🔴 INTERVIEWS, Selected

Last updated: 11/11/2019
For Articles and Reviews about the show, Click Here: 🔴 “Vulnerabilities”
For News about the show (ratings, guest stars, renewal etc) Click Here: 🔴 “News”

Chronological Index

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⭕ 2020
⭕ 2019
⭕ 2018
⭕ 2017
⭕ 2016
⭕ 2015
⭕ 2014
⭕ 2013
⭕ Boston Legal to The Blacklist
⭕ Before Boston Legal
⭕ Go to End

My Favorite Interviews: Excerpts and Links

Conan O’Brien 2004 via DailyMotion http://bit.ly/2HSu7YY

Playboy 2014
Rolling Stone 2014
Playboy 2005
LA Times 2004
Toronto Sun 2002
Japanese TV 1997
Playboy 1990

Angelfire: Early Spader Interviews, Collected (1985-2004): http://bit.ly/1LcgeAj

༺✦ ♤ ✦༻

Featured: GoldenSpiralMedia: The Blacklist Exposed Podcast

// [Audio] Recurring, for Each Episode plus Extras


(Then open a new tab for BlacklistDCd. Don’t use back button)
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Below: Reverse Chronological


DirectSubmit, Ilana Rapp: The Blacklist Actress LAILA ROBINS Advises: The Readiness Is ALL [Interview]
// 9/7/2020

Q: After receiving the role [of Katarina Rostova], what information were you given about the character? What was your first day like?

Before shooting THE BLACKLIST I had several phone meetings with the writer producers to discuss all things Katarina and I signed a non-disclosure agreement and am sworn to secrecy. All very exciting. Not sure how long it was before my first day of work but it was in the West Village on that little one block street called Gay Street. It was made to look like a rainy night in Paris with ornate lamp posts.

I met James Spader for the first time and what was the first thing I had to do in the scene you ask? KISS HIM!!!!! Haha. He was absolutely professional, lovely and helpful. We plotted it out by the numbers….”Okay, you say this line and then I’ll say that and then we will kiss and then you say that and we kiss again and then you STAB ME!” It was a blast and we had a lot of fun. I felt very comfortable with James and I realized that this job was going to be fun. Wonderful actors, wonderful scripts and a GREAT crew AND a ten minute drive to the studio!


ComicCon@Home: Full Panel: The Blacklist Final Season 7 Episode


Parade, Paulette Cohn: The Blacklist’s Jon Bokenkamp’s Season 7 Premiere Postmortem Reveals Why Katarina Turned on Red and What she Has In Store for Liz http://bit.ly/35wp6xE
// 10/12/2019; (There are spoilers for future episodes in this article that I omitted from these excerpts.)

“The question of why would [Katarina] turn on [Red] goes deep into the mythology of the show, and it’s one of the things that’s going to be great to explore…,” executive producer Jon Bokenkamp tells Parade.com in this exclusive postmortem interview on the events of the two “Louis T. Steinhil” episodes. “There’s an event that fractured them, and we’re going to dive into that and try our best to understand what could have possibly gone so wrong that this family would find themselves in this position.”

Parade: Now that the other members of the team know that Red is supposedly Ilya Koslov, a former Russian agent, how will that affect them?

Jon Bokenkamp: Cooper (Harry Lennix) is the one who has the biggest question on his shoulders…. Do they continue to work together as a Task Force? Where does it go from here?

Parade: When the show started, it was more about bringing a criminal to justice each week as Red worked his way into the FBI, but now it seems to be more about telling their story. If all is revealed about Katarina in season seven, is there a story for season eight?

Jon Bokenkamp: This is a very powerful family drama and this is really, in some ways, the first year we’re telling that story because it’s the first year Katarina’s made an appearance. So, sure, we think that the story will definitely need at least a season eight to tell it in the way it needs to be told. [Emphasis added]


EntertainmentWeekly: The Blacklist boss on Katarina’s next move and why she became the spy next door http://bit.ly/2B6iqIk
// 10/11/2019

EW: What can you tell us about the Townsend Directive?

JB: The Townsend Directive … is basically a bounty on Katarina Rostova’s head. … [S]he knows that she can hopefully unravel or defeat or defuse this directive with information that only Reddington has. And as we saw in the opening two episodes, he is not eager or interested in helping her in any way, despite their history.

EW: Katarina’s return also brings Dom back into the action. What can you tease about what happens to him?

JB:… Dom is clinging to life, and with him lives a secret, lives the truth. … Dom is sort of a loose thread that is dangling out there, posing both a threat to Red in terms of answers that he has ….

EW: We’re now seven seasons in and Katarina is here, so are you working toward a specific endgame? Do you have a sense of when and how you’d like to end the series?

JB: We’ve been concerned about where this series ends from day one. We’ve always been working toward a sort of singular answer to the riddle of why did Raymond Reddington surrendered himself to Elizabeth Keen all these years ago. And it’s something that we talk about almost daily. I feel like with our show specifically, I think it would be impossible to tell the sort of stories that are deeply intertwined, and hopefully still adding up in terms of answers, if we didn’t know where we were going. So we feel that in the room, we sometimes move things along, we sometimes slow things up, but we’re definitely working toward a resolution to this giant enigmatic question that I think is going to be incredibly satisfying and surprising.


TheWrap, Jennifer Maas: ‘The Blacklist’ Creator on Red’s ‘Incredibly Dire’ Abduction Situation, Katarina Rostova’s Arrival http://bit.ly/30IifNN
// 10/3/2019; “Her knowledge of Reddington and the truths he’s holding presents a very tangible threat to Red,” Jon Bokenkamp tells TheWrap


TVGuide, Liam Matthews: The Blacklist Bosses Preview Katarina Rostova’s Russian Interference in Season 7 http://bit.ly/2pCvFho
// 10/2/2019

Reddington has some information that the former KGB agent needs, but we don’t know what that is or why she needs it. We do know that Rostova is willing to go to any length to get it, even though some part of her still feels some tenderness toward this man she used to know. “She’s played by Laila Robins, who is a wonderful, wonderful actress,” Bokenkamp said. “In some of these scenes she brings a real vulnerability that is sort of incredibly surprising, and is it great window into the relationship between her and Red and sort of their history. So it’s a very unexpected and really great performance.”

… “She is going to be the main antagonist this year,” said executive producer John Eisendrath. “And what’s exciting is that that, I think, makes good on the promise that’s sort of been baked into the series from the beginning, that at some point Liz would be part of a triangle between herself and Katarina and Reddington. It becomes the family drama that sort of has always been foreshadowed.”


DeadlineHollywood, Dade Hayes: James Spader Tells Whoopi Goldberg About ‘The Blacklist’, ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’, More http://bit.ly/2kQjmw1
// 9/12/2019

James Spader recounted his experiences making films like Avengers: Age of Ultron and TV series like The Blacklist and Boston Legal in an hourlong chat with Whoopi Goldberg at the Tribeca TV Festival.

“To sustain me over a period of time, I can’t be doing this one thing. I will just lose interest quickly,” Spader explained about his choices in roles. “After reading the pilot of The Blacklist, I knew less than I did when I started reading. It was so enigmatic, I realized, ‘Wow, the landscape is just anywhere.’ It could be anything.” Plus, “I saw the sense of humor [that] could really be married with anything. That dichotomy, I thought, could sustain me.”

Asked later by an audience member how he gets into his Blacklist character, Raymond “Red” Reddington, he shrugged, “I play make-believe. … I just love make-believe,” he said. “My childhood friends started going off in the afternoons to play sports and I was really disappointed we couldn’t keep playing cops and robbers.” When he arrived in New York City as a 17-year-old high school dropout, he recalled, “I’d walk the streets and tail people. I’d make up stories about what was going on.”

Having established himself with sex, lies & videotape (the indie phenomenon that took up only a couple of minutes at the top of the discussion), Spader said his goal on each succeeding project was to do something completely different. In two cases — Secretary and sex, lies — he said he deliberately moved toward a project that several other actors had passed on. …

When Spader agreed to play the titular robot in Avengers: Age of Ultron, he said, “I had not been intimidated for years on a set.” And that was the point. In collaboration with writer-director Joss Whedon, he settled on the motion-capture method of playing the towering machine. “The process of acting on that film was something I had never encountered,” Spader said. “But it was exciting because I was doing something incredibly challenging at a time in my life when I had just thought I knew what the f*ck I was doing.” ¤ Goldberg cracked, “That gets all of us.”


Cinemablend, Britt Lawrence: The Blacklist Producers React To That ‘Red Is Katarina’ Fan Theory http://bit.ly/2YRHblh
// 5/24/2019

John Eisendrath: We had an idea of what the story was from the beginning, and we haven’t really veered from it at all. That’s part of why, every year, we’ve been able to give genuine, legitimate answers that the audience has been able to enjoy. Not kind of vague suggestions — real, concrete footholds for the audience that has allowed them to feel like we’re not stalling, we’re not giving them lies or half-truths. That’s part of what’s engaged them in the question of his real identity.


EntertainmentWeekly, Alamin Yohannes: The Blacklist bosses on those surprise returns and happy reunions in the season 6 finale http://bit.ly/2m0RZjc
// 5/17/2019; ‘The Blacklist’ bosses discuss season finale’s surprise returns and shocking twists.

EntertainmentWeekly: Let’s start with Katarina. Why bring her back … ?

John Bokenkamp Katarina is a character that is very much part of the DNA of the show. We met her a number of other times, played by Lotte Verbeek, as this very crafty, sort of dangerous spy and we have also been talking about her a lot this season. … [W]e’ve been talking about Katarina a lot this season. The characters have been sort of circling her, they’ve all been in her orbit and it just felt like a great moment, an unexpected moment really, especially after Red has just told Liz that Katarina is not a danger to Agnes.

So, I think it’s finally time for us to meet, in the flesh, the present-day version of Katarina Rostova [now played by Laila Robins] and I think she’s an enigma. I think she’s a very mysterious, powerful, formidable person….

EW: Katarina has Red! How concerned should we be about his safety?

John Eisendrath: … I think just the mere fact that Katarina is there and has betrayed him…, I think is probably far more dangerous than the physical peril that Red’s in at the end of season 6.

EW: Speaking of Liz’s family, Agnes is back. Are we going to see more of Liz as a mother? Or will Katarina or something else she’s unaware of ruin their time together?

JB: Katarina’s presence will definitely impact Liz and Liz’s family life. …

The Blacklist is a show at its core about a parent-child relationship. That’s Red relationship to Liz and now Katarina’s relationship to Liz and Liz’s relationship with her own child. …

EW: … Dembe’s (Hisham Tawfiq) back! He says his journey during his time away brought him back to Red, but will their relationship be the same moving forward?

JE: … It only works that he’s come back if he’s made some genuine decisions about the fact that he can accept some of the choices that Red has made, but that does not mean that going forward he won’t be equally adamant that Red act in a way that is true to the better angels of his nature. …

EW: Is there anything you can tease about the next chapter of The Blacklist?

JB: … The story with Red is in incredible jeopardy now and there is going to be a great story behind where he is, the jeopardy he’s in, and how he’s going to get out of it. Yet, at the same time, we have introduced Katarina, a character that we’ve talked about for years on the show and she is obviously incredibly formidable. And with her, I believe, will come more answers and an endgame will snap into focus even more. I think in the relationships between Reddington and Katarina and Elizabeth … , all of that, there is a really interesting story and mythology to unpack as we look ahead in season 7.


TVLine, Rebecca Iannucci: The Blacklist Bosses Break Down the Finale’s Major Cliffhanger, Tease More Answers to Come About Red’s Identity http://bit.ly/2GNvp4V
// 5/17/2019

TVLINE: How long had you been planning to bring Katarina back into the mix as a present-day character? …

Jon Bokenkamp: … The specter of Katarina snapping into focus is a satisfying ending to the season, I hope, because it’s the introduction of the present-day version of Katarina Rostova. Laila Robins [who plays Katarina] is a great embodiment of both the danger and the specter and the formidability. She embodies that enigma, and looking ahead, that’s going to be a big part of what we want to talk about in Season 7.

TVLINE: Let’s talk about the scene where Red is speaking with that unnamed stranger on the bench. They’re both dropping hints that perhaps the story Dominic told Liz, about who Red really is, was not a fully accurate story. …

Jon Bokenkamp: … That is an example of our signaling that there are people who wonder whether it was [a true story]. People can interpret it as either, “Was it the right time to tell the true story?” or “Was he choosing to tell a story that was, in fact, not true?” Your asking that question is very satisfying to me, because it makes me feel like the scene fulfilled its purpose, which was to do just that: to make people wonder whether he told the truth or whether, in fact, he did not.

TVLINE: I couldn’t help but notice that when Katarina first saw Red in Paris, she called him “Raymond.” She didn’t call him “Ilya” or any other name.

Jon Bokenkamp: … I don’t think that’s teeing up anything.
John Eisendrath: What [James] Spader always says — which Jon and I agree with — is that whoever Red really is, he is Raymond Reddington now. Whatever identity he has had in the past, he is Raymond Reddington, and anybody who even knew him then would know that that’s his real identity [now].

TVLINE: Heading into Season 7, I have to ask: Has there been any discussion about the show’s endgame? Do you have an idea of how long you’d like to continue telling this story?

Jon Bokenkamp: We talk about it, yeah. We talk about it. Especially in a serialized show like this, where there is a mythology, we never want to stretch it. We never want to take advantage of that. And yet, at the same time, I think we really have a lot of story to tell. Going into Season 7, John and I both feel very confident that we have a lot of work yet to do. I don’t think anybody’s racing to the finish line.


EntertainmentWeekly, Natalie Abrams: The Blacklist boss breaks down breadcrumbs leading to shocking Red reveal http://bit.ly/2XmKXCW
// 5/17/2019; interesting article in which Jon Bokenkamp points to episodes leading up to the reveal that Red is an imposter


Parade, Debra Wallace: The Blacklist’s Unexpected Cliffhanger Begs the Question of Raymond Reddington’s Fate http://bit.ly/2Juy9HA
// 5/17/2019


TheWrap: ‘Blacklist’ Bosses on Finale’s ‘Mythic’ Character Intro and What it Means for Liz and Red in Season 7 http://bit.ly/2HCJmlY
// 5/17/2019; “It will reignite some fundamental questions that [Liz] has about [Red] and her ability to trust him,” John Eisendrath tells TheWrap

TheWrap: How long do you see the series continuing from here, given that the decision to introduce Katarina is such a big move?

Eisendrath: We are really proud looking back that every year we’ve had a big move, that we have not, you know — we’ve always been respectful of the audience. We’ve always given the audience real handfuls each year of the relationship between Red and Liz and the truth about Red and Liz. I think that has helped keep the audience engaged. We haven’t stalled, we haven’t lied to them. And I think this season with Katarina is no exception.

⋙ “‘The Blacklist’ will return this fall Fridays at 8/7c on NBC.”


TVGuide, Liam Mathews: The Blacklist Bosses Break Down the Shocking Reveals of the Season 6 Finale
// 5/17/2019

TV Guide: So a White House conspiracy with payments from Russians, is this ripped from the headlines a little bit?

John Eisendrath: I would say no for one reason: We introduced the character who played President Diaz in Season 3, which was 2015, and he was Senator Diaz. And as Senator Diaz, in order to become president he took $30 million of Russian money long before anyone ever knew Donald Trump was going to be president, long before there was any discussion of Russian involvement in our election. So we feel somewhat prescient in our storytelling. …

TV Guide: It seemed like there was maybe a little wrench thrown in, that Dom’s story he told Liz about Red’s history was not true. So more will be revealed about that?

Jon Bokenkamp: Oftentimes, truths on our show can be looked at and interpreted in different ways, and I think it’s one of the things that is most satisfying about writing it — and I hope it’s one of the things that is satisfying about watching it — is that you get a truth, you take it for canon, maybe it seems like it’s not true, maybe it’s half of a truth. What Dom (Brian Dennehy) told Liz I think should stand as the truth until we hear otherwise, and we do hear otherwise. But, you’re right that the way that they spoke about it on the waterfront there could probably be interpreted in different ways.

TV Guide: So after six solid seasons, how do you feel about your chances of this show going on for as long as you want it to?

Bokenkamp: Here’s what I’d say about the ultimate endgame. Just right now, standing at the cliff of Season 6 and looking into the abyss of 7, we have a lot of story to tell. So nobody’s racing to the finish line. We have some big turns yet to make. I think we’re kind of focused on those at the minute, and who knows what the future holds?


Deadline, Geoff Boucher: ‘Blacklist’ Finale: Captive Audience Awaiting Next Season Now Includes Red Reddington http://bit.ly/2w6163L
// 5/17/2019

Deadline: The balance between the show’s overarching “big-question” mysteries and the pressing matters of unfolding events/active investigations is a rhythm that changes over the course of the show. Can you talk about the balance in the season finale and for this point in time in the series saga?

Jon Bokenkamp: I think our show’s really a mystery first and then a procedural, and I say that because the longer arching story almost always drives everything else. Obviously, we have a case-of-the-week, but those stories are often moved around on the board until we find a way that they can service the characters or the longer arc of the season or series. For example, in Season 6, our Blacklisters were mainly servicing one of two stories — either Red was using them to try and get out of prison or our task force was using them to unravel a presidential conspiracy. In that process, we learned not only about Red’s identity, but we learned that Liz’s mother Katarina Rostova (Lotte Verbeek) is actually still alive. In the end, all of those stand-alone cases and stories worked to platform the very last scene in the season where we finally meet present day Katarina Rostova (Laila Robins). Not only is she alive — but she drugs Reddington, has a team of men throw him into a van, and they drag him off to God knows where. That gives us a great springboard looking ahead into Season 7. I feel — and I hope the audience feels — that each season we’ve delivered on giving not just big, unexpected plot turns, but also big answers and truths as well. Sometimes those truths are only partial truths. But they are truths, and we are very much working our way toward a singular answer about Raymond Reddington and why he inserted himself into Elizabeth Keen life six years ago.

John Eisendrath: At its core, The Blacklist is thematically a parent-child story. No matter how urgent the case, that story is always a part of the show. In the season finale, Liz makes a desperate attempt to stop the assassination of the President of the United States while simultaneously making plans to bring her daughter home — after getting Red’s assurance that her mother is not a threat. Then Red goes to meet with her mother — and Katarina drugs and abducts him! So, while we solve the investigative mystery — “Why would the President of the United States orchestrate his own assassination?” — we leave the year with a new “Big Question”: “What in the world is Katarina Rostova up to?”

Deadline: Those kind of twists, turns and up-ended expectations are red meat for an ensemble as strong as the Blacklist cast. Can you talk about some standout work in the finale? Either an individual performance or a shared scene that really shined in your view?

Bokenkamp: We’re blessed with an incredible cast and everyone brings something totally different to the party. … [W]hat I take great pride in — even beyond the performances — is how collaborative it is, both on screen and behind the scenes. It’s a great example of how our team makes the writing look good. [Executive producer] Laura Benson and everyone in New York [where production is based] are killing themselves to get all the little pieces. The actors are having fun and it shows. The editing is just stellar. The music brings it all to life. …

Eisendrath: … I love the moment shared by Ressler and Red in the finale when it’s acknowledged that Ressler knows Red is not Red. Ressler [portrayed by Diego Klattenhoff] has spent much of the season feeling betrayed by this, but here, face-to-face with Red, he promises to keep the truth to himself. These two are such polar opposites — the rule-follower and the rule-breaker — but they’ve developed a deep respect for one another that I think is evident in this scene.

Deadline: … [W]hen you sized up this year’s finale what did you identify as a challenge and what do you recognize as an opportunity?

Eisendrath: … Katarina has been a mythic figure on our show from the beginning. … But we’ve only seen her in flashbacks. Epic spy. Ruthless killer. Enigmatic parent. By the end of the season, Liz and Red had settled into a peaceful status quo. If anyone can upend that, it’s Katarina!

Bokenkamp: … I love that the resolution to our presidential assassination plot was ultimately a very personal and small story between a husband and wife. I also love that the resolution that story gives us is totally undercut when Katarina abducts Reddington. Not because it puts Reddington in danger, which will be fun, but because it throws into question everything we know about these two people while moving the story forward in an organic way. …


Variety, Amber Dowling: ‘The Blacklist’ Bosses on Red’s Fate After the Season 6 Finale http://bit.ly/2w9gk82
// 5/17/2019, Possible Spoilers ~ in which JE says things he maybe shouldn’t have. I hate it when that happens.

Variety: It’s been confirmed James Spader is returning next season, does that take away from the cliff-hanger ending and the fact that he’s stabbed?

John Eisendrath: … He’s alive, but despite that, the end opens up an incredible number of possibilities. What is going through Katarina’s mind? How was Red so easily deceived? What did he think was going to happen when he showed up unguarded and met this woman on a dark street in Paris? How does a man who does nothing without taking incredible precautions leave himself open and vulnerable to being captured or attacked by a woman who he allegedly has known his own life — was her lover, had a child? …

Variety: How do you balance reveals, like giving a potential explanation of Red’s true identity, in a way that satisfies viewers and the need for answers without necessarily sacrificing story or pandering?

Jon Bokenkamp: If you go back and look at the show again we’ve often given answers that are an answer, that are true, but when you look back on it, it may feel like we’ve contradicted ourselves. But if you wait a little longer you’ll find out that it was in fact the answer. In Episode 8 Liz asked Reddington if he was her father and he said no. We then found DNA evidence that proves Reddington is her father. So it looked like we lied, but the truth is, that wasn’t the DNA evidence from the James Spader character. … [A]long the way there are benchmark truths that we like to land on that are canon that might sound like they’re adrift or can be open to interpretation — and oftentimes they can be, and they should be. …

Variety: Do you read fan response and speculation? And if you do how do you keep it from influencing the writing?

Eisendrath: Jon loves reading it and I try to avoid it. It does come in to Jon but I think we both agree that no matter how aware we are of what people are saying the story is the story. We’ve never changed the story based on what people are guessing is the end game, the answers, the truth. The fun of the guessing game that the audience has is hopefully made more fun if we just tell the story the best possible way that we can. We don’t try to alter it and throw them off or to try and lead them on.

Variety: Viewers have been commenting on Liz’s daughter Agnes being absent for a while, did that prompt you to bring her back at all in this finale?

Eisendrath: … This season, there was a legitimate reason for Liz to feel like she is safe in bringing her child home. What we like about the way the season ends is that it is based in part on Raymond Reddington telling her that she doesn’t have anything to worry about from Katarina Rostova. But Katarina Rostova is on camera for one minute and she takes down Raymond Reddington. So while the audience is going to be thinking mostly about Red’s well-being, next season the question is also going to be about Liz’s well-being and her child’s well-being as well.


TVInsider: Amir Arison on Aram & Samar and That Shocking ‘Blacklist’ Episode http://bit.ly/2KaZnUC
// 4/5/2019

TVInsider: James Spader as Reddington was deliciously menacing and more quietly kind in your scenes together in the office and the plane that Aram thought was taking him to Samar. Does Spader stay in character on set? Does he have that usually quietly intimidating presence?

Amir Arison: The writers always say the characters’ voice and the actors’ voice start to blend. James is clearly a genius. Both Aram, and myself, know that when Reddington walks into the room and when James was into the room, he is by far the smartest and most powerful man there. It was fun to play an Aram who wasn’t afraid of him, because he wasn’t afraid of anything at that point. That was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for that dynamic. Of course, in the end, Reddington won, because he decided to have fun with Aram and charged him thousands of dollars in lost interest for his $60 million.

TVInsider: When did you find out that Mozhan Marnò was leaving the show? Your character was so intertwined with hers, so what was your reaction?

Amir Arison: I didn’t know it was in the works, but when I read that script about when Aram learns about Samar’s aphasia and how her condition would deteriorate, I thought , “Uh, I don’t think we’re going to have a wedding. If this doesn’t get better, how will she continue on the task force?”

So I had a sense, but didn’t know how it would play out or for how long. Both Mozhan and the writers were masterful in handling it. I found out a couple of episodes before it all happened. Mozhan was very classy about it all.


HollywoodLife: ‘The Blacklist’s Amir Arison: Aram Has A Very ‘Different Attitude’ Towards Red After Samar Shocker http://bit.ly/2YUdCAr
// 4/5/2019


TVGuide: The Blacklist’s Amir Arison Was Very Scared to Take a Swing at James Spader http://bit.ly/2UoTqIz
// 4/4/2019

“That was the scariest stunt I’ve ever done in my entire career. Hands down,” Arison said of the punch. He went to set early that day to work with Spader’s stunt double, because he was nervous that in his rattled emotional state after Samar told Aram that she was leaving, he would would actually “clock our executive producer, the legendary actor James Spader, in the face,” he said. “But you know, you take that fear and you use it!”

They ended up not using a stunt double, so Arison took the swing at Spader. “James couldn’t have been more of a mensch that day,” Arison said. “He’s always wonderful, and was really supportive and we actually were able to do it in just a couple of takes.” Arison said he never thought Aram would get to do something like that, and he was so impressed with the show’s writers for “earning that moment” by putting Aram through an emotional wringer to get there.


💽 TodayShow: ‘The Blacklist’ star James Spader on the hit show’s twists and turns [Video] http://on.today.com/2CJVK1X
// 3/29/2019; Actor James Spader joins the 3rd hour of TODAY to talk about recent episodes of his NBC series “The Blacklist” and what he hopes to come of future seasons.
↥ ↧
🐣 RT @fuzzybleu Aahh… Al Roker mentioned #EmmyForSpader on the show this morning. He told James about it when James was talking about the show’s loyal fan base. So awesome. Let’s just hope the Emmy’s are also aware. He also mentioned he would like to do an eighth season. Yay


TVInsider, Ileane Rudolph: Can Red Reddington Escape Execution? ‘Blacklist’ EP Jon Bokenkamp Weighs In http://bit.ly/
// 3/8/2019

TVInsider: Red, a man who is confident he can outsmart everyone at all times, looked absolutely shocked when, despite help from his prison pals, false whiskers and the warden’s dog, his prison break failed at the last minute. Was he?

Jon Bokenkamp: Yeah, we’re definitely entering a chapter where we are seeing Reddington in a much more vulnerable headspace, uncharted waters, and in peril in ways that we really haven’t seen before. The escape was a last-ditch effort and he’s boxed in in. He had no intention of being in that courtroom [for the penalty phase]. He had every expectation that he would escape. The show is about secrets, especially this season. Liz was concerned for Red, which was why she came to the prison in the first place. If there was more communication between the two of them, she may not have shown up and he may have escaped. It was only because she showed up looking for him that this went awry. Where it goes from here is quite a rocky ride.

TVInsider: Despite her often expressed anger at Red and his lies about being her father Raymond Reddington — she calls him “the Imposter” — Liz  fought hard on the witness stand to save his life. Why?

Jon Bokenkamp: Elizabeth Keen is torn. On the one hand, this man has not always told her the entire truth .He’s let her know pieces of a large puzzle but he’s never completely pulled back the curtain. Despite that, he shows incredible love for her and has her back in a deeply emotional way. What we saw her say on the stand in tonight’s episode is true. Only she could provide that sort of insight to the jury that there is good in this man.

TVInsider: How will that impact her going forward?

Jon Bokenkamp:… When Red pled guilty and accepts the death penalty as his fate, it was done largely to protect Liz and the Task Force. If he doesn’t do that, everything that they’ve done over the past six years comes into light and they all are thrown under a microscope. So in a way, there’s a bit of self-sacrifice there. All of these characters, as much as they’re on opposite sides of the line so frequently, really have become a very strange, dysfunctional family.  Red is the Grand Poobah of the family, so they’re all struggling with the inevitability of what is about to happen. It may have crossed their minds that he may be caught at some point, but we’re now confronted with it in a very real, intangible way that is pretty dark. …

TVInsider:So no more ingenious escape plans?

Jon Bokenkamp: Yeah. this is the first time where like you said, Red’s not three steps ahead. He wasn’t at the beginning of the season when he was arrested; he’s not aware that Elizabeth Keen is the one who turned him in, and even Dembe is sharing this secret now with Liz that Red is unaware of. She is the one who turned him in, tipped off the police. We’ve seen his best laid plan. So yeah, these are uncharted waters for Reddington, who’s back on his heels.

TVInsider: Did the storyline have anything to do with a solid series ending in case you’re not renewed?

Jon Bokenkamp:… We decided last year to tell the story that we felt like was the right story to tell, which is Red is not Red. And if that was the end of the series, we would have to find another way to continue the story, whether it’s local community theater or a puppet show or a novel. We couldn’t end with that, but we wanted to be bold in the story telling. We’re not going to be a show that’s ever going to write toward—“Well, maybe this is the end of our season.” I’m proud of the room being bold in the choices we’ve made, and we’re going to continue to do that. Until we’re out of story.


Variety, Amber Dowling: The Blacklist’ Team Talks Outcome of Red’s Trial … http://bit.ly/2EYnH7I
// 3/8/2019

In “The Cryptobanker,” Reddington’s trial took an unexpected and speedy turn when the prosecution (led by guest star Ken Leung) pushed to reveal Red’s deal with the task force, endangering his life with the criminals he’s helped to capture, while also putting Liz Keen (Megan Boone) and the rest of the task force at risk. So Red pleaded guilty and pushed for the full death penalty instead, which the judge and jury were only too happy to grant him.

The reckless move was a result of an intricate escape plan (involving Vontae and another inmate), but Keen’s remorseful visit following the trial alerted guards to Red’s plan earlier than expected and he was recaptured in a lockdown just as Dembe (Hisham Tawfiq) was about to whisk him away in a helicopter.

Red’s setting will shift from his current prison situation to death row at Terra Haute, Ind., where the show will focus on the upcoming execution rather than a pile of appeals and stays. [Executive Producer Jon] Bokenkamp reveals Red wouldn’t spend time filing such frivolities, given how much of the character’s enthusiasm for life comes from the fact he knows he could die at any moment.

“James has always said that Red is completely comfortable with that,” Bokenkamp says. “This is as close to the needle in the arm that we’ve ever seen, and watching how he handles that, how at peace he is with it, are some of the finest moments of the series. What we are going to see is an incredibly powerful man and a revered criminal who is now in this incredibly horrible place, not only physically but emotionally.”


💽 PBS, Amanpour&Co: Actor James Spader Speaks About “The Blacklist” [Video 14min, Transcript] http://to.pbs.org/2H6QHMT
// 3/1/2019; Hari Sreenivasan sits down with actor James Spader to discuss his role as one of the FBI’s most wanted fugitives in TV series “The Blacklist.”


💽 GlobalNews [CA]: On Set With The Cast Of ‘The Blacklist’ [Video 2:30min] http://bit.ly/2J3iLCu
// 3/1/2019; Megan Boone, Diego Klattenhoff and Hisham Tawfiq open up about season 6, reveal whose identity they would steal for a day and give their opinion on a “New Amsterdam” crossover with former co-star Ryan Eggold.


AbsoluteMusicChat, Davina Baynes: Working with James Spader ~ The Blacklist Cast and Crew Interview Excerpts http://bit.ly/2FGRVxn
// 1/16/2019; A Treasure Trove! ~ “We here at Absolute Music Chat have been privileged to interview many members of both the cast and crew of the hit NBC show The Blacklist. In this article we have selected excerpts from some of these interviews about their experiences working with the lead actor in the show, James Spader. …”


💽 NBC: James Spader on The Tonight Show w Jimmy Fallon https://youtu.be/AmmuKwiJ89o
// 1/7/2019


TVLine: The Blacklist EP Warns That Samar’s Season 6 Arc Will Be a ‘Real Doozy’ http://bit.ly/2M5TR2M
// 1/6/2019

When “The Blacklist” wrapped its deadly fifth season last spring, it did so with the reveal that the real Raymond Reddington is dead, and the man claiming to be him (James Spader) is an impostor. As revealed in two-part Season 6 premiere, “Dr. Hans Koehler” and “The Corsican,” that left Red’s daughters, Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone) and the newly introduced character Lillian/Jennifer (Fiona Dourif), in a conspiring tailspin.

While the duo feared for their lives as they investigated “Red” in the first part, by the end of the second part they had executed a secret plan that resulted in one of the world’s most wanted men being arrested while buying a pretzel.


Variety, Amber Dowling: How Reddington Being Behind Bars Affects ‘The Blacklist’ Season 6
// 1/4/2019

When “The Blacklist” wrapped its deadly fifth season last spring, it did so with the reveal that the real Raymond Reddington is dead, and the man claiming to be him (James Spader) is an impostor. As revealed in two-part Season 6 premiere, “Dr. Hans Koehler” and “The Corsican,” that left Red’s daughters, Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone) and the newly introduced character Lillian/Jennifer (Fiona Dourif), in a conspiring tailspin.

While the duo feared for their lives as they investigated “Red” in the first part, by the end of the second part they had executed a secret plan that resulted in one of the world’s most wanted men being arrested while buying a pretzel. …

Variety: When did you first decide Red was heading to jail?

Bokenkamp: Very early this season. We didn’t know that’s where things would go at the end of last season, but it felt like such an organic direction for the show to take. …

Variety: With Red in jail, what happens to the task force?

Bokenkamp: Remember at this point the task force doesn’t know that Elizabeth Keen turned him in. They don’t know why she turned him in. They don’t even know that Red is not Red. So, we’re going to get to watch the task force catch up to this and have very specific, very different opinions about how they should proceed, how to move forward and what this means. …

Variety: Is the source of those cases still Reddington?

Bokenkamp: … The list remains strong. … One of the things that is important to point out is that more important to Reddington than being in jail is finding out who betrayed him. That weighs more heavily on him than surviving prison. Finding out who would turn him in and cross him in such a deep way is the promise of the season.

Variety: What kind of a timeline are you playing with for the upcoming trial?

Bokenkamp: It unfolds… We’ll get there. There are some prison stories that are important and first on the list, but yes, ultimately the legal proceedings of the world’s most wanted criminal being arrested while buying a pretzel become incredibly important, and I do think that one of the promises of this season is watching Spader play those scenes. Raymond Reddington would certainly have fun having a soap box to stand on in the courtroom and we will certainly take advantage of that.

Variety: Having previously said you like painting yourselves into corners, do you have the season’s endpoint in mind yet?

Bokenkamp: … We have answers. We have a list of endings, but we haven’t landed on which one, or how far we want to go versus how much we want to leave untapped. That’s what we’re still talking about. In terms of where it goes, the direction, there’s a very clear map that gives us all great comfort. …

Variety: Do you have a family tree to help you keep track?

Bokenkamp: Yes. Yes, there is. It’s not only a family tree, but there are bibles, there are documents, and there are a lot of very smart writers who have a deep mythology embedded in their brains. We oftentimes go to them to make sure we’re not contradicting ourselves and making sure we’re staying true to the mythology. It’s very important. A reveal like the end of last season, that Red isn’t Red? Rest assured that’s not something that we’re like, “Hey let’s try that, that will be fun.” That is something we’ve been working toward for five years and have asked a number of times when it’s the right time to unpack and reveal that. This is that time.

Variety: You hadn’t been renewed when you made that reveal, were you nervous to do it?

Bokenkamp: … [W]e decided to bet on the story and we bet on the people we work with and are collaborating with to push ahead. It would have been a terrible ending to the series. That’s it. He’s not him and there’s no answer. Everyone involved really felt like it was a good time to bet on ourselves and thank God that paid off.

Variety: Is that something you’re willing to do again or do you then go to your partners with a two- or three-season pitch?

Bokenkamp: It’s always a conversation. One of the greatest challenges is how much to unpack … I felt confident about our storytelling and our fan base and the trajectory we’re on. I really do think Season 6 has some of our best stuff yet and we’ve learned from mistakes we’ve made, but we’re staying true to a really compelling story that’s going to have a really unexpected, satisfying answer when we do get there, whenever that is.


ETOnline, Philiana Ng: ‘The Blacklist’ Boss on Liz’s ‘Dangerous’ Betrayal: ‘We’re Entering Uncharted Waters’ (Exclusive) http://bit.ly/
// 1/4/2019

ET: [C]an you confirm that [Red] doesn’t know … who betrayed him?

Jon Bokenkamp: I can say with confidence he doesn’t know. … She has made the bold step to stay in charge, to stay in the driver’s seat and to run out this mystery. She knows to do that he has a lot of resources, so she has to sideline him. … It will create incredible tension between them and put her in a dangerous place. … I think it’s fair to say that at some point, he will figure that out. You can only imagine what that will do to this dynamic between Red and Liz. We’re entering uncharted waters and what they’re choosing to tell each other and how they’re reacting to this big reveal — that Red, in fact, is an impostor. …

ET: Liz has an incredibly emotional reaction to what she’s just done. There seems to be a mix of regret, sadness and guilt. What is going through her mind in that moment?

JB: … On the one hand, it’s a bold choice and a smart choice, but at the same time, it’s a dangerous choice and she knows that. Not only when he, will he find out, but there’s an emotional chink in her armor that has happened here because he has so much love for her. He has gone to the end of the Earth to protect her and to care for her and to teach her how to survive in this very dark world, and it’s changed her. … Partly what you’re seeing is a very conflicted Elizabeth Keen grappling with what all of this means, less so about turning him in and more so emotionally [about] what this means to her.

