Allegiance: Soviet Espionage Brings a Whole New Meaning to ‘Work-Life Balance’

Craig Blankenhorn/NBC

Most parents will end up disappointing their kids at some point, but NBC’s new thriller Allegiance, based on an Israeli series and developed for the U.S. by Homeland executive producer Avi Nir, offers up the mother of all betrayals. Hope Davis (The Newsroom) plays Katya O’Connor, an affluent Brooklyn mom of three who’s hiding a dark past as a former KGB agent. When the Russian powers that be swoop in and force her back into the spy game, Katya finds her entire world–and particularly her relationship with son Alex (Gavin Stenhouse), a brilliant and idealistic rookie CIA analyst–thrown into jeopardy. Davis gives us the intel on her spooky new role.

What makes Katya different from all the other organic-produce-loving moms in Brooklyn? She’s a Russian-born, Swiss-educated former KGB operative trying to live a normal family life who’s been pulled back into a world of bad guys–but she’s still cooking breakfast. Like most women I know, she’s struggling for a work-life balance. She just happens to have a lock-picking kit in her nightstand.

Katya’s husband, Mark (Scott Cohen), a top executive for a U.S. defense contractor, is also a Russian asset thanks to his wife. How will he fare? They’re very happily married–he’s been taught some spy skills by Katya, but she’s the one in charge. A big part of our story is who do you trust? Because the affiliations are always changing. It’s going to get pretty complicated.

Is Katya better at being a mom or an agent? Her loyalty lies in protecting her family. The thing that complicates that is, in order to protect her children, Katya has to lie and lead a double life.

What’s the coolest part about playing a spy? Everything! I loved all the Bond and Bourne movies, and this mixes espionage with family drama, so it’s like having dessert every day. Plus, I know how to break into things now!

And pull off a Russian accent? My accent is designed to be subtle, to distinguish me from the heavies. Gavin and I are learning how to speak Russian–it’s a beautiful language, but very hard. I recently tried to address our beloved dialect coach as “girlfriend,” and I called her “pillow” instead!

Premieres Thursday, Feb. 5, 10/9c, NBC