‘The Americans’ Keri Russell’s Emmy Nomination

September 9, 2016

While Game of Thrones leads the Primetime Emmy Awards this year with 23 nominations, a number of shows have shined through this year including F.X.’s critically beloved drama series The Americans. Costars Keri Russell and Welsh actor Matthew Rhys portray two Soviet KGB officers living as a married American couple during the Cold War. Both actors have been nominated for their leading roles in the drama series which is currently in its fourth season. And in fact, Russell and Rhys have been involved an off-screen relationship since 2013, and just months ago welcomed the birth of their son, Sam.

With so much for this dynamic duo to celebrate, Keri’s often cited inspirational quote came to mind:

“Sometimes it’s the smallest decisions that can pretty much change your life forever.”

Wondering what small decisions she was referring to when she made this statement lead to the discovery that Keri herself actually did not the author the quote. Rather her famous title character Felicity Porter from the popular television series Felicity spoke those words of wisdom on the show’s pilot in 1998. The coming-of-age story follows a University of New York freshman student pursuing her heart rather than the long-established educational plans that her parents set for her. The role accelerated Russell’s career, and earned her a Golden Globe award to boot.

It would seem that Russell’s career path was changed forever with the seemingly small decision to take up dancing as a child. After all, it was her ability to dance that largely lead to her big break at the age of 15 when she was cast on the Disney Channel’s All-New Mickey Mouse Club. Unlike most of her fellow cast members, she did not have strong vocal abilities. After all, her castmates included young and promising talents such as Tony Lucca, Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears, and Justin Timberlake.

After leaving the show, Keri made her first film appearance as a babysitter named Mandy in Honey, I Blew Up the Kid. And shortly after that, Russell made a number of mostly forgettable guest appearances on TV shows like Married…With Children. But she took whatever opportunities that presented themselves. Whether it was rooming with her then-boyfriend Tony Lucca in Los Angeles and together playing lead roles in the low-rated television teen drama Malibu Shores, or appearing in a Bon Jovi music video, then that’s what she did. And keeping herself in the game eventually lead to her being cast as Felicity.

Subsequently, Russell has starred in The Magic of Ordinary Days, Mission: Impossible III, and of course, for the past three years, The Americans.

After hearing about their recent Emmy nomination, Keri and Rhys celebrated at their summer home in Woodstock, New York. Rhys joked, “We went to the fridge and there were two Pacificos, and then we made a cheese quesadilla because we’re classy.” The couple likes to keep their private lives well intact, and so felt some concern about the attention the nomination would bring them. But that’s a good problem to have, isn’t it?

But what if Russell had never learned to dance? What if she had given up after a disappointing response to some of her projects like Malibu Shores? When it comes to acting, there are a whole lot of small decisions one makes along the way–and hopefully those small decisions will change your life for the better as well.



‘Game of Thrones” Peter Dinklage Goes for Third Emmy

August 8, 2016

Peter Dinklage’s nomination for the 2016 Primetime Emmy Awards marks his sixth consecutive year of being Emmy-nominated for his portrayal of Tyrion Lannister on the HBO hit Game of Thrones. The star has already won two Outstanding Supporting Actor Emmys as well as a Golden Globe for playing the witty, womanizing, and wine-drinking member of House Lannister.

Right from the start, the show’s executive producers/writers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss’ knew Dinklage was perfect for the part of the fan-favorite dwarf. They described Peter as “incredibly smart” and having a great sense of humor–not to mention he was born with achondroplasia, a common form of dwarfism, which was fitting for the role. However, Dinklage was cautious to take on roles that simply poke fun at his short stature; indeed, he’d previously ruled out countless chances to play elves or leprechauns. After all, in Dinklage’s words, “Dwarves are still the butt of jokes. It’s one of the last bastions of acceptable prejudice.” But when he learned the character had, “no beard, no pointy shoes,” and was “a romantic, real human being” he agreed to take on Tyrion.

Dinklage was the only dwarf in his family, and during his growing years he was challenged to come to terms with his condition. He describes himself as a sullen teen “who smoked cigarettes and wore black every day.” His classmates, on the other hand, mostly dressed in preppy clothes. As time passed and it became more clear they were outgrowing him, it became harder for Dinklage to accept his dwarfism. “When I was younger, definitely, I let it get to me. As an adolescent, I was bitter and angry and I definitely put up these walls. But the older you get, you realize you just have to have a sense of humor. You just know that it’s not your problem. It’s theirs,” he revealed. His parents’ support, was likewise key to coming to appreciate his differences as he developed a sense of pride in who he was.

After graduating from Bennington College with a degree in drama, the four-foot, five-inch aspiring actor moved to New York. Eventually he made his film debut opposite Steve Buscemi in the low-budget indie Living in Oblivion playing a frustrated actor with dwarfism who is unhappy with the limited, cliche roles he’s offered. But his breakout film role in The Station Agent would come a few years later. In response, critics praised Dinklage’s deeply affecting performance of a loner–a performance which stood in stark contrast to the traditional munchkin-like Hollywood roles given to people with dwarfism. From that point on, Dinklage continued to boldly find a way to break down Hollywood barriers. He is now a lead actor with a prolific and celebrated career. You can also hear his distinctive, sultry voice in several animated films such as The Angry Birds Movie in which he provided the voice of The Mighty Eagle. And according to The Hollywood Reporter, Dinklage along with other key cast members of Game of Thrones will be paid more than $500,000 per episode for season seven and potentially for an eighth season.