ET: Last May, you said that a major season six mystery would be unmasking the true identity of James Spader’s character and that it will play out over a long period of time, not necessarily a question answered this year. How closely are you sticking to that plan?

JB: Yeah. Identity is a driving force on the show and has been from the beginning. Who he is, why he stepped into her life six years ago and blew everything up is, was and continues to be a very central question. We will continue to answer it. … Yes, we will answer questions and we will find out more about his origin and the family dynamic and we will build that out this season, hopefully to a satisfying conclusion.

JB: I remember James said in season one, “When you know everything, the show is over.” You won’t know everything by the end of the season, but what you will be left with will be satisfying answers that stack up and make sense with everything we’ve learned from the past five seasons.

ET: How excited are you for fans to discover it when the time comes?

JB: Oh my god, absolutely. It’s something we’ve talked about daily on the show. If we didn’t have a very clear answer to what we were doing, it would be very difficult. I hope now that people can look back at the five years of clues that have pointed us toward this and realize that this isn’t something we’re just pulling out of our pocket … This is a very deliberately-plotted story that is unraveling slowly but is ultimately pointing us toward a truth that I think will be incredibly surprising.


AMNY, Meghan Giannotta: Who knows the truth about ‘Blacklist’s’ Red? Dembe, perhaps? http://bit.ly/2TuEPqf
// 1/4/2019, Harlem-born actor Hisham Tawfiq, who plays Dembe, says his character “knows everything.” 


EntertainmentWeekly, Shirley Lee: The Blacklist bosses on what Liz’s decision, Red’s ‘dangerous’ new situation means for season 6 http://bit.ly/2H7FiNv
// 1/4/2019

Raymond Reddington (James Spader) has finally been captured — but he’s not going to go down without a fight.

At the end of the two-part season 6 premiere of NBC’s The Blacklist, Red tells Liz (Megan Boone) that he’ll stop at nothing to find out who caused his downfall. So clearly, he has no idea Liz is the one who gave him up in the first place — or does he? Executive producers Jon Bokenkamp and John Eisendrath break down this latest twist and tease the drama to come. (Spoiler alert: Red will find out, because he always does.) …

Eisendrath: By the end of the episode, the audience knows that Liz turned in Red, and that Red has pledged to identify and kill the person who turned him in. This sets up a season-long ticking clock — with Red gradually getting closer to the truth, and Liz doing whatever she can to hide it. Eventually Red will learn that Liz betrayed him — which will put his pledge to murder his betrayer to the test. [Note: Red didn’t say he would murder his betrayer; he said “I’d say it depends.”

Eisendrath: … [A]s weird as so much of what he says is, the UN speech is a really good example of how [Red] ultimately believes himself to be very moral and to have a very clear vision of how the world should be. [Laughs] He has a very clear vision of what he thinks right and wrong is, but he just expresses it in very unusual ways.


Collider, Christina Radish: ‘The Blacklist’ EP Jon Bokenkamp on Season 6 and Exploring Red’s True Identity http://bit.ly/
// 1/3/2019

Collider: What are you most excited about, with what you’re doing, this season?

Bokenkamp: … What’s [it’s] going to be like, to watch [Red] navigate the prison system and the court system, having all of his resources stripped away? It gives us a really fresh, unique window into this world that we love writing about.

Collider: I also love how, in Season 6, you can say, “You know that Raymond Reddington that you’ve been following all of this time, well he’s not actually Raymond Reddington.” That’s cool and risky.

Bokenkamp: … This is somebody who we’ve gotten to know so well and who we think we know so much about, but every time we get closer to the truth and every time we get another answer, we find that we know less than we knew before, which is part of the joy of the character. …

Collider: … When did you know that he was not really Raymond Reddington?

Bokenkamp: We, the writers, have known from the beginning, and James [Spader] has known from the beginning. It’s something that he’s had in the back of his mind, as far as the ultimate identity of this person that he’s playing. … [I]t creates a really unique dynamic, not only now, but if and when Reddington eventually finds out that she knows. He may not let her know that he knows. There’s this fun chess match that’s going on between those two characters while everything appears to be business as usual. We, the audience and Liz, know that it’s anything but.

Collider: You said that James Spader was aware of this secret, but at what point did you let Megan Boone know what was going on?

Bokenkamp: All of the actors on the show will tell you that they don’t really know what’s coming until the next script comes out, and it’s often a work in progress. … [P]art of what’s interesting is that she’s finding out the truth along with the character.

Collider: … Why was now the right time to get into this aspect of the story?

Bokenkamp: … One of the things that I’m most proud of, in terms of what our writers do and the way in which we tell the story, is that we decided that we were not going to write a “what if we’re canceled” episode. We were not going to write a half-way version of the show that could have been the resolution of our series because it wasn’t. … The truth is that, once we know who Reddington is, and we know why he entered Liz’s life, then the story is over. Only then, is the story told.

Collider: I’m definitely glad that you have another season because this is a really exciting direction to go with the story, and I’m excited to see how it plays out.

Bokenkamp: It was a little spooky. It felt like a bold decision. It felt like a bit of a nail-biter. Can you imagine, if that was our ending of the series? But we had faith in it, and we also had faith in our partners at the studio and the network. I do feel like our stories are as good as when we began, and I’m really excited about the stories that we have coming up in Season 6. They’re really unique and different, and just as fresh as we’ve ever been.

Collider: It seems like Liz and Jennifer (Fiona Dourif) are still really getting to know each other and feel each other out. How different from each other are they, and how similar are they?

Bokenkamp: It’s interesting, remember Elizabeth Keen and Jennifer are half-sisters. They have different mothers. Elizabeth Keen’s mother is Katarina Rostova and Jennifer’s mother is Naomi Hyland, so they have different mothers, but they share a father. They are both the daughter of Raymond Reddington. They both realize that this man who they’ve come to know as Raymond Reddington is not Raymond Reddington. Liz being the FBI agent who has come up through the law, approaches things out of instinct, which is very different from Jennifer who came up in the witness protection program, hiding from the most wanted man in America. Her mother died because of some incidents that went down because of Reddington. They come at this story from very different perspectives, and yet they are united and bound together, in the most fundamental way. That makes for a very unexpected and emotional story.

TVGuide, Liam Mathews: The Blacklist Boss on What’s Next for the Impostor Raymond Reddington in Season 6 http://bit.ly/2QaUWah
// 12/30/2018

The Blacklist ended Season 5 with another shocking twist: The bones Raymond “Red” Reddington (James Spader) had been seeking all season belonged to the real Raymond Reddington, and the criminal mastermind fans have come to know and love — the man Agent Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone) had come to believe was her biological father — was an impostor who assumed the identity of the late naval officer (and Liz’s real father) around 30 years ago.

“That’s something that I hope the audience understands,” says Blacklist creator Jon Bokenkamp, “is that Spader, this impostor, this person who has taken the identity of Reddington, has probably lived as Reddington longer than Reddington ever did, and was far more interesting, and far more dangerous, and far more funny, and is the guy that we want to watch.” Or as Spader himself puts it in the season’s sneak peek, “The Raymond Reddington that everybody’s become familiar with over the last five and a half years is considerably more Raymond Reddington than the Raymond Reddington was 30 years ago. They wouldn’t have made a TV show about that guy.”


Parade, Walter Scott: James Spader on the Plot Twists in Season 6 of The Blacklist http://bit.ly/2Sp57cZ
// 12/28/2018

[N]ow that [Liz] knows that [Red] isn’t her father, and he doesn’t know that she knows, would you say she is the one in the catbird seat?

I think that it’s certainly a very strange turn of events, and I’m sorry to be so guarded, but for five and a half seasons, I have had such great difficulty talking about specifics in our show without revealing things that one should wait to see for themselves. But I will say that the sea change that happened again at the end of last season, the extent of that doesn’t really become clear until the beginning of this season.

By the second or third episode, that sea change really reverses direction or becomes an even larger swell….

To what do you ascribe the show’s longevity?

The 100th episode, for me, was interesting, because it fell halfway through our season last year. The halfway point in a season feels like you’re standing on top of a hill, and you can see where you started, and you can see where you’re going to end, but also there’s a certain satisfaction in telling that much story. …

I’ve been very lucky in that the television work that I’ve done has always had an overriding arc that not only the character, but also the story, is heading in. Even if the episodes are entities unto themselves, they fit into a larger story, and that certainly has been probably most acute in The Blacklist, and because of that, there’s a great satisfaction in covering as much ground as we have.

I don’t often look back and reflect on what’s come before. My eyes are certainly moving forward, but on our show one has to do that every so often to really be connected to where we’re standing on the long and circuitous path that we’ve been on since the beginning of the show. There’s a great satisfaction to how circuitous that path has been to get us where we are today.

Is there something that you’re good at besides acting?

The thing that I’m maybe best at is living life. I enjoy my life immensely. I’m very lucky to have a wonderful life that I cherish, and so I try and do my best at that, and that’s inclusive of family, friends, your own feeling of well-being and work.


TVLine: The Blacklist Boss Teases Liz and Jennifer’s Quest to Destroy Red http://bit.ly/2Rha36G See Photos of Their Season 6 Team-Up
// 12/19/2018

When the NBC drama returns with a two-part premiere next month, it will give Liz Keen some quality time with half-sister Jennifer (The Purge‘s Fiona Dourif). After all, their joint mission to destroy Raymond Reddington — rather, the man pretending to be Raymond Reddington — will be a rather unique bonding experience.

“These are two women who have very different backgrounds,” series creator Jon Bokenkamp reminds us. “Jennifer was just short of living in hiding in a witness protection program. Liz was becoming a law enforcement agent. They have different mothers. But they do share Raymond Reddington as a father. They both believed that this man was Raymond Reddington. There’s this betrayal that has bonded them, these two very different people.”

… Bokenkamp hints that “the way in which they will choose to run down this story is not always going to be the same. They may not always agree.”

“It’s probably important to point out that while Jennifer has no real law enforcement experience, Liz not only is an FBI agent, she’s an FBI agent who has arced dark, believing that Raymond Reddington is her father for the past five years,” Bokenkamp teases. “I mean, she stewed somebody last season. The way in which they navigate this story together is going to be fun to watch.”


CarterMatt: The Blacklist season 6 video: Megan Boone, James Spader on what’s next http://bit.ly/2LiingM
// 12/15/2018
💽 https://youtu.be/lHb8dfi4-M0 Season 6 First Look (Sneak Peak) (2:25)
💽 https://youtu.be/g6FOfd9QVxk Will Season 6 be the last? (Matt Carter) (6:32)


 ETOnline, Philiana Ng: ‘The Blacklist’ Creator Breaks Down the Bone-Chilling Finale Twist (Exclusive) http://bit.ly/2ILv4SI
// 5/16/2018 ⋙ incredibly helpful interview; Key points highlighted.

So, who is the man with whom Liz has had a roller-coaster relationship these past five seasons? That’s a question creator Jon Bokenkamp wants fans to ponder over the long hiatus. “… [T]he deep core of the mythology of the show and who Reddington is, and all those big questions, are rooted in the inception of the show. It’s not something where we thought, ‘Let’s try this now. This seems like a good time to come up with a big twist.’ I hope the most ardent viewers of the show can go back and see little clues that would be pointing us to this reveal.”
ETOnline: What hints from the early seasons can you call out as clues that the Raymond Reddington we’ve gotten to know the past several years was an impostor?
Jon Bokenkamp: There are a number of them. In season one, Liz flat out asked Reddington over the payphone, “Are you my father?” and after a long pause, he said, “No.” That is true and true since the beginning of the show. Now, Raymond Reddington is her father but this man is not the original Raymond Reddington. … There are moments like that in each of the five seasons.
ETO: … How much will season six be about Liz … figuring out who this man is?
JB: … I don’t know if she’s embracing the darkness, but she’s certainly changing. That is going to strongly influence how she handles this new piece of evidence that, remember, she knows but that Raymond Reddington doesn’t know that she knows. …
ETO: How does Liz’s end goal change now that she has this piece of intel on Fake Red?
JB: … [S]he’s in a position to become a strong and formidable character. That’s something Reddington should be concerned about. And if I can just mention, you had said Fake Red before. It’s worth pointing out, this is the same guy we met in the pilot, the same character, the same charisma, the same strange sense of humor. In a way, nothing changes and yet, it all changes. I think that’s important for the audience to know. I don’t think James Spader is going anywhere. It’s only going to get more interesting.
ETO: Alright, can you help confirm the micro details of the twist? The bones in the duffle bag belonged to the real Raymond Reddington.
JB: Yes, those are the bones of the real Raymond Reddington — naval officer, the father of Elizabeth Keen, yes.
ETO: And the man played by James Spader assumed that identity at some time in the very distant past.
JB: Yes, somewhere in the distant past. Liz said at the end of season two, “I was there that night. I shot my father. I killed my father,” and that is true. These are little bits and pieces of the truth coming together to complete this puzzle. Whoever it is who stepped into this personality — whoever this impostor is who took on this identity and created this incredible myth and became a world-renowned criminal, that is yet to be seen. …
ETO: And the true identity of James Spader’s character is a season six mystery, I imagine?
JB: Correct.
ETO: Do you have the whole backstory and true identity set for him? How are you planning on parsing out that information?
JB: We do have that ultimate answer and hopefully, it takes us a long time to get there. (Laughs.) But slowly is how we’re going to get there.
ETO: How key is Jennifer’s involvement moving forward?
JB: The possibilities are what are really interesting. I’m not really sure. We don’t know yet. We’re just now coming through season five and we just got our season six renewal. That’s going to be what’s going to be fun going to work and figuring out how she fits into the equation. But I love [Fiona Dourif] as an actress and think she’s fantastic. It’s a really fresh and different dynamic on the show. Those two ladies walking off together in what is essentially a beginning, not an ending, is the promise of something that’s really unique.
ETO: What themes are you looking to explore in season six?
JB: Identity is probably going to be a part of that. What we want to do is surprise ourselves — that’s when the show is its best, the moments when we feel good about that surprise us. It’s always been a story about identity, from the moment Raymond Reddington walked in and surrendered himself to the FBI and that question is more at the forefront of Elizabeth Keen’s mind than ever before.


TVInsider, Samantha Lear: ‘The Blacklist’ EP Jon Bokenkamp Explains That Finale Shocker About [Spoiler’s] Identity http://bit.ly/2ItotwC
// 5/16/2018

Show star Megan Boone wasn’t exaggerating when she told us the May 16 finale would bring the “biggest reveal” of the NBC drama’s five seasons. Not only did we finally found out what Raymond Reddington’s (James Spader) been hiding in that bag, we learned that he’s not actually Raymond Reddington — and thus, not Elizabeth Keen’s (Boone) father! …

TVInsider: So it’s safe to say that he is not Raymond Reddington and this isn’t a misdirect?
Jon Bokenkamp: I think it’s safe to say that, yes.

TVI: What about the paternity issue — is there any chance that he could still be Liz Keen’s father?
JB: I think that’s hard to coexist with that we’ve laid out. Harold Cooper did a blood test. So the idea that this is a misdirect, that he’s really her father, I think that’s sort of hard to align with what we’ve laid out.

TVI:… [W]ill we find out more about why he’s so emotionally attached to her?
JB: I think his emotional attachment to her is one of the more disturbing and strange and surreal things that Liz is trying to wrap her head around. I think that’s a real betrayal, in a way.

I remember talking to James [Spader] when we had just finished shooting the pilot and we sort of landed on the idea that what’s fun about this character is that he’s a real enigma. …

TVI: He’s been living in this identity for 30 years. Is there anyone who knows Red’s true identity?
JB: There certainly were. There were people who figured it out, as we saw tonight — Tom, Mr. Kaplan — most of those people have died but is there somebody out there who might know? That’s probably fair to say yes. Or even if they’re not aware of who he is or what his motivations are, that they might be able to pull the thread of the truth that would be threatening to him in away that he would not like.

TVI: Dembe seemed to have some issues with Red’s behavior in tonight’s episode. Could he be one of those people who knows the truth about him?
JB: Dembe and Reddington have an incredibly close relationship — Dembe may be the closest person to him. What he knows, I don’t know that I want to speak to that. But I think that Dembe has a very specific moral compass that’s not always in line with Reddington’s. …

TVI: Will we now see Liz move on romantically?
JB: I think that’s definitely a possibility. …


EntertainmentWeekly, Natalie Abrams: The Blacklist boss on that show-changing finale shocker http://bit.ly/2rHN8mX
// 5/16/2018, Spoilers in you haven’t seen Finale. Great interview. Just a few excerpts:

EW: Did you know from the beginning that James Spader was not playing Raymond Reddington?
Executive Producer Jon Bokenkamp: Yeah, this is something that we’ve talked about from the inception of the show. It is part of the underlying mythology that we’ve slowly been unraveling. I think there are a number of episodes that we can go back and sort of map and chart how we got here. Hopefully that is proof of concept to the audience that this is not something we’re just winging, and that we’re on a very specific path, and this is a well-earned reveal.

EW: Did Spader know? Did the cast?
JB: Yes, James has known and it’s something we’ve talked extensively about. … [T]he thing I want to point out is that it doesn’t change tuning in to watch Spader be Raymond Reddington. He’s lived as Raymond Reddington long enough to be this person, right? He has told great stories, he has had great experiences, he’s become a world-class criminal and probably become a far more interesting person than the real Raymond Reddington ever dreamed of becoming.

… We wanted to somehow hold on to that concept, that Reddington should be somebody who, once you think you understand who he is, you realize you know nothing about him. I think tonight is an example obviously of how we have tried to stay true to that, that he’s a very enigmatic figure that is a bit of a shape-shifter. … [S]omething that we spend a lot of time in the room talking about [is] making sure that we’re staying true to the mythology and playing fair with the audience.


TVGuide, Tim Surette: The Blacklist’s Boss Previews the Biggest Truth Ever About Red http://bit.ly/2wJvjZE
// 5/15/2018

People nearly dying? Earth-shattering secrets coming to light? It’s just another season-ender for one of television’s twistiest shows. And thankfully it won’t be the last, as NBC decided to bring the series back for a sixth season. …


CinemaBlend, Britt Lawrence: Why The Blacklist’s Season Finale Will Make A Season 6 Renewal Absolutely Necessary http://bit.ly/2G5lowH
// 5/10/2018, cross-posted under News

The Blacklist is hurtling towards its Season 5 finale with a ferocious twist that will make Season 6 an absolute must. That’s right, the series’ creator Jon Bokenkamp is taking a “don’t blink” approach to the events of its impending season closer. The dramatic thriller has yet to be renewed by NBC for a sixth season, but it is not impacting the way Bokenkamp is approaching the season finale. Despite the uncertain backdrop, Bokenkamp has assured fans that he did not conceive two different endings for the Season 5 finale, teasing:

Our cliffhanger at the end of the season is a cliffhanger. It is a big answer and it is a big question that is gonna push us forward. We have no choice but to write the story that we’re telling, and I’m optimistic and hopeful that we’ll come back. If not, maybe I’ll go do the finale as puppet theater at a community theater somewhere. But there’s no version of this where we say, ‘Well, here’s maybe our series finale.’ We’re not in that business.

… The Blacklist has never been short on exciting stories, and after five seasons, the series’ creator is promising that will not change. His optimism is also a strong indication that the show’s chances for renewal are in the black. It is hard to imagine NBC letting The Blacklist go. The show has a strong fan following after 100 episodes and it is still delivering at a high creative level. That is not common for a show that has run as long as it has.


TVGuide, Tim Surette: The Blacklist: The Showdown Between Red and Ian Garvey Is Nigh http://bit.ly/2HssgpH
// 4/24/2018
Spoiler Alert

TVGuide: One thing that stuck out to me about this episode is its title: “Ian Garvey: Conclusion.” What can we take away from that title?
Jon Bokenkamp: … Reddington (James Spader) now has incredible leverage over last episode’s Blacklister, Zarak Mosadek — he’s a drug supplier for cartels who is basically supplying the drugs to Ian Garvey and his band of misfits, the Nash Syndicate. Red has leverage over this guy, and when Red has leverage, that always makes for a good episode of our show. I think Red now finds himself in a position where he can at least try to take a strike. …

TVGuide: Let’s talk about Liz’s transformation. …
JB: … I think we’ve seen her change, we’ve seen her do things that are a little more mischievous, even in the last episode she was hijacking information from an Internal Affairs investigation. She’s certainly crossing more lines, she’s murdered people [laughs]. The propensity for darkness and that compulsion that she feels is something that is incredibly dangerous and has Red worried for this person he cares deeply about….

TVGuide: …[A] few episodes ago we saw Liz get rough with Red, which is something we don’t see too much of. Is that a precursor to a showdown between those two in these final episodes
JB: … She feels pushed, she feels cornered, she feels like she’s not getting answers. She’s not going to be pushed around by a man who is hiding something. …

TVGuide: Any other things you’d like viewers to know about the big episode this week?
JB: … In Episode 514, we met Raleigh Sinclair, played by John Noble, who is a man who is very good at creating alibis. And it’s time that Red calls in a favor of a man who can hopefully assist him in pulling off a heist. …


EntertainmentWeekly, Natalie Abrams: The Blacklist boss teases Red’s ultimate showdown with Ian Garvey http://bit.ly/2HnTKR8
// 4/24/2018

Spoiler Alert

The ultimate showdown between Red and Ian Garvey will come to a head this week on The Blacklist — but it will lead to an even greater threat.

During Wednesday’s hour, Red (James Spader) makes a play to retrieve the duffel bag, forcing a face-off with Garvey (Jonny Coyne) that will definitely give viewers resolution. After all, the episode is called “Ian Garvey: Conclusion.”

Ever since Tom’s death, Red and Garvey have been circling each other, wary to make a move for fear of mutual destruction. “Ian Garvey knows that if he kills Reddington, he may never really understand the contents of this bag,” Bokenkamp says. “Raymond Reddington knows that if he kills Ian Garvey, he may never get to this bag, so they’ve been in a bit of a détente, and that détente is going to end. …”

“The ball to keep your eye on is Elizabeth Keen and her deep, deep desire to avenge her husband’s death,” Bokenkamp says. “We now have a character who went from a first-day-on-the-job FBI profiler in the pilot of the show who has now murdered and burned and stewed people, and she’s not going to be stopped. …


HeraldMail: Blacklist’ actor Amir Arison will receive the Mendez Award from the Maryland International Film Festival-Hagerstown http://bit.ly/
// 4/22/2018, nice interview and bio


TVGuide, Tim Surette: The Blacklist Boss Explains the Show’s Biggest Shock Since Tom’s Death http://bit.ly/2HCjEh8
// 4/11/2018

Spoiler Alert: If you have not yet watched Episode 5:18 Zarak Mosadek.

You’d think that as we get closer to the end of another season of The Blacklist, the show would start paving the way to wrap up some of the season-long stories. But nope. Things just got a lot more complicated in this week’s episode as Liz (Megan Boone) discovered another big family secret.

Let’s get right to it: Liz just met Red’s other long-lost daughter (Fiona Dourif)! Liz found the woman, who goes by the name of Lilly but is actually the previously mentioned Jennifer Reddington, by following bad dude Ian Garvey (Jonny Coyne), who apparently visits Lilly just about every day even though it’s way out of his way.

After Liz brought Lilly in for questioning, Lilly said Garvey became her surrogate dad and watches out for her to keep her safe from her biological father. That’s when she admitted that her real dad was one of the FBI’s most wanted, Red Reddington (James Spader).

TV Guide: How are you going to use Lilly moving forward in these final episodes?

Jon Bokenkamp: … [W]e meet a new character who potentially has deep information about Raymond Reddington and who he is and why he maybe disappeared or why he came into Liz’s life. …

TV Guide: Should we be referring to her as Lilly or as Jennifer then?

Bokenkamp: Bokenkamp: Let’s refer to her as Jennifer.

TV Guide: Works for me. Jennifer believes that Garvey is protecting her from Red. How close to the truth is that? Or is she being manipulated on Garvey’s side as well?

Bokenkamp: I think that’s the question she’s going to be asking herself. … What the hell is going on? Why has Ian Garvey, a U.S. Marshal, been sitting on a truth that he knows; the contents of the duffle bag and the identity of that skeleton, and why it’s so important. If he knows this truth, why not go to the newspapers, why not go to the FBI, why not leverage Reddington for money or power? He doesn’t want any of those, and I think that the introduction of this new young woman shines a spotlight on perhaps why, what his real agenda is, and what he’s after. It’s probably far more dangerous for Reddington than money or leverage or being threatened or turned over to the FBI. It’s a story that has deep roots in the mythology of the show. …

TV Guide: Does she have some connection to the bag of bones?

Bokenkamp: Bokenkamp: I don’t think so, I think she’s caught completely off guard. She’s working at a bar pulling beers and going about her life. At least that’s the way she presents. We will see how that plays out, but I don’t think we need to be super suspicious of her.

TV Guide: There’s been a lot of withholding information by characters to use as leverage over each other in The Blacklist, and Liz is sitting on a goldmine with Jennifer. What will Liz do with the knowledge of Jennifer’s whereabouts?

Bokenkamp: … [T]his isn’t just about secrets or about a duffle bag, this is about a husband who was murdered. What started off as fairly light with Reddington being broke and trying to rebuild his empire and finally having his daughter at his side, is now a very different season at this point. She’s lost her husband, her child has been sent away, and her father is insisting to keep this private. I would not underestimate Liz at all, and I think we’ve seen her with her therapist, sort of bringing her into her tent as an ally, like Red has allies, like Kaplan or Dembe. …


ETOnline, Philiana Ng: ‘The Blacklist’ Creator Breaks Down Game-Changing Final Scene Shocker (Exclusive) http://et.tv/2v7imIf
// 4/11/2018

Spoiler Alert: If you have not yet watched Episode 5:18 Zarak Mosadek.

… In the final moments of Wednesday’s episode of The Blacklist, Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone) learned a long-lost family secret that will throw a major wrench in her plans: She has a sister. Jaw, meet floor.

The revelation comes unexpectedly for Liz, who tracks Ian Garvey’s whereabouts to an out-of-the-way Parisian restaurant, which leads her to a young female employee with whom he has a friendly rapport. Looking for answers, she approaches the young woman named Lilly (Fiona Dourif) in an attempt to get her to help take down Garvey, the man responsible for Tom’s murder. After Liz shows Lilly every clue she’s rustled up against Garvey so far, Liz discovers there’s more to Lilly than meets the eye. Turns out, she’s been in Witness Protection for most of her life and is, wait for it, also Raymond Reddington’s (James Spader) daughter. Her real name? Jennifer.

“This reveal that Lilly is Liz’s sister has been something we’ve been sitting on for a long time,” creator Jon Bokenkamp tells ET. “This is somebody who can upend things potentially in a very dangerous way for Reddington.” In the second season, fans may remember meeting Naomi Hyland (Mary-Louise Parker), Red’s ex-wife from his pre-crime days, where it was established that the couple had a daughter named Jennifer. After Reddington fled, Naomi and Jennifer were forced to relocate and give up everything they’d ever known. Up until this point, it was unclear what had happened to Jennifer. Now, we have the answers.

“They were estranged. He was searching for her. He wanted to reach out to her and make contact, and this woman, Jennifer, wanted nothing to do with Reddington. She’s been living in hiding and trying to have a life outside of his shadow, which is very difficult to do,” Bokenkamp says. “We knew that this season would ultimately point us to a very emotional and character-driven place because it continues to be even more of a family drama in a strange way.”

[Jon Bokenkamp]: “Liz is going to embrace this relationship, but not because she’s trying to get close to somebody she loves because of the familial relationship. She views it as potential ammunition against Reddington in what is continuing to be a bigger and bigger divide between the two characters.”

With Liz and Reddington on a collision course to get to Garvey (each for very different reasons: Liz wants to expose the truth in the bag of bones, while Reddington wants to shield it), “the larger question of who these bones belong to and what they mean is something that is going to fuel a good conflict between the two leads,” Bokenkamp hints.

“Jennifer opens a window to a larger version of the truth. She has a different perspective on who Ian Garvey is. She has a much deeper understanding of this man and has answers, potentially, that Liz knows nothing about,” Bokenkamp says. “To all of a sudden meet somebody from 30 years ago who has a history with Reddington, forgetting that she’s her sister, this is somebody who has, potentially, information. The idea that it might shift our perspective on who Garvey is, is an interesting one. That’s what Liz is leading with. She’s filled with questions for this young woman.”…

Now that Liz is a step ahead of Reddington in their race, the re-emergence of Jennifer into the picture will “bring up questions of [Liz’s] own morality,” Bokenkamp says, “of what she’s willing to do, of what line she’s willing to cross and uncover this larger truth that Reddington is determined to keep a secret.”


EntertainmentWeekly, Natalie Abrams: The Blacklist reveals Red’s daughter — yes, another one http://bit.ly/2IOtvPY
// 4/11/2018

Spoiler Alert: If you have not yet watched Episode 5:18 Zarak Mosadek.

As the FBI headed to Paris to arrest Ian Garvey’s drug supplier, Liz Keen decided to stay behind in a bid to take down Garvey himself. Liz discovered that Garvey would drive an hour to Baltimore just to nurse a beer at a bar, after which he’d bid farewell to a mysterious woman named Lillian.

Why is she so important to him? According to Lillian, Ian has been protecting her from her real father: Raymond Reddington. …

EW: This woman says she’s the daughter of Raymond Reddington. She certainly believes it’s true, but should we believe it’s the truth?

Jon Bokenkamp: It is most likely the truth. Viewers might remember that as far back as season 2, we had introduced a character whose name was Jennifer Reddington and who was MIA. Reddington was looking for her. The woman’s mother, Naomi Hyland, played by Mary-Louise Parker, was protecting her and wanted nothing to do with Reddington. Reddington had no access, no way to contact her and couldn’t find her. And so there is a character out there who we know to be Reddington’s daughter and this woman, it seems that her foot may fit the slipper.

EW: So technically she would be Liz’s half-sister?

Jon Bokenkamp: Yes, that’s right. We know that Raymond Reddington is the father of Jennifer Reddington and the father of Elizabeth Keen. We know that Jennifer’s mother is Naomi Hyland, who was Raymond Reddington’s wife. And we know that Elizabeth Keen’s mother was Katarina Rostova, the other woman and the notorious spy presumed dead.

EW: Why has Ian Garvey been protecting Jennifer all these years?

Jon Bokenkamp: … [H]is relationship with Jennifer, his relationship with Tom Keen, who he murdered, his relationship with Liz, all of those are going to sort of snap into focus in the next episode.

EW: How will Jennifer react to the news that Liz is her sister, but also that Red has basically found her?

Jon Bokenkamp: … What will Liz and Jennifer’s dynamic be like? She could be incredibly dangerous. She knows potentially truths about who Raymond Reddington is. She knows why he stepped out of her life and yet she’s been completely disconnected for years. She’s sort of a grab bag of answers. How emotionally dangerous she might be, she certainly has a different perspective about Raymond Reddington than Elizabeth Keen does. She hates the man. …

EW: What will Liz and Jennifer’s dynamic be like?

Jon Bokenkamp: … I’m sure it will be incredibly dysfunctional and strangely dark and full of surprises. We’re not interested in telling the reunion story of the two sisters who are gonna get to know each other. It is gonna be one that is fraught with questions and answers, and it’s gonna weirdly answer a lot of questions that we’ve had for quite some time. I think Liz is seeing Jennifer a little bit less a sister and more as an asset or a chip to play.


TVInsider, Ileane Rudolph: ‘The Blacklist’ EP Explains That Big Reveal http://bit.ly/2Hp6Dtj
// 4/11/2018,

Spoiler Alert: If you have not yet watched Episode 5:18 Zarak Mosadek.
Full Title: ‘The Blacklist’ EP Explains That Big Reveal — Is This Red’s Other Daughter?

… Red appears to have another daughter, whose godfather is none other than Ian Garvey (Jonny Coyne). He’s the corrupt U.S. Marshall who stole the mysterious bones, fatally wounding Red’s other daughter Liz Keen’s (Megan Boone) husband Tom in the process.

TVInsider: After hints several years ago, it turns out that Red does have another daughter — a waitress who goes by the name Lilly!

Jon Bokenkamp: He does. We’ve been hinting at a character whose real name is Jennifer since Season 2; a potential daughter of Red’s ex-wife, played by Mary Louise Parker, living in Witness Protection. His ex was hiding her, she claimed, because Red had destroyed their lives by becoming this international criminal. If this is that daughter, that would certainly throw a wrench in the mechanism that is the Reddington empire.

TVInsider: So we are led to believe this Lilly is Red’s daughter.

Bokenkamp: … All arrows point to this moment, which will have a significant impact on the show… Everything that we’ve learned about Liz and Red and the origins of his character will soon be brought into sharp focus.

TVInsider: Is Parker’s character [Carla Reddington, later Naomi Hyland under WitSec] definitely the mother?

Bokenkamp: … All of these questions about who Lilly really is — where she has been, her paternity, her relationship to Elizabeth Keen — are keys to the back part of the season that open an interesting door into the show’s mythology.

TVInsider: Did Red know Garvey’s in touch with Jennifer aka Lilly?

Bokenkamp: Reddington’s other daughter is somebody who he has been searching for for a long time and [he’s] been unable to find. She was outside of his reach, apparently, until now. Garvey’s an enigma to Reddington, who, like the audience, is trying to figure what this guy knows. …

TVInsider: [A] benign interest would be shocking, considering who Garvey is.

Bokenkamp: True. He may be a U.S. Marshall, but he’s an incredibly corrupt man who is in bed with international drug traffickers. …

TVInsider: The April 25 episode is titled “Ian Garvey.” That would mean he’s the blacklister whose story is usually wound up in the episode bearing his or her name.

Bokenkamp: We do call it “Ian Garvey Conclusion.” Usually, we do these two-parters with our Big Bad. This is a conclusion of that story — perhaps not the entire conclusion. We will have answers about who Garvey is, why he cares so deeply about these bones, and why he’s been sitting on this information. So yes, we have big answers coming in the next episode. Reddington will try to bring Garvey out of the shadows into some kind of trap. It will be super fun.


Variety, Amber Dowling: ‘The Blacklist’ Boss on Latest Reddington Reveal, The Return of a Big Bad and Liz’s Dark Descent http://bit.ly/2GQG2Sv
// 4/11/2018

Spoiler Alert: If you have not yet watched Episode 5:18 Zarak Mosadek.

The character of Jennifer Reddington was first mentioned three years ago, but has never physically surfaced — despite Red dedicating his resources to find her — until now. She showed up in the final scene of “Zarak Mosadek” as Lilly (Fiona Dourif), the woman Liz (Megan Boone) witnessed Garvey going out of his way to visit at a hot wings place. Liz brought Lilly to her apartment to question her about what she knew, but was in for a shock herself when she realized the person she was interrogating was her half-sister.

Variety: The audience has known for a long time that Red has another daughter, but how long have you planned for her to be tied to Ian Garvey?

Jon Bokenkamp: Really all season. When we created Ian Garvey we knew he wouldn’t just be some bad guy, he would have to be somebody who mattered in some way. … [W]e wanted it to ultimately become an emotional story. It’s going to be really compelling. This new character that we meet as Lilly is a key that is going to unlock a pretty cool door into the mythology of the show. …

Variety: How do you go about conceptualizing a “big bad” of that magnitude compared to other Blacklisters?

Bokenkamp: What we always think is interesting, whether it’s Alexander Kirk [Ulrich Thomsen] or Mr. Kaplan [Susan Blommaert] or even Berlin [Peter Stormare] from season 2, these people aren’t usually just bad guys who want money and guns and power. They ultimately turn out to be fairly small stories — intimate stories about people — about family and about their history. So, in terms of building Garvey, that is a character that we knew he was a US marshal, we knew he was incredibly corrupt and incredibly well connected, and that he didn’t know the whole story. Like our audience he’s trying desperately to figure out what the hell is going on. In terms of really building him out, Johnny Coyne is somebody we looked at even as early as the pilot. We almost cast him as the character named Ranko Zamani [Jamie Jackson]. He was the first Blacklister and we thought he would be great but for whatever reason it didn’t work out, and as we were casting this we landed on Johnny Coyne. I called him and we had a great conversation and we were lucky enough in this case to write to, and for, and with that actor, which is something you don’t always have the opportunity to do because the casting process is often very late. He’s somebody we’ve liked for a long time; we think he’s got a great presence, he’s super specific and he has been a great addition to the show. …

Variety: Could this reveal create a bigger wedge between Liz and Red?

Bokenkamp: I think so. The blush that came off at the beginning of the season was this acceptance that this man is her father. … What we’ve seen over and over throughout the course of the season is that Reddington is only able to share so much. … He said early on that there’s always going to be things he’s not telling her. And I think that is what is becoming increasingly difficult for Liz. That is also insanely compacted by the fact that her husband was murdered in search of this truth. That was the early turning point. That’s where a lot of this darkness came from. The moment Tom died everything changed for Liz. It’s increasingly difficult for her to understand why Reddington is trying to keep the contents of this duffel bag so private. …

Variety: Have you created signposts for future seasons at this point or do you take it year by year?

