With the premiere of NBC’s new drama “The Blacklist,” veteran actor James Spader makes his return to NBC after a season-long stint as Robert California on “The Office.” In his new role of Raymond “Red” Reddington, Spader stars as a highly sought-after criminal who turns himself into the FBI for reasons only really known to him.
During the show’s Saturday (July 27) panel at the Television Critics Association 2013 summer press tour, executive producers Jon Bokenkamp and John Fox revealed to reporters the impetus behind the character’s creation.
“The original idea sort of came from our producer John Fox and conversations and meetings we had had where, you know — both of us have had really no experience in television and all in features and a lot of really great movie bad guys — Keyser Soze being one, “The Usual Suspects” — and the idea was what would happen if one of these guys started to talk,” Bokenkamp explains. “What kinds of stories would he tell and what different worlds would he be able to take us into?”
Fox adds, “He would be The Rosetta Stone of crime, you know? Just logging everything from his crimes, past crimes and, most importantly, future crimes.”
As for what sort of format the show will take from week to week, Bokenkamp explains that the series won’t only be a case-of-the-week show. “It is sort of a strange hybrid, in terms of what the show is, because each week we are going to out and dip into a different world of crime,” he reveals. “We’re going to go find criminals that, as we present in the pilot, the FBI may not know exists. It was an opportunity to have fun with the various people who are involved with crime … So each week we will have a different criminal, but I think the reason you come back to the show, what excites me about it, is [the characters] and the secrets that they have and what’s happening at home. I think most procedural type shows, you don’t go home. You know? You stay in the office or the bullpen where they’re solving crimes.”
Central to the series is Red’s relationship with Megan Boone‘s FBI rookie Elizabeth Keen, whom Red mysteriously requests as his handler of sorts. Regarding the reasoning behind this, Bokenkamp says, “It is a series long question, but it’s not simple enough that it’s something that we’ll answer right now. Why this man has come back, introduced himself, inserted himself in her life — there’s many reasons. So I think along the way, we’re gonna get into the various reasons of why he’s come back.”
“The Blacklist” premieres Monday, Sept. 23 at 10 p.m. on NBC.