Au­di­ences on Red alert

James Spader’s Ray­mond Red­ding­ton is as bril­liant and cal­cu­lat­ing as ever as The Blacklist charges into the red zone.

The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - TV Guide - - NEWS -

IT’S the episode which set Amer­i­can au­di­ences buzzing when it aired af­ter the Su­perbowl ear­lier this year, and will leave Aus­tralian fans gob­s­macked. Make no mis­take, The Blacklist’s mid-sea­son re­turn – air­ing here as a pow­er­ful dou­ble-episode to­mor­row night – is as bru­tal and bril­liant as it is emo­tion­ally mes­meris­ing. And the body count is through the roof.

James Spader as an­ti­hero Ray­mond “Red” Red­ding­ton is typ­i­cally sublime. Co-star Me­gan Boone (who plays FBI agent El­iz­a­beth Keen) belts it out of the park.

And guest star Ron Perl­man just about steals the show. It’s a fast-paced and bloody watch – which Boone re­vealed was equally as sav­age to make – dur­ing one scene, sur­rounded by ex­plo­sions and mis­siles, “I’m pretty sure Ron Perl­man hit me in the face”.

Three-time Emmy win­ner Spader ad­mits it’s “bru­tal” – even by The Blacklist’s stan­dards.

Two sea­sons into play­ing TV’s smoothest crim­i­nal, Spader is clearly en­joy­ing the sub­tleties of Red as much as his com­plex­i­ties.

“I’ve been able to see what some of his vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties are,” Spader says.

“And when the au­di­ence and my­self first started get­ting to know Ray­mond Red­ding­ton, he seemed in­vul­ner­a­ble.

“As I’ve be­come more fa­mil­iar with him and as au­di­ences be­come fa­mil­iar with him, I’ve started to see how his pri­or­i­ties have shifted – in a way.

“I think he’s found him­self – again, and again – vul­ner­a­ble in a very prac­ti­cal sense, and in a phys­i­cal sense, but also emo­tion­ally.”

The char­ac­ter is the role that brought Spader back to TV. Un­til it popped up he was de­ter­mined to pur­sue film roles. It was the hu­mour in the of­ten mer­ci­less crim­i­nal which most ap­pealed.

“The sense of hu­mour was such an in­ter­est­ing jux­ta­po­si­tion to what the re­al­i­ties of his (Red’s) life were,” Spader says.

“The re­al­i­ties of his life are – very of­ten – very dan­ger­ous, and quite dra­matic. And I thought that that was very di­choto­mous, the no­tion that some­body whose life is – the stakes of his life are very, very high; and yet, he has a very acute sense of hu­mour and ir­rev­er­ent view of the life which he lives. And I have done ev­ery­thing I can to try and ex­plore that as much as we can on the show.”

Spader is ever-vig­i­lant that Red doesn’t de­gen­er­ate into to­tal su­per-vil­lain. To do so, he and show-run­ners know, could cost The Blacklist its in­trigue. “We’ve been very care­ful to never swing too far in ei­ther di­rec­tion in that I don’t think that we can sus­tain this char­ac­ter for any length of time in the show if – all of a sud­den – you were to re­alise that the sort of hu­man­ity or more sym­pa­thetic as­pects of his char­ac­ter are just a mask that cover just a straight-to-head vil­lain,” he says.

“And to me, it just wouldn’t be in­ter­est­ing to play. 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 whether he’s a bad man who’s ca­pa­ble of very good things.

“It’s much more in­ter­est­ing and cu­ri­ous that you’re never quite sure which of those it is.”

THE BLACKLIST

MON­DAY, 9.15PM, SEVEN

EDITOR Deb­bie Schipp RE­VIEWS Deb­bie Schipp, Colin Vick­ery, An­drew Fenton, Holly Byrnes, Neala John­son, Leigh Paatsch, Tif­fany Dunk, Shan­non Mol­loy COVER James Spader © Amy Dick­er­son/The New York Times/Head­press COVER DE­SIGN Trevor Timms PRO­DUC­TION Page­mas­ters Pub­lished by Han­nan­print, 55 Doody St, Alexandria, NSW 2015, for News Corp Aus­tralia. PRO­GRAM IN­FOR­MA­TION: Is cor­rect at the time of print­ing, but may be sub­ject to late change by in­di­vid­ual tele­vi­sion net­works amend­ing their sched­ules.

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