Bokenkamp: In the same way we look at a season, we’ve thought about the whole series and we’ve had conversations with everyone involved. We definitely have an end game in mind, but we’re certainly in no race to get there. … You can look back at the show, specifically with Wednesday’s episode, and we’ve introduced a character that we introduced three years ago. Oftentimes these things take time. We don’t always know exactly when that character’s going to reemerge or where that storyline will come back, but there is a bible in our writers room that tracks every character, every plotline. If we didn’t have our endgame in mind it would be very difficult to tell the story we’re telling.


Playbill: The Blacklist’s Amir Arison Proves His Theatre Credentials http://bit.ly/2FZzhhM
// 3/6/2018

… Arison relishes playing the FBI counter-terrorism unit’s computer specialist, Aram. “His computer savvy and problem solving skills aside, which was his original primary function on the show, it’s his humanity and heart that I’m most proud to play,” says Arison. “The humor and intelligence are definitely fun aspects of Aram, but the best part are the qualities he doesn’t even see in himself. He is beyond loyal, and way braver than he even realizes.”

What is your favorite part of doing TV that’s different from theatre?
Craft services. But in all seriousness, besides the endless food, with TV I don’t get a chance to overthink for too long. We shoot it, maybe get a couple takes, and that’s it. You don’t get to do it again the next day. In theatre, during a run or even during a long rehearsal process, my brain can start eating itself: endlessly mining the role to perhaps a counterproductive point, constantly analyzing why this moment worked one night and not the other. In that way, I have a certain mental freedom in TV. lso the pace and pressure of TV production demands me to kick into gear, there is literally no time to overthink. And you get one three-minute blocking rehearsal, if that. You have to be beyond ready. You can get new pages and scenes you might have to deliver the next morning at 6AM. That type of pressure cooker forces me to go, and I find I can sometimes thrive in that situation. TV is a lot about your initial instincts.

You’ve worked with directors like James Lapine and Michael Greif. What’s something you learned from each of those directors that you’ve taken with you to next jobs?
Michael Greif [once told me], “Amir, its not about what they’re doing, it’s about what can you do.” Basically, never get hung up on what anyone else might be doing at anytime. Find a way to bring your character’s response/tactic etc. no matter what. I remember how clear and direct he said it. It’s simple, but it stayed with me, and that concept has grown for me in TV. No matter what’s happening, say yes, it can be quite fun, with endless discoveries.


Variety, CynthiaLittleton: Remote Controlled: James Spader on ‘The Blacklist’s’ Blend of Serialized and Procedural Storytelling [ with podcast ] http://bit.ly/2EL4MeD
// 2/2/2018

After five seasons and counting, Spader says he is able to remain deeply engaged with his man-of-mystery character Raymond “Red” Reddington because of the nature of the storytelling and the ever-changing list of guest stars who enter his world.

Shot in New York, the Sony Pictures TV series revolves around Spader as a former international criminal mastermind who is persuaded by the FBI to help catch the worst of the worst, aka “Blacklisters.” There’s a caper-of-the-week aspect to each episode and a larger mythology involving the core characters that unfolds in fits and starts. That mix keeps things interesting for Spader, who is known as an actor’s actor.

“I look at our series as strange bedfellows in that it’s this serialized story that’s married to a procedural,” Spader says. “Sometimes they are wonderful bedfellows and sometimes they are strange bedfellows. It think it’s one of the secrets to the success of the show. The procedural aspect of the show allows for the serialized aspect to take a rest, take a breath for a while.”

… [T]he show is seen in more than 175 countries.

“I have never worked on anything in my life that has had a broader demographic than ‘The Blacklist.’ Not even close,” Spader says. “This show is watched by people who are 7 years old to 90 years old, from every single cultural and economic background and nationality. It just has been staggering.”


Variety, Addie Morfoot: ‘The Blacklist’ Team on the 100th Episode: A Heist and a Walk Down Memory Lane http://bit.ly/2GbRNmM
// 1/17/2018

In crafting the 100th episode of “The Blacklist,” executive producers Jon Bokenkamp and John Eisendrath knew that they wanted Nathan Lane to play the role of blacklister No. 100 — Abraham Stern — a cunning manipulator who has devoted his life (and the lives of many innocents) to recovering the fortune that is his birthright. In the episode, Red (James Spader) encounters Stern when he goes on the hunt for a legendary treasure.

“It’s a big, super fun, heist episode,” says Bokenkamp. “And it’s incredible to see Nathan and James go head-to-head.”

While Eisendrath adds that they put “some special sauce” in this episode, due to its milestone status, he says the team also wanted to ensure it would please the devoted fans by matching the usual tone and providing a walk down memory lane.

“We didn’t want to be terribly self referential, but we do have a storyline that very explicitly references an episode that aired early in the run of series,” Eisendrath says, noting that Liz (Megan Boone) will study the methods of one of “The Blacklist’s” most dangerous criminals during the course of the episode.

Two of Bokenkamp’s favorite episodes are season one’s “The Stewmaker” and “Milton Bobbit,” as is Eisendrath’s favorite episode, “Anslo Garrick.”


🔆 This❗️⋙ Variety, Addie Morfoot: ’The Blacklist’ Team on the Road to 💯Episodes: ‘There is a Lot of Wish Fulfillment Going On’ http://bit.ly/2FNiLAI
// 1/17/2018

… [I]t’s television that not only helped NBC rebuild its reputation and lineup, but also television that has captivated audiences around the world for the past four years.

In its first two weeks “The Blacklist” averaged a live+same day rating of 3.6, 10-share in adults 18-49 and 12 million viewers. With “The Voice” as its lead-in, the show quickly established itself as the top freshman drama in both demo and total viewers, and would become the No. 1 new scripted series launched by NBC during the 2013-14 season.

To date, the show has been sold in more than 175 territories across the world including Australia, Brazil and the United Kingdom, where the fourth season ranked among the top 15 U.S. dramas on U.K. digital channels.

“‘The Blacklist’ has been really important to the network as well as to me personally,” says NBC Entertainment president Jennifer Salke. “When Bob [Greenblatt] and I first came to NBC, we were in last place, and it was ‘The Blacklist’ that was our first hit drama. It single-handedly sent a message to the community that NBC was turning the ship around, and now, five years later, to reach the 100th episode going into a year when we’re the number one network is incredibly rewarding.”

For series creator and executive producer Jon Bokenkamp, the show’s success came as a complete shock.

“I’d never done TV before,” he says. “I knew we had something that we liked, but we had no idea it would catch such a wave.”

The drama was so hot that Netflix acquired the rights to the series in 2014 for a reported $2 million per episode.

NBC shifted the series’ schedule to Thursdays a third of the way into its sophomore season. Seeking to hook viewers and lead them directly into the show’s new timeslot, NBC aired the first of a two-part “Blacklist” just after the Super Bowl in 2015. The post-game episode drew in 26.5 million live+same day viewers.

For the 2016-17 television season, “The Blacklist” ranked as NBC’s third most watched scripted series behind “This Is Us” and “Chicago Fire,” averaging 9.3 million viewers in live+seven day Nielsens during season four. …

And it may be hard to imagine anyone other than Spader as Red, but back in 2012 when the show was being cast, Eisendrath says the role was offered to Kiefer Sutherland, Richard Gere, Bryan Cranston and Pierce Brosnan. …

Spader said yes to the part just three days before the pilot was scheduled to begin filming. While Bokenkamp and Eisendrath had lengthy phone calls with him prior to the pilot, the duo didn’t meet Spader in person until the first day of production. Spader was in a dressing room getting his head shaved.

“Once James stepped into the character during the pilot, adjustments were made to fit a voice that he had in mind,” Bokenkamp says. …

“There is a lot of wish fulfillment going on,” [Executive Producer John] Fox says. “Red can do and say things that most people wouldn’t do or say. He crosses a lot of lines, and I think that’s a fun ride to watch.”

Shocking audiences by killing off an original character such as Tom [Keen, Liz’s husband] or solving secrets such as Liz learning at the end of season four that Red is her father doesn’t worry Eisendrath.

“It’s part of the way the house is built,” he says. “Anyone can go at any time. I mean, we blew up Alan Alda — a TV legend!”

Jeffrey Frost, president of Sony Pictures Television Studios, feels that achieving 100 episodes in this day and age is “nothing short of remarkable.”

“For a series to experience such longevity, especially a drama series, speaks to the brilliant storytelling and spectacular performances of everyone involved. From Sony’s perspective, it reflects the importance of independent studios to distribution platforms in a vertically integrated environment,” Frost says.

As the show continues to unfold, the team behind the hit series agrees that there is plenty more story to mine and secrets (including a suitcase full of mysterious bones) to explore.

“What I’m really amazed at is that after 100 episodes we have so much more story to tell,” Spader says. “We’ve still got a ways to go until the endgame.”


TVGuide, Tim Surette: The Blacklist Mega Buzz: How Will Cooper Handle Dark Liz? http://bit.ly/2B6Zo2c
// 1/16/2018

“Cooper’s going to have to juggle his sense of right and wrong,” [Harry] Lennix says in regards to how he’ll handle Liz, hinting that he’ll go off book in order to keep Liz on the Task Force. And if Red (James Spader) is Liz’s devil on her shoulder, then we all know who Cooper will be. …

But Cooper has bent the rules before, and he’ll have to do it again. The question may be, “How will Cooper justify [handling Liz] to himself, but I think he’ll find a way,” Lennix says.


EntertainmentWeekly, Natalie Abrams: The Blacklist: James Spader, Megan Boone talk making it to 100 episodes http://bit.ly/2DDR8cM
// 1/16/2018

“It means a very different thing now than what it used to mean,” Spader tells EW of hitting 100 episodes. “It used to mean that 100 episodes is a very important figure because it was when a television series was sold into syndication in a 100-episode package. That now happens much earlier than 100 episodes. So, now it’s just a sense of achievement, I guess.” …

“I’m very pleased with this particular episode, not because of what number it is, but it just is a very fun story,” [Spader] says. “My great friend Andrew McCarthy is directing it, and Nathan Lane, another friend, is guest-starring with us, and I just happen to like the episode. Our seasons have their hills and valleys in terms of emotion and story. We have some episodes that are very dark and very intense and dramatic, and there are other ones that are lighter and fun. Here we are, we’re in the 11th episode, we’re halfway through the season, and this episode is just that: It’s got a lot of fun to be had in it.”

… But Liz will take a dark path during the hour, using what she’s learned from past blacklisters to handle a very, ahem, precarious situation. It’s a wild departure from the Liz Keen viewers first met in the pilot — and an evolution her portrayer has also undergone.

“I went into an experience as one person, and I’m finding I’ll probably come out a very different person,” Boone says. “I went from an actress who was not well-known and who nobody recognized or knew my name, and that changed overnight. The landscape of television has changed so much since I started the show. So, it’s been quite an adventure in many ways.”

“Four and a half years have already gone by, and I feel like this has been such a uniquely gigantic experience that I’ve changed as a result,” Boone continues. “For me, personally, that’s what it feels like, and for me as a member of a group of people who accomplished this together … ”


NYT, Kathryn Shattuck: James Spader Still Lives for the Surprise of ‘The Blacklist’ http://nyti.ms/2EE2Seu
// 1/12/2018, Mr. Spader talks about his 100th episode, the pleasures of playing the provocateur and why now is the time for men to keep quiet and listen.

“I’m terribly, terribly sorry,” he said, trying to untangle the plot machinations leading up to the NBC drama’s 100th episode on Wednesday, Jan. 17 — a testament to the show’s longevity in an age of distracted attention spans and its loyal audience, which averages 8.7 million weekly viewers who either watch the show live or record it. “I keep a lot of episodes in my head at the same time, and you might as well have plucked me up and dropped me on a different planet.”

Mr. Spader’s befuddlement is hardly surprising given a series known for its byzantine story lines and frenetic shooting schedule.

What’s required to keep a show going for that long?

As many twists and turns as one can provide. When I first read the script, at the end I realized I knew less about the character than when I first started reading. And I thought, “What a great trick that is” — to retain a certain enigmatic aspect. It felt like the premise was perfectly suited to go in any direction and somehow find its way back on track again. …

Is there a turn you’d to see Red take?

A surprising one. … [B]efore I did “Boston Legal,” I had no understanding of what it was like for a viewer to look forward to finding out what was going to happen the next week. There will be an episode of “The Blacklist” that is just fun and another that is very intense and then another that is rather ruthless and brutal. I still love the element of surprise, even for myself.

You often play the provocateur, and people tend to assume you are your characters.

My career had been split pretty evenly between good guys and bad guys until I finally grew into myself enough to play a decent antihero, where you can combine the two. …

Were you surprised to read that Charlie Rose was accused of asking a female employee to watch “Secretary,” your movie of a sadomasochistic relationship, with him?

Somebody sent me that, and I don’t know whether they thought it was strange and funny or something, but I am not finding anything funny about any of it. … [T]he level of aggression and exploitation has been overwhelming.

I rarely get to ask a man about sexual harassment in Hollywood.

It’s a little like asking someone their perspective when they’re in the middle of a flood, you know what I mean? I feel like the floodwaters are rising. And I’m a little bit ashamed to say that I’m finding that the most important things being said on this subject are being said by females, not by males. I think that men should think hard and listen carefully and perhaps we’ll learn a thing or two. …


TVGuide, Liam Mathews & Liz Raftery: The Blacklist Producers Say What’s in the Suitcase Will Reveal Shocking Truths About Red http://bit.ly/2B37OYt
// 1/10/2017, Interview w series creator Jon Bokenkamp and showrunner John Eisendrath

… [Liz is] a changed version of herself now that she’s with a darkness inside of her that has previously only been hinted at, as creator and executive producer Jon Bokenkamp and executive producer John Eisendrath tell TV Guide.

As Season 5 progresses, she and Red (James Spader) will work together to find Tom’s killers, but she’ll also find out some upsetting stuff about Red’s role in his death and the secrets her father and her husband were keeping from her. And it will all culminate in the reveal of whose bones are in that suitcase, which in turn will reveal more about Red than anything previously seen on The Blacklist. …

TVGuide: … What can you tell us about what’s coming up?

JB: In general, we left with the tragic death of Tom, and the question of who killed him and what is in that suitcase and who is in that suitcase are going to frame the rest of the season. We are going to answer both questions in the balance of the back half of the season. …

TVGuide: How will the loss of Tom affect Liz and her relationship with Red?

JE: The audience … know[s] that [Tom]’s been interacting with Red. Liz is going to catch up during the course of the back half of the season, and that is going to be very emotional for her, both learning that Tom was engaged in yet another secret quest, after all the other secret quests that he had kept from her that she had thought were in their past. And then, to discover that Red is involved — … [I]t’s going to deeply affect her relationship with Red, when she realizes that all of the events that led up to Tom’s death have, once again, to do almost entirely with secrets that Red is keeping from her.

JB: Jon Bokenkamp: I think she’s also grappling — … [Liz] knows that within her is sort of the same DNA of Reddington. Some of those dark tendencies. She murdered the attorney general a couple years ago. And so this is a person who knows she has a capacity to do things that cross lines. I think she really is sort of self-aware of that and trying to hold herself together and stay above the fray when we come back. That struggle, I think, is going to be a compelling part of the back half of the season. …

TVGuide: Anything else you can tease about the back half of the season?

JE: We are fairly confident and believe that the cliffhanger of this season is the most revelatory one regarding Red that we have had the entire series.
TVGuide: Is that tied back to what you said about the suitcase revelation?

JE: Yep.
JB: Yep. It’s gonna be fun.


CinemaBlend, Christina Radish: The Blacklist’: Megan Boone on the Show’s Evolution, Liz’s New Life, and the Endgame
// 1/3/2018

CB: … It seems like Red is giving her the space that she’s asked for. How will all of this affect their dynamic?
MB: Red gives her the space she needs, for the first time, and I think that comes at the same time that we see Elizabeth taking total control of her own life. He’s letting her go, a little bit, but in doing so, there is a real bond that’s starting to form between the two of them, that’s stronger than it was before.

CB: Right know, Liz has revenge for what happened to Tom to motivate her, but what happens when that’s not there anymore?
MB: I don’t think there’s any going back, from all that Liz has been through and from all the revelations from throughout the series. Liz is on a journey. She’s the one who has an arc and is changing, throughout the course of the series. So, we’re not ever going to see her return to anything that we recognize. She’s always gotta move forward and go deeper and deeper into a fatalistic future. There was nothing she could do about the burden that was put on her, at first. That’s what she’s dealing with. And I don’t even know if I would be capable, strangely enough, of being the Megan Boone that played Elizabeth Keen, in the first season. …

CB: What have you most enjoyed about the evolution of the relationship between Liz and Red, over the seasons, and how have you found the journey between you and James Spader, as actors?
MB: If you ask James, it would probably be very different. James came into this as James Spader, and I came into this as, “Who?!” They basically pulled me off the street to do a television show, and then I got there and was like, “Wait! This is really hard!” There was such a stark difference between our positions in life. Now, we’re both the leads of the show and it’s five seasons in, and I feel like I’ve really taken my space, in a way that I didn’t feel ready to do before. That’s where I stand with the whole thing. I just feel much more confident and settled, as far as comparing myself to when I began this experience. …


TVGuide, Tim Surette: The Blacklist: Megan Boone Has Words for Those Who Didn’t Like Liz’s Decision With Agnes http://bit.ly/2EvrF4n
// 1/3/2018

TVGuide: Having played this character for four and a half seasons, what was your reaction to Liz’s actions? Megan Boone: This has been something I’ve been eager to see happen in the series. I think that it was important for Liz to start in one place and end up in a very different place since she is the really the character that’s changed by the entire arc of the show. Red is Red from Day 1, and he’ll be Red for eternity. But Liz started in one place and is now moving to a different character. So it’s required that I be very patient, because all I’ve ever wanted was for her to take real authority over her life and exert some of the badassery that we see in this episode. [Laughs] It’s been peppered throughout the series, we’ve seen her capacity for badassery. but now it’s finally full throttle and I’ve been eager to play it. It’s really a lot of fun.

TVGuide: Red has some interesting parting words for Liz. He said, “Will you be able to forgive yourself?” What do you think he meant by that? Boone: Liz has never been able to forgive herself. Liz blames herself for Red does, Liz blames herself for things that Tom does. So that’s a crazy question to pose, because Liz is the ultimate taker of blame. She is. She needn’t be, she’s probably of all the people has the purest of intention, not anymore, but up until this point, until the point she snapped. She’s a good person at heart. I think ultimately this new psychological space she inhabits is going to make it a little easier for her to forgive herself, because I don’t think she has the same moral compass she once had.


Forbes, Jeryl Brunner: Megan Boone On What You Can Do To Help The Planet (Plus Some Blacklist Spoilers) http://bit.ly/2moznXD
// 1/3/2018

On January 3rd The Blacklist winter premiere airs on NBC. For all of the show’s five seasons Megan Boone has deftly played FBI Agent Liz Keen. And this season she has quite an arc.

Fans of the show will notice that the episode is titled, “Ruin,” rather than the name of the week’s blacklister. “The title breaks from our Blacklist formula, because the episode breaks from it,” said Boone. “Something very different sets Liz off in a totally new direction for the rest of the season and series.”

As committed as Boone is to The Blacklist and Liz, she is also fierce advocate for the environment. In fact, she is working on getting her MBA in Sustainability at Bard. Plus she is advocating for environmental policy change when she can and investigating ways to create mass market entertainment while in service to our ideal ecosystem. To that end, she created the fundraising project Caroline Agnes.  “I have to do my best to alleviate the suffering of my daughter’s generation,” said Boone, whose daughter Caroline will be two in April. …

Brunner: How do you see that Liz has changed over the years?

Boone: She is capable now. Early in the series Liz’s strongest quality was that she was persistent. She was deceived often, but kept at it. She always went back to Red or Tom and burrowed down deeper into their lives, and put them right at the center of her own life in order to find answers she felt she needed. She’s a bit more torched earth about getting what she needs now.

Brunner: What qualities do you love about Liz?

Boone: Her best qualities are that she is loyal and dedicated. I hate those qualities for her, though, because they often get in the way of Liz making a more interesting decision or even worse they keep her from taking care of herself. So the quality I actually love is that she does things that are completely surprising every so often.


ETOnline, Philiana Ng: ‘Blacklist’ Star Megan Boone on the Heartbreaking Scene That Nearly Broke Her (Exclusive)
// 1/3/2018

Megan Boone: [S]he’s become much more nihilistic about things, she has definitely taken an authority over her own life that she never really was willing to step into before and it’s something that is really great to get to this point in her arc as a character. Liz is a character that is on a journey in this show, that changes throughout the course of the series, much more dramatically I think than anyone else. So it’s been a waiting game to see her come into her own. And coming into her own doesn’t necessarily mean that she’s become a character who is admirable, it just means that she’s become a character that is willing to make her own choices, rather than have choices made for her.


Yahoo, Kimberly Potts: ‘The Blacklist’ Postmortem: Megan Boone on Liz’s Chilling Motivation and (Possibly) Outsmarting Red http://yhoo.it/2lP8ATc
// 1/3/2018 //➔ Great Interview

Yahoo: What was it like for you filming this episode on the heels of filming the episode where Tom dies? Ryan has been one of your main onscreen partners throughout the series, and then to have to immediately pivot into this reflective, but also action-packed storyline must have been extra challenging.

Boone: Saying goodbye to Ryan was more challenging, I have to say. But it was also bittersweet. I mean, it’s not like I’m never going to see him again, but it was really… we’ve never said goodbye to such an essential character on the show, so that was hard. But shooting this episode was actually wonderful for me. This is the kind of work I’ve always wanted to do, and it’s really more in line with the way I feel comfortable as an actor than the entire series [has been]. I feel like for four-and-a-half years, I’ve been really stretching myself to try to get to what the show is. And so this, it felt like I was able to kind of return to myself, and do what I really love to do. And so in that sense, it was actually a joy. And, yes, of course it was challenging, but there was something so just absolutely wonderful about it. …

[T]his was the turn that I think I certainly, as an actor playing her, have been really wanting to see — and I am certain the audience as well… that she’s taking authority over her life, and she’s choosing to outsmart anyone who gets in her way. … Liz has abandoned her life, she’s living in obscurity, no one in the neighboring town knows very much about her. They know her by this pseudonym, Grace. And then she’s suddenly trapped by this extreme weather event with this threatening group of travelers who stumbled upon her cabin, and she’s forced to fight for her life. And she does it in a way that even surprises the audience, let alone these men who made the mistake of trying to put her in a corner.

Yahoo: Does this episode feel like a reboot for Liz?

Boone: … I made sure not to suddenly put the Liz costume back on, and maintain the… go back to the old rhythms. I tried to bring the rhythms from [this episode] into the rest of this back end of Season 5, so we can still feel this very internal, brooding quality throughout the rest of this series.

… She is willing to face the extraordinary circumstances of her life. And she’s willing to live in the anger and pain that [those circumstances] caused. And I think for a very long time, we saw our Liz Keen, who was fighting bad and in denial of it, but now she’s looking right down the barrel of it, and she’s activated. …


ETOnline, Philiana Ng: Megan Boone: ‘The Blacklist’ Has ‘Prepared Me for Anything’ (Exclusive) http://et.tv/2lOGk3I
// 1/3/2018

In Wednesday’s winter premiere, titled “Ruin,” the series departs from its usual blacklister-of-the-week formula and spends an entire episode with Liz as she struggles to grieve the death of her husband, Tom Keen (Ryan Eggold), and attempts to figure out a life without him. Boone’s performance is both heartbreaking and unrelenting (and it wouldn’t be The Blacklist without a few unexpected twists), and she credits the show’s producers for wanting to take a step back and embrace the new chapter in Liz’s life, and in turn, the show.

“The producers wanted to do an episode that was really cinematic, that stood alone and centered on Liz as she experiences life after Tom’s death, which gives it this very reflective tone and really breaks away from the formula from The Blacklist and solving cases,” Boone says. “I am just really grateful that they took the time to give Liz an episode to process the whole experience. …

While Boone continues to lead The Blacklist alongside James Spader, she’s using the rare off-day from filming to return to the classroom, spending her time working toward a Masters degree in sustainability at Bard College in New York City. A vocal advocate for action on climate change, the mother of one and founder of the earth-friendly toddler label Caroline Agnes (a combination of her 20-month-old daughter and Liz’s daughter’s names) was inspired to educate herself on an issue she’s passionate about. …


TodayShow: ‘Blacklist’ star Megan Boone drops hints about 100th episode http://on.today.com/2lOj4TI //➔ plus updates on daughter Caroline & from Tom in Heaven!
// 1/3/2018


TVGuide, Tim Surette: The Blacklist’s Intense Winter Return Is Unlike Any Other Episode Ever http://bit.ly/2Cy90b4
// 1/2/2018

… [F]ans shouldn’t expect things to go back to normal when the thriller returns on Wednesday.

In fact, the winter premiere, “Ruin,” is The Blacklist’s most unique episode to date, changing up the series’ typical formula in a big way. Gone is the Blacklister of the week, and in is — well, we can’t spoil you other than to say things are intense. To get more info on the game-changing episode, TV Guide spoke to Megan Boone about how Liz has changed since Tom’s death, how the tone of “Ruin” sets the stage for the rest of the series and whether Liz is picking up on her dad’s criminal habits.

TVGuide: [W]hat can you tell fans about the episode?

Megan Boone: … It’s a turning point in the series. I mean, the title is “Ruin.” Normally our titles are Blacklisters. We’ve actually broken away from the formula of solving cases and we’ve really gone into Liz’s personal experiences.

TVGuide: … [H]ow would you say Liz is handling Tom’s death?

Megan Boone: … [I]t feels like she’s lost a limb with Tom’s death. She’s chosen a life of isolation and she makes sure Agnes is well cared for, but she doesn’t have the capacity to live the life she was living. She doesn’t want her absence to hinder the good work of her task force, so she’s able to get Red to agree to continue his work with them, but she has to run away.

TVGuide: Does Tom’s death amplify those feelings [of her darker side] or will she push those back to mourn?

Megan Boone: … [W]e see her employ tactics that are more sadistic and aggressive than we’ve ever seen before. So there is definitely a darker side emerging — not just darker, sort of what you see is that she’s leaning on some possibly genetically inherited instincts that she got from her father Red.

TVGuide: … Tom was doing some things with Red behind Liz’s back, and it’s probably fair to say that she’s going to find that out soon. How will she react to that?

Megan Boone: … I think what is going to be revealed is going to be possibly very detrimental to her dynamic with her father. It’s hard to say because ultimately I don’t know what those bones are, but it can’t be good!


EntertainmentWeekly, Natalie Abrams: The Blacklist’s Megan Boone previews Liz Keen’s struggle through grief http://bit.ly/2qcvoSs
// 1/2/2018

Bucking the traditional Blacklister-titled hour, the NBC drama picks back up with a “Cape May”-esque episode that finds Liz (Megan Boone) struggling to deal with her grief in the wake of losing her husband.

EntertainmentWeekly: This episode is very reminiscent of “Cape May.” What can you tell us about the midseason premiere?

Megan Boone: “Ruin” is a standalone film centered around Liz’s experience after Tom’s death, which gives it a very reflective tone. It’s very different from our fast-paced thriller episodes of The Blacklist. This episode is really cinematic. Even the title is “Ruin” rather than the name of a blacklister, because it really veers away from the formula of solving the cases of The Blacklist.

EW: What is it like for Liz to be away from everything and everyone? And can she ever truly get away?

MB: We find Liz as she’s abandoned her life, and clearly she’s running away from something, but you’re constantly bombarded by these flashbacks that serve to catch the viewer up on key aspects of the aftermath of Tom’s death, but also they show how there’s this intrinsic, inescapable tie to her past life. … No one really knows very much about her in this small town that’s adjacent to her cabin. The people she does interact with don’t even know her real name. …

EW: What was it like filming this episode?

MB: … [T]he experience of shooting this episode was actually a lot closer to the kind of work I envisioned myself doing as an actor and in my field. … In those real quiet moments with Liz, I really didn’t have to create any kind of history, it was all just there.

EW: The first half of the season was a fun ride where we actually saw Liz Keen smile. Would you say heading into the second half of the season that it’s almost going to be the complete opposite?

MB: Yeah, we’re not gong to see a lot of Liz giggling. [Laughs] … The back half of season 5 will definitely explore how Liz is going to approach this phase of her life, and we’ll see her lean on these maybe genetically inherited darker impulses and behave a little bit like Red. …


AmericanWayMag, John Griffiths (Jan Issue): James Spader is still Red hot (interview) http://bit.ly/2CyxhxI (American Airlines inflight magazine)
// Jan 2018 issue, As NBC’s The Blacklist reaches 100 episodes of mayhem and intrigue, the show’s rakish star shows no signs of slowing down.

Nearly five years into playing Raymond “Red” Reddington on NBC’s quirky thriller The Blacklist, James Spader still relishes his role as the devious criminal and FBI snitch. “We just wrapped a scene where Red is driving and opens the door of his car into a blacklister who was trying to run away,” he says with a delighted laugh.

… Over the years, the 57-year-old star has gone from high-school dropout to movie heartthrob (Pretty in Pink), indie-flick prince (he took Cannes’ best actor prize for 1989’s Sex, Lies, and Videotape) and Emmy-winning oddball (twice, for Boston Legal, and once for The Practice). His role as Red has brought his career into a late bloom, despite the fact that, as he happily puts it, “I’ve got an extra 15 pounds on me, and I’m losing my hair.”

Happy 100 episodes! How’d you get this far?
I have no idea. Hollywood is sort of controlled chaos, so there’s no predictor. I just know I’m blessed to find a show that allows for, even in moments of intensity and drama, an irreverence. My own taste runs in that vein. I just love dramas that can be funny. And I like comedy that can also be dramatic and emotional.

What’s the latest Blacklist scoop?
I have to be fairly oblique regarding spoilers. But there’s a character that has appeared in a recent episode who somehow becomes involved in the story in a way that I never imagined.

How has Red has changed over the years?
Certainly, his circumstances have changed drastically. But his life has changed dramatically too. He’s lost people who were very close to him, while he’s gained people who have become close to him. And he’s finally had to take responsibility for his past.

Reddington has faced a reversal of fortune. Have you ever faced a similar downturn?
Oh, yes. I didn’t grow with a tremendous amount of money, at all. Both of my parents were teachers, so any spending money that I wanted I had to find or earn. When I dropped out of high school and moved to New York to become an actor, I started working different manual labor jobs. I drove a truck at a meat packing plant for some time. And then I unloaded and loaded railroad cars and trucks at a warehouse. I mopped floors. I shoveled manure and cleaned stalls at the Claremont Riding Academy in Manhattan. The list goes on and on! …

Have you ever seen any of your movies in-flight?
Yes, a couple of times. It tends to make one stay in your seat through most of the flight. You don’t wander around the plane.


EntertainmentWeekly, Natalie Abrams: The Blacklist bosses address the show’s future http://bit.ly/2DvrFBd
// 12/27/2017

With The Blacklist on the cusp of hitting 100 episodes, Liz Keen now finally in on the secret that Raymond Reddington is her father, and the titular list of criminals seemingly dwindling, how much life does the NBC thriller have left?

Currently in its fifth season, The Blacklist has been a decent performer for the peacock, especially factoring in delayed viewing — with Live +7, the show is currently averaging 8.3 million total viewers and a 1.6 in the 18-49 demographic. The series even spawned the spinoff Redemption (though it was ill-fated) last year. But the fate of The Blacklist hangs in the balance, as NBC has yet to renew the Megan Boone and James Spader-starring drama for a sixth season.

Even so, The Blacklist bosses aren’t looking at season 5 as the end. “We have a great cliffhanger, and a big ending for the season in mind that I think is going to be really compelling,” executive producer Jon Bokenkamp tells EW. “It’s not what we imagine the end of the series to be.”


Variety, Amber Dowling: The Blacklist’ Star on Season 5 Aftermath of Tom’s Death and a ‘Darker’ Liz http://bit.ly/2C6QNlA //➔ ‼️Spoilers‼️
// 12/27/2017

Viewers have now had a few weeks to digest the game-changing twist that went down in the midseason finale of NBC’s “The Blacklist,” when Ian Garvey (Jonny Coyne) attacked Tom (Ryan Eggold) and Liz (Megan Boone) in their house, resulting in Tom’s death and Liz falling into nearly a year-long coma.

When the series returns with the standalone episode “Ruin” in January, a few more months have passed and Liz seems to have finally physically recovered. Yet, she remains emotionally unstable as she deals with the fallout of her husband’s death.

To get a sense of what’s to come and how these major life events have changed Liz, Variety caught up with Boone to get her take on life without Tom. Here, the actress breaks down a very different episode of the series, previews some important changes ahead, and teases the show’s upcoming 100th episode with guest star Nathan Lane. …

Variety: Tonally how does the episode differ from a usual “Blacklist” episode?

Megan Boone: This episode is very cinematic. It’s a standalone episode that centers around Liz after Tom’s death, which gives it a very reflective tone and it definitely goes off formula for the show. …

Variety: You’re in nearly every scene of “Ruin,” what was it like doing that extra heavy lifting?

Megan Boone: This is a very time-intensive episode but this kind of work is the kind of stuff I’ve always wanted to do my whole life. I liked the quiet quality of the scene-work and the very internal nature of the character. Every line has subtext in some way. …

Variety: How much of this new, darker Liz carries forward into the back half of the season?

Megan Boone: I really tried to make it a point not to just spring back into action in the next episode as if nothing happened; I wanted to carry a feeling of “Ruin,” throughout the rest of the season. So you’re going to see Liz approach the next phase of her life exploring questions like will she lean on this genetically darker impulse that she has and behave like Red, or forge her own path? …

Variety: Executive producers John Eisendrath and Jon Bokencamp mentioned Liz takes up some of that espionage mantel Tom has held in the past, what has that been like to play?

Megan Boone: I definitely felt a shift. It’s one I’ve really wanted to see, where Liz is totally capable. … The arc of a character, especially on a show that extends to its 100th episode, needs time to evolve, especially when Liz Keen is the character on a journey like she is here and is changing in her life throughout the show. There were times where I was impatient to see this happen but it’s so exciting to see her really take charge in the same way that some of the men in her life have done in past.


CinemaBlend, Laura Hurley: How The Blacklist Season 5 Is Going To End, According To The Executive Producer http://bit.ly/2lf3CQk
// 12/27/2017

Season 5 will evidently end on a big cliffhanger, and the folks behind the scenes at The Blacklist already know how they’re going to handle it. While some series have been known to end forever on cliffhangers, it seems that Season 5 is not being written as the final season of the show.

At this point, it’s difficult to imagine how The Blacklist could outdo the midseason finale cliffhanger. That episode saw the death of a character who was around from the very beginning and had been deemed strong enough to carry a spinoff, even if the ratings saw that spinoff get the axe. …

[Jon Bokenkamp:] It’s interesting to not know, and how you write toward that. We’ve decided that we love the characters enough that if, for whatever reason, we didn’t have an opportunity to come back, we just have to find another way to do it, but we’re not going to rush to some ending out of fear that we’re not coming back. We have a story that we’re telling that we really like, and it’s going to take the time it takes to tell it.


TVInsider: ‘The Blacklist’: Ryan Eggold and Producers Break Down That Shocking Fall Finale http://bit.ly/2zPiMnn
// 11/15/2017

TVI: Tom’s death probably broke a lot of hearts. He and Liz had just remarried and were very happy together!
Eisendrath: He lasted a long time. When we first pitched the series, Tom was going to die in the pilot. An executive at our pitch said, “He should live. Then you have the mystery of who he is.” I thought that was a great idea. Even so, a spouse on a procedural is usually a third banana by episode four. But Ryan is so singular and undeniable he overcame that inherent obstacle and become [sic] one of the main reasons that the show has gotten to 100 episodes. Even though there were times when Spader would say, ‘‘I just want to kill that guy! [Laughs] Why would Red put up with Tom Keen?’’

We’d go, ‘‘He has the protection of Liz’s love! If you kill him, you lose the love of the person who means the most to you in the world.’’ To Spader’s credit, at the end, he was like ‘‘We can’t kill Tom!’’ [They all laugh.]

Ryan Eggold: I think now made the most sense. Having done the spin-off and the network canceling that, it was sort of anticlimactic to come back.

TVI: How will Tom’s death affect Liz’s life?
Eggold: Tom was one of the few things really grounding her; he provided an emotional anchor. Without that, with the volatility of her job and her relationship with Red, that hole will have to be filled in some way. And it might be filled with the wrong things.

Eisendrath: She’ll have to find a way to avenge what happened.

Bokenkamp: She feels that the devil is her father, and we’ll see her go more toward a darker side. That comes naturally to her. She’ll be wrestling with what is the right thing to do to move forward.

TVI: Tom—like Red—had the ability to be hated for the horrible things he did and then be forgiven when he did something kind, didn’t he?
Eisendrath: Tom is almost like Pinocchio. He’s like this broken sort of bad guy who’s done horrible things and he just wants to be normal. … All the things he’s done in the past is a lot to overcome, and early on we’d hear from people that Tom treated Liz so badly, how can you let her take him back? But we’ve always felt that Tom and Liz’s love was real. Tom died trying to get to the truth and protect her. It’s ultimately a love story.

