Matthew Rhys on Shooting ‘The Americans’ in New York: “You hold up a bunch of New Yorkers who can’t cross the street, they’re not going to take it well”
As a native New Yorker, one of the most refreshing things in recent years has been the amount of television series and films that now shoot in New York City. When I was growing up, films and television shows that were set in New York were hardly ever shot there (Jackie Chan‘s Rumble in the Bronx should have been titled Rumble in Vancouver and I don’t think even a minute of the entire run of Friends was ever shot in New York City), so it’s wonderful to see that those days are over.
One of the latest series to shoot in New York is FX’s The Americans, a 1980s set series about KGB operatives living covertly in the United States. One of the series’ stars, Matthew Rhys, spoke to New York Magazine about getting the part and what it’s like shooting a television series in New York City.
When asked how he ended up with the role, Rhys explains that he had the benefit of being approached about the role, not the other way around. He says, “[Series creator] Joe Weisberg saw me in a play I was doing in New York, Look Back in Anger, and he asked me to audition.”
Although the show is set in the 1980s and thus requires a bit of extra preparation, Rhys admits that the biggest difference between shooting The Americans and shooting his previous television series Brothers & Sisters is the atmosphere. His prior series was shot in Los Angeles, but The Americans shoots in New York City. Rhys points out, “Well, it’s a little harder in New York. It’s not as forgiving to a film crew. You hold up a bunch of New Yorkers who can’t cross the street, they’re not going to take it well. Southern California? They’ll wait. It’s cool man. In New York, they’re like, ‘Are you kidding me? I gotta get to work. Fuck you!’ The other day I was doing a driving scene and I blocked some guy’s gate, and he’s like, ‘You can’t fuckin’ park here!’”
The Americans airs on Tuesdays on FX.