James Spader gives us an insight into his idiosyncratic character, Red
After two seasons playing Raymond Reddington on addictive crime show, The Blacklist, James Spader says he has enjoyed the fact that he and the audience have become more familiar with the character. “There has been a change in him, and in a way, we’ve seen how his priorities have shifted. And also, I’ve been able to see what some of his vulnerabilities are. And when the audience and myself first started getting to know Raymond Reddington, he seemed invulnerable,” begins Spader. And after the great reveal in the season two finale, Spader tells us what drew him to this role, how it has evolved and why he fought to keep the signature fedora on the show.
What did you find most appealing about playing Reddington?
His sense of humour. It was such an interesting juxtaposition to what the realities of his life were. The realities of his life are very dangerous, dramatic and extreme. So the blend is very dichotomous considering the stakes in his life are very very high — often life and death. And yet, he has an acute sense of humour and irreverent view of his life. And I responded to that immediately, and have done everything to try and explore that as much as we can.
How involved are you in the development of your character?
Very. The writers — John Bokenkamp and John Eisendrath — I have been collaborating very closely about every aspect of this character and how he fits within the life of the show since the start.
The importance of the fedora.
He travels to different parts of the world, with all different climates. He might be someplace cold in the morning and someplace hot in the afternoon. And a hat is a very, very practical piece of clothing for a man to have if he finds himself in many different settings.
Do your roles reflect your personality?
When I’m working on a film or a television show and working on a character, my head is really in that. But there are certain things in the script that may reflect my idea because when we are working on a scene or story, I may suggest it to the writers. But, I try to be true to what I think the character would do based on his tastes, interests and the prism through which he sees the world.
What kind of Red can we expect to see in Season 3?
As often as the case is on our show, I don’t think that one should take anything for granted. And I don’t think that one should think they may know exactly what the status of things are because the status changes very, very quickly! At the end of Season 2, all the pieces of the show were thrown up in the air. And I think at the beginning of Season 3, it will be exciting to see where they land and then how we find a way to put all the pieces together again.
What keeps the character degenerating into super-villain territory?
That’s a balance that is very important to the show. And we’ve been very careful to never swing too far in either direction. I don’t think that we can sustain this character for any length of time in the show if, all of a sudden, you realise behind all of the bad, it really is all good. I’m much more interested in the idea that you’re never quite sure what he is more — whether he’s more a good man who’s capable of very, very bad things or the other way around. I think it keeps us on our toes and the viewer slightly off balance.
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— Aakanksha Devi