Eggold: At the end, in the car, as they were both near death, I remember saying, ‘‘I can’t live without you. Please stay.’’ Tom was mildly sociopathic when we first met him. He didn’t have a lot of empathy for other people, he could kill easily. Falling in love with Liz brought out in him a real human being.

TVI: Tom died because of those damn bones, soon after he discovered their identity by reading the results of a DNA test. The presumption is they’re Liz’s mother’s. Will we find out the truth this season?

Eisendrath: You’ll find out more about it, but not everything. [[ Are they expecting a sixth season? ]]

Bokenkamp: There are big answers coming!


EntertainmentWeekly, Natalie Abrams: ‘The Blacklist’ star Ryan Eggold on Tom Keen’s ultimate fate http://bit.ly/2AKLiDS
// 11/15/2017, lovely interview with Ryan Eggold [“Tom”]


TVLine: The Blacklist EP Dissects That ‘Bittersweet’ Fall Finale Cliffhanger, Teases ‘Harsh Truths’ for Liz and Red http://bit.ly/2itsYsf
// 11/15/2017

TVLINE: Back in the Season 5 premiere, we saw a flash-forward to tonight’s fall finale, which looked like Red would kill Tom but was ultimately a misdirect. Was there ever a version of that scene where Red really was the one to off Tom?

Jon Bokenkamp: No, there wasn’t. … Tom’s love for Liz has always been what’s kept him alive thus far. Red would have killed him in the first season if he hadn’t cared so much for Liz and if Liz hadn’t cared so much for him. So it was never our intent that Red would actually murder Tom. … That was just our way of indicating to the audience that something bad was going to happen. It was almost like a premonition that the walls of that apartment had. Something bad is going to happen. And we knew that by Episode 8, we would work up to that moment and see exactly what had unfolded. Hopefully it was a fun misdirect.

Also, there’s this great conflict between Tom and Red. The suitcase, all the baggage they have from the past — it all comes out in this season, and that was our way to acknowledge to the audience that something was off and someone would be on a collision course with disaster. …

TVLINE: Speaking of that suitcase, this episode ends without revealing anything else about where those bones are, whose bones they are or the information that Tom got from those DNA results. Where will that storyline go when the show picks up in January?

JB: When the show comes back, it’s a really, really unique, out-of-pattern, different episode. Things have really been blown up with Tom’s death, and Liz trying to figure out how to move forward is a story that we really dive right into. It’s like an episode we did called “Cape May,” and we did a flashback episode with Mr. Kaplan. This, like those, is one of those out-of-pattern episodes that promises to be super-emotional and raise some really great questions. It’s not a Case of the Week. It’s like an independent movie that we tell when we come back.

TVLINE: … Now that Tom is gone, how will Liz and Red’s relationship be affected?

JB: It’s going to confront both of them with some harsh truths, some of which have been ignored or side-stepped. Tom died in search of the truth of why Reddington came into Liz’s life, and he ultimately found, in that paperwork, answers that not many other people on the show understand. … [H]e had unlocked something massive, and the fact that Reddington was omitting that from what he had told Liz will be something they’re going to have to confront. …

They have to confront the idea that Liz is his daughter, and within her DNA is the possibility to do some incredibly dark things. That terrifies Reddington …. Liz is also super-aware of that. She doesn’t like the idea that her father is, in some ways, the devil. She wants nothing more than to be normal and have a normal life. And yet, she’s been sucked into this world that she’s having a hard time fighting back against. That, more than anything, will be something that Liz and Red will have to confront. It’s not only [about] why Tom died and who is behind his death …. But deeper than that, the bigger question is: Who is Elizabeth Keen?


EntertainmentWeekly, Natalie Abrams: The Blacklist bosses on Tom’s fate, shocking time jump http://bit.ly/2ilxB7I
// 11/15/2017

Entertainment Weekly: Why decide to kill Tom now?

Jon Bokenkamp: Largely because of what it’s going to do to Elizabeth Keen. As you probably know, Tom died in the original pilot, and then died in episode 17, and in episode 22 probably. But Ryan just brought a special and different dimension to the show that we really liked. It did feel like it’s time to shift that. I think the big question of what his death will do to Liz is why to come back. How is she going to handle this? How does she resist the temptation that she might have within her own DNA to act and react like Reddington would? Does it rip her apart? That’s the why now: For the back half of the season to see what it does to Liz.

John Eisendrath: I remember we were at an early meeting with NBC, and we were pitching stories and the subject of Liz’s love life came up regarding Tom, and I remember Bob Greenblatt pointed to a poster that was in the room and the poster was of Red and Liz. He was like, “You know, that is the love story of the series.” I think he’s right. Ultimately, the love story is between Red and Liz, and Tom’s death will have the largest effect on that relationship pretty much since Red turned himself in.

EW: How will Liz deal in the aftermath?

Bokenkamp: That’s the big question. When we come back in episode 9 in January, it’s a very different and atypical episode. It’s not a Blacklister of the week. It’s a very quiet, interesting little movie. It’s almost like the episodes we’ve done with Mr. Kaplan or “Cape May” that are a little bit of a departure, they’re more reflective and very character-heavy story. It represents her walkabout of deciding what to do. That story, and her story beyond that, are filled with very big choices.

Eisendrath: As you go on in the series, you don’t have many firsts left, which is so central to getting a series up and running in the beginning, but there are a lot of secrets that Tom took with him to the grave regarding the suitcase and the bones, and Liz doesn’t know any of that. She doesn’t know that Mr. Kaplan was involved. Unpacking those will be like a new series of firsts. This gives us an incredible series of firsts that will rock Liz’s world and deeply impact her relationship with Red.

Much more at link.


Variety, Amber Dowling: The Blacklist’ Team on That Shocking Winter Finale Death, Time Jumps and a Darker Show When Season 5 Returns http://bit.ly/2jyREmE
// 11/15/2017

Variety: Tom Keen was a character that was supposed to die in the pilot; why kill him now?

Eisendrath: There’s not any one particular answer. Yes, he was supposed to die in the pilot. We feel like we had given the character of Tom just so many different avenues to pursue: opportunities with Liz to love, to hate, to fight, to get divorced, to annul their marriage, to get remarried. Ultimately in the end the short answer is that, when the series ends, whenever it ends, it’s ultimately a parent-child story and Tom was the most important person in Liz, ‘the child’s’ life. His passing is going to change the dynamic of who Liz is, how she behaves, and what her relationship is with Red in ways that are a huge new engine for her going forward in the show. …

Eggold: It’s a tragic but fitting ending. There’s always been a twinge of Romeo and Juliet to their relationship and there’s always been this idealistic dream that they would get away from this crazy world with the truth in hand and have peace and have Agnes and live in a beautiful home in the middle of some beach somewhere. The episode delivers an enormous, violent dose of reality. It’s a catalyst for Liz. In terms of the ‘when’ of it all, I don’t know there’s a right time but it is a really fitting, tragic ending. …

Variety: The finale jumps ten months into the future and when the show returns a couple more months have passed. Why such a big leap?

Eisendrath: We wanted to skip some of what we would have been obliged to play if we just had Liz wake up the next day in that raw state of frozen depression. What we want to play is her active, avenging desire mixed in obviously with the pain and the agony of losing the person she loves the most. We wanted to get to a place where she is moving forward and active in her search, in her hunt and in her healing.

Bokenkamp: The time jump also raises a lot of questions. What is Liz going to do, what has happened to the task force, where is Reddington? It shapes the dynamic in a really interesting way that helps us tell compelling stories. …


Hollywood Reporter: ‘The Blacklist’ Parts Ways With an Original Series Star http://bit.ly/2A1OQFw
// 11/15/2017

“Of all the words I’ve written on the show, two of the hardest were when Red [James Spader] told Liz [Megan Boone]: ‘Tom’s dead.’ Nooooo! We’ll miss the intensity, range and just plain bad ass-ness Ryan [Eggold] brought to the part. Won’t come as any surprise — but he went down swinging!” Eisendrath, who wrote Wednesday’s episode with Bokenkamp, said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter. …

“I feel incredibly lucky to have played a role with such a uniquely dynamic evolution,” Eggold said in a statement to THR. “I’m grateful for the time spent working with Megan, James and the entire cast. I’m thankful to the incredibly hard-working crew for consistently making the show better. Sony and NBC have both been deeply supportive, conscientious and adept in managing the show. Mostly I’m indebted to Jon Bokenkamp, John Eisendrath and the writers for continuing to elevate the show creatively and always impassioning me to further explore the true nature of this character. I will miss this TV family immensely and diligently look forward to the opportunity to embody new characters and tell new stories.”


Variety, Amber Dowling: The Blacklist’: Reddington-Tom Drama ‘Comes to a Head’ in the Winter Finale http://bit.ly/2Cc8VWY
// 11/14/2017, Jon Bokenkamp, John Eisendrath, Ryan Eggold (“Tom”)

Eggold: There’s an exchange between [Tom and Red] in the winter finale where they actually talk almost for the first time, where they communicate in a way they haven’t before. It’s very important for their relationship. James [Spader] and I were talking the other day and saying that these characters have a lot of similarities. They’re both good at what they do, and they’re good at being unattached. That’s perhaps the source of some of their friction, that besides both having strong feelings for and towards Liz, they both recognize a hint of themselves in the other.


EntertainmentWeekly, Natalie Abrams: The Blacklist boss previews ‘incredibly emotional’ fall finale http://bit.ly/2mtfD7M
// 11/14/2017

After Tom (Ryan Eggold) was abducted by new big bad Ian Garvey (Jonny Coyne) over the contents of that mysterious suitcase, Liz (Megan Boone) will stop at nothing to find him during Thursday’s episode of The Blacklist. “Tom gets as close as anyone has gotten to unlocking the deeper mythology of the show, [but] Red is willing to go to the end of the earth and back to put these bones back in the ground,” executive producer Jon Bokenkamp tells EW. Read our full interview with the Blacklist boss below. …

Entertainment Weekly: Ian seems to think whoever controls the bones will have something over Red. Is that the only reason Ian wants them or is there a deeper connection there that you will unveil?

Jon Bokenkamp: I think it’s potentially both. The contents of the suitcase are devastating to Reddington. He obviously is going to great lengths to bury this secret, put it back in the ground where it belongs, and to let it be lost to the sands of time. That said, is there a bigger emotional hook or something more personal to Reddington that he’s afraid of as well? I think so. As we get into the back half of the season, we’ll explore more of what the bones represent and why they’re so damning to him. …

EW: Will you definitively say whether Tom is indeed alive or deed in the fall finale?

JB: … I think we have a really unique and fresh springboard that is going to send us into the back half of the season in a very unexpected way. I’m really proud of this fall finale. It’s incredibly emotional. It’s got a great pace. It’s a freight train. It’s a very urgent episode, and yet at the same time, we have moments within it that are just incredibly emotional and really boil down to putting our main characters — the people who are the center of the show — in some great moments together. …

EW: Will we get some more info in the fall finale about whose bones those are?

JB: Yes and no. I’ll say this: Tom is basically holding Red’s secret in his hands, and holding — as Red feels — Red’s destiny in his hands. He gets as close as anyone has gotten to unlocking the deeper mythology of the show. So we’re not answering everything for the audience, but big pieces fall into place.

… In a way, the show is thrown up in the air. As much as we did this with Reddington in losing his empire — and he’s been clawing his way back, trying to figure out who he is without all the money and power, and has been on this path of self-discovery and trying to earn his way back to the top of the most wanted list — we find Liz in that same position where she’s in an incredibly vulnerable place. As is Reddington.


TVGuide, Tim Surette: The Blacklist’s Boss Explains Those Bones and the Surprising Reunion http://bit.ly/2xJdTeN
// 9/27/2017

TVGuide: Obviously you can’t answer this but I have to ask anyway. Whose bones are those in the suitcase!?!?!?!? They belong to Liz’s mom, right?
Jon Bokenkamp: Great question. Liz’s mom is one theory – good guess. All I can really say is that those bones, that skeleton laying in that suitcase, really becomes a character of its own in the show this season.

TVGuide: Why does Tom opt to not show Liz the suitcase after Liz catches him up on the big secret?
Bokenkamp: … Mr. Kaplan had no idea that it would be revealed to Liz that Reddington is her father, and that changes everything. It brings Liz and Reddington closer together than ever and I think Tom is suspect of Reddington. Reddington is constantly weaving stories and misrepresenting the truth and isn’t to be trusted, at least in Tom’s mind. He feels like if he tells Liz about these bones, Reddington will probably have some way to slither out of this – a way to manipulate the situation, a way to twist it so that the truth remains hidden. And so Tom feels, as an operative, it’s probably a better choice to get to the bottom of this, find out what or who the bones represent, and then go to Liz with the truth. …

TVGuide: I couldn’t help but notice that Liz seems proud of her dad, especially when he reveals part of his plan to get his empire back up and running. What changes about their working relationship because of the news that he’s her dad? [ Notice JB pushes back … ]
Bokenkamp: I don’t know that Liz is excited about rebuilding Reddington’s criminal empire, rather she realizes that she has to do that in order to enable him and help him enable the Task Force to take down criminals. … [S]he is concerned that this man is her father and that she is essentially committing crimes with him to rebuild his empire and that there is a very fine line that she wants to be careful not to cross. In the first episode she plants her flag very firmly saying that she is an FBI agent and that she is not going to fall away from that moral compass, and that I think is going to be a struggle for her. She’s so close to the flame with Reddington that it’s very difficult to maintain that moral direction and, in fact, we’ve seen that in all the characters. The entire Task Force is darkened a little bit because of their involvement with Reddington …

TVGuide: Was there any particular scene in the premiere the exemplifies the struggles Liz will have this season now that she knows she’s working with her dad?
Bokenkamp: … [W]hat continues to be clear is that Reddington is never telling the FBI everything and that is something incredibly frustrating to Liz and incredibly frustrating to Harold Cooper and the rest of the Task Force trying to wrangle this man in and get him to cooperate. … [T]hey can never really know what his intentions are, they can never really know what his endgame is and so that is a good example of the sort of thing that [ Liz is ] dealing with. Also Reddington hanging out in the pool when she needs a case is a good example of the kind of bon vivant attitude that he has in which he’s really more interested in hanging out, meeting people and smelling the roses than going out committing crimes. That is something that’s probably a little frustrating too.

TVGuide: Ressler looks dead in the water. He’s now being blackmailed, and I’m not convinced that Cooper is satisfied with this whole “it was an accident” conclusion. What does his life look like going forward?
Bokenkamp: Well, yeah. Things do not look good for Ressler. Ressler has found himself in a an incredibly uncomfortable position, a place that he probably never thought that he would end up in. Our Boy Scout of the show has now contracted a blacklister [?] to clean up and cover up a death and that cannot end well. …

TVGuide: What questions should viewers be asking as we move through Season 5?
Bokenkamp: I think in looking ahead at Season 5, the biggest questions viewers should be asking themselves are firstly, what is Reddington after? We still don’t know why he came into Elizabeth Keen’s life. Yes he is her father, but there’s clearly something else going on here. There’s clearly a larger mystery that has yet to be unraveled and that is something to pay attention to and to slowly watch unravel. The other thing to look out for is Reddington’s empire building.


HuffPo, David Hinckley: ‘Blacklist’ Creator Knows Where It’s All Going. And For Now, It’s Going Swimming.
// 9/27/2017

Jon Bokenkamp, who created NBC’s The Blacklist, knows where his shadowy tale is going. He’s just unsure about a few details like exactly how and exactly when.

“I come from a feature film background,” notes Bokenkamp …. “You have to know what the answer is before you start.

“But with The Blacklist, it’s been an evolution.”

Part of the mystery stems from the shadowy nature of the show’s central character, Red Reddington (James Spader).

Red is a former FBI agent and master criminal who at the start of the show surrendered himself back to the FBI. He then cut a deal wherein he would lead an agency team headed by Harold Cooper (Harry Lennix) to even worse criminals in return for his freedom and the tacit understanding he could continue his business enterprises and maintain the lavish lifestyle.

He also demanded upfront that he work with rookie agent Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone), and over the show’s first four seasons there was a pointedly measured trickle of details on his motivation – which turned out to be that Red and a former Soviet spy were Elizabeth’s biological parents.

Slow-release information, and not just about Red and Liz, has been a trademark of The Blacklist.

“There are larger truths to all these characters,” says Bokenkamp, in the tone of a man who has no intention of releasing those truths before their time. “When it is all over, we will know things.”

“We have a detailed list in the writers’ room of what remains open-ended. I hope when it’s over that viewers will feel satisfied, and not just over the way Red came into Liz’s life.”

The question of The Blacklist’s final destination comes up because five seasons is a mature lifespan for a TV drama. There have been 89 episodes already, which takes it way past the length of the average feature film, and as happens with virtually every drama on television, its audience has gradually declined.

It’s still a strong show, with a weekly audience of almost 10 million once time-shifted viewership is factored in. But at some point it’s going to wrap up, and the timing of that farewell is one of the X factors to which Bokenkamp alludes when he talks about where it’s going.

“James has felt all along that Red is as happy in a cave as he would be at a high-end cocktail party,” says Bokenkamp. “He has always moved in and out of different worlds.

Not that Red or the FBI team will ever run out of either enemies or enigmas. Tom Keen, for instance, a character who was originally slated to be killed off both in the pilot and then later in season 1, may be delivering Mr. Kaplan’s troubling final message to Liz. “Tom’s story is another one that we didn’t plan,” says Bokenkamp. “But when Redemption ended, we had a place for him to come back. He, Red and Liz are a triangle, and both Red and Tom would be happy if the other one were gone.” …

So Red Reddington, another great character for one of modern TV’s great actors, has miles to go before he sleeps. Or swims.


Collider, Christina Radish: ‘The Blacklist’ EP Jon Bokenkamp on Season 5 as a “New Chapter” and Working Towards the Endgame http://bit.ly/2fA0dbg
// 9/27/2017, great process questions

When you create one of the most interesting and fun to watch characters on television, with Raymond Reddington, are there challenges specific to keeping him fresh, so many seasons in?

BOKENKAMP: I think James [Spader] is a big part of that, in terms of keeping the character fresh. The stories are hard to tell. The cases are difficult to break. It’s hard to find the Blacklisters that we hope you wouldn’t find on every other show. One of the things we take great pride in is that our bad guys are the people the FBI doesn’t know about. That is challenging. But I have to say, writing the character and his voice is just really a blessing. It’s super fun. He’s a guy who’s constantly trying to surprise himself. He’s always trying to embrace new experiences, so there aren’t really limits with where he can go. …

When you have someone like James Spader … , do you just throw anything and everything at him because you know he can pull it off? Is there anything you’ve ever found that he can’t do?

BOKENKAMP: Not really. He’ll tell us, if he thinks something is too far or if something tells us too much about the character. One of the things he’s very good at is being very protective of the character and having him remain a bit of a mystery. One of my favorite things to do is to Google strange, far flown places and hear him try to figure out how to say them. I’ve never met anybody who can play a run-on sentence without that many commas and no periods, and it ends up playing great.

… Did you have a five-year plan, at the beginning of this show, and did the long-term plan look anything like how it’s playing out now?

BOKENKAMP: We did not pitch what the entire plan was to the network, but we have always had an endgame in mind. I come from writing features, and it’s hard to sit down and write a movie and just start on page one and go, “Well, we’ll see where we end.” It’s like a math problem. You have to know what you’re working toward. We have always had that bible in our heads, which makes it very difficult, at times, to write the show. … So, we’re exploring it and finding it, as we go along, but we also have looked at the map, before we took this road trip, and have a very good idea of where we’re going. We have the same destination in mind.

Now that you’re five seasons into this show, are you thinking more specifically about when that endgame is?

BOKENKAMP: We’ve always talked about it. We don’t have plans for landing that just yet, but it’s always part of a constant conversation. James has been one of the first people to say, we don’t know how long we’ll be on. We’ll be on as long as we can, so we’re always trying to pace ourselves, in terms of how much mythology we’re unpacking and how quickly we’re getting to our endgame, and along the way, we find great distractions and side trips. … [ Emphasis added. Guess I was just glad to read that – LizzieB ]

[W]hat does it mean to you that the show has lasted so long?

BOKENKAMP: … It is a big milestone, and to me, it just speaks to what a great team we have, between the cast in New York and the production. I’m always dumbfounded when I see a script be able to come to life and see how much better production makes it, and how international and big it feels. It really is a movie, each week. The idea that we’re very close to 100 of them is just mind-boggling.

How are you approaching the 100th episode? Do you have special plans for it?

BOKENKAMP: … Episode 11 will be our 100th episode. We have big turns and big changes that are coming, that are going to be really great story turns. … [W]e’re very aware of the fact that it’s our 100th episode and we hope to have some surprises up our sleeve.

Last season dealt with the dismantling of Reddington’s entire criminal enterprise. … Is that freeing for him, or does that make him unsettled and nervous?

BOKENKAMP: If he is unsettled by it, he certainly isn’t going to share that. … There’s this childlike wonderment of the world around him. He’s been existing in this bubble, protected by money, assets and allies, and all of a sudden, he’s stripped of all of that. I do think it’s incredibly liberating for him. … He’s so unafraid and open to new experiences and the weird and the wild that this is the last thing he expected to happen, which is exactly why it’s the perfect thing to happen right now. …

Is Reddington somebody who has any self-doubt, or is that a completely foreign concept to him?

BOKENKAMP: Oh, I’m sure he has plenty of self-doubt. Often, what’s very interesting to me is when we find those things that make him afraid, and we certainly have that this season. There’s a very big new storyline involving a suitcase and some human remains that has him terrified. …

What are the biggest challenges in writing more than 20 episodes of a drama for television, and specifically for this show?

BOKENKAMP: … It always feels like it’s almost impossible to pull off. The episodes are very big and they’re packed full of story. … [W]e’re in this great place where we’re basically writing a new movie, every 10 or 14 days, and they’re being made at a really great level. Yes, it’s terrifying, and looking at that white board and figuring out what the next story is, is terrifying, but somehow everyone rallies and we’re able to put it together. It’s a blast to be able to do it.


EntertainmentWeekly, Natalie Abrams: The Blacklist: Did [SPOILER] really die? http://bit.ly/2wqm3Vq
// 9/27/2017

After helping Red (James Spader) catch a bail jumper … Liz (Megan Boone) returned home to reunite with Tom (Ryan Eggold). But upon hearing the news that Red was indeed Liz’s father, Tom hesitated in revealing the contents of the mysterious suitcase. Viewers then saw what appeared to be a flash forward to Red and Dembe (Hisham Tawfiq) storming Liz’s apartment and shooting Tom Keen dead. What’s really going on in that scene? EW turned to executive producer Jon Bokenkamp to get the scoop on what’s next:

EntertainmentWeekly: Is Tom Really Dead?

Jon Bokenkamp: Tom Keen has definitely kicked the hornet’s nest and he is definitely on a collision course, and it will involve Red, but to find out what really happens is something you’re going to have to tune in for in upcoming episodes.

EW: How far ahead is that flash forward in those final few minutes?

JB: It’s not very far ahead at all. What gets Tom into this whole hot mess and the situation that he’s going to be confronting very soon is a story that begins in episode 2, so what we saw was a little bit of a peek ahead, a little bit of a premonition almost, and that is a direct result of things that are going to start happening immediately in our second episode.

EW: When might we catch up to that point this season? Are we waiting until midseason or might it happen sooner rather than later?

JB:I don’t know how to answer that. I really don’t. I mean, I do know how to answer it, but I don’t want to give anything away. It’s definitely not something we’re going to drag out all season. It is a story line that is very present, it occupies a lot of air and real estate in the first half of the season. …

EW: … What was that thought process like in the writers’ room of bringing Tom back after Redemption … ?

JB: He’s been part of the landscape of the show since the pilot. He, Liz, and Red had a very complex relationship. So it felt super natural to bring him back after the spin-off and come back and come home to his child and not really his wife at the moment, but to come back to Liz and Agnes. … Reddington is in a completely different headspace, he’s rebuilding, and as you can see in the first episode, it’s not nearly as dark as some of the seasons in the past. That said, it is still The Blacklist and there are still very dangerous story lines that are bubbling underneath the surface and we wanted to be clear, to let everyone know, that dramatic turns are coming. …

EW: Would Liz ever be able to forgive Red for killing Tom? …

JB: … Thus far, Liz has really been the kryptonite for Tom. She is why he has been untouchable. That said, it is feasible that Tom could get himself in enough trouble that Red himself could feel threatened and cross the line. But that’s a really important point that you bring up: Could she forgive him? And would she forgive him? What would it do to their relationship? It is super complex and it is something we’ve talked about a lot in the room.

EW: Could Tom have actually done something to Liz that would warrant that response from Red?

JB: … I do believe what he’s digging into and the itch that he’s scratching is one he thinks is helping Liz, and he believes he’s doing right by her. Everything that he’s doing is for the right reason. Yes, the dynamic between those three characters, it’s almost even more pronounced, even more on the surface now ….

EW: Tom decided against telling Liz about the suitcase in the premiere. Can you talk about why and when we might get more information on whose bones those really are?

JB: Because Liz has had this revelation about her father, and because she really is probably closer to him than she’s ever been, that worries Tom. He knows that Reddington is manipulative … Tom feels that she would probably run to Red and may reveal what Tom knows and Tom worries that could get her into trouble …. From Tom’s point of view, it may be better to not say anything and figure out what Mr. Kaplan had intended. Remember, Mr. Kaplan unearthed these revelations in May. When she tasked Tom with the suitcase, she did not know about the paternity issues that were being resolved. Had she known that, she may have had a bit of a different plan, at least that’s where Tom’s head is.

EW: Liz kind of puts her foot down in the premiere that she won’t become like Red, but will that continue to be a struggle for her?

JB: [Liz] is in tune enough with her own inner demons to know that it is not out of the realm of possibility that she could, quite easily, spiral into a darkness that would be not unlike Reddington. … [W]e’ve seen that she murdered the attorney general and went on the run, but our entire task force has been tainted by Reddington and the cloud that hovers over him. He’s a very persuasive and intoxicating type of man. …


People: Tom Keen is Back! Ryan Eggold Talks Return to The Blacklist as Series Regular http://bit.ly/2hB5kwj
// 9/27/2017


TVLine: The Blacklist Season 5: EP Breaks Down That Premiere Ending and [Spoiler]’s ‘Collision Course With Trouble’ http://bit.ly/2fFczmi
// 9/27/2017

For the last two months, TVLine readers have been placing their bets on the answer to this Blind Item, which hinted that an hourlong broadcast drama would kill off a major character — via flash-forward, at least — during its season premiere. For those who guessed that The Blacklist would be the one to off a series regular, you can officially redeem those long-awaited bragging rights.

Of course, we didn’t actually see Red’s bullets hit Tom during that time-jump scene, nor did we necessarily witness Tom taking his last breath. So, all told, it’s possible that Tom is still with us by season’s end — even though he gets pretty banged up along the way.

We talked with series creator Jon Bokenkamp about that episode-ending twist, and though he wouldn’t confirm that Tom actually bites the dust in Season 5 — “You’re going to have to tune in to find out,” he offered — he did shed some light on how and why Tom will find himself in mortal danger this year.

TVLINE: Tom isn’t necessarily dead when we see that flash-forward, but it’s not looking good for him. Why go down this road with the character?

It was partly to give contrast to the lightness and the fun that Reddington’s having in rebuilding his empire. The show, I hope, is more fun this year. Reddington is really having a blast. But I didn’t want people to confuse that with the notion that we might somehow become a different show because we’re on at a different time period. We thought, “Why not give a taste of something that’s going to come?” …

TVLINE: What was Tom going to tell Liz before she revealed the news that Red is her father?

He was going to tell her, “Mr. Kaplan had a big secret, she sent me to this bus locker and I found a suitcase full of bones.” That big secret that Mr. Kaplan wanted Tom to share with Liz — in the moment, he felt that the landscape had shifted under him, and even under Mr. Kaplan. They didn’t know this information, that the DNA report had come out and Reddington was her father. Tom finds himself in a place where he realizes she’s closer to Reddington than ever. She’s probably just going to talk to Reddington about this, and he’s going to find some way to twist and manipulate the situation. Tom, out of love for Liz, feels like this is something he has to solve and understand before he can put it at Liz’s feet. 

TVLINE: Turning to some other aspects of this premiere, the episode had a real fun, light tone as Red took on this new case. Will that continue moving forward?

That’s part of the coloring of this season. Personally, I love watching James [Spader] have fun. One of the things the audience loves is watching James just relish the strange, uncomfortable and weird situations that he finds himself in. We think the show is more fun that way, although we’re still going to have some really great, compelling and dangerous bad guys. We’re still a Case of the Week show.

TVLINE: How quickly does this blackmail situation between Agent Ressler and Henry Prescott take a turn for the worse?

That’s a really exciting storyline this season. Ressler fancies himself, and began as, a real Boy Scout. When we met him, he was the one hunting down Raymond Reddington. And now, he’s actually contracted with a blacklister to cover up a murder. It is a storyline that we think has legs. It’s going to be a slow burn, … and Henry Prescott is going to relish every moment of the fact that he owns Donald Ressler. …


BuildSeriesNYC: James Spader Stops By To Discuss “The Blacklist” http://aol.it/2ys1Lf3 39mins
// 9/26/2017, James Spader interview (39 mins)

Feeling surprisingly unencumbered, Raymond Reddington (James Spader) is back and in the process of rebuilding his criminal empire. His lust for life is ever-present as he lays the foundation for this new enterprise — one that he’ll design with Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone) by his side. Living with the reality that Red is her father, Liz finds herself torn between her role as an FBI agent and the temptation to act on her more criminal instincts. In a world where the search for Blacklisters has become a family trade, Red will undoubtedly reclaim his moniker as the “Concierge of Crime.”

Plus, there’s this: [ ‼️ Spoiler ‼️ ]

James Spader: [Re: Father question:] “Don’t get too comfortable” & “Why would they reveal anything in the 4th season?”


AP, Lynn Elber: Red is down, not out, as ‘Blacklist’ returns for season 5 http://abcn.ws/2y8jsEp
// 9/26/2017, James Spader interview

As the NBC drama opens its fifth season Wednesday (8 p.m. EDT), the once high-flying Red, his lucrative criminal network in shreds, is reduced to living in a motor lodge and spending his leisure time there poolside. And how’s this for mundane: He’s wearing a baseball cap.

“The cap is nothing compared to the bathing suit,” Spader said, dryly, of the character whose good-life perks included a private jet and sharply tailored suits usually topped by a fedora, wool or straw. But the lawless mastermind is down, not out, as he adjusts to his new circumstances and engineers a comeback.

Red always “greeted life with great gusto, for good or ill. So I think that’s how he’s living life right now,” Spader said. In a series that revels in changing up the action and the outcome, Red’s fall from power has opened up more “opportunity for fun,” he said.

Sardonic humor has been a constant in “The Blacklist,” despite the parade of brutal killings committed by Red, his hirelings and enemies. It works because of Spader’s finesse at creating the hate-him, love-him Reddington, shades of the heroic antiheroes he’s so skillfully crafted before.

Among recent examples: W.N. Bilbo, President Abraham Lincoln’s wheeler-dealer for Congressional anti-slavery votes in the 2012 film “Lincoln,” and, in Spader’s last extended series run before “Blacklist,” the brilliant but flawed lawyer Alan Shore on five seasons of “Boston Legal.”

An element of danger often colored Spader’s youthful handsomeness (see the film “Secretary,” for one), and maturity has only made him more adroit at leavening ruthlessness with charm. The intelligence he brings on-screen also is a constant in his conversation.

“I like playing bad guys you’d like to spend time with, or good guys that are complicated enough to keep your attention,” he said. The veteran actor, who’s an executive producer on “Blacklist,” gives a thumbnail analysis of the two dramas and why he thinks his current vehicle has more miles left.

“Boston Legal” had a formula in which the “numbers kept changing, but it had an equation,” he said. And while it had a “volume of material, it wasn’t particularly difficult to film, although you have to figure out a way to make a courtroom entertaining.”

“But this show has never had an equation. … Episode to episode, the tone is very different. Even within an episode the tone can change, jarringly,” he said. But he’s protective of “The Blacklist” and his character.

“When I see something that I feel is inappropriate or not right for him … I certainly speak up,” he said. “But I tend to speak up about everything and anything.”


EntertainmentWeekly, Natalie Abrams: The Blacklist boss teases lighter season 5 after major Red reveal http://bit.ly/2xvVhPp
// 9/26/2017

Now that The Blacklist has revealed Liz Keen (Megan Boone) to be the daughter of Red (James Spader), the FBI agent will be not-so-secretly terrified about what this instinctively means for her. Does she have the capability to go evil? Well, yes, she even had to go on the run for murder a few seasons back, which is exactly why this new turn of events will really shake Liz to her core this season.

At the same time, Liz finally has the family she has always craved. And now that there’s no longer this secret between them, the show is able to lean into lighter elements this year. Take Red, for example: He’s really relishing his unemployment, knowing full well the Task Force will have no choice but to help him rebuild his empire. However, that void won’t be empty for long.

“[There’s] a Rogue’s Gallery of desperate, dark people who see an opportunity in Reddington being wounded,” executive producer Jon Bokenkamp says, cautioning that the mysterious suitcase now in the possession of Tom (Ryan Eggold) will swiftly lead to chaos. “Red feels that it represents a real danger, not only to him, but perhaps to Liz,” Bokenkamp says. “He is still withholding his real agenda from her.” Read our full interview with Bokenkamp below to get the scoop, and read our interview with Megan Boone here.

Entertainment Weekly: Where are we picking the new season back up?

Jon Bokenkamp: It’s pretty immediate. We pick up immediately after because we have a number of stories that felt like they were too pressing to jump past. So, you’ve got Ressler who has hired a blacklister, Tom who’s got a secret from Kaplan, Red with the revelations that Liz is his daughter. And so, there’s all of this stuff that’s happening that it felt like, “Well, how can we miss any time?” So, we come back in the immediate aftermath.

EW: Tom and Liz will quickly reunite. What is that like for them emotionally?

JB: That’s interesting. It’s a relief that Tom is back for them and that they can be a family again, and they can physically be together. I think it’s also an incredible source of conflict in their relationship because Reddington has really no love for Tom Keen. Elizabeth Keen is kryptonite to Tom. She is the thing that keeps him alive. In fact, Reddington probably would’ve killed Tom a long time ago had Liz not cared for him so much. And so, in terms of them as a couple, I think it’s great news that Tom is back. In terms of the dynamic of that threesome, that now very literal familial threesome, it is a powder keg.

EW: Tom is obviously in possession of this mysterious suitcase. What can you tease in regards to that and how quickly that will unfurl.

JB: It comes into play fairly soon within the first two or three episodes. And in terms of what he’s got, Kaplan had a contingency plan and wanted a much larger truth to be revealed to Liz. We revealed this paternity issue and in a way, it’s ultimately not why Reddington is there. It’s not his big secret. He is still withholding his real agenda from her and that is a little bit of a new dynamic. This suitcase is out there with Tom and floating around, and Reddington doesn’t know where it is.

EW: Would you say she’s even more loyal to Red now following the news?

JB: Totally, 100 percent. That’s part of the baggage that she’s dealing with, with Tom. She has reason to trust him and give him more latitude, to give Reddington more space, because he has been there by her side. And most of the time, if not all of the time, it appears that he’s there with her best interest in mind and yet she doesn’t always get the entire truth from him — she gets pieces of the truth. …

EW: Will Liz learn more or at least want to know more about her background now that she knows the truth?

JB: Yes, but this season really is about pushing forward. And in a number of ways, oftentimes the show looked back at the mythology and at a deeper mythology. This season, rather than being about her looking back at secrets and the uber truth to the center of the show, in fact, they both are more interested in looking forward and rebuilding. That really is the headline of what’s happening is that Reddington is decimated in trying to save Liz from Mr. Kaplan. His entire empire has been destroyed; he has nothing. So when we meet him in season 5, he’s the same character, but in a completely different headspace. He’s rebuilding and that is a monumental undertaking and one that he really relishes, one that he’s having a great time doing. …

EW: Because his organization was totally blown apart, how does that change the cases this year? And does that make Cooper ever more nervous knowing that now, in a way, they really are truly helping Red rebuild an organization rather than keeping an organization alive?

JB: Yeah. I think one of the things I’m most excited about is there’s a great conflict at the center of it where our task force is helping rebuild a criminal mastermind and they don’t want to do that. And yet, they realize there’s potentially a greater good in it and so they’re having to go along with it. You have this dynamic where, once again, Reddington feels completely in charge by virtue of the fact that he’s almost more whimsical and more carefree, which makes him more dangerous and more unexpected. And yet, there’s not this emotional baggage that casts a darker shadow over the season. … And we get to see, I don’t want to say a lighter side, but a much more vibrant, fun side like we had maybe in season 1…. That’s the thing that is so difficult for Cooper and Ressler and the rest of our task force, is that the guy’s actually enjoying the fact that he’s somewhat unemployed and having to rebuild an empire, and he knows that they have no choice but to help him.

