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Keri Russell Feels Right at Home as The Diplomat

Longtime Keri Russell fans remember her as one of the stars of The All New Mickey Mouse Club before she became a household name playing the titular star of Felicity. It was a character she became synonymous with, and for which she won a Golden Globe Award. Where some iconic ’90s actors might have faded out with the decade, Russell has been consistently working, receiving several Emmy and Golden Globe nods for her role as the sophisticated spy Elizabeth Jennings in the cult favorite show The Americans,set mostly in a Washington, D.C., suburb during the height of the Cold War and inspired by the true story that broke in 2010 of a cell of Russian agents hiding in plain sight in the United States for years. Now Russell has returned to politics, but in a different capacity, with The Diplomat, the Netflix series for which she’s been nominated for an Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series Emmy for her role as Kate Wyler, a slightly disheveled, inexperienced new U.S. ambassador to the U.K.

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Inside Keri Russell’s unapologetically flawed title character of ‘The Diplomat’

A marriage of unequal equals is at the core of Netflix’s hit series “The Diplomat,” in which whip-smart Middle East specialist Kate Wyler (Keri Russell) is thrust into a high-profile ambassadorship in the United Kingdom with her legendary diplomat husband, Hal (Rufus Sewell), in tow. “What does it mean to be second on the totem pole for so long, then become number one?” says showrunner Debora Cahn of her show’s central premise. “How do your priorities change, and your image of the work?”

For Russell, coming off an all-timer of a show about marriage and work so tensely knit together (“The Americans”), the appeal was evident: When the stakes are international-incident level, messiness in humans is especially fun to play. “Kate is really harsh to people, and she’s in this complicated relationship,” she says. “It’s likable when people have flaws, and they don’t have their life figured out.”

What inspired this show, Debora? And you to get involved, Keri?

Debora Cahn: When I worked on “Homeland,” we had expert after expert come in. This woman named Beth Jones, she was an ambassador, and had been assistant secretary of State, and she looked a bit like a librarian, or more exactly, my Aunt Ruthie. Then she starts talking about what she does in a typical day, and it’s like an action movie. I got excited about her stories.

Keri Russell: Deb has said it’s her love letter to the State Department and diplomats everywhere.

Cahn: Once there was a script, the dream was Keri Russell. Like, “Who’s a pale imitation of Keri Russell?” Somebody was like, “Why don’t we call her?” And she said yes!

Russell: I loved Debora’s writing, the discomfort on top of being smart and bossy. [Kate’s] not polished. I like how unapologetically herself she is as a character. No one likes the perfect person. They’re not fun to watch. Continue reading Inside Keri Russell’s unapologetically flawed title character of ‘The Diplomat’

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‘The Diplomat,’ Starring Keri Russell, Lands Quick Renewal at Netflix

Netflix is keeping The Diplomat at her post for another season.

Less than two weeks after the series debuted, the streamer has renewed The Diplomat for a second season. The political drama, starring Keri Russell as the newly appointed U.S. ambassador to the United Kingdom, premiered April 20 and was Netflix’s most watched series for that week (per the company’s internal metrics) with 57.48 million hours of viewing worldwide. The season also ended with a cliffhanger that now promises to get resolved in a second season.

Russell plays Kate Wyler, a career foreign service officer who was expecting to go to Afghanistan but ends up appointed to the U.K. With war brewing on one continent and boiling over on another, Kate works to diffuse international crises, forge strategic alliances in London, and adjust to her new place in the spotlight — all while trying to survive her marriage to fellow career diplomat and political star Hal Wyler (Rufus Sewell). David Gyasi, Ali Ahn, Rory Kinnear and Ato Essandoh also star.

“I feel like I’m a person with a fairly clear-eyed view of what America is in the world,” creator and showrunner Debora Cahn (The West Wing, Homeland) told The Hollywood Reporter’s TV’s Top 5 podcast. “For me the question was can you get both [the good and bad aspects of the country] in the same show, can you get both in the same story and in the same character? We lucked out with actors that can speak in both of those vernaculars.”

