The Blacklist’s James Spader reveals a little, very little, about the #1 drama

 

James Spader (photo by Patrick Ecclesine/NBC)

  James Spader makes The Blacklist worth watching Monday nights on NBC. In the action thriller Spader plays a mysterious character, Raymond “Red” Reddington, a super-criminal known as “The Concierge of Crime.” Actually Spader is very mysterious when it comes to talking about Red, but he did reveal a little, very little, about the new season’s #1 drama.

 The intriguing Red has always eluded the FBI, but shocks everyone when he turns himself in (in the first episode) and offers to help the Feds catch his personal “blacklist” of super bad guys. But he’ll only cooperate if he gets to work with a rookie FBI profiler Liz Keen (Megan Boone), who has some connection to him, unknown to her.

 Red has compiled his blacklist over the years, and it includes politicians, mobsters, spies, and international terrorists. On the show there have been great stories that go beyond just catching the bad guy/gal of the week. And to its credit the fast paced drama that has the quality of a big screen production.

 The Blacklist has soared to the top of the rating heap for NBC thanks to the star power of Spader. He was fascinating to watch as the shameless attorney Alan Shore on The Practice and Boston Legal, making him the only actor to win consecutive Emmys playing the same character on two different series. He also was quirky as well as funny in his stint on The Office, a real departure for him.

 At the Television Critics press conference, of course Spader was asked how Red compares to playing Alan Shore, and he was amused at the suggestion. “With television you have to be cognizant of whatever you’ve done for a period of time. It’s prudent to do other things that are a complete departure. I did Lincoln last year, and it was worlds apart from anything I’ve ever done,” said the star of the Steven Soderbergh classic Sex, Lies and Videotape before adding, “People seem to have short memories when it comes to pop culture.”

 Among Spader’s list of credits are the award winning films Crash and Secretary, also 2 Days in the Valley and Less Than Zero. He starred on Broadway in David Mamet’s Broadway play Race. Most recently Spader shot the film The Homesman, starring Hillary Swank and Tommy Lee Jones, who also directed.

 On The Blacklist, the relationship between Red and Agent Keen is not obsession but a more useful liaison that puts Red in the role of a mentor. He teaches her to think like a criminal and see the bigger picture.

 But what are Red’s true intentions? Spader evaded the question with, “The basis of their relationship is very real. There is a past between the two of them that she is not aware of, but he has an intimate knowledge of her past, her childhood, relatives, and so on.”

 And Liz has secrets of her own, but the producers just want the viewers to enjoy the ride without revealing too much as the show builds. The new series also stars Diego Klattenhoff (Homeland), Harry Lennix (Man of Steel) and Ryan Eggold (90210). It should be a long ride for all on The Blacklist. #


Frank Barron is the former editor of The Hollywood Reporter, having served twice in that capacity. In between, he was West Coast news director for Billboard Publications, supervising their five magazines. Barron also created the western TV series “The Man From Blackhawk” for the ABC network. For more than three decades he and writer-wife Margie Barron have covered Hollywood for Production Update magazine, and they currently contribute to numerous publications. Frank started in showbiz as publicity director for the KHJ radio and television station. Before moving to California, he was a sports editor in New Jersey.

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