EW: What new threats will the team be facing this year, especially in the wake of hearing that we’re not actually going to be seeing Gale (Enrique Murciano) back next season? So who replaces him in that sense?

JB: I don’t know that there’s a replacement so much as the ongoing threat that Reddington and the task force are connected. In terms of the threat, the threat is really more a present one in terms of what other forces and entities move in to try to take over the void that’s left by the Reddington. …

EW: As you finally reveal something that we’ve all suspected from the beginning, are you looking to what the end game is for your show?

JB: We know the end game, but we’re not looking toward it. I certainly hope there’s a long life in the show. But yes, since day 1 we’ve been plotting our way toward an end. I think it would be impossible to write the show without that.


CarterMatt: The Blacklist exclusive: Jon Bokenkamp previews season 5, Reddington’s new start http://bit.ly/2wP9E1B
// 9/25/2017

CarterMatt: One of the big revelations coming out of the finale is that Liz now believes that Reddington is her father. How will that impact her?

Jon Bokenkamp: I think the biggest change that comes about is her self-awareness of who Elizabeth Keen is, where she comes from, and what’s in her DNA. I think there is a looming concern that she is more like this man than she wants to be. She’s probably always struggled with that in the back of her mind, but this season we really want to confront her with that question in a direct way. We want to see what she can withstand, as though she hasn’t been through enough already. I think that’s really the biggest change, since there is this thing that was subtext for so long. Can she stay above the fray and be this great FBI agent, or will she have that impulse like the one the led her to murder the attorney general?

CM: This has also left Reddington in a really interesting spot right now. Mr. Kaplan devastated so much of his empire and what he knows. Where are we now with him when we come back?

JB: Season 4 got a little dark at times, as our show can. What is really fun to watch this season is Red rebuilding because he is starting with nothing. That could be a real downer — like his resources are gone and his friends have jumped ship. But, he loves it! He loves the idea of being presented with the challenge of trying to rebuild an empire, and he finds a great joy in the idea that he can reboot.

CM: With Terry O’Quinn, is there any plan to revisit [Howard Hargrave] or what happened with him [at the end of The Blacklist: Redemption]?

JB: We are going to address Tom and his family and what happened there, because I do think the two shows, while they were different, occupy the same landscape. They were in the same universe, so we do want to address that, but we won’t have Terry or Famke [Janssen] coming back — though we were really lucky to have that whole crew and everyone [who appeared] on that show.

This is one of the great things about The Blacklist — we often have great, wild, and crazy scenarios where people who we thought might be gone can find their way back into the show. It’s not out of the realm of possibility, but for now we don’t have plans to bring them back.


EntertainmentWeekly: The Blacklist’s Megan Boone on how Red reveal changes everything http://bit.ly/2hnX42K
// 9/22/2017


TodayShow: Emmy Winner Actor James Spader Promises More Surprises Ahead On ‘The Blacklist’ http://on.today.com/2fNinan video (4:26 mins)
// 9/21/2017


EntertainmentWeekly, Natalie Abrams: The Blacklist finally confirms Red’s relationship to Liz http://bit.ly/2rxWlfM
// 5/18/2017


TodayShow: James Spader: The Blacklist delves deep into Red’s past as it returns http://on.today.com/2o5blnd video (4:59 mins)
// 4/18/2017


NYT, Jim Rutenberg: How to Write TV in the Age of Trump: Showrunners Reveal All nyti.ms/2p6tC3A
// 4/12/2017, Showrunners of: House of Cards, Madam Secretary, Scandal and Veep


Three Guys with Beards: #049 | Daniel Knauf http://bit.ly/2pzY6aL
// 3/21/2017, audio interview


InternationalOpulence, Robin Jay: Meet The Blacklister – An exclusive Interview with Jon Bokencamp http://bit.ly/2nGUinO
// 3/14/2017, “An exclusive Interview with Jon Bokencamp, creator of NBC’s hit crime thriller ‘The Blacklist’ and the new spinoff series ‘The Blacklist Redemption’”

International Opulence: I can’t imagine anyone other than James Spader playing the part of Reddington. What direction was he given and how much did he embellish to create his character?
Jon Bokencamp: It was written very specific for a 50-something-year-old man who’s classy, elegant and refined. James brought a real sense of humor to the role. I know one of the things he did on ‘Boston Legal’ were the great courtroom filibusters – he’d just become hypnotizing. And that became something we would write toward. He can be quiet and captivating. Oftentimes, we’d write a whole scene and then decide he could do it with just a kiss. [[ What?! Where?! When?! ]] James said he saw in the script a lot of humor. I didn’t. He definitely brought it out and has an odd sense of humor that I think is in sync with the character. It’s James’ great sense of timing and an eerie weirdness that is fun to write to.

IO: What’s James like in person when he’s not acting? Does he have any similarities to his character in The Blacklist?
JB: It’s funny, John [Eisendrath] has said this before, at a certain point the character becomes the actor and the actor becomes the character. And you start writing toward that actor’s strengths and what they do well, and avoid what they are not so strong at. You see sort of a presence only they can bring to that character. In terms of what James is like, he’s incredibly professional. He’s dedicated to the script, which I think is rare in television. He’s somebody who’s not going out and ad-libbing and winging it. He’s incredibly protective of the character. Raymond has sort of an odd moral compass. He’s a ruthless man, he’s a criminal. But at the same time, he’s an antihero who has a very specific moral code and I think James is very good at calling us out when he thinks Reddington is doing something out of character.

IO: Is there a real ‘Black List’ in the real world?
JB: Well, the government has a kill list. That exists. A lot of things we use in The Blacklist are grounded in truth. I’m not a huge conspiracy theorist, but I’m also not terribly naïve. … I think that there is certainly money and power that have an influence, and I think Reddington’s perspective on the world and his cynicism and his wild delight for life are sort of a nice juxtaposition.

IO: Given the bruhaha in the news media about whether the Russians hacked the election, are you planning to write more Russian plots in future episodes?
JB: There are larger conversations that happen behind the scenes. Maybe I like to let my mind go wild.

IO: Do you do any actual collaborating with the FBI?
JB: Yes, we work with Brad Garett who’s a former FBI agent. There are certain times where he’ll tell us what’s more realistic.

IO: When you first started the series, did you intend from the onset for the audience to wonder whether Red may be Liz’s long-lost father?
JB: I think that was always part of the mystery. It wasn’t ‘was she his daughter’ so much as who is this man, which is the larger question. The Blacklist is very much a ‘chosen one’ story. “A man walks into the FBI one day and only speaks to Liz and knows things that are mysterious and uncomfortable and the question of ‘why her’ is really a series long question. We had chances to answer it, but I think that’s what makes the character of Red mysterious because just when we think we understand him, we don’t. I personally like the chameleon aspect.

[ Note: Emphases added. Very minor edits ]


EntertainmentWeekly: Did The Blacklist reveal Red’s real betrayer? http://bit.ly/2mkjj7C
// 2/23/2017, Interview with Jon Bokenkamp; The Blacklist returns on Thursday, April 20 with a two-hour episode.

EW: It looks like Dembe is to blame — at least that’s what you’re showing us. Should we trust that?

JB: … [Y]es, as we come back, Dembe is who our entire team is hunting.

EW: Is there more to what we’re seeing, though?

JB: Yeah. What’s fun is that we pick up weeks later. It’s almost real time. It takes eight weeks for Reddington, in the time that we’re down, to hunt Dembe before he gets his big lead that brings him back in episode 16. …

EW: How is this going to ultimately affect Red moving forward?

JB: He’s been dealing with a number of hits. … He’s watching his empire crumble and I think he’s having to step back and reassess what he’s doing, why he’s doing it, how long he can survive, how many hits his business can take. I think he is very reflective and stepping back and taking stock in what he’s become. … It’s not just Reddington — it’s our task force, it was Mr. Kaplan, it was Dembe, it was Liz and Cooper, and the whole team has been enabling him. So whatever blood has been spilled, to a certain extent, is on their hands as well. That’s something that, not only Reddington, but the entire task force is really struggling with as things are in such fractured place.


Observer, Anne Easton: EPs Couldn’t Kill Tom Keen, So They Made Him the Star of ‘The Blacklist: Redemption’ http://bit.ly/2lpZGKn
// 2/22/2017, Interview segments: Eisendrath, Bokenkamp, Eggold, Famke

John Eisendrath, who serves as an Executive Producer … , admitted during a gathering at the Television Critics Association to trying to orchestrate Keen’s demise. “It’s true that in the initial inception of The Blacklist, the character of Tom Keen was going to die, We considered it frequently, maybe more often than we should have, but the truth is, we never did it, in large part because [Tom Keen’s portrayer] Ryan [Eggold] was undeniable in his presence and his value to the show that the opposite happened – instead of writing him out and killing him, we just wrote more and more for him until it became clear that he was a character we could build a show around.” …

Eggold isn’t nervous about headlining the new series, as he says, “I don’t feel too much pressure or anything so much as I feel passionately about searching for what this show is. I can’t wait to figure out this dynamic and see where the characters go.”

Explaining the narrative of the series and how it’s different from it’s predecessor, Eisendrath reveals, “Ultimately we strayed a long way from a potential father/daughter story to a mother/son story. We really stretched ourselves for that. In in this case, we’re telling, ultimately, a story for the audience to enjoy about an odd, weird, uncertain dynamic between a parent and child. So it’s a much different story and though it will be weird and twisted and have lots of secrets, I think [it’s] much more relatable to viewers.” …

Describing her character, Scottie, actress Famke Janssen, says, “I think she’s a complex woman, with many different layers. She has this incredibly soft and broken side to her that’s so beautiful and relatable. But, at the same time, this is a woman who operates in an extremely tough environment and she has to be strong. And, she’s ruthless, and she’s unpredictable, and we never quite know where we stand with her.”

Summing up what viewers can expect from the series, Bokenkamp smiled as he said, “This show really is sexy and, yes, there is a sense of fun. We want it to be a big, explosive, wild ride.”


AbsoluteMusic, Paula Courtney: An In-depth Interview With Hisham Tawfiq ~ ‘Dembe’ on The Blacklist http://bit.ly/2kUwKtM
// 2/18/2017


NYT, Kathryn Shattuck: Famke Janssen Plays Another Lethal Woman in a ‘Blacklist’ Spinoff http://nyti.ms/2lUdvVe
// 2/17/2017


UInterview: Mozhan Marno Speaks On Her Character’s Betrayal On ‘The Blacklist http://bit.ly/2kj8cxq
// 1/6/2017


SpoilerTV: The Blacklist – Episode 4.09 – Lipet’s Seafood Company – Promo, Sneak Peeks, Promotional Photos, Interview & Press Release http://bit.ly/2kbLc38
// 1/5/2017, interview excerpt from EW

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Is Red actually Liz’s father?

JON BOKENKAMP: I think it’s best to let the show and its characters answer that. Anything that’s meaningful is in the scripts and on the screen. Everything else is noise.

EW: Should we trust what Red told Kirk about being Liz’s father or was he just telling Kirk what he wanted to hear?

JB: Well, he did say he was her father and he sounded like he meant it. That said, he was also heavily drugged with god knows what. I’ll let you decide.

EW: Kirk says there’s nothing that could stop him from killing Red, and yet he actually stopped. What can you tease of what’s really going on and when we’ll find out what Red whispered?

JB: The truth is, we’re not going to find out what he said. That whisper was a secret between the two men who loved Katarina. Besides, if you really knew what Red said the show would probably be over.


Yahoo: ‘The Blacklist’ Postmortem: Mozhan Marnò Talks Samar’s Big Admission About Aram and Her Feelings About Liz’s Big News https://yhoo.it/2k1HWVQ
// 1/5/2017


AbsoluteMusicChat: Paula Courtney: Presenting Brandon Sonnier ~ Writer/Director (The Blacklist, Blues, The List, The Beat)
// 1/4/2017


Iloveredmorethanever: Live with Kelly Interview with Megan Boone http://bit.ly/2kbhOdd
// 1/3/2017

⬆ go to top
Bloginetor: The Blacklist | 4×09 “Lipet’s Seafood Company” Promo +Promotional Photos + Press release+ Interview http://bit.ly/2k1OFiv
// 12/21/2016, EW interview excerpt plus analysis


RottenTomatoes: The Blacklist Interview Excerpts [videos] http://bit.ly/2k1EaM8
// 12/6/2016, many interview snippets


YouTube Build Series: Interview with Zee Hatley, Associate Producer on NBC’s The Blacklist http://bit.ly/2kvi04Z
// 11/15/2016


BrisbaneTimes [AU]: Gangster movies and a passion for books led James Spader to an acting career http://bit.ly/2jnGgnC
// 11/13/2016

“When I was a kid, and I first was watching James Cagney movies or Humphrey Bogart movies, those gangster movies, I thought they were great, you know? They were the characters I loved the most,” Spader says.

“[They are] people who live sort of in the fringes or extremities of our society, their lives are lived in the extreme, and that makes for a good drama,” Spader adds. “But it also allows people to visit those sort of extreme aspects of our societies, and it transports people to a different place and a different sort of sensibility.”

In the original outline for the series, Red Reddington was written as a far more serious – and sinister – figure than he ultimately became. The shift occurred, producers John Bokenkamp and John Eisendrath have said, mostly because of the wry nuances in Spader’s performance.

“I saw a great opportunity for humour, or irreverence,” Spader says. “I think that is a better way of putting it really, because it’s not a jokey show at all. Just a sort of irreverence, and a way to have fun with it, in the middle of the intensity. It’s nice to have some lightheartedness, it makes it more fun to play.”

“You’ve got a guy who’s spent a good portion of his life being faced with adversity, he’s capable of very, very bad things, but he’s got a very well developed heart, which you see in a lot of his dealings with a lot of people,” Spader says.

“He has a tremendous feeling … and when faced with a child, I think the child represents life, you know? The beginning of life. For a man who’s lived right on the brink of death, he’s so close to the end of his life throughout his whole life. He’s just one misstep away. To be faced all of a sudden with life, it’s incredibly moving.”

From the day he walked into government custody promising to help the FBI track down the most dangerous criminals in the world, James Spader’s character in The Blacklist, Raymond “Red” Reddington, has played a high stakes game.

As the series has evolved, and a larger mosaic to Reddington’s character has been revealed, a daughter-like figure (if not an actual daughter) is in the narrative – FBI profiler Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone) – and a tender side to Reddington has been revealed.

For the most part, Spader confines the bigger conversation – about the show’s over-arching themes, its direction, and his character – to one long talk each year.

“After we finished shooting the pilot [producers] John Bokenkamp and John Eisendrath came over to my house and we sat and talked about the show as a whole, where it could go, and what the shape of it could be,” Spader says.

“That has continued; what we tend to do is, in the spring, during our vacation break, we tend to talk about the long term, the whole season and how that fits into a larger picture of the future,” he adds. “Then we talk about the specifics.”

The last season wrapped with Reddington in a very vulnerable place, seemingly betrayed by the person he trusted the most. “I think you saw a lot, frankly, for him, considering who he is, I think you saw a lot of [vulnerability],” says Spader.

“But he’s got to move forward,” he adds. “He’s got to find a way to move forward. He’s not a person to wallow. So, the season opens with everybody in trouble. The whole group. They’re all at odds and conflicted. It’s a mess. I think that’s a pretty good starting point.” …

Away from the set, Spader and his partner Leslie Stefanson live with Spader’s two sons with former wife Victoria, Elijah and Sebastian, and a younger son, Nathaneal. In his spare time – of which there is precious little – Spader says reading is his greatest passion.

“There’s not enough time in a lifetime to read even a fraction of the amount of stuff that you may want to read in your life. I devote a lot of time to that,” he says. “Besides eating and the hangout with the family and sleeping and making love, I can read for months. I just love it. I love it.”

Spader says reading, more than any other factor, drove him into his acting career. “It’s not about acting, really,” he says. “It’s really because I love stories, and I love other people’s lives and I love other things that I am not familiar with. I love the consumption of that.

“It all started with just playing make-believe as a kid, but your playing make-believe is also informed by your reading, what you read as a kid, the stories you’re hearing,” he says. “I didn’t watch a lot of television or go to the movies and stuff as a kid. It was all books.”


ParentHerald: ‘The Blacklist’ Season 4 Update: Mid-season Teasers Unveiled; Major Revelations Out In The Finale? http://bit.ly/2jnFVRZ
// 11/11/2016, quotes from source interviews plus analysis


EW, Natalie Abrams: The Blacklist: Red’s connection to Liz finally revealed? http://bit.ly/2jGlPTN
// 11/10/2016

Who survived the ultimate showdown between Red and Kirk in The Blacklist midseason finale?

During Thursday’s episode of The Blacklist, Kirk’s (Ulrich Thomsen) men sprung him from the hospital, taking Liz (Megan Boone) hostage in a bid to save Kirk’s life. However, Kirk discovers Liz is not his daughter, so Red (James Spader) offers his life in exchange for Liz’s.

Before Kirk could kill him, though, Red offers Dr. Shaw’s patient zero as a miracle cure for Kirk. But Kirk just wants to torture Red for answers, like how they were both Katarina’s marks, and she tricked Kirk into believing Masha was his daughter, when really Red is her father. Twist. Well, not really since we’ve all suspected as much since the beginning of the series. But was Red actually revealing the truth, or just telling Kirk what he wanted to hear?

Kirk, however, still wants to kill Red, saying there’s nothing Red could say to stop him — until Red whispers something that stops Kirk in his tracks. What did he say?! EW turned to executive producer Jon Bokenkamp to find out.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Is Red actually Liz’s father?

JON BOKENKAMP: I think it’s best to let the show and its characters answer that. Anything that’s meaningful is in the scripts and on the screen. Everything else is noise.

EW: Should we trust what Red told Kirk about being Liz’s father or was he just telling Kirk what he wanted to hear?

JB: Well, he did say he was her father and he sounded like he meant it. That said, he was also heavily drugged with god knows what. I’ll let you decide.

EW: Kirk says there’s nothing that could stop him from killing Red, and yet he actually stopped. What can you tease of what’s really going on and when we’ll find out what Red whispered?

JB: The truth is, we’re not going to find out what he said. That whisper was a secret between the two men who loved Katarina. Besides, if you really knew what Red said the show would probably be over.

EW: Could Red actually be Katarina?

JB: That’s funny — I’ve heard that theory before and it’s a wild one. I’d love to have someone walk me through the logic of exactly how that would work. I’ve also heard that Liz is Tom’s sister, Liz is a robot, and Ressler is Tom’s brother. All great theories, by the way.

EW: Everyone has suspected that Red was Liz’s father since the beginning. Why did you decide to go this route?

JB: Ultimately this is a ‘chosen one’ story. Elizabeth Keen is clearly incredibly important to Red. Why? That’s what we’re slowly revealing over time, and trust me, the answers are all there. As you pointed out — the father theory is only one of many. For me, it was never so much about is he her father or is he not — but why is this young woman so important to Raymond Reddington?

EW: Red seemed to know inside info on Katarina and Kirk’s relationship. How would he know that?

JB: We’ve already established that Red had an affair with Katarina, and I think one can only assume she told him many intimate details about her actual husband, Alexander Kirk.

EW: Red says Kirk is gone. Is that really the last we’ve seen of him?

JB: I think it’s pretty certain this is the last we’ve seen of Kirk.

EW: Kaplan left the woodsman behind. What’s her next move? Is she against Red now?

JB: I think Mr. Kaplan is just lucky to get out of that cabin alive. She’s lucky to escape Red. She’s hitched a ride and off to god knows where.

EW: Have we seen the last of Kaplan?

JB: Ugh. I hope we haven’t seen he last of her. I love having Susan Blommaert on the show. That said, I also loved having Alan Alda on the show and we exploded his head with a neck bomb, so…


Etonline[.]com: Philiana Ng: My Favorite Scene: ‘Blacklist’ Creator on the Moment the NBC Crime Thriller Became More http://et.tv/2naR0eP
// 11/10/2016, the “Stroganoff scene”


AbsoluteMusicChat: Paula Courtney: My interview with Brandon Margolis, writer/producer on NBC’s The Blacklist TV series http://bit.ly/2jXKEvF
// 10/18/2016


TVGuide: The Blacklist EP Teases Mr. Kaplan’s Fate and an Impending “Conflict” for Liz and Tom http://bit.ly/2jnYhCs
// 10/12/2016

Mr. Kaplan (Susan Blommaert) just can’t seem to catch a break onThe Blacklist. … [W]hen we last saw Mr. Kaplan, she was being rather roughly dragged through the woods by a man on a very uncomfortable-looking makeshift stretcher. So, who is that man, and what does he want with Mr. Kaplan? Is her bad luck just beginning? TVGuide.com turned to Blacklist creator Jon Bokenkamp for answers. Here’s what he had to say about Mr. Kaplan’s new friend, the clues Liz has discovered about her past, and what’s next for Samar and Aram:

TVGuide.com: What can you tell us about the man we see dragging Mr. Kaplan through the woods?

Jon Bokenkamp: Boy, what can I tell you? We’re gonna go down the rabbit hole with Mr. Kaplan into a sort of unexpected world, I think. She has been left for dead and has been rescued. That could be good and that could be bad, and maybe full of a couple turns and twists. … What we don’t typically do is slow stuff way down. That is going to be a story that is a little bit of a slow burn for us. It’s not going to be completely answered in the next episode or even the one after that. … I think it’s going to be rather interesting.

TVGuide.comWhen will she and Red cross paths again?

Bokenkamp: That’s interesting. What’s unique about this, and we don’t often do this, but this is a story that’s sort of happening in a vacuum. Red has, for all intents and purposes, killed Mr. Kaplan. And yet she has managed to barely survive. So, we’re telling a story that’s sort of parallel to the lives of Red and Liz (Megan Boone) and Tom (Ryan Eggold) and Ressler (Diego Klattenhoff) and the task force. We did that a little bit in the first season, where we saw this – we called him the Apple Eating Man, who was watching Tom and Liz. And we had a run of episodes where we didn’t know who these people were. Finally, in that case, those stories converged. Here, we may take a different route, or we may end up in a different place. But one of the things that’s unique about it, and I think sort of unusual, is that we’re just telling a little short story with Mr. Kaplan off on her own, really untethered to Red or Liz or what’s going on with Agnes or Alexander Kirk (Ulrich Thomsen). She’s sort of in her own bubble off in the wilderness, in her own little movie.

TVGuide.com: It sounds like it will be a while until those stories converge again. How is Mr. Kaplan feeling towards Red at the moment?

Bokenkamp: One thing about Mr. Kaplan – she knows how Red feels, and I think she knows it would probably not be wise to go say, “Hey, I’m alive and well.” Or, “alive.” I don’t know about “well.” So we’re not in a big rush to play scenes between Red and Mr. Kaplan, if we will. Her condition is super grave. She’s been shot in the face, is clinging to life at the moment. I think any stories with her at the moment are really just about survival and staying alive, and that’s about it. That’s all that’s on her plate right now.

TVGuide.com: Switching gears to Liz, she’s trying to figure out who’s telling her the truth about her past – Red or Alexander Kirk. Are the writers dropping “clues” along the way so that viewers could potentially figure this out on their own, or will we be going on the journey along with Liz?

Bokenkamp: I think the audience has all the information that Liz has. I don’t know there are clues so much as truths about who these men are to her. They’re both telling different sides of the story. Maybe through the lens of history some things are remembered slightly differently. But I think what’s interesting about Kirk is that he’s coming in with a story that he’s incredibly passionate about, and truths that he believes in his soul – even so much that they’re turning up in Liz’s mind as memories.

In our second episode, she’s remembering moments with her mother. She’s digging up items that clearly were not planted. These are 25-year-old items that were buried. She’s found her journal, and read truths that were not fake, that are grounded in the mythology of the show. Again, that’s one of the things that makes Kirk so dangerous to Reddington, is that he has real, concrete answers. … [H]opefully the audience will be able to understand that we’re playing fair with them and that the truths are being laid out as these episodes progress.

TVGuide.com: We saw Liz’s mother in her memories. Is there any chance Katarina is still alive?

Bokenkamp: Well, they never did find her body. That is true. She, as the story goes, walked off into the water and committed suicide at Cape May, and sort of washed away. But it is true that her body was never found. { … }

TVGuide.com: The last time we spoke, you said the writers were just starting to discuss how to launch the spin-off The Blacklist: Redemption. Is there anything more you can share about that?

Bokenkamp: That is something that we’re still kind of figuring out. We have a plan. … I don’t know what to say there. I don’t have anything quite yet without blowing stuff.

TVGuide.com: Is it fair to say that seeds have been planted in these first few episodes about the plot that will carry Tom over to Blacklist: Redemption?

Bokenkamp: I think seeds were planted even before that. The draw that is going to have to pull Tom away from this whole world is something that has sort of been woven into the show for some time. It goes back years for him. We have a really compelling story for who Tom is, how he came to be. …

TVGuide.com: A fan on Twitter asked if we’ll ever find out who sent Red the mysterious painting in Season 3.

Bokenkamp: That was a warning from, I believe, Alexander Kirk. … It was a sort of a warning shot from across the bow to Reddington, saying, “I know and I’m coming.” I wish there was some deeper mind-bending turn there.

TVGuide.com: Can we expect more from the Samar (Mozhan Marno) and Aram (Amir Arison) storyline?

Bokenkamp: Yes, very much so. Samar and Aram have a story that is playing out that I think we just hinted at at the end of last week’s episode. Aram has had a bit of a secret that he hasn’t been telling us, and that is certainly news to Samar and Ressler and everyone, that Aram is making dinner and having dates and having a life outside of the post office …

TVGuide.com: Will we see more of the FBI and Team Keen working together?

Bokenkamp: Yeah, for sure. They’re going to continue to work together. That doesn’t mean that there won’t be still some bad blood there. I think Samar specifically is really struggling with how to continue with this task force, when Liz sets the house on fire and expects everyone else to come put it out. … We are going to continue to have some significant ripple effects from the fact that Liz faked her death and betrayed the trust of the people who care the most for her. …


Yibada: ‘The Blacklist’ Season 4 spoilers: Liz, Red romance finally materializing as Tom leaves for a spinoff? http://bit.ly/2kjiw8r
// 10/5/2016


Sportsrageous: Blacklist Season 4 Spoilers: Megan Boone talks about how she had to lie to everyone http://bit.ly/2kCXVsF
// 10/5/2016


HuffPo: BUILD Series Exclusive: James Spader on Typecasting in Show Business http://huff.to/2jnWtt5
// 9/29/2016

“… [I]n every category you want to hire the person that you have something that you can look at that’s tangible that shows that that person can deliver what you’re asking of them. You’re going to typecast everybody. It is a resume. You’re going to hire a director who has directed something just like what you’re making (or what you’re paying for) so that you know that director can make that. You’re going to hire the actor who you know can do that because you’ve seen them do that. You’re going to hire the writer. Everybody. The cinematographer. The guy who you know does the sound effects, you know the special sound recording, he’s going to be the guy who just did the film that’s just like the one you’re about to make. Without question, I’d do the same thing. So would every one of you.”

“It just— it only makes sense. Yet, everybody who’s applying for the job, no, they want ‘something that they’ve never done before.’ They want to do something that is ‘brand new’ … ‘take a flyer on me I’m worth the 10 million, you know, really trust me, I know what I’m doing. I can do it really I can.’ So that’s the battle. It’s a formidable one but it’s a valiant one and one must be vigilant.'”


AbsoluteMusicChat: Paula Courtney: Q&A with The Blacklist’s Dave Metzger on Music, Writing & Breaking Down Episodes http://bit.ly/2k8tgq5
// 9/22/2016


YouTube: Opie&Jimmy: James Spader Interview https://youtu.be/Wna_AcHHQa4
// 9/22/2016


EntertainmentWeekly: The Blacklist’s Megan Boone on ‘stronger’ Liz Keen in season 4 http://bit.ly/2cL1nzN interview
// 9/22/2016


AOL: James Spader Discusses Season 4 Of NBC’s TheBlacklist | BUILD Series NYC http://aol.it/2dnJUiL 37 mins @NBCBlacklist
// 9/22/2016


TVGuide, Liz Raftery: Blacklist Boss Answers Your Burning Questions About Season 4 http://bit.ly/2cF2vow
// 9/20/2016, interview

The Season 3 finale of The Blacklist gave us one big answer that, in turn, opened up a Pandora’s box of countless other questions. The double-whammy bombshell in the season ender informed us that, not only is Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone) alive, she’s the daughter of Alexander Kirk, a.k.a. former KGB agent Constantin Rostov (Ulrich Thomsen), who has a lengthy personal history with Red Reddington (James Spader).

TVGuide.com: Where/when do we pick up in Season 4?

Bokenkamp: We pick up literally right in the moment where Season 3 left off. … We dive right back into it headfirst.

How does the knowledge about Kirk being her father change Liz this season?

Bokenkamp: I think her first reaction is, ‘Where is my kid? What have you done with my child? Where is the man I was going to marry?’ I think she is incredibly suspicious. This guy has abducted her, taken her away from a life that she was trying to reboot. And he hasn’t entered her orbit in the most graceful of ways. So, I think she’s incredibly suspicious.

And yet, Kirk promises to offer and will offer some incredibly compelling truths that are hard to refute, and truths that I think Raymond Reddington is not happy to have exposed. … He’s going to open Liz’s eyes to her past … and I think it’s going to be really compelling.

… Should she — and the audience — accept that Kirk is her father as a definitive truth?

Bokenkamp: I think you should take it as seriously as Liz and everyone in the task force. In the [writers] room, we take it incredibly seriously. … [I]n our mythology in the past three years of the show, we have worked in the writers room incredibly hard to keep the stories clean, the mythology clean. … Kirk believes it. He has proof that he is Liz’s father. And in time, he will share that with her. I think the audience should take it incredibly seriously.

What is Liz and Red’s relationship this season?

Bokenkamp: I think it’s a real yin and yang, their relationship. Liz has faked her death to get away from Reddington, and to start her family and to try to have a fresh life, this idyllic life that she’s been grasping for since we met her in the pilot of this series. … I think it’s safe to say that they in some way are going to have to find a way to push forward and continue to go out and solve those cases, and work together.

Liz be able to regain the trust of her FBI colleagues? … Will any of the team members react in surprising ways?

Bokenkamp: I think their responses across the board are going to be surprising. The very people that you would think would be suspicious of this and think it would be a terrible idea may step forward and support Liz. And the people who you think might be the most caring and supportive may feel the deepest betrayed. So we have some really good stories.

Talk about Red’s mindset when we return. Obviously he must feel deeply betrayed by Liz as well.

Bokenkamp: … Immediately, the only thing that is going to matter to him is, 1) finding Elizabeth Keen and 2) finding her child. And, any reveals or news or information that Kirk has, it might be new to the audience but it’s going to be almost irrelevant to Reddington until he knows that Elizabeth Keen and her child are safe. That is at the forefront. It’s one of the things we love about the character, is that, even though he’s been so brutally betrayed, his love for her is so deep that he’s able to set all of that aside and go do what’s right by her and her child, and set this right. When we meet him at the top of Season 4, he will be on fire. I can assure you that.

How does he deal with Mr. Kaplan’s (Susan Blommaert) betrayal?

Bokenkamp: He is going to be confronted with what to do with Mr. Kaplan and how to move forward within the first two episodes. We’ll have a clearer idea of what Red has in mind by the end of Episode 2. … We’ve seen how Reddington deals with betrayal in the past, whether it was Newton Phillips in Season 1, who he suffocated with the plastic liner of an urn, or the Paul Rubens character who betrayed him and who ended up dead on an airport hangar floor. He’s not one to suffer fools or to stand down to people who betray him. As the character says, value loyalty above all else. And that loyalty has certainly been breached with Kaplan.

[T]he decision she’s made will have significant consequences. It is something [Red] will struggle with tremendously, and it is a story that we’re going to confront. …I wouldn’t want to be Mr. Kaplan at the moment. …

Can we expect any more back story for some of the smaller characters?

Bokenkamp: As the show has grown, I think one of the things that we’ve become better at is telling the stories of the other people that populate the show. … We’re going to continue to do that as we push forward, and we’ve got some really great stories, some that come out of Liz faking her death and … other stories that are completely independent. … There’s potentially some back stories coming up [but] not immediately. Not at least in the first few episodes.

Will we get to see more of Scottie (Famke Janssen) and Tom’s relationship this season, ahead of the spin-off?

Bokenkamp: …That is, quite honestly, something we’re still figuring out. … She’s not in any of the immediate episodes when we launch back, but that is definitely a possibility.

How will the show move towards Redemption in the first half of the season?

Bokenkamp: We’re fortunate in that the spin-off doesn’t happen until midseason. We do have this big story we’re saddled with at the moment that we’re telling that clearly involves Tom, and that he’s going to be an important part of. … [Tom’s] got a whole basket full of problems before his character can even consider going to a spin-off.

When we do land there, in probably February, I think it’s going to be a great, super rich emotional decision. In terms of how and when he leaves, those episodes have yet to be written … .

Will we still see him on The Blacklist?

Bokenkamp: We’re talking about it. It’s clearly possible to see him on The Blacklist, and vice-versa. There’s a potential that any of these characters could sort of drift into the spinoff to the extent that it feels organic. …

Anything else you can add about Season 4?

Bokenkamp: …[W]e’ve got a real rollercoaster coming, and it’s gonna be a blast.


BlacklistExposed: Podcast: ‘The Blacklist Exposed’ Chats with Megan Boone About Career, Super Powers & Season 4! 72mins http://bit.ly/2cOgjOZ
// 9/17/2016


CarterMatt: ‘The Blacklist’ exclusive: Amir Arison on Liz Keen reveal, Aram’s journey, and big premiere http://bit.ly/2d4i8F3
// 9/16/2013

Amir Arison is the emotional core of the Task Force in many ways, and his role has increased with every passing year. Arison … touches on where the show left off, what could be coming up, and also the joy he has taken in slowly unraveling this character.

CarterMatt – [E]very season almost has its own feel. Have you felt that way…?

Amir Arison – It’s true. Each season kind of has a certain through-line, or at least half a season or a quarter of a season, and then there’s some giant twist and it’s turned on its head.

[T]he first half of the season — was Liz on the run and what that meant for every character on the show. … [W]e still had a Blacklister every week [but] it didn’t feel as procedural. It felt more ‘Alias’ / ’24’-esque.

Then, Liz was caught and brought into the box and Aram had that enormous episode where he had to try and save her. The second half of season 2 had its own through-line, and then the last five [episodes] when Liz Keen ‘died,’ everything turned on its head. Doing those five episodes was unlike anything that I’ve done on the show.

Of course, as we’re heading into this season, the news is that Liz is very much alive. … But one character we didn’t see get that information is Aram, and that is something I can say we will see in the premiere: Aram receiving the news that Liz Keen is in fact alive. I can’t say what goes with that news, but it’s more than a few things. It’s a lot to process.

CarterMatt – I have to imagine that for Aram it’s difficult. He’s such an emotional heart of the group and he cares about her, … .”

Amir Arison – I agree [Aram] is more emotional than other Task Force members on the show, but everyone has a very unique response to her revival, if you will. I think our writers and producers do a phenomenal job with the responses being consistent with each character, but then also surprising us.

CarterMatt – You mentioned those five episodes where Liz had died, and what an interesting time that was for you as an actor.

Amir Arison – Well, there’s a production episode and a script element. They didn’t tell us anything, and I went script to script to script. I can say now, … I did see Megan [Boone] around. I had a feeling they weren’t killing off our main character, but at the same time as an actor I like to stay in the dark so I can play each episode as truthfully [as possible].

When I did get the [final Season 3] script, though, I will say that the final reveal of Alexander Kirk saying ‘hello Masha, I am your father’ was like ‘whoa, I did not see that coming at all.’ That throws off all kinds of theories and so forth, and I have to tell you that the season [4] premiere and episode 2 … so much happens. The premiere feels like a vintage ‘Blacklist’ premiere, but episode 2 feels like a finale. That’s how much happens. That’s how many bombs drop. It’s exciting. I can say unequivocally it’s an exciting season so far.

CarterMatt – One of the last things Red said to Cooper in a great scene last season was to ‘set [Aram] up with someone.’ Could we actually see that happen? It’s the Aram matchmaker game!

Amir Arison – How funny was that line? He compared him to a school-boy with an erection, something like that. I saw a draft of that line and I laughed out loud each time. Of course the way James [Spader] delivered it [added to it].

If you remember back to the finale, at around that same time Aram went on a blind date in a Ford commercial, and coincidentally ended up on a blind date with Samar! I don’t know if all the viewers saw that. Aram was trying to put himself out there.

I was telling some cast members what I think Aram’s backstory is. I think Aram, after Liz Keen’s death and after it looks like the Task Force is going to disband, I think Aram is going to have to lean in to other aspects of his life. I’ll just say that (laughs).

CarterMatt – How much more of Aram’s backstory have you been clued in on? Have the writers given you more, or do you just take what is given to you in the scripts?

