Why Lou Diamond Phillips Is Back on ‘Blindspot’ as the ‘Sphinx-Like’ Saul

Blindspot - Season 1
Giovanni Rufino/NBC

When we last saw Saul Guerrero (Lou Diamond Phillips) on Blindspot, America’s second most wanted had found himself foiled. But when Guerrero was questioned by Mayfair at headquarters, it became clear she was using him as a diversion to cover up the real project Daylight. The aftermath of that reveal will play out a bit more in tonight’s episode as Guerrero returns. We caught up with Phillips to pick his brain about what’s to come.

First thing’s first: What do you and Saul have in common?
[Laughs heartily]. Well, okay, there’s that—there’s the laugh. Not a lot! Not a lot, to be quite honest. I would like to think that I have more in common with some of the more inspirational and aspirational characters I play, like Henry Standing Bear on Longmire or Don Lucho in The 33.

So how do you ground a guy who’s killed 19 people and not make him a comic book villain?
I have to approach characters like this with the same respect that I approach heroes. I also did a fairly impactful role on Law & Order: SVU where I played a serial killer pedophile, which is pretty disgusting. I’ve said it to acting students before—you have to subjugate yourself to the character. You have to put aside your own ego and not apologize for the character’s worldview.

In your first episode, we got to see some real anarchy in Michigan. What was your familiarity with Michigan?
I am not familiar with Michigan in the least. [Laughs] So it was a bit of an education to me, but I mean, without sounding too assumptive about certain things, there are pockets of resistance even within the country. We hear about it all the time. They certainly mentioned Ruby Ridge and they mentioned Waco. So this is not out of the realm of possibility. And, sadly enough, when we look at what is actually happening in the world today, anything that our writers can come up with in the entertainment industry, there is a very valid and very frightening reality that mirrors the real world.

So you are back on the show tonight. Without giving anything away, what’s in store for Saul?
With a show like this that is very Bond, very Mission: Impossible, very action-oriented, [dealing] with black ops and conspiracies… I wouldn’t take anything at face value. Certainly for the time being, it seems like my dance with Sullivan and Jaimie’s team would be done, but you never know. Part of me goes, “Well, this is certainly television and certainly they deal in surprises and twists and that sort of thing.” Although I will say that the first season of 24, I did a couple of episodes and Dennis Hopper shot me in the back, and I just remember speaking with Joel [Surnow], the executive producer, saying to him, “We never saw the body! We never saw the body, man! You can bring me back!” So I never close that particular door in my mind. Or then again, maybe I’m just secretly desiring more employment.

Do you think Saul has any knowledge of the Daylight situation around him?
I think that they do what they do to him because of potential fallout. So I think that there is at least on the surface of it, the thought that he is a risk.

We’re going to see him in federal prison tonight. What do you think he would be up to there? Would he be having lots of Orange Is the New Black-style fun?
I can only assume because of who he is and because he’s number two on the FBI’s most wanted list, that he would be sequestered. I would look to the fact that he isolated himself in [Michigan]. He has the wherewithal to be patient and to not worry about connecting to the real world. So I think Saul is one of those guys—he’s like the Sphinx. You can just sit him in a room and he’ll entertain himself [Laughs].