If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, The Americans must feel very flattered. If Allegiance, which debuts Feb. 5 on NBC, isn't a direct copy of The Americans, it's certainly replicated from the same DNA. Allegiance follows Alex (Gavin Stenhouse), a CIA operative who doesn't know that his parents — Katya (Hope Davis) and Mark (Scott Cohen) — belong to a recently reactivated Russian sleeper cell. (That's going to be one awkward dinner conversation.) If Allegiance borrowed some ideas from The Americans, I hope it also realized that half the reason The Americans is so good is because of its cast. But let's focus on Allegiance's Alex (Stenhouse), the CIA agent unaware that the rest of his family is playing for the other team.
Stenhouse is handsome and, yes, of course he's British. (When I hear the name "Gavin," I immediately think the U.K. or Canada — we just don't have too many Gavins here in the States.) Actually, he was born in Hong Kong and grew up in Lewes, England. So he's got the the globe-trotting part of his character's background covered.
Here's what else you need to know about Stenhouse:
He Acted Opposite Some Theatrical Heavyweights
Stenhouse had a role in The Bridge Project's Richard III, a collaboration between the Old Vic theater in London and BAM in Brooklyn. Not only was he performing Shakespeare directed by American Beauty's Sam Mendes, he had to share the stage with Kevin Spacey. "When Kevin Spacey starts barking lines at you on stage as Richard III, you better be on your ‘A-game,’" he said in an interview with Backstage Magazine. "Terrifyingly inspiring." I'll bet! It must've worked, though: The role landed Stenhouse on the magazine's list of 30 people on the brink of stardom.
He's Done American Television Before
Allegiance isn't Stenhouse's first outing on American television — though the others have mostly been guest spots. He played detective Jake Harrison in one glorious episode of Person of Interest. Even better, he had a small role on an episode of American Horror Story: Coven. He played one of Kyle's frat brothers in a flashback. (He listens while Kyle talks about how much he loves Toto — amazing.)
He's a Jazz Geek
According to his bio, Stenhouse has studied Flamenco guitar and Gypsy Jazz. He told Channel Guide Magazine that it helped him with his Allegiance role in unexpected ways, "I love learning languages," he said. "I try to learn a phrase or two of any language I’ve come across, and I play jazz guitar, so coming from the musician’s side, it helps you with the nuances and rhythms that are key to portraying an authentic language." Hopefully, the showrunners will find some way for Alex to have to Flamenco his way out of a tight spot.
Image: Will Hart/NBC