Amir Arison – In terms of backstory, here and there there are little pockets of discussion, but in television you have to be ready for anything.

[E]arly on in season 2 when Aram talked about his background a little bit I did talk to [showrunner] Jon Bokenkamp about that and had some suggestions. We had a super-collaborative conversation about that.

The show is about Red and Liz, and we get little pieces of Samar’s background and Cooper’s background and Ressler’s background. We haven’t gotten so much of Aram, but stay tuned for season 4!

CarterMatt – You mentioned early on about some of the stuff you got to do before episode 10 of season 3, and I think in general that was Aram’s biggest year yet. Is that going to continue moving forward?

Amir Arison I love those storylines in the third season. They were unexpected and extremely exciting. This season, I can say from the first six episodes there is some stuff I’m getting to do on the show that I haven’t done before, and I am loving it.


EntertainmentWeekly: The Blacklist: Liz Keen’s history to be revealed! http://bit.ly/2cyrv06 interview Megan Boone interview
// 9/15/2016

“Through the investigation of Alexander Kirk, she finds a lot of her mother’s memorabilia and private journals,” [Megan] Boone says. “A lot is revealed to her about her mother, who she’s known nothing about her whole life, and through her mother, she learns actually a lot more about Reddington.”

As The Blacklist inches closer to revealing exactly who Reddington is to Liz, she will discover a shocking truth. “What comes to light is that it’s not really Reddington bringing all of this upon her, it’s her own history and where she comes from,” Boone teases. “Something you start to realize through season 4 is she was strapped with this from birth.”

In truth, Boone admits she doesn’t even know the real connection between Red and Liz. “I never really felt like it was useful to me to know anything about the relationship that Liz has with Red, or about Red’s history and why he takes such an interest in Liz, because Liz doesn’t really know,” she says. “I always wanted to maintain that mystery for myself. That being said, I don’t really know, maybe James Spader, Jon Bokenkamp, and John Eisendrath are really enjoying keeping it a secret from everyone.”

“It’s very complicated and it’s something that actually gets revealed — it’s a big reveal in episode 3 of season 4,” Boone says. “Like a lot of the people that crop up in our show, his agenda is not necessarily altruistic. He doesn’t have the best of intentions.”


CinemaBlend: Will Liz Appear On The Blacklist More Often In Season 4? Here’s What The Creator Says http://bit.ly/2cGCkgL
// 9/9/2016

“… The Blacklist should win some kind of award for how the creative team embraced actress Megan Boone’s pregnancy leave by spinning it into a jaw-dropping series of twists during a surprisingly intense and moving back end of Season 3… .”

Bokenkamp: “Over time, he will be unpacking truths that are undeniable about who Elizabeth Keen is, where she comes from, what her connection is to Kirk, to her mother and, ultimately, to Reddington.”


HollywoodOutsiders: In World Creators Tara Bennett and Paul Terry [Video] http://bit.ly/2kvaWFv
// 9/7/2016, on Elizabeth Keen’s Dossier


DigitalTrends: Who is Reddington? The Blacklist creator Jon Bokenkamp teases the truth http://bit.ly/2aDePVG
// 8/4/2016

Jon Bokenkamp called Digital Trends from Los Angeles to discuss the show’s brilliant visual and sound design, some of season 3’s biggest moments, and his plan for the show’s ultimate endgame.

DigitalTrends: One of the extras from the previous season’s Blu-ray set showed how you guys worked on the Super Bowl episode [season 2, episode 9, Luther Braxton (No. 21)], where we got to see that big storyboard wall. Are you still using it to break stories?

Jon Bokenkamp: Oh my God, yeah — and it’s only growing. It’s more of a bible now. Occasionally, if we bump up against something like, “Does Liz speak Russian?” — we have to go back to the bible to keep it straight and to be on point with exactly what the backstory is.

We’re very religious about being honest and true to the mythology of the show, the origins of it, and where we’re planning to go. So, yeah, we’re meticulous about the mythology and maintaining the bible that we’re adding to, and checking against it to make sure we’re not contradicting ourselves in the storytelling.

DigitalTrends: Do you personally choose some of the songs that run with the montages at the end of certain episodes? Do you have specific songs in mind, or do other people bring their choices to your attention?

Jon Bokenkamp: It’s a little of both. I have very strong feelings about some stuff — either stuff I’ve listened to for many years, or stuff I’ve found that I feel will fit. I work very closely with John Bissell, who’s constantly sending me these packets of songs. He’ll say, “Hey, here are 20 songs you haven’t heard before.” Every once in a while, I’ll walk around the Paramount lot listening to them.

DigitalTrends: One of the most critical episodes from season 3 was Cape May [episode 19], a James Spader showcase that should be winning awards left and right, as far as I’m concerned. Was that actually shot in Cape May in New Jersey?

Jon Bokenkamp: I’m not sure exactly where they shot it. That’s another example of production making us look better than we deserve to be. But it was all on location, with very few things shot on a stage. It was all Spader and Lotte Verbeek [who appears as Red’s foil in that ep, ID’ed only as “Mysterious Woman”] and Michael Watkins, who directed it. They brought it to life.

DigitalTrends: What I also liked was that there was no Blacklister in that episode at all, which shows you can do an episode without having that be a given part of the plotline.

Jon Bokenkamp: [W]e feel emboldened by that episode, and we feel it would be a welcome breath of fresh air every now and then to go in and tell these stories that are a little bit different, more serialized, and a little more unusual. We really enjoy mixing it up and letting the show find itself, and not be beholden to one specific sort of format.

DigitalTrends: Season 3 ended in such a great way, and we’re looking forward to whatever comes our way in season 4.— as well as the Blacklist: Redemption spinoff series that’s set for midseason. If you could assess season 4 in, say, two words, what would they be?

Jon Bokenkamp: I would say: rollercoaster. It’s going to be a very adrenalized emotional rollercoaster. In a way, these people who have worked so closely together and have kind of become a family are going to have to somehow find it within themselves to move forward. It’s going to be a blast.

DigitalTrends: Seeing Liz’s father at the end of season 3, and having Ulrich Thomsen playing him, is a great casting move. [Thomsen portrayed the ruthless local businessman Kai Proctor on Banshee.] Is it fair to say we’ll see a lot of him in season 4?

Jon Bokenkamp: We’ll see him a fair amount, yes. He’s a critical part of season 4. Ulrich is a great actor, has great chemistry, and brings a real presence to the show. I think fans are going to have a great time watching him bring this character to life, one who has a lot of mysteries surrounding him. He’s not only going to raise questions, but he’s also going to answer questions as we move forward. I think he’s going to be a great addition. We’re going to have a great run with Ulrich.

That’s one of the things we like about the show — trying to surprise ourselves. Once you feel like you know somebody, you realize you don’t know them at all. That’s certainly the benchmark with Red. He’s this sort of chameleon who’s always shifting and changing. We’re getting closer and closer to understanding him, and the Cape May episode was a good example of that. But he’s still somewhat of an enigma to us.

DigitalTrends: I totally agree. So I have one question about the ultimate reveal of the series: Are we going to find out everything is happening in Red’s snow globe?

Jon Bokenkamp: What I’ll say about the trajectory of the show and where it’s going — and where it’s been going since Day 1 — is that we do have a grasp on who these people are, how they’re interconnected, and what the agendas are. …

We’re fortunate to know where we’re going, and fortunate to have smart writers on staff who are keeping us in line with that. I don’t think we could tell as complex a story or as emotional a story if we were just winging it.

DigitalTrends: So, just to confirm what you’re saying — no matter what season winds up being the last season of The Blacklist, you already know where you’re going to end up?

No matter how long we’re on? I have in my heart — and James [Spader] shares it, and [executive producer] John Eisendrath, and the people in the writer’s room do too — that we have a story, and it’s one we’re sticking to.

[T]he truth of who Reddington is guides us in every single episode. It also makes writing the episodes incredibly difficult, but it is our guide.


YouTube: BlacklistExposed: Interview with Creator Jon Bokenkamp https://youtu.be/Utg-15AGAao
// 7/14/2016


YouTube: Scottie Thompson on #TheBlacklist and working with James Spader https://youtu.be/41lss_yYWIM
// 6/7/2016


EntertainmentWeekly: Spoiler Room: Scoop on Arrow, UnREAL, Blacklist and more
// 6/1/2016

When Red and Liz do eventually reunite on The Blacklist, how will he feel about her faking her death? — Sarah

Listen, Liz has pushed Red away many times before and he’s always waited patiently in the wings. So despite the fact that she’s gone to extreme lengths to get away from him, I don’t think he’ll be changing his tactics any time soon. “He’s not insensitive to the fact of what she’s going through in her life right now and he’s aware of her knowledge of his feelings about all of it, and he’s made that plain,” James Spader tells me. “I think he would have an understanding for what led to this.”


EW: Spoiler Room: Scoop on Arrow, UnREAL, Blacklist and more http://bit.ly/2kvfThm
// 5/27/2016


TheBlacklistNBC, Susanne Patterson: “Inside The Interrogation Room” with The Blacklist Creator, Jon Bokenkamp http://bit.ly/1P5DP86 #TheBlacklist @NBCBlacklist
// 5/21/2016

● SP: The episode, “Cape May”, is Emmy worthy for Daniel Knauf and James Spader. The episode was simply epic. What did you think of this particular episode?

JB: We were psyched to have Knauf tackle “Cape May,” but the original idea for a Red only story was something that came about after a round of NBC notes. They wanted more Red. We all wanted to see him deal with what happened to Liz, but we had to figure out what that progression would be. Episodes, 318 and 320 fit together, but it was important to give Red and the fans a second to breathe.

● SP: Did the episode achieve it’s goal?

JB: Spader nailed it, and then by 320 we were ready to see Red on fire.

● SP: Was there a conscience [sic] decision to emphasize Arison’s acting abilities and build upon his character this season?

JB: This season we really clarified that he’s part of the heart and soul of the show. He can talk tech, and then turn around and deliver a line about the wedding playlist.


WSJ, Jason Evans (5/20/2016): ‘The Blacklist’ Creator Jon Bokenkamp Opens Up About the Twists of Season 3 http://on.wsj.com/298RLyI
// 5/20/2016, ‘Season 4 is going to expand that canvas,’ the showrunner says

You guys did a great job keeping the secret about Liz’s return. Who knew that Liz was still alive? Did you tell the cast?

No, we didn’t really tell anyone we didn’t have to, which is hard because our cast and crew are like a family. … The scene where Liz and Tom are reunited in Cuba was actually shot before Megan wrapped for the season, probably back in late February. It was scripted as a “dream sequence” in episode 3.18 (where Liz died)… We tried to be as quiet as possible about Megan coming back.

Was faking Liz’s death primarily done to facilitate Megan’s pregnancy or was it a storyline you wanted to pursue anyway?

To me, it felt totally organic for Liz to get pregnant unexpectedly. That’s life! Remember, this is a woman who wanted to be a mom, as early as the pilot. Now she has a child. It made sense to us that she would try to escape Red’s circle of influence, not just for herself, but for her newborn baby. …

The whole season felt like we were leading up to meeting Liz’s mom, Katerina. Instead we met her father. Will you say if this finally closes the book on any question as to whether Red is Liz’s dad?

I thought we answered that question back in season 1. (Note: In season 1, Red tells Liz he will never lie to her and then immediately says he is not her father, though many fans refused to believe him.)

… Can you talk about what kind of show it will be in season 4?

…There is almost always a case of the week that furthers the story in some way. I guess, personally, I’m more interested in the characters and how they’re changing than I am in telling an episodic story about bad guys. I think the character development of our ensemble is the greatest success in season 3. Ressler stepped up and ran the task force and keep this morality, Samar worked more closely with Reddington. Cooper started to arc darker and has his own marital problems, and Aram got out from behind the computer in a big way. I think seeing all of these characters develop was really wonderful. This is still Red and Liz’s story, but we’ve got a stable of incredible actors that I think we’ve finally just tapped into. Season 4 is going to expand that canvas.


WSJ, Jason Evans: ‘The Blacklist’ Creator Jon Bokenkamp Opens Up About the Twists of Season 3
// 5/20/2016


TVLine: The Blacklist’s Ryan Eggold Talks That Finale Surprise, Shares Spinoff Details http://bit.ly/29879Kg
// 5/19/2016

TVLINE | Were you told from the get-go that Liz’s death was faked, or was her death — and resurrection — something you only learned when reading the scripts?
The dissemination of information was very chaotic at first. [Laughs] I heard from Megan first. She came up to me and was like, “I’m dead.” And I said, “What?” and she said, “Yeah. I’m dead on the show.” And I basically said, “What? What are you talking about? We can’t do the show without you. There’s no way we’re going to kill you.” … Of course, we all thought there was some way to turn it around.

… And finally, [series creator] Jon [Bokenkamp] was like, “All right, look, she’s not dead, man.” [Laughs] And he told me the plan and why Tom was underreacting, because he’s orchestrating this plan. And I was like, “Huzzah!”

TVLINE | Had you suspected all along that she was going to come back, given Liz’s importance to the show?
… [T]he show revolves around her, and that’s what’s interesting about it. But it was interesting to remove the centerpiece from the show. You create this big, black hole, this void of where Liz was, and it pulls all the other characters closer to the center and stretches them in a way they wouldn’t have otherwise. … And then I got the script, and I’ve really been pleasantly surprised at every turn. …

TVLINE | Let’s talk about the spinoff a little bit. …
You know, this Tom Keen spinoff thing was a whisper I heard a long time ago … I mean, a long time ago. … And then about halfway through Season 3, it started to get very real. …

We’re going to get into this political bent. Scottie’s hiring spies like myself to influence governments, and [there are] empires rising and falling and the behind-the-scenes of that. I think that’s really timely, with Bernie Sanders and the concentration of wealth at the top, and corporations having all the power and influence on politics. If we get into a dramatized version of that world, where we are spies operating with those 1-percenters, that’s a really fun world that people want to see right now.

TVLINE | There’s already a huge difference between The Blacklist and The Blacklist: Redemption in that we already know Tom’s relationship to Scottie, and Liz and Red’s relationship is still very much a mystery. …
For me, I really liked that difference between The Blacklist and the new Redemption series — that on Day 1, we answer it. We say, “This is their relationship.” And now the question becomes, “What is the past?”

TVLINE | Aside from the spinoff, can we expect to see you in Season 4 of The Blacklist, given how this finale ends?
Yeah, Tom will definitely be in a number of the beginning episodes. …


EntertainmentWeekly: The Blacklist star Megan Boone on that Liz Keen surprise http://bit.ly/2412wEg
// 5/19/2016

What was your first reaction when you heard they’d be faking Liz’s death?

MEGAN BOONE: …It was the first time in my life I’ve had a huge secret for a really long time and had to keep it from my cast and so many people close to me.

Was the decision to fake Liz’s death solely because of your real-life pregnancy, or do you think Liz HAD TO get away from Red at this point?

MEGAN BOONE: It’s clear at this point that the answers Liz seeks about her mother, her past, and her connection to Red aren’t going to come from Red. … He is consistently evasive, so it’s timely that she try other avenues to get the answers she seeks as well as actively seeking out the life she wants. It’s a good point in the series for Liz to break away.

Liz was only free momentarily, and now she’s been captured by a man purporting to be her father. What’s going through her head in that final moment of discovery?

MEGAN BOONE: …Someone could come in and claim to be the messiah with rays of light coming out of their ears, and Liz would just want [her] infant back.

Liz has pushed Red away on several occasions, but she always let him back into her life. Why do you think that is?

MEGAN BOONE: … I think the most important thing that keeps her coming back is her allegiance to the people in her task force and their mission. …

Will that make her even more curious as to finding out who she really is, a.k.a. Masha Rostova?

MEGAN BOONE: Until now, she has been reactionary to overwhelming circumstances, rather than an active and resourceful woman in search of herself on her own terms. That’s why I’m very excited about her independence.

Red discovers the truth in the finale. Was there a part of her that was almost expecting or hoping he would?

MEGAN BOONE: I think Red will have a very different woman to deal with at this turning point in the series, and he will be forced to evolve and compensate for her newfound autonomy. A stronger Liz will suffer the consequences of extricating him from her life, rather than wish for him to rescue her again. That’s not to say he won’t, just that I think she’s become braver and not a damsel in distress. …

How do you think Liz and Red’s dynamic has evolved since the show began?

MEGAN BOONE: Once she became aware that his actions always sprang from self-interest, his interest in her became less and less flattering. Red’s veil of mystery and intimidation became threadbare, and that broken human being he shows glimpses of to the audience in private moments became visible to her.

That’s when she stopped being enamored of him and started to actually love him.


EntertainmentWeekly: TheBlacklist bosses on that shocking return http://bit.ly/1XHtSzK
// 5/19/2016

How hurt will Red be in the wake of learning that Liz faked her death?
BOKENKAMP: Red is devastated. On one hand, he understands the danger he’s brought to Liz by being part of her life the past three years — he knew the dangers — but on the other hand, he’s only cooperating with the FBI so he can be part of her life. Emotionally, Reddington is in a very tricky and precious place. There is nothing worse than blatant rejection.

Can Liz trust Alexander Kirk?
BOKENKAMP: … Red’s said before that he’s not Liz’s father. This man shows up in her life and says he’s her father. Liz should take him at his word. She thought she shot her father. It raises a number of questions, which is going to be the joy of season 4.
EISENDRATH: We cannot unpack a story point like she thinks she shot her father and then introduce a new element that completely negates it, because that would damage our relationship with the audience and their trust in the story that we’re telling. … [W]e are responsible for next year and in years to come to incorporate it into the story that we’ve already told.
BOKENKAMP: Truth is, this is a big turn in the life of our series.
EISENDRATH: He says he’s her father, but is he going to hurt her, help her, be kind to her, or does he want to destroy her?
BOKENKAMP: What I do promise is that Alexander Kirk and his relationship to Liz will ultimately give us a far deeper understanding of Red’s relationship to Liz in season 4.

Does part of Liz regret not finding out who Red is to her?
EISENDRATH: If you felt that the devil might be your biological father, you might be loathe to really know the truth. You might accidentally on purpose not ask the questions, because you really don’t want to know that. Now, as we go forward, she probably will be more inclined and more ready to face some of the truths that subconsciously she was unwilling to face in the first few years.

So what does this meant for Tom then?
EISENDRATH: Jon and I have thought from the beginning with Liz and Tom that there was true love there. … Hopefully the audience can appreciate that they are a young couple who care a great deal about each other who have an have incredible amount pulling at them.
BOKENKAMP: … The only thing that we feel confident in is it won’t be Tom and Liz with a baby, changing diapers, and becoming a domestic drama of a perfect little family who are raising a child. That’s not what our audience is interested in, that’s not what the show is.

The show is about turns, and surprises, and identity, and secrets.

We intend to have a lot of fun with the complexity of the situation that they are confronted with.


Deadline: #The Blacklist Creator On Finale’s Shocking Twists, the Fallout & Season 4 http://bit.ly/25vqVYE

// 5/19/2016

DEADLINE: Alexander and Red have been feuding for years. What is their history? Does Red know Alexander is Liz’s father?

BOKENKAMP: Red’s knowledge about Liz and her family is a thread we’ve been pulling for some time. The secrets he keeps are important for a variety of reasons, but – for example – when Liz was forced to remember the fire, it helped them find the fulcrum. Red’s self-interest is fueled by his history, and Kirk is part of that history. I think you’re going to see we have a lot of story to tell about these two and their relationship.

DEADLINE: What is Kate’s fate?

BOKENKAMP: Mr. Kaplan’s betrayal is unlike any of the others we’ve seen in the past three seasons. You know, you see her stand up to Red, and I think she made him really look at the way he’s been trying to protect Liz. I also think it’s important to remember that this whole idea — Liz faking her death — this didn’t come from Liz’s or Tom’s; it was Kaplan who concocted this plan. …

DEADLINE: What about Liz, Tom and Agnes’ future?

BOKENKAMP: Right! Talk about a splintered family unit. Liz meets Kirk, and has no idea where her family is. She was trying to protect them from Red, but didn’t know what was waiting around the corner. Now they’re in the exact jeopardy she was trying to avoid. I feel like this child is going to need some serious therapy if she makes it to adulthood.

DEADLINE: Where does the show go from here — is the next arc Red tracking down Liz?

BOKENKAMP: The one person that Red cares about in this world is now missing and in the hands of his enemy. It’s gonna be really exciting to spin those in the room this year. As for Red, rest assured, he will be on fire.

DEADLINE: Would Red work for the FBI again if Liz returns or his blacklist as we know it is over?

BOKENKAMP: Well, Reddington certainly wouldn’t work for the FBI without Elizabeth, he said so much in tonight’s episode. He’s only there because of a secret agenda that Liz is central to. … The questions of who Red is to her, why he cares so deeply for her, what he wants from her — that’s all that ultimately really matters ….

DEADLINE: How will the shocking development change Red’s relationship with Liz, and how will it change Red?

BOKENKAMP: I think the decision Liz made to fake her death will have significant impacts, not only with Red, but with the entire team! … You think this was a roller coaster ride? Just wait.


WSJ, Jason Evans: ‘The Blacklist’ Season Finale: Amir Arison Hints at ‘More Than One Big Reveal’ http://on.wsj.com/1Tnxod4
// 5/19/2016, (just before S3 season finale)


EW: The Blacklist’s James Spader on that shocking twist — exclusive http://bit.ly/1NbIFzX #TheBlacklist @NBCBlacklist (4/14/2016)

EW: When did you first hear this is what the writers were going to do?
JAMES SPADER: Oh, boy. That was so long ago. Jon Bokenkamp, John Eisendrath, and myself are usually talking before a season ends. We’re talking about where this next season will at least start and sort of a roadmap for where it might go. The timing and source of great ideas cannot be predicted …

“As soon as [ the fact that Megan was pregnant ] became apparent, it was certainly going to dictate what the second half of the season was going to be and actually open up some great, some really wonderful storylines to work with it.”

EW: How will Red react in the wake of this? Does he want vengeance?
JAMES SPADER: He’s faced with a very complicated set of circumstances. Here’s a character who, to live his life for the past 20 years, he has found comfort in fate and I think it empowers him and gives him confidence when entering any set of circumstances, no matter how dire … During the fugitive period in the first half of this third season, he found himself in a unique set of circumstances for himself where suddenly he was responsible for somebody’s life, that he had not come to terms with the fact of the end of their life and how their life might play out.”

EW: What can you say of Halcyon, this new company that Mr. Solomon is working for, and what role it will play as the apparent big bad at the end of the season?
I think Reddington has always had a sense that this is the immediate adversary or obstacle, but there’s always a sense of a greater presence out there …”

EW: With Liz gone, what does Red’s dynamic look like with the team?
JAMES SPADER: That’s in question. And for the moment, it’s almost reflexive for him to live his life just one foot in front of the other and to take his life on a daily basis. And I don’t mean not looking forward or looking ahead, he’s always looking ahead, but I mean immediately — immediately upon her death I think he’s lost.”


AnyPossibility: Interview with a Writers’ Assistant: Dave Metzger http://bit.ly/1UXkmrV
Dave works on #TheBlacklist; he wrote “Drexel”
// 4/1/2016, for excerpts: http://wp.me/PDKwi-1vf#metzger under “Writers Room.” Lots of great info on tv writing and production & key insights on what it really takes to bring an episode of The Blacklist together


TheGuardian [UK]: James Spader: ‘I prefer to have nothing to do with the actual business of being an actor’ http://bit.ly/1nUqTFD
// 2/3/2016, “As far as honesty goes, it’s not clear Spader especially needs a refill. A smart and punctilious man, he is someone who came to fame in the 1980s but has survived beyond that decade very much by being himself. This isn’t someone neurotic about his appearance or his lifestyle. He smokes, likes a beer, likes pizza and jazz piano. He evidently hasn’t tried to halt the passage of time on his hairline, or fought particularly hard against middle age in the gym. He is strangely old world, a bit F Scott Fitzgerald: tweedy, but passionate. He exclaims that things are ‘lovely’ or ‘divine’.”

“The Blacklist is a pace-driven series that clearly has an episode formula, but which also leans heavily on Red’s idiosyncrasies to elevate it above a genre piece. Spader makes Red wisecracking, but also dark and deadly. Spader says he is often – ‘daily’ – in contact with the writers about the character.”

“‘If I’m choosing a project on content,’ he says, thoughtfully sucking a boiled sweet, ‘it’s through a prism of sexuality, in the oddest corners of someone’s life. I’m not someone so much interested in exploring a slice of life unless that is down the corridor, around the corner, up the alley and down the rabbit hole. That I like.’”

“‘I wanted to find something which was going to mix irreverence with drama,” says Spader, “and a character who would continue to surprise me. On a series where you do 22 episodes, that’s such an important thing.'”

“[W]hen he is cast in a part, you perceive it’s with an understanding of, and a nod to, his entire career, and all the baggage that an actor brings with them.”

“‘They’re going to get that,’ he says, welling up with enthusiasm. ‘I bring as much as I possibly can. Everywhere I go, I bring a lot of luggage. I think that’s what one should do. I’m paid well, and am demanding of the people I work with and therefore I feel I should bring a lot.’ He smiles: ‘And I do.'”


Entertainment [NZ ]: The Blacklist’s Megan Boone talks pregnancy and future possibilities http://bit.ly/1Kgjv1Q
// 2/2/2016, “When asked what she thinks is the ongoing appeal of the show, Boone says she’s often wondered if many viewers find it a cathartic experience. “This idea of some network of nefarious characters that affect our daily lives seems to strike a chord with people. Yes, the world of The Blacklist might be so heightened and fictitious that it’s almost a monster story, but people love the idea of a criminal network underbelly that’s terrorizing our society being uncovered and brought to justice”

“Boone also knows that a big part of the show’s appeal is the chemistry between Liz Keen and the machiavellian Raymond Reddington, played by James Spader.”

“We really work at it, but it helps that we’re both really genuine and mutually respectful people, as well as both kind of strange and a little bit weird. I think people like the fact that we’re like a couple of weirdos on a playdate.

“I think for any relationship to grow, it has to overcome obstacles and that’s pretty much what you see happening – Lizzie and Raymond always come back together stronger. They have a really strong bond that is inexplicable and ineffable – Liz certainly doesn’t understand it and Reddington doesn’t know how to express it.”

“One of the strengths of the show is the premise is so strong and lends itself to so many possibilities. I think it’s future will depend entirely on our multitude of creative minds and how they all fare in the long haul and if the audience maintains the way it has. I think, as an actor, the healthiest mindset to have is ‘I don’t know what the future holds and I’m okay with that’.


EW, Natalie Abrams: The Blacklist boss on Liz Keen’s big news http://bit.ly/1nZjd5F
// 1/21/2016

⬆ go to top
EW: Is there a Blacklist baby on the way? http://bit.ly/1N3FFzZ
// 11/26/2015

● “’We are still trying to figure it out,’ executive producer Jon Bokenkamp says. ‘It plays in a number of different ways, both story wise and physically, for Megan in trying to figure out what that would mean to the show.’

● “‘It’s really hard in a show that has — whether he’s her father or not — a parental core to it,’ Bokenkamp continues, referencing the dynamic between Liz and Red (James Spader). ‘In a show that has a father-daughter type relationship, it’s incredibly difficult to ignore the fact that our lead actress is pregnant. It’s still being figured out exactly what that means.’”


Tumblr, MsMookie: James Spader Q&A, London (fan interview) http://bit.ly/1Jm4qvb
// 11/24/2015, I enjoyed this


EntertainmentWeekly, Natalie Abrams: The Blacklist boss on Keen’s new predicament, team’s double loss http://bit.ly/1MvHMOP
// 11/19/2015


RadioTimes, Stephen Armstrong (Nov): Is James Spader the oddest man in showbusiness? http://bit.ly/1VqEsYu
// 11/6/2015, extended clips from earlier work


PhilStar [PHL]: James Spader: I work to earn a living http://bit.ly/1LyUVX1
// 10/16/2015

“James Spader stars as Raymond “Red” Reddington in Sony Picture Television’s action thriller The Blacklist …

“Spader’s extensive career includes award-winning performances in Steven Soderbergh’s Sex Lies and Videotape, David Cronenberg’s Crash and Steven Shainberg’s Secretary, plus his Emmy award-winning performance as Alan Shore in The Practice and Boston Legal, the only actor to win consecutive Emmys playing the same character in different series.”

Here are excerpts from an interview with Spader conducted by AXN.

How did you feel about the shocking end of Blacklist’s Season 2 and the high-adrenaline start of Season 3 that showed Red on the run with his FBI protégé Liz Keen?

“I don’t know if I have a boost of energy or not but Season 2 ended with Elizabeth Keen and Raymond Reddington on the run and real divisions in the task force. All the balls are in the air — where they fall will be the fun of it, I think. I’ve seen the first two episodes now and the divisions in the group are really my favorite part. I thought that the show had a vast array of paths that they could take when I first read it. I’m excited by that. It’s a thing to look for in a television series…at least for me… something that can sustain your curiosity and interest for over the long term, so I’ve been very happy.”

It feels like the third season is about the story of Red and Elizabeth in a more serialized way than before.

“In the first season, the network and the studio wanted to have a balance between a serialized show and a procedural show simply so that an audience could filter in more easily. If you’re building an audience, it’s just easier for people to access the show at different times in the season if it’s not too heavily serialized. It has become more and more serialized as it’s gone alone [sic].”

The Blacklist seems to mirror contemporary fears about government conspiracy. Is that deliberate?

“I think that elements of what’s happening today in the world are certainly something we draw from for the show. But it’s not at the core of the show. There are other shows that do that very successfully and we’re not in that competition. It’s a parallel universe that takes just enough things from real life to make the show have the appearance of being something that’s somewhat believable. But in terms of the sensibility about government and the intelligence community being purely contemporary, I beg to differ. I think it’s always been a little grey. It depends who your friends are.”

Do you think Red would be more of a villain if he were in an ‘80s show?

“Red’s a bad guy. I don’t have any illusions about that. Although he is nice to old ladies.” (Laughs).

Does that explain many of your career choices? You tend to choose those dark and more complex characters.

“Yeah, I like dichotomy certainly. I remember the first time when I read Secretary and I thought, ‘God, this is great.’ What a great idea to have this sweet love story in this incredibly masochistic, sadomasochistic relationship, you know? It was really the sweetest love story I thought and I love that.”

Is there any way in which you’re becoming more like him, or him more like you?

“I don’t really think about myself when I’m working in any way. I’m always just thinking about that guy I’m playing. I couldn’t really care less how it relates to me or doesn’t relate to me, you know? I have a very full and vital life outside of work so I don’t really need life fulfilment from work. I work to earn a living.” (Laughs).

Why do you try to inject humor?

“I was very lucky the last time I was on a TV show for any length of time — in Boston Legal. It was very hard to categorize the character that I played and even the tone of the show was constantly shifting. And so when I was looking for another show I was looking for something that had the possibility for a lot of different tones. I mean, I work on it all year. I like to have a mix of things.”

The show has a lot of younger viewers -— has it opened up a new audience for you?

“You know what? That started in The Office. All of a sudden the age of the people coming up to me in the street had dropped. When I’m doing movies that fluctuates, although in the past there haven’t been that many movies I’ve made that younger people could watch.” (Laughs). “The Lincoln film was shown in lots of schools so that gave me a very young crowd all of a sudden. If I’m going base it on who comes up to me in the street and I live in New York and I like walking, so everybody comes up to me in the street. There’s no age group, no economic strata. It’s seemingly completely democratic and inclusive.”

You have an incredibly distinctive voice. How important has that been in your career?

“I mean, I guess that’s turned out well for me. But for being a performer of any kind, your voice is one of your strongest tools. I haven’t had formal voice training but I do have a good ear and very, very good hearing. I got that from my mother. She had the most incredible hearing… I mean, so good we had to be cautious. Maybe there’s something to that, but I’ve tended to think less about that in terms of work and more in terms of my life with my seven-year-old.” (Laughs)

Note: This interview is sourced from AXN but I cannot find the source online. It does contain material that is new to me.


James Spader: “It does not interest me to play Mr. Everybody” http://bit.ly/1P262uQ
// 10/2/2015, Reblogged from Tumbler, spadersmainsqueeze (Translated from French to English)

Named best actor at Cannes in 1989, three times awarded the Emmy Awards, James Spader went of auteur cinema to mainstream series like “Blacklist”, never give up its taste for the bizarre.

When he pushes the door of the building where we go, you’d see his character from Blacklist, criminal “repentant” Raymond “Red” Reddington, enter the premises of the FBI. Even elegance, even smirk, even sunglasses, same hat. James Spader, awarded in 1989 for [ her ] his role in Sex, lies and video of Steven Soderbergh, is a singular actor, specialist in strange roles, the fetishist rugged body Crash (David Cronenberg, 1996) in sadomasochistic boss Secretary (Steven Shainberg, 2002) through the formidable advocate of the series Boston Legal (2004–2008). In Blacklist, it is worrying again, intriguing and fun, and at arm’s length has a thriller paced, entertaining but formatted. After a brief chat on his love of jazz – he spends his nights at the Village Vanguard in New York – there he moved into a large sofa, planted in the middle of a silent living room. Head tilted to the side, as if to listen – a tic shared by “Red” Reddington – he evokes his character, his vision of the game and his career choices.

Q: The music does help you focus, to get into the skin of your characters?

Spader: When I shoot a movie, choose the music can help, as this is to immerse yourself in faster, and for a short time in a story and a character. In a series, however, it does not really make sense. A character like Red is marked more deeply by my personality and my daily life. I have in my head a soundtrack that runs continuously, even when I listen to nothing. It is this music that accompanies Red.
“We must be able to relax, to be appeased, and simultaneously to be focused, tense to his role.”

Q: Do you live every day he has an impact on your game?

Spader: Not literally. Let’s say that I am and my surroundings more easily rubbed off on my characters on the length of a series. Take New York, where we turn, which is the setting for Blacklist. It is a sum of sounds, colors, smells, a kind of great mixture of the world. Red is a traveler, a man from the outside, and this city is a microcosm, a summary of its global playground.

Q: are therefore rather an instinctive actor, who leaves it all rub off on his game, a routine that needs a strict framework…

Spader: The game is based on a necessary dichotomy: one must be able to relax, to be appeased, and simultaneously to be focused, tense to its role. After so many years, has become natural relaxation. Play has become a reflex. I kept a routine, but I learned to make it fluid, to adapt to those around me, and all have their own habits. We must have the modesty to respect the process of each … so that everyone respects yours.

Q: Featured as an actor, you also need to be part of the creative process of the show?

Spader: It has become a constant in the series, but for us it is also a necessity because our writers work in Los Angeles and we turn to the other side of the country. We are in constant contact and we exchange a lot about the current scripts and the future of the series.

Q: You often say that your greatest wish was to become what we call in English a “character actor”. Meaning?

Spader: (It marks a long silence) I have always left room in my work, for my idiosyncrasy (sic.), My eccentricity, my peculiarities. Looking them in every role that I was offered. I’m interested in the other is its strangeness, its difference, which makes him an individual apart. It does not interest me to play these gentlemen Everybody at the heart of movies and series, these supposed heroes help the public to identify with. I want to embody unique characters …

Q: It is often said of you that you like the roles of weird guys…

Spader: What attracts us like we probably. My sensitivity goes to the strangeness. I seek in others and the world around me. Unless she comes to me!

Q: The role of Red Reddington was not written for you [the authors thought of Kiefer Sutherland, Ed], but it fits like a glove. Because you have changed so that you look like?

Spader: Without a doubt. This is what must make every good actor. He must get involved, to engage his character eventually belong to him. Whatever my role, I immerse myself in it. I refuse to take lightly. I need to imagine his movements, beyond the script.
“I make no difference between a Hollywood blockbuster, a series or a small independent film, a security role or appearance, a disaster or a masterpiece.”

Q: It is not too tiring to “become” your characters?

Spader: It is. But I’m not stuck in their skin all day. When I leave the plateau, I become me … But I need to pay attention to every detail. I have some OCD. This can be a good thing for an actor (laughs). It helps me stay focused.

Q: You are made ​​known to you in a copyright film, Sex, Lies and Videotape, before playing in a series of major chains and the latest blockbusters as The Avengers. You want to reach all audiences?

I do not have that kind of thinking. I make no difference between a Hollywood blockbuster, a series or a small independent film, a security role or appearance, a disaster or a masterpiece. All I want is a role I have [ not ] ever played before. TakeAvengers, for example. It’s been nearly forty years I’m doing this job, I’m 55, I was on stage, in movies, on TV, but I had never lent my voice to a character of synthesis.The film is what it is, but Ultron is a surprising role, complex, with a violent perspective on the world, but which for him makes sense.

Q: Precisely for this film, you first use your voice. What importance does it have in your game?

Spader: Capital. Is a tuning fork. If I can put it correctly, then fine. Otherwise I have to redo the scene. This is not so aware that this is a note I hear a vibration and a tempo with me. It must also accept that I sometimes lose my train of melody. We were talking about music while ago. As in jazz, you sometimes accept setbacks and tempos confusing. We must trust the guidance of the conductor, the director here.

