Noah Emmerich stars in the new Channel Ten show The Americans.
Noah Emmerich stars in the new Channel Ten show The Americans. Craig Blankenhorn - Contributed by Network Ten

Actor goes undercover in new espionage drama series

THE life of an undercover FBI agent really is not that different to the life of an actor, according to Noah Emmerich.

Each job requires taking on a second identity, dressing in clothes that are not your own and trying to pull off a convincing performance.

"It's really fascinating terrain, especially for an actor who, on some level, is always undercover in their life anyway," Emmerich says of his role as Stan Beeman in the new Channel Ten espionage drama.

Set in 1981 against a Cold War backdrop, the show follows Elizabeth (Keri Russel) and Philip Jennings (Matthew Rhys), two Soviet KGB officers posing as an American married couple in the suburbs of Washington DC in order to spy on the United States.

Their jobs and lives are complicated when FBI agent Beeman becomes their next-door neighbour.

The Americans - Ten - Mondays at 9.30pm

Emmerich is no stranger to law-enforcement roles, having played many a cop or detective in a variety of films.

"You know, it's funny, before I signed on to this show I sort of vowed I didn't want to play a character who carried a gun again for a while. I needed a break from carrying firearms and then this show came along and I thought this script really was special," he said.

It was the potential for a conversation about America and where and what it stands for and its values that drew Emmerich to the show.

"I think it's a very pregnant moment in America's role in the world and it's quite in flux," he said.

The role of Beeman is an interesting one for Emmerich as, while Beeman is in all senses the "good guy" in the framework of the show, he's not the one audiences are rooting for. He's the bad "good guy".

"That's the great inversion of this show."