updated 02/26/2014 AT 3:15 PM ET
•originally published 02/26/2014 AT 7:55 AM ET
Matthew Rhys probably wouldn’t make as good of a spy as his on-screen counterpart.
While his character manages to keep up a fake identity and two marriages on FX’s The Americans, Rhys says it’s something he’d never be able to do himself.
“I get anxiety just playing a fictitious part on a drama series,” the actor, who plays a KGB spy posing as an American, told reporters during a recent conference call. “When I think of those men who actually live a duplicitous life and have multiple marriages or partners, I don’t know how they do it.”
Despite the show’s complex plot – with FBI agents and moles thrown into the mix with his intensive Russian spy duties – Rhys says the cast, including Keri Russell, and crew all keep it light on set.
“We do laugh a lot,” he says. “Maybe a little too much, and it becomes a great struggle. It’s not that you’re trying to do the scene, it’s that you’re trying not to laugh during these intense scenes. There’s a lot of practical jokes.”
Although the show requires Rhys to film some racy scenes, the 39-year-old says he’s become unfazed by it.
“We’ve all done a million of them in this crazy life we sign up for,” he says. “The first one is always the hardest, and then you realize there’s a very perfunctory element to it where cameramen shout, ‘Hand up more! Down with your elbow! Lift your leg up higher!’ The clinical element of it kicks in, which sort of takes away from that embarrassment.”
As for his time off from filming the show, which returns Wednesday at 10 p.m., Rhys says he’s been spending his time exploring New York City.
“Every day off is something incredibly different here, and that’s what I love. I found out in Brooklyn there’s a five-hour food tour that’s part history, part gastronomy, and that’s going to be my next day off. I’m looking forward to that.”