As “The Americans” heads into its sixth and final season, a major chapter of Holly Taylor’s life is coming to a close. The 20-year-old has spent the best part of her adolescence playing Paige Jennings, the benevolent but headstrong young daughter of Russian spies Elizabeth (Keri Russell) and Philip (Matthew Rhys) in the FX thriller series.
From dating the FBI agent neighbor’s son to taking an interest in the family business, Paige’s character arc has been a tumultuous one.
We recently caught up with Taylor to discuss disguises, New York City as a TV set and what’s next for the actress.
The show is filmed in NYC. What has your experience shooting here been like?
I love shooting in New York because I live in New Jersey, so I get to stay at home while we’re shooting, and also I just think there’s a fun atmosphere because sometimes you’ll see people walking by in the street, and they want to see what’s going on. It’s this big community, and we’ve had people be really generous, like give us their locations and pizza shops and little markets and stuff, and everyone is always so excited to let us shoot there. So it’s really nice working in the city.
You guys shoot through the winter. How do you cope with the cold?
Oh my gosh! We really shouldn’t do it. It’s pretty horrible, but everyone, like the whole cast and the crew, are all troopers. The crew wears electric-heated socks and heated hats and heated everything with full-on arctic gear over all of that. Our wardrobe for the show isn’t that bulky. . . . Even when we have to shoot inside of a car, we’re not allowed to put the heat on in the car because it affects the sound, so you’re not safe anywhere.
I imagine it’s a challenge for the makeup team, too.
Yeah, sometimes. The worst part is that we’ve been shooting scenes outside during a blizzard, and your mouth will be so cold that you won’t be able to move your mouth while you’re saying the words. . . . Hair and makeup have to come in because the wind will be blowing your hair all over, and your nose goes pink, it’s lot of work.
Paige looks very spy-like in season six. How did it feel to finally don a disguise?
I was so excited. Since season one, I’ve been yelling to everyone that I wanted Paige to be a spy, and I wanted her to be in disguise, but I never thought it’d actually happen. To see the [season six] scripts and [find out] they were actually going to be putting me in disguises, I was so excited.
How much do you relate to Paige?
I think she’s really admirable and [I like] how compassionate she is, how passionate she is about the causes that she fights for. I think that I share that quality with her, just like wanting the right thing for people, and how strong-willed she is. I think that she gets that from Elizabeth, and I can apply that to my own life as well.
What are you going to miss about working on the show?
I’ve been thinking about that a lot. I’m gonna miss the people. Everyone always tells me how you don’t work on a TV show where every single person is as nice as they are on “The Americans,” so that’s making me kind of nervous for the next jobs, but at the same time, I’m so thankful that I got to spend my first TV show and all of my teenage years around such amazing people.
What have you learned from working with Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys?
So much. Keri and Matthew are the most amazing people, and I say that to everybody. I hope that no one thinks that I’m just saying that, because I really couldn’t ask for better people to work with and better leads on a TV show. . . . To be able to look up to and learn from people like them, just how hardworking they are. They’re always prepared. They’re always there. They know what they’re doing.
What’s next for you?
I’ve really wanted to get into more film, but I think now what I’d really like is to do some kind of comedy TV show. That’s my next big goal, but I don’t know. I’ve been thinking about plays and stuff. I’m not sure if I’d want to go back to a musical, but maybe a play. [Taylor acted in “Billy Elliott: The Musical” at age 11]. I think that actors on Broadway — or just any kind of stage actors — are so talented and under-credited for how hard they work, so I think that it’s a really admirable job to do, and I would like to do that at some point.
Season 6 of ‘The Americans’ premieres Wednesday at 10 p.m. on FX.