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‘The Americans’ Creator on U.S.-Russia Relations, Why We Won’t See Putin

Variety logo Variety 1/13/2017 Oriana Schwindt
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The Americans” won’t come to a close until 2018. That ending is very much on the minds of showrunners Joe Weisberg and Joel Fields, yet the specter of worsening U.S.-Russia relations looms large as well. “To see [relations] spiral so out of control doesn’t feel good,” series creator Weisberg told reporters at the show’s TCA press tour panel on Thursday morning.

Although events in years past have lent a certain sense of timeliness to the FX series about a pair of undercover KGB spies, the show has taken on an unexpected topicality of late, with the U.S. intelligence community publishing reports that declared Russian agents attempted to influence the U.S. election and, most recently, salacious Russian-sourced intel on President-elect Donald Trump.

Weisberg, an ex-CIA officer, said to reporters after the show’s TCA panel that he isn’t quite giving in to the current atmosphere of doom-and-gloom where Russia is concerned. “I am in favor of better relations with Russia, and I think that’s possible,” he said. “I do think the idea of the show was, you should look at your enemies, and they don’t have to be your enemy.” He paused a moment before adding with a laugh, “I don’t think the show worked.”

The 800-pound bear in the room is Russian President Vladimir Putin, himself a former KGB official who was very much a part of the Russian intelligence scene during the time of “The Americans.” Weisberg and Fields don’t know yet if Putin has seen the show, though they said they know Russians have. The two added that they had been discussing a possible Putin character making a cameo, until the election results came in.

“Ironically, if Donald Trump hadn’t become Donald Trump, and hadn’t become the president-elect and soon-to-be president, we might’ve been able to do that,” Weisberg said. “But now, we can’t imagine any way of doing it that wasn’t absurdly self-conscious.”

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