'The Americans' Matthew Rhys: Philip Jennings' marriages, goals and fears in Season 2
Where are Philip and Elizabeth at in their marriage?
Matthew Rhys: This season, as opposed to last season where we saw Philip and Elizabeth struggle with each other in the relationship, they're a much stronger front as a unit, and we see them as a family -- as a unit in that respect -- face a lot more sort of prevailing and present danger that's encroaching on the Jennings' household.
How is this improved relationship going to impact their spy work?
All of the sudden these two people that have fulfilled a very specific mandate all these years about sleeping with people for information -- suddenly their feelings become real, and the green-eyed monster makes a very rude appearance in their lives. It's incredibly difficult for them to deal with.
There's no resolve -- it's certainly an ongoing problem for them, but it's certainly a very present theme for them this season.
Where is the relationship between Philip-as-Clark and his wife, Martha?
He becomes very aware of what he's doing in the manipulation of Martha and how it's spiraling ever downwards. It pricks his conscience definitely. He has a heart and he is sensitive, and he finds it increasingly harder, the level of lies and level of betrayal. As she wants to evolve in the marriage, he's trying to stall at every level. And also because of how things are evolving with Elizabeth, that presents itself as a difficult riddle for him to overcome, in that it becomes a greater thought inside. So he's certainly torn in that respect enormously between these two situations.
I think from the onset his feelings for Martha have been very clear ... there was an element of escape for Philip, whereby he went to somebody that was sort of nurturing and nice and loving and caring, but I don't think that they manifested themselves in specific with genuine feelings for her. I just think he found solace in a place like that with someone like that.
What's up with all of Philip and Elizabeth's wigs?
The disguises, I don't envy the unenviable task of the hair and makeup department that sort of feel that with each new disguise they have to be different or bigger or better. Because the reality is with the CIA, they tended to use two or three disguises and round-robin them. But you know, it's television and we're a little more heightened and dramatic, so therefore they do need to kind of have a little bit possibly more dramatic impact.
I think they take their role of not being recognized and not being caught that much greater now, because the intensity is sort of closer on their doorstep.
Do you have a favorite disguise?
I've named him: He's called Fernando. He has longish hair. We actually saw him in the first episode of the first season when he beat up someone who was being rather lascivious with his daughter at a department store. He has like a mustache and long hair and a little goatee, and he feels very Latin to me.
Can the Jennings family hope for any sort of a happy ending to their story?
I think they can. I think that was laid down by Philip in the first episode the first season where he presented the defection packages, basically saying they could go into witness protection. They could work for the U.S. government, they could be put into hiding, make a lot of money, and live out their days. And I think there's an element of Philip that still hangs onto that dream, because I think the realization of how sustainable their lives are and how unsafe it's becoming for the children sort of grows day-by-day. So I think that, in the back of his mind, the happy-ever-after for Philip is louder than ever.
Why does Philip want that life so much?
He does have romantic ideals, and as well as materialistic ideals, because he came from very harsh, fiscally challenged place. But I think he longs for the sort of a wife to love and to have those things reciprocated. His main priority is his children, their future and their safety. And I think he wants, unashamedly, to sign up for the sort of white-picket-fence life and have those nice things and live out a nice life ... It's in front of him, it's obtainable. He just has to balance it with an incredibly difficult lifestyle.
"The Americans" Season 2 premieres Wednesday (Feb. 26) at 10 p.m. ET/PT on FX.