip with her parents before she suddenly left the train they were on. The moment was a shocking one for Elizabeth, who throws herself at the window of the train when she sees Paige still on the platform as the train pulls out of the station, and Philip. Continue reading ‘The Americans’ Bosses Break Down “Tragic” Series Finale

Categories Articles & Interviews The Americans

The End of The Americans: Keri Russell’s Last Stand

After six years and 75 episodes, The Americans has wrapped its final chapter. Ever. This past season has been a tour de force of acting and pitch-perfect narrative arcs—cementing The Americans as one of the most important prestige television shows of our generation. And it all comes down to two people: real-life couple Keri Russell (Elizabeth Jennings) and Matthew Rhys (Philip Jennings).

Continue reading The End of The Americans: Keri Russell’s Last Stand

Categories Articles & Interviews The Americans

What Happens Now To The Spies Next Door?: ‘The Americans’ EPs On Mindblowing Series Finale

Spoiler Alert: The following postmortem contains details about tonight’s series finale of The Americans on FX Continue reading What Happens Now To The Spies Next Door?: ‘The Americans’ EPs On Mindblowing Series Finale

Categories Articles & Interviews The Americans

‘The Americans’ Bosses on Pivotal Series Finale Scene As Exploration of ‘Six Seasons’ Worth of a Real Relationship’

SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not yet watched the series finale of “The Americans” that aired May 30. Continue reading ‘The Americans’ Bosses on Pivotal Series Finale Scene As Exploration of ‘Six Seasons’ Worth of a Real Relationship’