Cahn executive produces the series with Russell and Janice Williams.


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For Keri Russell, the intrigue of ‘The Diplomat’ is its messy humanity

Keri Russell lost her voice.

The actress whispered a hoarse apology after canceling an interview last week, unable to muster much more lest she worsen her condition. She calls days later, sounding better and joking about all the time she spent promoting her new Netflix series, “The Diplomat,” while barely speaking.

It was like “The Little Mermaid,” she says. “You’re going to show up, but you’ll be silent.”

One could argue the mishap is straight out of “The Diplomat” itself, in which Russell’s title character, while competent at her work in the Foreign Service, is always a bit out of sorts. She gets into a physical scuffle outdoors just moments before meeting the president, whom she greets slightly out of breath and with dirt on her face. Later, she discovers a yogurt stain on her clothes as she gets ready to walk into the Oval Office. Losing her voice wouldn’t be out of the ordinary. Listen, life happens. Continue reading For Keri Russell, the intrigue of ‘The Diplomat’ is its messy humanity

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Keri Russell on The Diplomat: “I have to really like something to pursue it”

Five years after The Americans ended, Keri Russell is finally back on TV with a worthy leading role in Netflix’s politically charged The Diplomat. The actor has always been a tour de force, from her heartrending turn in the 2007 film Waitress to escaping a coked-up creature in 2023’s big screen hit Cocaine Bear. But it’s on TV where Russell has really made her mark, starting with a breakout performance on the young adult drama of the ’90s, Felicity, (who can forget “The Felicity haircut?”), where she earned acclaim for essaying a character who learns to rise above society’s expectations.

Since then it’s become Russell’s forte to play a woman who delights in breaking norms. At first glance, for instance, The Americans’ Elizabeth Jennings is a ruthless Russian spy. But Russell shepherds her into an all-timer by bringing gravitas and surprising warmth to the role. Now, Russell takes those skills to The Diplomat. Created by Debora Cahn, a producer and writer for The West Wing and Homeland, the series follows Russell’s Kate Wyler, a motivated U.S. ambassador who is unexpectedly stationed in London after an apparent terrorist attack. She’s tasked with curbing the potential for war between several countries while also navigating a complex marriage with her ego-driven political husband, Hal (Rufus Sewell). Continue reading Keri Russell on The Diplomat: “I have to really like something to pursue it”

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Keri Russell Is the Ultimate Diplomat in Her New Netflix Show

Keri Russell has made a career of playing the kinds of heroines who lodge themselves in the television-viewing public’s consciousness with single-name resonance: Felicity (from, you know, Felicity), Elizabeth (from The Americans), and now Kate from The Diplomat. On this new Netflix show, which premieres on April 20, Russell plays Kate Wyler, a civil servant who has conducted her diplomatic career largely offstage while her husband, Hal Wyler (Rufus Sewell), a foreign policy wonk with front-of-house energy and Lawrence of Arabia hair, occupied center stage. They are moving into a new phase of their careers and their relationship: Kate is headed to Afghanistan, or so she thinks; the couple is not so amicably headed for divorce. Both those plans are upended, however, when Kate is told she will, confoundingly, be given the plum (but too soft, for her tastes) post of London; the divorce, too, is put tentatively on hold.

The role is a rich and juicy one for Russell, whose spine of steel—the backbone of so many episodes of The Americans is deployed here with more diplomatic grace. Kate is tough but also human, adept at internalizing a complex geopolitical issue, but also personally annoyed that she has to devote her time to figuring out the right attire to wear to the negotiating table. She’s extremely competent and also subsisting mainly on yogurt that she eats standing up. The show reads something like a cross between The West Wing and Homeland (its showrunner, Debora Cahn, worked on both), with fast-paced banter laced with D.C. jargon and the looming backdrop of current events foregrounding the interpersonal struggles. Continue reading Keri Russell Is the Ultimate Diplomat in Her New Netflix Show