Blacklist is a very rhythmic series, full of action and intrigue, but Red Reddington is a man of few words, full of phlegm, in short just the opposite…

From the beginning of the shoot, I insisted that it is still slightly offset with what is happening around him. It has its own pace and it will not change. He lives his life and does not fit like other characters in the events. He reacted, but never as the common man. Thus, in a dangerous situation, it will perhaps laugh.

Q: You have to play against the foot. [ fool? ]

Spader: If Red is threatening someone, I will ensure that it is threatening … without adopting a threatening attitude, just by smiling, gracious and friendly

Ed: [ He takes a honeyed voice and a disturbing smile, Ed ]

Q: This also makes him a comic character…

Spader: Its strangeness and its ability to surprise are indeed comical features. It’s one of the things that attracted me to this role, and that makes Red an endearing character and, in a sense, friendly.

Q: Do you like the Red “villain” of the story, or as an antihero?

Spader: The boundary between the two is blurred. Some days it looks like a hero ready to do anything to get his way, including the worst. Other days, he behaves like a bastard capable of doing good. A great anti–heroes such as …

Q: Jack Bauer?

Spader: Jack Bauer? I do not know. No, rather Popeye Doyle, played by Gene Hackman in French Connection. He is an honest man who will have to do terrible things. Raymond Reddington, you never know which way to turn. We do not know if in the end it has to do good or just settle accounts. Only one thing is sure, it is not cynical. He loves life, precisely because he killed and that he knows in danger of permanent death. We see this in his intimate moments, when he removes his mask, he wiped his smirk, and it pays, in silence, the painful choice he had to make in the past.

I have at home a wonderful photo of Louis Armstrong. It was taken without his knowledge, backstage before a concert. There is not representation, it does not play. He sits alone with his trumpet, and it has the serious, concentrated. This is the only picture of him I know where he is not smiling, which he does not look happy. This is what I seek, that moment when one perceives the dichotomy of a character.
[ This is the entire article ]


News[.]com [AU] TheBlacklist actor @MeganBoone attacks TV’s ‘rampant’ male chauvinism http://bit.ly/1MWoxOq loved this interview
// 10/6/2015, “ON the hit show, The Blacklist, Megan Boone plays Elizabeth ‘Liz’ Keen, an FBI agent with an unexplained past and an equally unexplained relationship with reformed criminal mastermind Raymond Reddington (James Spader), who may or may not be her father. (“That question,” grins Boone, in between takes on the show’s New York set, “will get answered one day.”)

Q: “James Spader is not your average bear. How is it actually working with him?

“He’s very unique. I’ve never met anyone like him; he possesses traits, as a human being that I didn’t know existed on the spectrum of human personality traits (laughs).

“But it is a profound work relationship, because there is a bond that is very unique. You don’t really have a relationship like this with anyone in life, because it’s so intense. The work we do together is very heightened — it requires a lot of trust. It also requires a diligence in maintaining the right off-screen relationship to make sure it still works on- screen.”

This has been your first major role on a massive hit show. What’s surprised you most about the whole experience?

“I have grown to have a palpable intolerance of chauvinism, and it is rampant in this industry. The only way you get exposed to it on a show like mine is there’s a rotating roster of TV directors and none of them are women. They all want to work with James and they all want to talk to James and then I’m sitting over in a corner just, ‘Tell me where to stand, tell me what you want me to do.’ I’ve had directors actually take my arm and just move me where they want me to go, and I’m like, ‘Go do that to James, see how that works out.’ I am up to here with it, and I am never doing it again.”


YahooNews: The Blacklist: Liz is on the Lam and 10 More Things to Know About Season 3 http://yhoo.it/1O8j6in
// 9/30/2015

Tumblr, toutcequej’aime:: ‘The Blacklist’ Season 3 Spoilers And Cast: Red Failed Liz? Upcoming Run To Center On Protagonist’s Struggle tmblr.co/ZV8-Am1oT5g-C
// 6/30/2015, sourced from IBTimes, Hollywood Reporter, Gospel Herald, Venture Capital Post
● IBTimes expects new Cabal-linked villain
● “…show’s structure is likely to undergo some change and may no longer follow the procedural format” according to IBTimes
● Jon Bokenkamp: ‘Red will continue to struggle with the sense that he failed Liz,’ IB Times continued.
● Bokenkamp “told The Hollywood Reporter, ’[This storyline] opens and takes us into a new chapter where she is no longer just an FBI agent – they have a real journey that they’re about to go on. They’re entering the third season as fugitives.’”
● “With Liz being a fugitive, it makes it very complicated if she and Tom will ever have their happy ending,” Gospel Herald reported.
● “The Venture Capital Post has stated that Liz Boone’s character is planning on taking center stage in season 3, as opposed to Red, played by James Spader, who always manages to steal the show in a very subtle way.”


FirstPost: James Spader: “I’m drawn to conflicted characters” http://bit.ly/1T6M3M9 #TheBlacklist @NBCBlacklist
// 6/4/2015, “What makes Spader’s portrayal of Raymond “Red” Reddington so popular is his ability to bring in doses of black humor in the most edge-of-your-seat moments. He has a straight face in any given situation, even as he plays a wanted criminal who surrenders to the FBI for immunity. It almost seems as if he maintains the mysteriously calm, yet bordering psychotic persona in all his characters.

“‘I read it [The Blacklist] and I was intrigued by the character, and the story, and the possibilities for the direction that the series could go,’ said Spader, also adding ‘The character’s sense of humor, I thought, was such an interesting juxtaposition to what the realities of his life were. The realities are very often dangerous, and quite dramatic and extreme. I saw the possibility for a sense of humor within that life. I responded to that immediately and have done everything I can to try and explore that as much as we can on the show.’

“Perhaps it’s his personal interest in the stories that are being told that makes Spader so involved in his characters. ‘The writers, John Bokenkamp, John Eisendrath, and myself have been collaborating very closely about every aspect of this character and how he fits within the life of the show since the very beginning, since the very first episode,’ he said.

“But make no mistake, for Spader, the edgier the better. One of the most striking things about The Blacklist as a show is your frustration with Reddington and his motivations. He’s a tough character to crack, and that adds to the charm of watching a thriller. This seems to be a deliberate move on Spader’s part: to not be a hero, but to never meander into villain territory as well. He admits to finding fascination in the grey.

“‘I’ve found that there has always been a long historical precedent in both film, and in television, and in literature of the anti-hero,’ said Spader. ‘It’s always been those characters that I’ve been the most drawn to, characters who are very conflicted, and not just conflicted but also very often very dichotomous or – as you say – they sort of live in the grey area.'”


GlobalTV (5/12): James Spader on Season 2 of The Blacklist and the finale http://bit.ly/1HhywbJ
// 5/12/2015, Q: “Looking back over Season 2, in what ways would you say that the relationship between Liz and Reddington has changed?

James Spader: In terms of that relationship, it has its hills and valleys and I think it has to continue to be that way. It’s a very, very complicated relationship between the two of them. As much as she doesn’t know the true nature of their relationship, I think it’s quite equitable for Reddington as well because I think he’s trying to grasp a hold of what the true nature of their relationship is now. Forget the past, regardless of what that the past represents. What is the nature of their relationship now and what are even the possibilities of a relationship with her. I think he’s enormously conflicted that he’s there. He certainly has a protective instinct but by the same token he does bring an awful lot of crisis and strife to her life. And I think he probably wrestles with that quite a lot.

Q:Do you think the revelation that Red was responsible for placing Tom into Liz’s life was a turning point for them?

James Spader: That’s a perfect example of where Reddington, with the finest of intent to be able to have some kind of arm’s reach to her life and her safety and well-being, introduced Tom into her life in a capacity that he soon discovered turned into something very different. But those good intentions blew up into something very different.”


HollywoodReporter: The Blacklist Creator on “Devastating” Finale Death, Liz and Tom’s Romantic Shocker http://bit.ly/1Fo1BEg
// 5/14/2015, “Executive producer Jon Bokenkamp tells The Hollywood Reporter that the episode’s conclusion had been in the works for the duration of the show’s run. ‘The image of Liz’s wanted poster going up next to Reddington’s wanted poster is something we’ve talked about for a long time and one of those signpost moments in the series that we knew we wanted to hit,’ he says.

“With the episode’s ‘devastating’ turn of events, Bokenkamp says that Liz’s ‘line of good and bad has become blurred,’ as the finale ‘hardens her in ways and makes her more jaded and careful and really more like Reddington in a lot of ways.'”


YahooScreen: James Spader Interview http://bit.ly/1cQ3OOU trx by Tumblr: asundayinaugust
// 5/13/2015, “Things are at a crisis point. Not only in a very real, sort of life and death way but also in terms of Elizabeth Keen’s exposure because of [Reddington], his history and her history. That has really come into play and has reached a sort of crisis point. A lot of what he’s been headed towards for some time, even previous to the beginning of the series, has now become a matter at hand.

“The last few episodes of the season are all heavily connected with one another, and they come to a dramatic conclusion in the finale that throws all the pieces that they may feel familiar with up in the air. Where they land will be determined by season 3.

“Season 3 could conceivably start the same day as the end of season 2. Things are moving very, very quickly and all of the cast members at the end of this season are really poised with great purpose into where they’re headed into season 3. And yet where they’ll land is very much in question.

“I really think it’s safe to say that you don’t really know what the nature of the relationships are going to be, and also what the future holds for each and every one of the individual cast members; and really what the status of the group as a whole will be. That is completely thrown into disarray.

“I really liked how the show opened up in season 2. And from a selfish point of view, just in terms of Reddington, there was a moment in season 1 where it looked like they could easily turn into sort of a team, which seemed too easy to me and also just didn’t seem interesting at all. And I like the fact that all of the characters really are very disparate. They sort of collide during the course of the season but then, in that collision, bounce off of one another and rebound into an entirely different place with one another. I like that.

“For me the show is what I had hoped for when I first read the pilot. It has a broad landscape in every aspect – in terms of tone, storyline, the development of characters, and the development of the relationship between different characters. And also in terms of what you learn – how the characters evolve and what you learn about them. Not only where they are right now and where they’re headed but also about their past. I like that “varied geography.” I like the fact that the show can be funny at the same time where it’s not at all. In the most dire of circumstances the tone can shift to irreverence. I like that. And we’ve been able to sustain that and I’m glad for that.”


NYT, Dave Itzkoff: Interview: James Spader Prepares for ‘Avengers: Age of #Ultron’http://nyti.ms/1OHYOYC #TheBlacklist @NBCBlacklist
// 4/22/2015
● “some essential part of him remains inscrutable & comfortably weird”
● “Mr. Spader speaks in perfectly formed sentences, a baritone voice, an automatic pace & an unpredictable volume”
● “You really can find yourself not being able to see the forest for the trees,” he said.
● “And then,” he added, his voice rising without warning or provocation, “at times not being able to see the trees for the forest”
● “My trajectory has not been an unbroken line. It’s always been piecemeal”
● “Colleagues say that he has always projected a mixture of confidence and eccentricity, naïveté and shrewdness”
● “Spader shed his reputation as a pretty boy & played intricate characters w unconventional erotic tastes” ⇈ ⇊
● “As to why he was so often cast in those roles, ‘I don’t know what the hell it says about me'”
● “There are times where you feel somewhat in control of the beast. I’m not really sure one entirely is”
● “never consider[s] whether [a film] possesses ‘a broader appeal, beyond my perverted sensibility'”
● Spader “latched onto … network pilot, which offered tantalizing* questions about his character & an FBI profiler played by Megan Boone” (*❗) ⇈ ⇊
● ⋙ Not sure when I last heard the word “tantalizing” used to describe a F/D relationship …
● Whedon: Ultron possesses “all the logic of artificial intelligence, but can’t control how his conclusions make him feel”
● Ultron is “an eight-foot robot wreaking havoc in his wake” – Spader
● Whedon: “James can do that it’s-coming-out-of-the-subwoofer voice, & then he can do the most hilarious hissy fit”
● “Downey said he took a certain delight that … Spader was now about to join him in ‘the ranks of the overexposed'”
● “I’m trying to serve my own curiosity & imagination first” – on picking roles
● “whatever perception his performances create, ‘I don’t concern myself with that very much — I just do the work'”


NBCTodayShow: James Spader opens up about The Blacklist w Al Roker (video) http://on.today.com/1ueTmIy pic.twitter.com/RzWacYC573
// 2/5/2015


SciFiVision (1/18): Interview: Megan Boone & Jon Bokenkamp Talk The Blacklist http://bit.ly/1zQZLp7
//1/18/2015 QUESTION: Speaking of Red, James Spader has created such a unique character. Is he fun to work with both as an actor and also from the production side, knowing that you can do so many things with him?
JON BOKENKAMP: Yes, look, James always has great ideas. He’s incredibly intuitive. He has a great sense of the character. And he’s an incredible collaborator.

Megan you have far more experience with on set and in the day-to-day grind of that. I look at him more from a story perspective but, maybe you can speak to that.

MEGAN BOONE: Well, James is definitely the master of the ship over here and this is not his first rodeo, as they say down South where I’m from.

That’s just an example, particularly of how different he and I are and why this is working so well. He’s from Boston and I’m from rural Central Florida. His parents were professors and mine dealt in real estate. We come from different sides of the earth, not literally, but figuratively, and it’s just interesting to put the two of us together and see what happens.

He’s has 30 years’ experience in the business, one successful television show, and this is essentially my first go at it. So it’s been invaluable having him here to help acclimate me to this new environment and this new task at hand.

And I feel that we’ve been extraordinarily successful beyond my wildest dreams. And I definitely think that it’s his wisdom and experience that has helped me to rise to that occasion….

Yes, but on the surface, certainly our relationship is sort of mentor/mentee dynamic. But I think that once you get into this – the complexity of the dynamic starts to get much richer.

And I think James and I are really starting to just work as peers and work together and influence one another. I would hate to think that I come to work and don’t have an effect on the people around me in any way just because this is my first show. And I think I do.

So it’s become a very important relationship. And so certainly in my life – and I would hope in both of our lives.

QUESTION: Have you always had an ending in mind or has that changed since the first season and the (unintelligible) areas?

JON BOKENKAMP: Well yes, there is certainly an ending in mind. And one that we’re constantly writing to and around. At times it makes it quite difficult because it sort of restrains us in the stories that we’re telling in some ways.

But I think it’s also working that way – whether that’s the end we arrive at or not. Whether anybody lets us do what I have in mind and what we talk about so often in the writer’s room, it does shape the show and it helps – it’s like building a house….

QUESTION: With Liz and Tom, how they left things, is Liz still conflicted about what’s going on and what her feelings are with him, because she let him go?

MEGAN BOONE: Strangely enough I think Jon and I might have different opinions on this one. I want to hear Jon’s.

JON BOKENKAMP: Well you go first.

MEGAN BOONE: …I think that it’s an oversimplification to say that she’s in love with him, as has been implicated by some of the other characters like Red and Ressler. I think she’s got really strong feelings for him, but it’s a very complicated dynamic at this point.

I think once a relationship goes past the line and becomes abusive or sadistic in any way, there’s just no going back to pure true love. There just isn’t. It already has violence in it. It already has mistrust. So I always felt like it was just an oversimplification to say oh, she still loves him, you know?

What do you think Jon?

JON BOKENKAMP: Oh you’re madly in love with him. No, I think – look, I work with a bunch of writers who are strange and dark and have very complex lives. And I think Megan’s right. I think it’s probably an oversimplification to say that yes, she’s in love with Tom.

I feel this way about the show in general, I think everything is much more complex than it appears on the show because I think whether it’s the suburban housewife dropping her kids off at school, or it’s the guy showing up to punch the clock to work at the steel factory, I don’t think any of those people are really quite what they appear to be on the surface….

And that feelings and emotions sometimes people who do things that is not in their best interest. And sometimes logic does not prevail. And so I think the best answer I could give to that is that I think it’s incredibly complex, and that I would say that the story of the two of them, whether it’s a love story or not, is not over.

MEGAN BOONE: …I think that we have – that’s what makes me excited about being on this show is that we have writers who believe that about the mom dropping the kid off at the carpool line, that there’s always this very much more layered psyche than you would first, initially assume to be there. So it’s just exciting.

And also the fact that he has a bunch of freaks and weirdoes writing for him is cool….

MEGAN BOONE: … what makes me excited about being on this show is that we have writers who believe that about the mom dropping the kid off at the carpool line, that there’s always this very much more layered psyche than you would first, initially assume to be there. So it’s just exciting.

And also the fact that he has a bunch of freaks and weirdoes writing for him is cool…

There was a moment early in the season where Elizabeth had to admit to herself that she really relies on Red now to be there for her. What kind of development are we going to see in this still ambiguous father-daughter relationship between the two?

MEGAN BOONE: I think that’s a Jon question.

JON BOKENKAMP: How do I answer that? I think that is the tightrope that Liz is walking. Red clearly has an agenda of his own. He almost always does. And there are clearly things he’s withholding from her.

We don’t know if that’s for good or bad reasons, and I think the extent to which she trusts him, the extent to which she becomes like him, is the territory that we’re in right now.

And that’s I think the larger question and the thing that Liz is probably struggling with is what is the best way to handle this situation? What is the best way to confront this person or solve this crime? Is it the buy-the-book way which she was taught at Quantico, or is there another side of the coin that perhaps is just as good, if not better?

So I think the dynamic there is the reflection in herself that she might – and so the reflection of him in herself she might see. And whether that’s good or bad I think is again, a very messy, complex journey that’s she’s on….

But I do think the fine line that Liz is walking and the guidance that Red is trying to give her – and whether that’s good or bad advice that he’s giving – is the crux of where we are right now….

But like with Tom knowing Red, we learned at the end of our fall cliffhanger that Tom and Red know each other and that there’s some sort of relationship that Liz doesn’t know about, which to me I think is a huge answer. That is confirmation of something that we’ve been wondering about – or maybe not wondering about. But it certainly is a big, new clue. And it’s interesting to me how that yet raises another question….

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Yahoo: The Blacklist: Interview Excerpts – James Spader http://yhoo.it/1sjniM3  
//  11/7/2014, Rough transcript of interview with James Spader on Season 2 and the mid season finale: ‘The stakes are higher right from the jump. Everybody, every character on the show is facing greater adversity and is in disarray and the show’s opened up… There’s a resolution of sorts but any resolution on our show opens up another door and the resolution is always going to be painful and bittersweet.”It started out where people were asking me wanting to know the true relationship between Elizabeth Keen and Raymond Reddington… People are still curious about that, which is good to sustain. I think it’s the burden is on us to sustain that. But I think the thing that I like is that no matter what the past is the nature of the relationship now[!] has become as compelling, and it should be.”I think that the journey is more important than the destination and in this case the destination is backwards, going into the past, what those characters are going through in the relationships and the nature of those relationships.’


CapitolFile: Megan Boone Opens Up About ‘TheBlacklist,’ Dating, and Twitter http://bit.ly/11EenzD
// 11/17/2014 (date approx)Q: How does the process work? I noticed last season that current events were woven in and references added to the dialogue to make it very timely.

A: I really think that social media has changed the medium of television in a huge way. We are in the golden age of television. The interesting thing about network TV is that we are developing and shooting episodes at a much faster rate [than cable or streaming], so that means our air date and our wrap date are very close. When we get a response from our fans, we’re able to almost instantly respond to that within our story. Within a couple of episodes, fans will see something play out that they wished for, or something that they noticed will be somehow woven into the story.”  //  undated; Nov 2014


IAmRogue: Peter Stormare Talks ‘Autumn Blood,’ ‘The Big Lebowski 2’ and ‘The Blacklist’ http://bit.ly/13oWEMW
// 10/22/2014  “There is a great revolution that has been happening on TV …”

“They have six or seven different scenarios, and I don’t know what direction they will go in. I do not envy the writers because they are really kicked from both sides all the time. They try to come up with the best solution, and sometimes they have to do rewrites over night. TV is a gruesome business. But there is a great revolution that has happened on TV. A lot of talent is moving in…”


NYDailyNews: James Spader suggests his ‘Blacklist’ character Reddington’s true motives will soon be revealed http://nydn.us/1FamLD1   //  9/22/2014

“‘Red felt that the relationship between Elizabeth and her husband had reached a point where he was concerned for her safety and well-being,’ Spader says. ‘He felt it was necessary to make contact with her.’

Widespread speculation has Red being her real father, though he denied it when she asked. Spader has said in the past that resolving their relationship that way might be ‘too easy.’

He’s now backpedaling a bit. ‘It is very very hard to predict the road map of a television series,’ he said last week. ‘Because it does not have a finite lifespan. Our show could last two years or seven.’
‘Once you’ve started taking all the back roads, they become much more interesting than even the destination. So it may be that the easiest and the simplest result is the right one. And even if it was predictable right from the start, there should be a satisfaction because the route was satisfying.

‘But given what our show is, I don’t think anything is as simple as it may appear.'”


EntertainmentWeekly: TV James Spader talks ‘The Blacklist’ season premiere, loving the strange http://bit.ly/1rdlZxm

News[.]com [AU]: The Blacklist’s Megan Boone spills on James Spader and season two http://bit.ly/1VCUCwK
“As for Spader’s character, Boone says expect, early on, an uncharacteristically-rattled Reddington — shaken from his customary cool of master puppeteer pulling criminal strings.”
// 9/25/2014
“‘I have learned to expect anything from these scripts. The more and more we delve into the series the more we realise it’s really dark … And it gets darker and darker and stranger and weirder. I feel like we’re the show where all the stray dogs come to play.’

The Blacklist is indeed dark, but Boone says between takes, she has found a lightness and camaraderie among the cast. Not least with Spader — who may play Red with merciless, enigmatic mastery, but transforms when the cameras stop rolling.
“I adore that man,” she says.
“He is intelligent and funny and I could say a lot of things that people would probably expect because watching him you can tell how smart and ridiculously talented he is, and what a charismatic man he is.
“However, I think it would surprise people to know he is also so adorable.
“There’s this little soft side in James where if you are fooling with him and you can intrigue that little sweet soft side, you get the kindest, cutest little laugh out of him … not a Red Reddington laugh … it’s different, it’s a really cute one.
“I get the biggest kick out of that, out of getting him to bubble up with that laugh.”


BuddyTV: ‘The Blacklist’ Interview: EP John Eisendrath on Liz’s Journey, Red’s Burn Scars and Tom’s Disappearance http://bit.ly/1tHMUXO
// 9/16/2014


JimmyFallon: ‘The Blacklist’s’ James Spader: ‘The stakes are higher’ in Season 2 http://tinyurl.com/ovpqoj5
// 9/20/2014


RoomInTheCastle: Megan Boone and James Spader on acting
// 9/19/2015

RoomInTheCastle: Megan Boone & James Spader on acting.

RoomInTheCastle: Megan Boone & James Spader on acting.

NBCNewYork/TalkStoop (9/2/2014): James Spader on Acting Advice and New Show http://bit.ly/12nIdYx “the camera looks through your eyes”  //➔ transcript http://bit.ly/1zlb232 at BlacklistDeclassified.net  with Cat Greenleaf

CG: I love watching your face during this show, so nuanced. ❗

JS: I mean, that’s a trick, you understand [the extreme close-up]

CG: Okay, no, it’s not a trick, your still making things –

JS: Oh no, there’s things going on. There’s definitely things going on. I was very lucky. Someone once, when I was very, very young, just starting out as an actor (said) “a camera doesn’t just see your face. It looks through your eyes and into your head. And that’s true, I think. The camera cannot, though, decipher what you’re thinking. It can only see THAT you’re thinking.
And an audience projects an awful lot. So part of the trick of working as an actor is to be comfortable enough to just live and think and breathe in front of a camera and the camera takes care of a lot of the rest of it.

CG: Do you have an idea of what you want the audience to be thinking, while they’re watching your face?

JS: No, if you don’t make any attempt to show the audience anything, then the audience wants to look further and further and further and further… And I think that’s what that character does – he doesn’t show a great deal, but he draws you to look further in….

CG: …Watch The Blacklist. It’s on –
JS: Have you seen it?

CG: Yes! That’s how I know about your face –
JS: Did you like it?

CG: Yes, I liked it very much.


The Playboy Interview: James Spader (Sep 2014) http://bit.ly/1sKfatM

[Intro roles] “…petulant-preppy good looks, laser intelligence, breathtaking condescension and air of polymorphous perversity” – Playboy

[Growing up] “We watched great films from the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s, like The Third Man and Humphrey Bogart movies. Charles Laughton in Hobson’s Choice, Bogart—those were the actors I liked best.”

“[A] television show is your life. It swallows you whole and chews you up but refuses to spit you out. And on a brand-new television show, the writers don’t know how the fuck to write it yet. The actors don’t know how the fuck to play it yet. The editors don’t know how to edit it yet. Composers don’t know how to compose it yet. The crew doesn’t know how to shoot it yet. I work very hard on the show, and I’m lucky because it’s a wonderful character who’s great fun to play. I work closely with the people I make the show with. It’s a lot of time spent when all of us might rather be spending time with our families or doing something else.”

“When viewers respond well to a character, there’s a natural tendency for them to say, ‘I want to know more. I want to know everything.” But I say, “’Well, you can’t. It would ruin the character for you. You just must trust me in terms of that.'”

“I’m ritualistic and habitual. I have an addictive personality. I love cooking, which I’ve done since I was a kid. That’s very methodical. It requires focus and yet allows for extrapolation or improvisation and spontaneity. It’s also calming for me. I don’t sleep particularly well. If I wake up at night, everything inside turns on instantly and won’t stop. There’s a compulsion to address things. I just can’t let them fester or get pushed under the rug. I have to tie it up tightly in a box, throw it right out the fucking window into a river and let it sink to the bottom.

“I’m not a believer that good work comes out of antagonism, fear and punishment, but I think it can come out of discourse and argument, so long as you’re open, communicative, honest and able to listen to what others’ needs are.”

[On his love of vinyl] “I like the whole process. I like to get the record out. I like the way a turntable looks. I like to watch it work as the record plays. I like to read the liner notes when I listen to a record. I don’t understand what else people do if they’re listening to a record.”

“I like to travel, walk through a city and go to museums and galleries.

“I think the greatest works are always based on that prism of sexuality and relations. It’s been that way for me my whole career and has probably informed my choices more than anything else.”

[On his female co-stars] “Look, we’ve certainly heard stories about people who fucking hated each other and came up with a wonderful film. But it seems to me that you have to fall in love with the person, because film looks right into your head. It’s wrenching, because you have to fall in love with that person but also accept it for what it is and turn it on and off. That’s a very important part of what is a sometimes schizophrenic job…. I think you can fuck things up, because anticipation and unrequited feelings are very powerful. Ultimately, in acting you’re always pretending you’re angry or a bad guy or that something is down the hall that isn’t actually there. But to look another human being in the eye and pretend you’re in love with them, that’s a very different thing.”

“…You’d be surprised at some of the people who have walked up and told me they’re great fans of Secretary. I’m always intrigued whether that’s a practice in their life or not. To me, Secretary is a very funny, sweet, lovely love story — very touching in a way.”

“‘Be of love a little more careful than of everything’ wrote e.e. cummings. Pay attention. Take great care, especially in things that are taken for granted.”

“I like the saying ‘May you live in interesting times,’ because I think things are great when we accept chaos in life. That goes against my being obsessive-compulsive and ritualistic, but I don’t mind adversity. The fight is okay with me. My life is wonderful. It’s a grand time, you know?”  //  8/18/2014, Sep 2014 issue


Collider[.]com: THE BLACKLIST Comic-Con Panel Recap: James Spader, Jon Bokempkamp and John Eisendrath Talk Season 2 http://bit.ly/15q9gUR

// 7/26/2014 (calc’d), “[We] will learn more but, as Spader puts it, ‘the more you know, the less you know.’ Spader says the cracks that were beginning to show at the end of Season 1 have a lot to do with his past. Reddington is able to shift gears and find his way in chaos, so it’s more interesting to put him up against ‘as much adversity as possible.'”

“Bokenkamp and Eisendrath avoid addressing if we’ll find out if Elizabeth Keen is Red’s daughter by not commenting too much on it. ‘That question is central to the conceit of the show’, says Bokenkamp. ‘We will continue to ask that question.’ Spader says that the relationship [of Red and Lizzie] is not the most significant question to be answered, ‘the most compelling thing is the nature of that relationship now.’ Spader is interested in how Keen is compelled to help Reddington even though it’s counterintuitive for her. ‘The journey has to be good, because it’s terrible at the top of Everest.'”

“Eisendrath says Reddington is not a psychopath. “He has a big heart and is enthusiastic about life.” There are parts of him we can all relate to. Spader says the episodic elements of the show are entertaining, but the serialized aspects are what really hook the audience.❗ He travels the world and people all over the world ask him about the mythology and the bigger story.”

“What is it like to play both good and bad? Spader answers, ‘when I was growing up I loved watching old movies and there was a great period in the 1930’s and 40s where so many of the great actors were antiheroes and I just loved them. I devoured that. I grew up on a boarding school campus and every week we would watch a movie in the AV room. But I also happened to grow up in the 60’s and 70’s which was another golden age of antiheroes. I love it. But a big part of that is irreverence and sense of humor.'”

“[A]re you worried the show encourages criminals to kill other criminals? ‘Ive never given that a thought,’ says Spader. ‘But some Sony and NBC executives might like to know that.'”

“Does Red think he’s a bad guy? Spader answers, ‘from everything I have learned about him, I find him to be very clear about who he is. He takes full responsibility. He knows his capacity for both good and bad.’ He added, ‘he will never be fully righteous or redeemed. We can be very clear about the dichotomy that exists within him.’”

“Does anything scare Red? ‘A lot of things scare Red,’ says Eisendrath. ‘It’s just how he deals with it. In this season you will find surprising and interesting ways that he deals with fear.’”


Seriable: The Blacklist To Last Seven Seasons? James Spader On Red’s ‘Unclear’ Path http://bit.ly/1wbxhc9
// 7/23/2014,

Original #1 on Blacklist was Tom, until decided he was “not worthy.”

“We’ve talked a lot about [what the future holds for Red and what his backstory is] right from the beginning. We talked about it around the time of the pilot, and when it looked like we would be lucky enough to move forward into series, those conversations have been happening fast and furiously.

“But at the same token, without knowing what the inevitable lifespan of the series will be – one that has to be fluid to a certain degree, and there has to be a certain amount of flexibility because you don’t know how long you’re going to have to tell your story, or how many misdirects there may be, or how circuitous your route is going to be – to get to your endgame is unclear going from the first season into the second season.”

ENSTARZ: The Blacklist NBC: Liz & Red’s Relationship Is A ‘Love Story’, Megan Boone Explains http://bit.ly/19zZGRv @NBCBlacklist
// 6/26/2014, “I think The Blacklist is a love story…I think that at the core of it, the thing that people talk about the most are the relationships that Lizzy has, that she has with Red, that she has with Tom and Ressler, even,” Boone told the Gold Derby. “For some reason, I think that because she’s so alone and so ambiguous as a human being there’s something in the audience that wants her to find a place and find a person that she can rely on. So I think ultimately the payoff, and the only payoff you could see is that she ends up finding that person.”

When asked if she thinks that person will be Red, Boone was quick to answer in the affirmative. However, it is important to remember that Boone is equating love with trust, not necessarily with romance.

WSJ, Jason Evans: Megan Boone on James Spader and ‘The Blacklist’ Season Finale http://on.wsj.com/1o80Udo
// 5/11/2014 “How much is James Spader like Red?
Megan Boone: “You can’t create that charisma that James brings to Red. That’s who James is. He’s highly intelligent just like Red. I don’t think an actor can play a role without bringing elements of themselves to it. One of first things he said to me once the pilot got picked up was, “We are these characters now. What we bring to it is now going to be a major force in forming the show.”


RollingStone, Andrew Goldman: James Spader: The Strangest Man on TV http://rol.st/XJRtDS Why the gloriously bizarre James Spader is the most intense guy in any room
// 4/21/2014

● “‘It can never, ever, ever get weird enough for me,’ he likes to say. Indeed, his work reflects him, and at first glance, the Spader who strides through the doors of New York’s 8th Street Stumptown cafe might actually be The Blacklist’s criminal mastermind, Raymond ‘Red” Reddington. Spader wears a Reddington-esque forest-green felt fedora that matches his forest-green scarf, which matches the lenses of his sunglasses.”

● “We drop by his Greenwich Village carriage house, which he shares with his girlfriend of more than a decade, actress Leslie Stefanson. The couple have a five-year-old son, Nathanael, who, in addition to two sons in their twenties from his previous marriage, will be Spader’s final offspring. ‘I believe in a negative population growth,’ he says. ‘The other two were with another mother, so we have three boys that will replace all three of us.'”

● “‘I’m obsessive-compulsive,’ he admits later. ‘I have very, very strong obsessive-compulsive issues. I’m very particular.’ There are rituals common to obsessive-compulsives Spader must do – step-on-a-crack-break-Mother’s-back-type stuff – but it’s even more pervasive than that. ‘I rely on a certain routine,’ he says. ‘It’s very hard for me, you know? It makes you very addictive in behavior, because routine and ritual become entrenched. But in work, it manifests in obsessive attention to detail, and fixation. It serves my work very well: Things don’t slip by. But I’m not very easygoing.'”

● “Spader shares the patrician bearing that comes through in many of his roles. It’s not his fault; all he knew growing up were the kinds of prep schools favored by Boston Brahmins. He grew up in faculty housing at the Brooks School, a prep school where his father taught English (his mother was a teacher nearby), and then went to high school at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts. There, he thrived doing stage plays so much that he decided it was a waste to continue attending, and dropped out when he was 17 to seek his fortune in New York, where, while waiting to be discovered in the theater, he did odd jobs, like shoveling horse manure out of the Upper West Side’s Claremont Stables and sleeping through yoga classes he was ostensibly teaching. ‘The lights were turned down, the heat was turned up,’ he explains.”

● “[He] spent much of the Eighties trailing slime through Brat Pack vehicles, like the scummy coke dealer Rip in Less Than Zero. So convincingly despicable was Spader in his audition for Steff, Pretty in Pink’s rich, sneering high schooler with those linen suits and the dangling cigarette, that the film’s casting director had to overcome a visceral dislike of Spader to even get in the mind frame to hire him.”

● “The late Eighties and the Nineties ushered in a period of leading-man roles – but kinky-weirdo ones. There was the bedroom-eyes voyeur with a camera in Sex, Lies, and Videotape; the guy who did it to – yes, actually put it in! – Rosanna Arquette’s leg wound in Crash; and the insatiable cunnilingus enthusiast of White Palace who spent much of the movie with his head buried in Susan Sarandon’s lap. It wasn’t an accident, says Spader, an admitted ‘early . . . voracious . . . masturbator’ who acknowledges, cryptically, that he’d always had an experimental sexual side. ‘You know, I had two older sisters, and everybody seemed to be naked all the time, my parents and my sisters,’ he says. ‘Our household was very comfortable with sexuality. There was just a lot of girls around. And guys. I played doctor with both.'”

● “A watershed moment came with 2002’s Secretary, in which Spader played E. Edward Grey, Maggie Gyllenhaal’s sadomasochistic boss, who also, it should be noted, was obsessive-compulsive.”

● “His portrayal of charming sleazeball lawyer Alan Shore on The Practice and its spinoff, Boston Legal, saw him beating out the likes of James Gandolfini for two consecutive Best Actor Emmys”

● “But it is The Blacklist and its antihero Reddington that allows Spader to incorporate all of his best gifts – the kink, the unfathomable darkness, the suggested violence and the ability to deadpan his way through the campy bons mots in the script. ‘Janice, my sincerest apologies,’ Reddington chirps to a woman he’s just stuffed into her own closet, a moment after shooting her husband’s knee. ‘I’ll take a rain check on the stroganoff. It smells delicious!'”

● “These days, Bokencamp and fellow executive producer John Eisendrath spend a good chunk of their time ministering to Spader, a tradition that will continue for at least another year, since NBC picked up the show for a second season. Bokencamp knew nothing of his star’s obsessive qualities. ‘Oh, God, no,’ he says. ‘But we learned very quickly.’ Spader says they speak to each other seven days a week. No topic is too small. ‘I haven’t talked to him today yet,’ says Bokencamp, ‘but last weekend, on his birthday, we were on the phone for two and a half hours, and on Thanksgiving, when I was in Colorado, I was out pacing on the phone for two hours. This stuff keeps him up at night. He can dig his heels in. The conversations can be frustrating.'”

● “The shit hit the fan when Spader got a two-part script in which the secret FBI black site where Reddington meets his handlers is invaded by assassins aiming to kill him. ‘I called up the writers, and I said, “You understand the collateral damage of this, correct?'” Spader says grimly. “‘You understand this is a game-changer. You’re burning down this house! This means there’s a terrible security issue for Reddington. How do I go back there? How do I trust anyone moving forward?'”

● “Spader seems genuinely worked up, like a fictional character’s safety is literally a life-and-death issue. He’s collecting a paycheck, so why on Earth would he care so much? ‘Because I have to perform it,’ he says, as if it’s the most obvious thing in the world.”


