Emmy winner knew HBO reboot should be his ‘Americans’ follow-up
Q: Coming off your Emmy-winning turn on “The Americans,” how special did the series reboot of “Perry Mason” have to be in considering it to be your next show?
A: It had to be something very different as well, which I thought this was. There were times when I could find similarities between my character on “The Americans,” Philip Jennings, and Perry Mason … but one of the great luxuries, if it’s afforded to you, is the variety that comes.
This was just something very exotic to me. Growing up watching movies about Los Angeles in the 1930s, with Raymond Chandler-esque overtones, this was very attractive to me.
Q: How do you look back on making last year’s Mister Rogers movie “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” which also has been making the premium-cable rounds lately?
A: I quizzed Tom (Hanks) a lot about “Road to Perdition” (Hanks’ 2002 film that has a style similar to Rhys’ “Perry Mason”). I was intrigued about that movie, and he’s very generous in indulging the fans around him, myself being one of them.
Ironically, that job in “Neighborhood” came about because of “The Americans.” The director, Marielle Heller, had watched every episode — bless her. It was a beautiful script and a beautiful introduction to Fred Rogers for me, plus it was an opportunity to work with Tom, the master himself.
Q: How has home life with your partner, fellow “The Americans” star Keri Russell, and your children been during the coronavirus pandemic?
A: It’s a strange time. We’re home-schooling the three kids (their first child together, and Russell’s two children from her earlier marriage) and trying to keep them entertained, and your imagination is on overdrive. It’s like being back in drama school.
Jay Bobbin has decades of experience covering the television and movie businesses, winning Tribune Media Services’ Crown Jewel Award in 2008 for his performance in the company. Over those many years of interviewing and writing, he has spoken with everyone from Robert De Niro and John Travolta to Paul McCartney and Tony Bennett … from Meryl Streep and Julie Andrews to Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood.