James Spader Previews The Blacklist’s Intense Season 2

The Blacklist
Justin Stephens/NBC
The Blacklist

The adventures of James Spader’s jaunty criminal turncoat Red Reddington continue with federal agent Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone) digging deeper into her husband’s villainous betrayals, baddie Berlin (Peter Stormare) still at large, and the rest of us wondering if — and how — Red and Lizzie are related. Here, Spader assesses the situation and (of course) dodges all spoilers concerning Season 2 of The Blacklist.

Obviously, Season 2 is top secret, but what’s your take on Season 1?
I was pleased. It went long, as television seasons do, but I think we had great fun. I had never done a brand-new show before. I had worked on The Office for a year. When I did the last year of The Practice, I think it was the eighth season, and that turned into Boston Legal. This was a whole different thing where we were starting from scratch, and it takes time on everybody’s part — mine, the writers, the crew, everybody. So the whole first season really is finding your way and figuring out what you’re up to.

Red seems to know everything. Are you as clued in when it comes to the show itself?
That answer requires a qualification. I have a greater knowledge of the long game, rather than the short game. From the start of the show, when we realized the pilot was going to series, the writers and I met quite a bit and talked about where the series would lead and the larger shape of it. In terms of the short game, I like to be surprised as much as the viewer does.

How do you feel about the evolution of Megan Boone’s Keen?
The maturation and evolution of her character really shows its impact right at the start of the second season. Megan is [playing] a very different person than from Day 1, based on what the character has been through and the discoveries she has made about herself and her life. At the end of last season, Keen’s life really blew up, and she is now trying to figure out how to put that back together again.

So where do we find Red and Keen when the show returns?
Well, a couple of months have passed and everybody is still having to deal with the collateral effect of everything that happened at the end of Season 1. The threats [they faced] are still very active.

Mary-Louise Parker is coming on as someone deeply connected to Red. Can you tell us anything about her character?
I had never met her before and have only shot one scene with her. She was blindfolded and was not speaking, and neither was I. [Laughs] Remember, I like to be surprised.

This story was originally published September 22, 2014.