NBC’s new network drama, The Blacklist, premiered Monday, starring Emmy Award winning actor James Spader, who has already captured audiences with his criminal portrayal of main character, Raymond “Red” Reddington. Red is one of the FBI’s most wanted fugitives, and for unknown reasons, has decided to surrender himself to the Bureau, in addition to assist in the search for Ranko Zamani, a terrorist who was assumed to be deceased. However, there is one condition that he speaks only with new FBI profiler, Elizabeth Keen. His intentions remain a mystery as he partners with Keen in unveiling his “blacklist” of criminals. What is Red’s attraction to Liz? Why is he cooperating with authorities? Spader gives us some exclusive insight on the show and what viewers can expect.
TWID: Can you explain what The Blacklist is for those who missed the pilot and what does it mean for Red?
James Spader: The Blacklist is just a name that Reddington gives to – a sort of freeform and has a very fluid list of targets, but there is no list. It’s all in his head. The targets can sometimes be quite spontaneous based on whatever’s going to serve his greater agendas. I think sometimes the targets are sometimes are more calculated and at other times they’re not. Sometimes they serve an immediate purpose.
TWID: Will we see one person be checked off that list every episode?
James Spader: I pause only because we’re at the beginning of what could be an indeterminate lifespan of a show. So it’s hard for me to answer that with any kind of absolute. However I know that there’s a very real desire and at the least, a case that’s pursued on a weekly basis.
TWID: What attracted you to the project when you first read about the script?
James Spader: Well, that character. I just thought he was really – I just thought he seemed like he’d be great fun to play in the pilot, but he also seems like he’d sustain over the course of the season and even over the course of multiple seasons.
TWID: How long do you think it will take for Elizabeth to find some trust in Red and start working with him?
James Spader: I think it starts happening quicker than she’s even aware of. First of all, it’s hoisted upon her so she sort of has to accept that lot. I also think she finds herself sort of compelled to be doing that in spite of either her intuition or her better judgment. In a way, there’s something that compels them to each other and in subsequent episodes, she wrestles with that. She wrestles with the fact that he’s in her life, like it or not.
TWID: Is there anything in particular you did for this role to prepare?
James Spader: I read some stuff about the world that Red Reddington lives in and I just buried myself into the material at hand and also people that I know that live and work in our world and also just a lot of conversation with the writers and you spend a lot of time sitting and talking about back stories but also future stories and sort of the shape of things. The great thing about a television story also is a lot of those things start to take shape as you’re just making the show. People are and how they behave under given different sets of circumstances, is on a television show seems to be more fluid than it would be in stage or in a film. It’s something that evolves and grows as the show becomes its own entity. Anticipation continues to build as Red and Elizabeth Keen set out on an endeavor to uncover “the blacklist” of criminal fugitives and continue to work on what type of relationship exists between the two. The Blacklist airs every Monday night on NBC, so check your local showtimes to get involved with what mystery this network drama has to offer.
Article Written By: Maria Moeakiola