From government agent to high profile criminal to FBI informant, James Spader has TV critics reeling over his performance as the antihero on NBC’s ‘The Blacklist.’
It’s no secret that the hit NBC series The Blacklist thrives on mystery and intrigue, and all its burning unanswered questions will continue to smolder well into Season 2, which returns Monday, Sept. 22nd.
We spoke Monday with series star James Spader, who plays our favorite antihero of the moment, criminal mastermind Raymond ‘Red’ Reddington, when he took a break from shooting the fourth episode to discuss the upcoming sophomore season with reporters.
Spader was cagey with any details about Blacklist baddies and bombshells to come this season, stressing that “the element of surprise is very important to our show,” but he did set an expectation adjustment for the big reveal everyone is dying for: Is Red Lizzie’s father?
According to Spader, we won’t be getting the answer to the show’s overarching mystery any time soon, despite the Season 1 finale reveal of burns across Red’s back.
“That’s something to just let percolate for a little bit,” Spader said. “Elizabeth Keen has spoken of a memory of being in a fire when she was a child and somebody pulling her out of that fire. She may be assuming that it’s her father, but we’ve never said whether it’s her father or not.”
When I interviewed Spader last year, he admitted to me that he would be disappointed if Reddington did indeed end up being the father of FBI Agent Keen (Megan Boone) because that would be “too easy.” After a year on the show, his stance is more lenient.
“If the route is circuitous enough, the destination becomes less and less important,” Spader said. “You can have an idea of a larger arc, but the lifespan of the show dictates how circuitous the route has to be and once you’ve started taking all those back roads, the back roads become much more interesting than even the destination.”
He added: “It may be that the easiest and the simplest result is the right one, and even if it is predictable right from the start, there should be a satisfaction because the route was satisfying. But, given our show and what our show is, I don’t think anything is as simple as it may appear.”
Tidbits to look forward to this season on The Blacklist:
~ Peter Stormare is back as the big bad Berlin, the man out to get Red as an act of vengeance over his own daughter’s death. And he’s willing to use Lizzie – piece by piece! – to do it.
~ Mary-Louise Parker guest stars this season as a recurring character with mysterious ties to Red. Spader tells me she’s “someone from his past and it’s a very complicated relationship. She is someone who has been living a very different life away from him and the events of the day have dragged her back into his life.”
~ A new FBI dynamic: “The protocol for how Red operates changes dramatically,” Spader explained. “He just has to conduct his relations with the FBI in a very different manner, considering the events of last year. He’s the same person, but the circumstances he’s putting himself into are certainly different than what has preceded it.”
~ The Super Bowl Slot: As previously announced, The Blacklist has landed the coveted post-Super Bowl time slot this year, airing the first of a two-parter after the big game on Sunday, Feb. 1st. The conclusion will air later in the week when the show debuts in its new time slot for midseason, airing on Thursdays at 9 p.m. on NBC, beginning on Feb. 5th.
“There’s no question that on our show we attempt to turn things on their ear,” Spader teased. “One wouldn’t have to be a wizard to realize we’re in a cliffhanger situation, just for very practical purposes, where we’re leaving people curious and hanging… It’s going to be very hard to predict how this season unfolds.”
Season 2 of ‘The Blacklist’ premieres Monday, Sept. 22nd at 10 p.m. on NBC.