SECRETS, SPIES & SPADER
Megan Boone explains the darkness of The Blacklist – and the lightness that is the real James Spader. By DEBBIE SCHIPP
The Blacklist’s Megan Boone shares season two secrets and what it’s like to work with James Spader
AS FBI profiler Elizabeth Keen, Megan Boone had a heck of a first season on The Blacklist.
On her first day on the job, she discovered the world’s most wanted man Raymond “Red” Reddington (James Spader) had come in from the cold, and would join forces with the FBI – but would work only with her.
As the season unfolded she discovered her marriage was a lie, Red had murdered her adopted father and that nobody was quite what they seemed.
Now, as season two of the hit show launches, Boone’s Liz Keen may be bewildered and bruised, but she’s not beaten or bowed.
And she’s set to more than hold her own alongside Red – the enigmatic criminal who is as much her mentor as her tormentor on the show.
The 31-year-old actress says the role of Liz is the gift that just keeps giving. Much like the prodigiously talented Spader who, Boone says, continues to surprise her every day on set.
Series two opens with Liz still reeling from revelations her husband is a spy, rather than a mild-mannered primary school teacher, and the duplicity of Red, who claims to want to protect her, but consistently gives her half-truths.
She’s a little more paranoid, and a little harder. She’s living out of suitcases. She’s more cautious. And producers warn, perhaps a little more like Red.
“Red and Elizabeth’s relationship has changed absolutely,” Boone says.
“She’s wiser. It took her a while to get the big picture with Reddington and now she’s not going to ignore that. She has her own agenda.”
As for Spader’s character, Boone says expect, early on, an uncharacteristically rattled Reddington – shaken from his customary cool of master puppeteer pulling criminal strings.
“We introduce people that have that effect on him and reveal more about where he’s coming from,” she says.
“That’s what makes this show what it is. Those startling moments are interesting. Red is so strong and impenetrable and then something shakes him to the core and he realises that is something that’s really important to him.
“I have learned to expect anything from these scripts. The more and more we delve into the series the more we realise it’s really dark.
“And it gets darker and darker and stranger and weirder. I feel like we’re the show where all the stray dogs come to play.
TheBlacklist is indeed dark, but Boone says between takes, she has found a lightness and camaraderie among the cast. Not least with Spader – who may play Red with merciless, enigmatic mastery, but transforms when the cameras stop rolling.
“I adore that man,” she says.
“He is intelligent and funny and I could say a lot of things that people would probably expect because watching him you can tell how smart and ridiculously talented he is, and what a charismatic man he is.
“However, I think it would surprise people to know he is also so adorable.
“There’s this little soft side in James where if you are fooling with him and you can intrigue that little sweet soft side, you get the kindest, cutest little laugh out of him … not a Red Reddington laugh … it’s different, it’s a really cute one.
“I get the biggest kick out of that, out of getting him to bubble up with that laugh.”
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On a mission: Above, Megan Boone tries to uncover the truth in TheBlacklist. Below, James Spader unveils a softer side on set.