NBC’s Allegiance is about a family holding a secret from one of its own. But, thankfully, the show’s stars Hope Davis and Margarita Levieva are a little more open. We asked the ladies, who both portray undercover Russian spies, what it’s like playing such tough chicks, who they want to host Saturday Night Live with, and what shows they don’t miss.
What is Allegiance about?
Margarita Levieva: It’s a high octane, espionage spy thriller. It centers around Alex O’Connor who plays my younger brother. He’s a CIA analyst, and the show starts off with him being very new on the job getting assigned to a case that is dealing with SVR (Russian intelligence) defectors here in the United States. The tricky part about the show is that myself, and my mother included, are a part of a sleeper cell that is living here in New York, and unbeknownst to my brother, we are SVR operatives. So, the show becomes about him trying to enter the world that his family is a part of. It’s an action-packed thriller and a family drama. It really delves deep into the idea of blurring the lines of morality, dealing with allegiance to your country, family, or relationships, and it’s just an incredibly complicated idea that also deals with an aspect that is very realistic and very pertinent to today’s events.
What can you tell us about your character?
ML: My character is Natalie O’Connor. She’s Alex O’Connor’s older sister. She’s an SVR spy, and really a bad girl. I mean she’s got a lot of edge. She’s incredibly complicated—there are many storylines that she’s a part of that the show is constantly dealing with. She’s playing the part of being the loyal daughter and sister, yet there’s also a forbidden love affair that’s sort of Romeo and Juliet-esque. She’s constantly questioning her own morals and outlooks. She’s also a techie spy, so she’s a bit of a nerd. She’s capable of hacking into the FBI or the 911 dispatch, so she also knows how to use her manipulative powers to get what she wants, which is sometimes fun and sometimes really dangerous.
Hope Davis: Katya is a bit of a lioness. I like to say that she’s Russian born and the exact opposite of a cock-eyed optimist. She sees the glass as half empty, and the water in the glass is probably poisoned. She worked for the SVR, escaped her service there to come to America to live the life of freedom that you have here, and now she is being pulled back into the service against her will. She will do anything to protect her children. She can shoot a gun, stitch your face closed if it opens up, make a good pie, and bug your phone if you come over to the house. So, watch out.
Tell us about working with this amazing cast?
HD: George Nolfi, who is our executive producer, writer, and director, pulled together an amazing cast of characters. We really bonded. We feel like a family. We rely on one another. We have Russian speakers; we have just an incredible group. It’s really an exciting cast. I wish more of them were here to tell you about the show with us.
If you could be a guest host on Saturday Night Live who would you want to be your musical guest?
HD: There are so many to choose from! I love Tay Tay (Taylor Swift). I have daughters so that’s what we listen to all the time. If it was my pick, I might say Radiohead. Do they do that? Do they come to America, and go on Saturday Night Live? That might be my choice.
ML: I don’t know why The Black Keys popped into my head. I love The Black Keys. I mean, I would also say Madonna. Madonna would have to be one of them because I grew up listening to her, and she’s always been such an icon for me.
When you have time what other shows on NBC do you like to watch?
HD: I’m a fan of The Blacklist. That’s the show that I just really love to watch. Some of my favorite shows aren’t on the air anymore, like 30 Rock. Parks and Recreation I love, but I think probably The Blacklist is my favorite.
ML: I definitely watch The Blacklist. I watch SNL. And like Hope, there are so many shows in the past that I’ve watched that I really loved. But I would say The Blacklist because it’s part of the reason why I love our show so much. It is so parallel to The Blacklist. It is an action-packed show, and also dealing in the world of espionage, coercion, and spies. But it is heartfelt, so I really like to watch shows that give me that full spectrum of emotions.
Allegiance airs Thursdays at 10/9c on NBC.