NewsCom [AU]: Not even James Spader understands the character he plays in The Blacklist http://bit.ly/1qoWpGN         //  3/7/2014

Here, Spader says no reveal “right up until the last episode of the show”

“[Red] is comfortable and confident in the dark corners of life that most of us would never be comfortable with…. His confidence in those areas allows for humour and irreverence even in the most extreme of circumstances.”

Spader likes his personal life to be not for public consumption, and is similarly determined to preserve the enigma and mystery of Reddington.

“I have asked the writers really not to tell me too much too soon,” he says.

“I only want to know what I have to know to be able to perform that week’s episode.

“One of the things that we guard most carefully … is that his secrets remain intact. Once you’ve answered those questions about who he is and where he’s coming from and really what he’s up to, I think you’ve pulled the curtain aside much too far.

“Hopefully Red will remain enigmatic, and what he is really truly up to is something we’re going to hold close to our vest right up until the last episode of the show.”

Despite Red’s almost casual — and certainly clinical — methods of dispatching enemies and threats (the body count in 2014’s return episode reached almost double-figures as he ‘cleaned up his house’), there are lines Red won’t cross — even if Spader himself is still discovering them.

“You’re seeing somebody in extreme circumstances that would be completely unfamiliar to you, and that person (Red) is thriving in that context,” he says.

“He seems willing to step over any threshold. He’s perfectly comfortable with not knowing what the outcome is going to be. And there is something about it that amuses him. I find that’s fun to play and very endearing.

“He leads a very thrilling life that takes him to the very, very end of the limb. But he also doesn’t mind sitting out there on the end of the limb for an hour or so. Really, he’ll stay there as long as necessary.

“He finds peace and serenity in the oddest of places, in the most dire circumstances.”


TheTVAddict: THE BLACKLIST Scoop: EPs Jon Bokenkamp and John Eisendrath and Star Parminder Nagra Tease What’s Next http://bit.ly/1wRn9pX

//   1/20/2014, “John and I and then with James as well, about where would Red draw the line? What is his view about good and evil, right and wrong? And I think he’s very determined that the characters is not a psychopath. He’s not someone who has no sense of right and wrong. I think in viewing him with a sense of right and wrong really protects his character from just becoming evil. And I think he’s very aware of that and that is another thing I think that perspective is something I think he has helped to bring.”


Variety: ‘#TheBlacklist’ Producers Pay Close Attention to Social Media http://bit.ly/1vVlaSN but not James Spader :-( @NBCBlacklist // 4/3/2014

“But what is Red’s motivation for turning over the ‘Blacklist’? Is he a good guy or a bad guy?
“Fox gave a few scenarios. ‘Is he doing this out of some selfish motivation? Self-preservation? Or is he on the slow path to redemption?’
– ‘Boy, that would be disappointing,’ Spader interjected. [ oh, please! ]
– ‘I hope that’s a question we can keep alive for a long time,’ Fox said.
– ‘I think the bad guys are good,’ Tawfiq said.”
Trust Dembe. Dembe is the Keystone” [and not the KXL kind]


AP/TelevisionAcademy: An Evening with the Blacklist [text] http://bit.ly/1IO8h0m http://bit.ly/1w4Uv4t
// 4/2/2014, “The nature of our relationship on the show is not completely dissimilar to the nature of our relationship in life too,” said Spader. “We’re on this strange trip together and to a certain degree both of us have to cling to one another,” he added. “The character I play in this is very isolated besides his security team he’s on his own a lot, you know? He has a lot of associates but not many intimate in his life and she’s very important to him.”

Megan Boone: “James and I are really finding a rhythm in our working relationship. We have a respect for one another. Obviously I respect him and I worked very hard to rise to the occasion to work with him and I feel like he’s gained a respect for me through that and it’s been a very fulfilling work relationship. It dawned on me recently that I probably won’t ever have another actor in my life that I work with as much as I work with James barring any future television show. But I mean this is going to be if the show continues its success one of the longest and deepest working relationships I’ll ever have. So in that regard it’s very important to me and he’s very important to me.”

The show is one of the only sure hits of the 2013-’14 TV season in the U.S. It’s also got a huge international following, airing in countries like Canada, the UK, Italy, China, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Australia, Belgium, Poland and Germany.

“I had a feeling that it was going to do well overseas just because the world that it inhabits is international. It’s very, it’s a context that is also familiar to others and our casting can reflect that,” said Spader.

Today: Go behind the scenes of crime drama ‘The Blacklist’ http://on.today.com/1oevNg8 James Spader, Megan Boone interview
// 1/14/2014


WSJ: ‘The Blacklist’ Creator Reveals Some of the Show’s Secrets http://on.wsj.com/1w9aWeW
// 1/13/2014

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HuffPo: James Spader, Megan Boone Talk ‘The Blacklist’ http://huff.to/1xS3zpH

// 10/26/2013 “‘Oh,’ laughs Spader on hearing this assessment, ‘there’s a LOT of confusion and doubt! We don’t know WHAT we’re doing yet! But we’re getting it done. By Monday night at 10 o’clock’ — Eastern time, he means — ‘we’re getting it done!'”

“‘I might have been looking for him,’ Spader muses when asked how he came to play Reddington. ‘I wanted someone who was irreverent, and, even at the most difficult times, saw the irony in the world around him. And he’s really not afraid of the unknown. I don’t think he’s afraid of much.'”


Today: James Spader strikes gold again on ‘The Blacklist’ http://on.today.com/ZAflf5
// 10/14/2013, “It’s a lot of fun for me because it means I get to have a lot of secrets from the other characters and the audience,” Boone told TODAY. “She’s very purposefully ambiguous. I do love her heart. She is so madly in love with her husband and devastated by the cruel world she is being introduced to. It’s a tumultuous journey for her. In her case, it’s a story of a young woman coming into her own.”

Although Red was introduced as a super villain, he now is possibly on the road to redemption.

“He does start out as someone who appears to be, by all reckonings, evil and dark and self-serving,” Eisendrath said. “Over time, our job is to develop him into a much more dimensional character who is all those things but also explains to the audience how he became the person we met in the pilot.”

“One of the things going forward that we’re going to find out is what matters to Red and what his vulnerabilities are,” executive producer Jon Bokenkamp added in the interview. “[Elizabeth] appears to be one of the few things thus far that he truly cares about.”

“I think you will discover that your feelings about who he is and what he’s up to will change directions and change directions again,” [Spader] said. “That’s one of the great surprises of the show. Just when you feel you might be getting comfortable, you haven’t. Just when you think you can get cozy with him, he does something to make you realize he’s not someone to be cozy with.”

“Anybody in the real world that would be a paradigm for Raymond Reddington, we wouldn’t know anything about him,” Spader said and laughed. “I look at things and I read things that relate to the world that he must operate in. And I read the paper every day. He lives in that world out there. He operates in that world out there. And he moves swiftly and frequently throughout that world. And it allows for your imagination to run wild.”


DailyActor: Q & A: James Spader Talks ‘The Blacklist’, Creating a Character and Playing Ultron in ‘The Avengers 2′ http://bit.ly/1wJ3jye
// 10/17/2013, by Lance Carter, “People love to watch him work (including me). His acting choices and use of his voice are so unique, it’s just a blast to watch him.” ❗

Q: … Are we ever going to get into the details of what sort of nitty-gritty bad, horrible things he’s done in the past?
A: Yes, I think that’s going to be sort of eked out slowly over the course of the episodes. A sort of overall history lesson…. I think it’ll be over the lifespan of the show that you start to discover more and more about him.

Q: Reddington is very technologically savvy. He’s very plugged in. How plugged in are you? Are you hip technologically?
A. You’ll actually discover in subsequent episodes that Red is actually not very technologically savvy. I think he’s actually – he is sometimes wishful about the old days of what spying and espionage and criminal activity might’ve been like as opposed to what it’s more like today which is much more technologically driven. But he obviously has to have people who supply that for him because he certainly has to contend with that part of his world. Myself, I’m completely technologically ignorant. I don’t know how to type either.

Q; There’s some speculation that Red is actually Elizabeth’s father. What are your thoughts on that?
A: I don’t really have any thoughts on that because I don’t think he is but I don’t know for sure. You know, I think that’s something that, first of all, I wouldn’t divulge what the nature of their relationship was to you in any case no matter what it was because I think that’s something that the only way one earns that information is to watch the show.
But I think – I know that that’s been something that’s been posed to me in the past and it’s always seemed – I’ve always been surprised when faced with that as a possibility as an outcome because it seems so – too easy. But, you know what? Maybe the thing – maybe it’s a very circuitous route back to the simplest answer of all. So we’ll have to wait and see.

Q. Can you explain what, “The Blacklist,” is for those who missed the pilot and what does it mean for Red?
A: The blacklist is just a name that Reddington gives to – a sort of freeform and very fluid list of targets but there is no list. It’s just – it’s in his head. And the targets can sometimes be quite spontaneous based on what’s ever going to serve his greater agendas. And I think sometimes the targets are … more calculated and I think at other times they’re not. Sometimes they serve an immediate purpose.

Q: You’ve had a lot of success on television. How much input do you have or do you want to have on the scripts?
A: I seem to be having just enough and I couldn’t take on any more, that’s for sure. Our schedule is too oppressive to be able to take on any more. But just enough to be able to do the scenes and try and feel like we’re making them right.


TVWatchTower: James Spader Talks What Drew Him to the Master Criminal Role of Red Reddington http://bit.ly/1wGQlhr
// 10/8/2013, long interview


TheIndependent: James Spader: ‘I like going to the dark places’ http://ind.pn/1vQV6Dm
// 9/29/2013, “I can see why people have made the Silence of the Lambs comparisons,” says Spader. ‘The imagery in the pilot episode with a dangerous and enigmatic guy contained in a box and a younger FBI woman… But the parallel stops immediately because Red isn’t a psychopath and the relationship is based on something real and intimate.’”

“Having received rave reviews for his turn as eccentric political operative WN Bilbo in Stephen Spielberg’s Lincoln, Spader wasn’t actively searching for a television role ‘but it sort of grabbed me.’ And, while it’s early days in what could prove a gruelling schedule (he jokes about allowing himself “the illusion there’s an escape hatch”), there’s no doubting that playing the enigmatic Red, a man of crooked wit and stylish substance, appears to be good for Spader. In recent years he has appeared distinctly pudgy, as though he had not simply accepted his middle-aged spread but positively embraced it. By contrast, the man sitting opposite me wearing a sharp pinstripe suit and crisp white shirt, grey hair closely cropped, looks trim and healthy. He’ll never again have the angular beauty of his youth – which won him a series of roles in teen flicks in the 1980s and made him Hollywood’s favourite preppy bad guy – but he is undeniably charismatic.”

“He claims not to know how he became a poster boy for sexual dysfunction – playing an impotent voyeur in Sex, Lies and Videotape, a man who has sex with amputees in Crash and a sadist in love with a masochist in Secretary. ‘It must be something about me I guess… Nobody knows what happens behind closed doors, do they?’ he says. ‘I like the dark places, that’s what I’m curious about.'”

“‘I mean acting is something that I’ve always done but when I was a child it was called make-believe and it only became acting when it had a discipline.’ He laughs. ‘Really, when I first came out into the world I thought it might be exciting to be a pirate or a detective or something but I guess I realised that if you make-believe for a profession then you can do that as well as other things.'”


HollywoodReporter: The James Spader-starring drama premieres … http://bit.ly/1tb32gV
// 9/19/2013

“…he’s as Zen as can be and shows no signs of being a physical threat. Mentally, however, he’s clearly dangerous.

“As Spader devours the script and steals every scene, basking in the power he has – more than the FBI thinks he has – the audience isn’t sure what his motives are. The connection to Keene doesn’t seem too difficult to figure out, though guesses in that direction may end up bearing no fruit. But the pilot suggests that Red isn’t going to be some white hat masquerading as a criminal. He certainly seems to have dealt with a number of unsavory types, and the pilot makes it clear that he’s well-connected to the underbelly of international power brokers and terrorists. So, what’s his game?”


YouTube: Comic-Con: Blacklist panel http://bit.ly/1q8xSF  (Summer 2013)
[Transcript] James Spader: “Secrets are a great thing. Secrets are such a part of everyone’s life. And that’s allowed to live in this show, how you reckon with secrets, in your own life and others, and the secrets that you know about others, and secrets you hold very dear that someone in the first time meeting them, they somehow are intuitive about things you hold very close to your heart and I think that’s a very interesting aspect of both Red and Elizabeth, from both sides. I think intuitively, she responds to something in him – and the same thing happened with Megan and I and I was glad for that.”

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HollywoodReporter: ‘Lincoln’ Star James Spader on Why He’d Rather Watch the GOP Presidential Debates Than ‘The Office’ http://bit.ly/1yT8Xxa
// 11/26/2012
THR: I know this film was shot during the GOP primary season. Did that impact it at all?
Spader: Well, considering how much irreverence and comic relief this character was bringing to the film, it only helped that the primaries were so tremendously entertaining. That was actually some of my favorite TV watching that I think I ever witnessed, the Republican primary debates. I loved those; I wish they never ended.
THR: Herman Cain could have a TV show.
Spader: Just everybody. Really, the entire cast. The entire field, one was just as entertaining as the next.
THR: So was waiting for Lincoln the impetus to do The Office?
Spader: I was very excited to do both of them, but the timing was perfect. I had just done a play for a year in New York, so I was flat broke by the time they offered me Lincoln. And it was a labor of love on Lincoln, and it was so far in advance, I didn’t know how I was going to pay my bills, but The Office came in at just about the same point, and that answered that question for me.


Vulture: James Spader on His Eccentric Lincoln Character http://vult.re/1IDrIJj
Vulture: How much research did you do for the part?
Spader: “…Regardless of whether it’s based on fact or fancy, the most important part of my job description, besides showing up and staying in the light, is a real dedication to the intents of that screenplay. The script is the coloring book that you’re given, and your job is to figure out how to color it in. And also when and where to color outside the lines.”

Vulture: So where and how did you color outside the lines?
Spader: The lines were blurry. W.N. Bilbo was one of the only characters in the film that they did not have any pictures of….
he was a bit of a dandy. But in the screenplay he was depicted as being very bawdy and colorful, and he certainly has the most irreverent language in the film. So, I thought it would be great to try and put all those pieces together — and I imagined him as a dandy in decay. So, he’d have all these expensive clothes but they’d be a little disheveled….

His appearance reflects a tremendous lust for life. He was a very colorful guy. He had been a very successful attorney prior to the war. And I love the dichotomy that he was a Southerner, from Nashville, Tennessee, who’d known Jefferson Davis. He was even arrested in New York State on suspicion of being a Confederate spy, and he had to prevail upon Lincoln and Seward to get him out and advocate on his behalf. So there were already these dichotomies within him. All we really did was add another, with him being a colorful dresser but with food stains and crazy hair and whatnot. I think he had more changes of costume in the film than anyone except maybe Mary Todd Lincoln!


MovieLine: WATCH: James Spader Lobbies For ‘Lincoln And Name-Checks His Favorite President http://bit.ly/1yDn8SY
// 11/20/2012, Obama


NBCBayArea: James Spader Crafts a Quirky Take on “Lincoln” Lobbyist
// 11/14/2012, greatly admired Spielberg’s enthusiasm and indefatigability
“I find that every actor – every good actor that I have ever worked with – is immersing themselves to different degrees. And in the moment that the camera is rolling, they’re making an attempt to immerse themselves to the greatest degree. And some are more successful at that than others. And some are able to pick it up and put it down, and some aren’t. I do not suffer from any form of schizophrenia. I have many other mental incapacities and many other issues and idiosyncrasies, but I am not schizophrenic in any way shape or form.

“And therefore, I absolutely, do not believe that I was at any point talking to Abraham Lincoln. But in every scene I had with Daniel, I felt that we were all – and not just Daniel, everybody in the film – being the truest that they could be to that time and place, and those people set within those circumstances. But it may just be in the prism through which I see the world, including my work life, I’m still aware of the fact that I’m making a film.”


Broadway[.]com: “Race” Star James Spader on Truth, Justice and the Mamet Way http://bit.ly/1oX7wG5
// 1/19/2010  “I think that David Mamet is very happy with the notion that every character in this play—and therefore the actors playing those characters—believe with all their heart that they’re telling the truth. That’s what he wants this play to be about; he wants it to be about truth and lies. It’s one of the things that makes for the excitement in the play—and there’s something terribly tragic about these four characters—all of them absolutely believe that they’re doing the right thing. But what you believe is the truth may turn out to be a lie. I think where the play lives and breathes is that idea.”


OnlineAthens (2006): James Spader surprised to find himself on TV, but loving it http://bit.ly/1vCP4Z7
BostonGlobe (2005): Delayed Gratification http://bit.ly/ZAcgvF
“With his sexuality, arrogance, and boyish charm, Boston’s own James Spader built a successful, if quirky, film career. Then TV’s David E. Kelley called with a proposition. What happened next surprised even Spader”


imageimageimageimageimageimageclick to enlarge ♤ Playboy interview (2005): James Spader – a candid conversation with Boston Legal’s press-shy star – about pushing sexual boundaries, his bizarre characters and why journalists annoy him. http://bit.ly/1pwfG8u
Notes: Here’s another link, but it’s tricky. http://bit.ly/1MlazoA There are 7 pages & you have to select each page separately. Each is a pdf. … [ So – I took the liberty to post screenshots of the article here. Click to enlarge – contact is LizzieB90@yahoo.com 8/30/2015 ]


LATimes: Does he make you a little…uneasy? James Spader loves to play compelling creeps. Now he’s feeling comfortable in your living room. http://lat.ms/1wxRA3k
// 10/3/2004, sculpture garden

“The day before James Spader won an Emmy for his portrayal of Alan Shore, the morally dubious lawyer on ‘The Practice,’ the actor was at the Franklin D. Murphy Sculpture Garden at UCLA, admiring the statues — especially the female forms. ‘Look at the beautiful curve of her back, right at the base of her spine,’ he said, noticing a dancer at the top of Robert Graham’s ‘Dance Columns.’ ‘It’s the most perfect curve in nature.’ Then Spader felt a breeze and started ambling in the other direction. ‘I just want to walk into it,’ he explained. ‘Oh, my God, that is nice.’

The sculpture garden, a favorite hideaway of Spader’s, brought out in him a charming mix of formality and earthiness. When Gaston Lachaise’s bronze powerhouse ‘Standing Woman’ caught his eye, the memories rushed out. ‘My sons, when they were growing up, always enjoyed her rather ample’ — here he used a word not proper for this newspaper but that means ‘derriere’ — ‘and her rather ample breasts,’ he said. The boys, Sebastian, now 15, and Ellijah, 12, would come here with their scooters. ‘So you come around,’ Spader explained, ‘and lo and behold, you have that beautiful’ — that word again — ‘over there. You can hardly resist scootering by and giving her a poke. She has nice calves too. She’s ample everywhere. She’s spectacular.’

“‘When we first went to the network about James, they shrieked in horror,’ Kelley said. ‘James Spader is not a network face. … But once we began to focus on him, he was the only choice. What James does so well is there’s a nucleus to this character that is humane and decent. He manages to let that nucleus shine through even when he’s committing egregious, contemptible acts. You don’t know if you like him or not, but you can’t wait to see him next.’

“Yet for all the unpredictability that comes across on screen, Spader’s Boston Legal co-stars described him as meticulous, exact and particular on set.

“‘He’s always looking for the truth of the moment, and he gets fidgety when it’s not there,’ said William Shatner, who won a guest-actor Emmy for his portrayal of Crane on The Practice. ‘He becomes as recalcitrant as a donkey until he can find the right way to deliver a line. He never says a word that doesn’t seem to come from the organic character. That’s because James himself is a little weird. But we love him for it.’

“Confronted with the praise of his colleagues, Spader took a deep breath and looked skeptical. ‘Maybe this thing they are describing is just obsessive-compulsive. It just seems to be what the job is, to just try and get the right intention of whatever … you’re saying. Who is to say if whether what you end up tumbling toward is the right place when you’re standing on your feet in the middle of it?'”

“And that, according to Camryn Manheim, who starred on ‘The Practice’ for eight years, can be intimidating. ‘After you saw ‘Secretary,’ wouldn’t you be scared to go on a date with him?’ Manheim said, laughing.

“‘I was scared of him,’ she added. ‘He’s weird and strange and eccentric, and I mean a lot of that in the very best way. He plays all of these sexually charged characters. He looks at you too hard, like he’s got your number. But behind all of that, he’s a very simple man who is very thoughtful and insightful about the world and humanity.’


James Spader at 2004 Emmies, Best Actor acceptance speech for The Practice http://bit.ly/1x5zh7P “I want to thank my sons Sebastian & Elijah & their wonderful mother, Victoria, & I want to thank my girl, Leslie.” //➔ so sweet!
// 9/17/2004

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TorontoSun: Spader prefers the extremes http://bit.ly/1LwTiqU
// 9/20/2002

TORONTO (2002) – James Spader’s handlers have asked that any piece about Mr. Spader not include biographical material about the actor.

Mr. Spader does not want to read a story about how he dropped out of school at 17 to move to New York in the hopes of becoming an actor.

Sure, he’s been acting up a storm in such little-seen — and some rather watchable — reels as The Watcher, Curtain Call, Critical Care and 2 Days in the Valley. But, really, where has he been? After Sex, Lies and Videotape finally peeled him away from the Pretty In Pink teeny-bopper casting calls, Spader was poised on the verge of superstardom.

Critics called him everything from the next Cary Grant to the heir apparent to Jack Nicholson’s throne of creepiness. A few standout roles in movies such as Crash, Wolf and Stargate kept Spader in the Hollywood Rolodex, but now that he’s getting big time attention for his latest role as an uptight, sexually repressed psychiatrist in the Sundance winner Secretary, Spader’s recent absence from the A-list comes into stark focus.

“It’s nice to fall in love on film. I mean it, because as an actor, you’re always seeking out roles that will take you to extremes. I mean, if you’re going to play make-believe, why not play make-believe in extreme situations?” he says.

“The more extreme it is, the more it pulls you out of your pedestrian life. I always think it’s more fun to do something fantastic than something highly realistic.”

Falling in love could be seen as something incredibly ordinary — little more than a reason to buy Hallmark greeting cards on Valentine’s Day, a high-minded spiritual fantasy to justify physiological lust.

But not to Spader.

“I’m a very romantic person and I think we’ve been taught to believe that love is something ordinary — that everyone can find it, but I think real love is the rarest thing in the world. I have fallen in love, and I’m lucky for it,” says Spader, looking somewhat more earnest behind his designer specs.

One imagines Spader is talking about his long-term relationship with his wife, the mother of his two children, Victoria Kheel — but he doesn’t go out of his way to expound on the revelation and after the early warning about personal questions, I don’t ask.

Besides, he’s on a bit of a roll with the love stuff.

“I think in life, people have this confusion about love. We all want to fall in love so badly that we are almost willing to lie to ourselves, to force ourselves into believing that we are in love when we aren’t. It’s too bad, because in so doing, we cheapen it. I don’t think we recognize the depth of the emotion at all. It’s entirely transformative, and we — like you say — think of it as a blurb on a Hallmark card.”

One could argue that all human emotion is within our control. Behavioural therapists insist we can stop ourselves from feeling powerless in the face of addictions — that with enough discipline and training, we can control our response.

Spader couldn’t disagree more — when it comes to love, at any rate.

“When you’re in love, you can’t control it. It’s when you can’t take charge of what you feel, when you are completely powerless in the face of the emotion. When it happens, it happens in spite of you.”

All this talk of love has been prompted by Spader’s role in Secretary — the part of a kooky shrink who moves through the steno pool with serial sexaholic aplomb, pulling each one into a creepy S&M game of lust and suppression. When he feels too much for his latest conquest, the good doctor tries to reform himself — with mixed results.

It’s an interesting role, and one that Spader sunk his bicuspids into because the more extreme the role, the more it pushes an actor toward self-knowledge — at least that’s the theory. Spader says he’s finally grown to accept the idea that life is an never-ending series of surprises.

“I’m 42, and I have no idea who I am. At one point, I thought I knew who I was. But it really just stretches into delusion — and you realize it’s all bulls–t and you just have to give yourself a break. Fortunately, I’ve learned not to put a great deal of pressure on myself, so I don’t really think about it anymore,” he says.

“I think I spend an awful lot of time simply trying to make it from the bedroom, to the bathroom, to the dining room in a single day that I don’t really have time to think of the other big questions,” he says, wiping his eyes.

“I still do think of them. I do, and acting is a great way of taking you to another place. It’s a way of being transported to a world that you’re not familiar with. I also love to travel, and that’s one of the things you can do with a job as an actor. I’m also fairly selfish when it comes to doing things that feed my curiosity.”

A great day, as far as Spader is concerned, would consist of seeing friends — and staying in bed. “I’m just a bit obsessive compulsive … and a bit angsty,” he says. “But anything you can do in bed, I enjoy immensely,” he says.

© The Vancouver Sun (British Columbia, Canada), September 20, 2002 Friday Final Edition(Thank you, Susan!)
(Angelfire http://bit.ly/1LwTiqU)

Kamera (2002): An Interview with Maggie Gyllenhaal http://bit.ly/1D6yh3l


Esquire: James Spader: What I’ve Learned http://bit.ly/1sqlS2q

// 12/15/2000

James Spader Interview (Nov 1997): Speaking of Sexuality YouTube: http://youtu.be/RBC9riuwYgc Uploaded by mrsnapebrandon (2013).

This rare interview for the Japanese national TV was done in November 1997, when the 10th Tokyo International Fim Festival was being held. Mr. Spader was there to support and promote his movie 2 DAYS IN THE VALLEY. He talks about not only his character in the film but also his family and his sexuality.”
~~ Partial Transcript (by me) ~~
Interviewer: In Japan, you are number one – the most wanted, irresistible man.

James Spader : I am? I’d better not leave the hotel. [ Laughter ]

interviewer: What is [sic] sexuality means to you?

James Spader : It means everything to me –

Interviewer: – Everything?

James Spader: Well, yeah, I think so. It informs everything in our lives. I don’t think that’s sort of something you can put down and put away. When you get up in the morning, it decides what you’re going to wear, how you put yourself together, how you’re going to put your hair. It decides how you sit, how you carry yourself. It dictates what you laugh at, what you’re interested in. it dictates what you look at and how you look at someone and how you talk to someone. It dictates how you relate to another person. All of those things that make up our desires and needs, dictates every aspect of our lives – I find.

By the same token, I’m 37 years old. And every day I realize how little I know about the world and myself and everything around me. It seems that when I look around me, that’s what I see. Maybe, – but I’m seeing it through my eyes. But it seems that that is something – our innate desire to be loved. It’s not something that you can just put away into a little box and save it over here and just take it out when we’d like to. Our innate desire to be amused – is something we can’t just put into a little box and put away. And in the same way, our innate sexuality is not something we can put into a box and put away somewhere until we want to use it. It’s always there! It’s always part of our lives. It’s always part of everything we do.

Interviewer: Why do you play peculiar characters?

James Spader : I think I’m just drawn to the peculiarities of life. I’m interested in that. I’m interested in perversity. I am curious about that. I’m curious about taboos. I’m curious about secrets. And so those are what I tend to look for [ in a role ].

When I take a part in a movie, I do a tremendous amount of preparation, a tremendous amount of thought, a tremendous amount of prep discussion. And then I put those things aside and I don’t concentrate on it. I just concentrate on the screenplay. And I find that, for me, I step into and out of a role fairly easily. I’m not someone who carries it around with me all the time. I step into it, immerse myself in it, and then step out. That’s how I do it. …

I’m able to play good guys and bad guys, and characters. and leads.

Interviewer: What is your priority in life?

James Spader : I think to continue to be curious.


DetourMag (Sep 1996): James Spader Interview by Dennis Hensley: Ace of Spader http://bit.ly/18p22ly via Angelfire


InterviewMag (1993): “How James Spader’s Image has Changed” http://bit.ly/1FMjDxz

“[Spader]’s all concentration…, speaking with precision, specificity, and a rolling hyperbole. This nice sense of irony is hardly unexpected, nor is Spader’s intelligence – that was manifest even when he played mostly cashmere sleaze. Unexpected is the sweetness that lights up his references to his young family or to his sisters and parents, entrenched Yankee academics who were free enough to let an only son quit prep school before graduating… It’s his look of the angel you don’t quite trust, an aura that made his high school drama teacher predict awful frustration if Spader acted: ‘Because you’re so wrong for all the roles you’re good at’,…

“Spader still looks toward the secret side of human nature – where all the really rich roles lie. ‘…I think the character I played years and years ago, in ‘Pretty in Pink’, was probably the most decrepit character I’ve ever played.'”

“‘I find the furthest I can distance myself from myself in my work, the more I excel. The roles that I find a horrible stretch are those that I have to display the ordinary parts of my being, as opposed to the secret and weird, shadowy places in me.'”
“‘…But True Colors paid for the restoration of my late grandfather’s house, so I’m glad I did it.'”

“‘I would be a fool not to play Iago…. How would it be if Iago … was just wonderfully charming? He might be that much more dangerous. Iago is a very filmic character, I think – a lot of secrets there. I love playing bad guys….[I] realized, ‘Ah, I’m only around when the shit is flying.'”

“‘I think the camera can pick up what you want it to pick up, and then it picks up you wanting it to pick that up….'”

“‘There was one point, years and years ago, when I was going thru a very difficult time acting. It was an extremely confused time in my life. One of the wrestles I was having was trying to reconcile a condition I had twenty-four hours a day – being anxious and stunned – with being able to work.'”

[On co-star Diane Keaton “allow[ing] the camera to see things that are part of everyone”: “‘…Now, you can be excessive with that, too, and end up giving a performance that’s nothing but tics and quirks and blinks and shakes. But it was a very useful lesson. I don’t think it’s such a bad thing to hang your dirty laundry out in front of the camera every so often. Screw it! Take off your clothes and ’em see your underwear.'”

SHELIA BENSON: You’ve used the word ‘secrets’ more than once. Are they important?

JAMES SPADER: To figure out a character, I try to look for something that’s not in the screenplay a little secret they carry around with them. Sometimes it’s allowed to show itself, sometimes – it isn’t, yet it’s always there. In ‘Less Than Zero’, Robert Downey Jr. and I both decided that our two guys had been lovers at one point. It wasn’t referred to at all, but that was the one choice made in that film that I ended up being pleased with, because it informed everything that happened. There’s a certain understanding between two people who’ve been lovers that’s not there in two people who haven’t.

SHELIA BENSON: [Quoting Peggy Ashcroft]: ‘What I think matters most is family, friends, and work – in that order.’ Does that resonate for you?

JAMES SPADER: Yes. [From earlier:] The other day [my 2 1/2yo son and I] took a walk in the hills, on the fire trail. I was walking along, kicking a stone, and I turned around and there was a little two-and-a-half-foot guy, kicking a little stone along beside me….

JAMES SPADER: …I’ve got a family [now]. Reading a few books, going for a sail, going for a walk, listening to music, and watching some movies – these are fancies, you know. Family is all there is for me. I don’t have anything else.


Angelfire: James Spader Interview http://bit.ly/1G5lVK7 [omg] © Playboy magazine, April 1990 by Jerry Lazar

“Spader won’t even meet me for lunch at a restaurant; meals, it seems, are meant for pleasure; and interviews are business.” …

“Later, I would talk to people who would tell me stories about a completely different Spader-one who talks openly, perhaps even excessively. Among his close-knit group of friends, he is known as an eccentric raconteur, a habitue of strip joints, a collector of off-beat weapons and a fan of loud music.” …

“Spader even had doubts about sex, lies and videotape – the low-budget feature written and directed by first-timer Steven Soderbergh – but he loved the idea of playing Graham. Before going on location in Baton Rouge, he gleefully told friends he was off to play an impotent guy who masturbates watching tapes. “‘The thing I was most surprised by was the entertainment factor of the film,’ he says. ‘I knew while we were making it that we were presenting the material in a fairly honest and intelligent fashion. I felt the performances were fine. And I felt that the personality of the film was provocative and curious. But the film’s humor was very hard to gauge while we were doing it. If it didn’t work, I thought the film would be extremely self-indulgent and a huge bore. I think the humor DOES work and that’s why people have responded to it.’ The movie was more than a hit; it won the Golden Palm at Cannes and Spader was named best actor. However, he wasn’t there to receive the award. He had arrived in Cannes, gotten bored and left.” …

“Gerald Harrington knows all about James Spader, the sensitive artist. But Harrington knows the other James Spader as well, the young rowdy who regularly led a gang of friends to the Seventh Veil, a Hollywood strip joint frequented by sailors, psychos and stag-party celebrants. ‘Once, this stripper is up on our table, inches away from Jimmy,’ says Harrington, ‘and she’s got her back to him and legs wide apart. She bends down and looks back at him through her legs and says, ‘Hey, aren’t you the guy in Pretty in Pink?’ ”

“Actor Eric Stoltz is also part of Spader’s group of friends. ‘Jimmy used to play the role of older brother to a lot of us,’ he says. ‘One time, he took me and another friend to dinner and decided to teach us the finer points of making love to a woman, using elaborate hand and mouth gestures. Halfway through his symposium, we looked around and realized half the restaurant was watching us – watching Jimmy making moves with his tongue. It was one of those mortifying moments when time just stops.’ Stoltz has worked with Spader as well. During the filming of The New Kids in Florida, he was awe-struck by him. ‘Jimmy was at his wildest. We’d take road trips to the Keys or up the coast, and he’d insist on having weapons in the trunk. He’d drive like a maniac-fast, with the music blaring – and I was always living in fear that we’d be pulled over and some officer would find his crossbow, his lance, his twelve-inch knife, his whip…'”

“‘At the motel,’ Stoltz continues, ‘our rooms were across the courtyard from each other, and he drew a huge target on my window with soap. I woke up in the middle of the night to these pinging sounds. Jimmy had bought a new BB gun and he was making indentations in the glass. It’s a little frightening when one of your best friends does that.'”

“‘One morning, Jimmy was running around with a crossbow, trying to get the arrows to stick to a palm tree in the motel courtyard. He was wearing a fringed leather jacket and underwear, with a cigarette and shades. The leading actress had brought her mother with her, and when the mother walked out of her room to get the morning paper, she saw Jimmy and almost had a heart attack.'” …

“‘Jimmy’s a very peaceful man,’ says Stoltz. ‘He’s the sweetest, nicest man in the world. He’s just a tad eccentric.'” …

“‘One of my biggest hobbies was going to concerts,” says Spader. He also owns hundreds of albums, which he insists are superior in sound quality to CD’s.”

“Harrington scoffs at this. ‘He plays these weird old blues records or reggae albums that were recorded with the most primitive equipment. No matter what you play them on, they sound terrible. They sound like they were recorded underwater through a megaphone.'”

“‘He’s completely anal about his tape selection in the car,’ says Harrington. ‘He has an aluminum briefcase and he’ll put a hundred and ten cassettes – ‘OK, we’re going to drive north, so these are good tapes for the North. ‘He plans the music like some people plan the menu for an estate dinner. And he won’t let me get one song in. He plays things that he knows I won’t like so he can try to convince me how good they are.'”

“When Spader was sent the script for sex, lies and videotape, he was on one of those infamous road trips. ‘Our negotiations took place from pay phones at gas stations,’ he says. The US map on Graham’s wall is marked with Spader’s favorite routes.

“A night out usually involves ‘great, huge, decadent dinners at the Ivy or Dan Tana’s,’ according to actress Jennifer Jason Leigh. ‘They last five hours and you leave feeling sick. Jimmy’s great at hanging out – not always having to be on the move. He can sit five hours and just talk, and I admire that.'” …

“Spader’s parents are retired teachers. His two older sisters became teachers. He grew up on a prep school campus. Unsurprisingly, Spader found classrooms boring and when he went to Phillip’s Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, he left his mark not as a student but as an actor.”

“Charles Schueler, now a Cablevision executive in Boston, remembers Spader’s ‘devastating’ abilities as a mimic: ‘Andover was crawling with children of prestigious and status-conscious people, but Jimmy would hang around with the janitor in the gymnasium or the middle-aged, wise-cracking switchboard operator. To this day, he can re-create these personna – not in a cruel or malicious way but in a way that is just hilarious in its accuracy.'” …

“‘Jimmy left Andover and moved to New York,’ remembers Timothy Regan, who now studies film production at Boston University, ‘we asked one of the theater teachers, ‘Will he make it? ‘And the teacher closed his eyes, shook his head and said, ‘No, not a chance,’ ‘Who was that teacher, I ask Spader, and where is he now?'”

“‘Exactly,’ Spader replies.”


ChicagoTribune, Gene Siskel: Zooming In On James Spader`s Top Secret Debut http://trib.in/1z1JYHZ “James Spader has come a long way in the last decade, and his career is just taking off”
//  6/5/1988


AngelFire: James Spader Interviews and articles (1985 – 2004) http://bit.ly/1LcgeAj I love these old interviews #TheBlacklist @NBCBlacklist

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