6 Questions for Alison Wright of 'The Americans' and 'Feud'

Spoiler alert! Stay away until you've seen the May 2 episode of The Americans.

She's back!

After appearing onscreen for a scant 25 seconds earlier this season in what could have been just a fun (and reassuring) Easter egg, Martha had a more substantive role in tonight's episode.

About halfway through the hour she appears, wearing a drab cardigan and sautéing onions for her "snack," a potato. As she sits down, she hears a knock on the door. It's Gabriel. Retired and now living in Moscow, he can check in on and maybe even help Mrs. Clark Westerfeld. But Martha is not having it.

"She's had, you know, nine months to sit there and put the pieces together," actress Alison Wright told SideReel. "And obviously the result of that is pretty devastating."

Wright couldn't say whether the remaining four episodes of this season of The Americans would feature Moscow Martha, but she had plenty to share about her recent turns on two of FX's high-profile dramas.

The Americans

Is Martha reclaiming her power a bit in this scene with Gabriel?

I think it still remains a bit of an enigma in the storytelling sense of where she's at and what's going on with her life and who she is now and how much of a different person she is now than she was in D.C.

You know, what we see in this moment, it's a real panic for her because she's wondering why on Earth he's there, what he could possibly want. But like she says, she's had a lot of time to comb over every conversation and meeting that she ever had with Clark and to try to figure out what was real and what wasn't and what she maybe ignored and what she didn't pay enough attention to.

Were you surprised by the fan love of Martha?

I was glad because it means we've done a great job, we've created a character that people are responding to and believing in. I think people are easily able to imagine themselves in her position and maybe have compassion for decisions that she made because on some level they're able to see themselves making those bad decisions too. So, that just makes you feel great that you've created a real, full person that people can believe in her story.

Matthew Rhys recently said definitively that Philip never loved Martha. Does that jibe with your take on the relationship?

Yeah, I don't think he ever did. I think people wanted to think that he did. Maybe they just didn't want to see how cold and ruthless Philip actually was and they wanted to believe in the fantasy of it a little bit, but I would agree with him. I would hope that he had a little bit of respect for her as a person, at least, and what he was doing to her and had respect and empathy for her kindness and all the love that she'd given him, but perhaps not.

The Americans

FX is clearly where it's at right now. What's it been like these past few months appearing on two series on the same network that feel so extraordinarily timely and relevant?

FX really is where it's at, it's where all the exciting programming is happening and (FX President) John Landgraf is just doing ridiculous things with this network. It's not just the quality and the calibre of the work that they're producing, but the kinds of stories that they're putting out there.

The election happened right in the middle of filming a big Pauline episode that I had, where she even has comments about how, you know, some people don't like the idea of a woman in charge. There was a certain irony when we were shooting that. And then all of the sudden Hillary Clinton didn't become the president, like everybody expected, and that had a deeper resonance. I think the show Feud is going to really help people cement the fact that this change, this equality, is not going to evolve naturally. It hasn't in 50, 60 years since Feud. We're still struggling. When you look at the world of Feud, especially Old Hollywood, it seems so long ago, yet our problems are still really exactly the same.

This is silly, but do you think Martha is more a Joan or a Bette fan?

Probably Bette. Ooh, wait — who cried more? I think she probably liked whoever cried more. She probably liked whoever did more of the sadder films and roles — I'm not sure which that would be. I can imagine her with a box of tissues and her feet up on a Sunday afternoon, crying at their old films.

Is there something you're watching right now that you're really excited about?

The Get Down! I was so glad when that second half came out. I love disco. My apartment overlooks the South Bronx. I loved everything about it.

This interview has been edited and condensed.


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May 3, 2017 12:13AM EDT

Alison Wright was an absolute delight on Feud and is the definition of amazing on the Americans! She is such a talented actress, I loved this interview.

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