The Blacklist star dishes on Super Bowl return

The Blacklist
David Giesbrecht/NBC

It’s been three long months since The Blacklist was on our screens, and while several loose ends were tied up in last winter’s finale, other stories were blown open. We need to know more. (Yes, even more than before.) Like, what’s the deal with Red (James Spader) and Tom (Ryan Eggold)? And why, oh why couldn’t Elizabeth (Megan Boone) kill her lying sumbitch ex, who clearly still knows how to manipulate her at any given turn? Ugh.

While the first half of the season was slightly disjointed, the second half (the first part airing in the plum post-Super Bowl spot Sunday night) hits the ground running when Red is captured by federal agents and taken to a secret detention facility where he encounters Luther Braxton (guest star Ron Perlman)—a dude who is obviously no good. The good guys have to not only rescue Red but stop Braxton, which means things are about to get bananas up in here.

In anticipation of Sunday’s return, Boone spoke to reporters during a recent conference call and spoke about what Spader has taught her, why Liz can’t shake her connection to Tom, Lizzie’s bond with Ressler (Diego Klattenhoff), and insists that, yes, the audience will get the answers they have been waiting for. Phew!

The Blacklist
David Giesbrecht/NBC

The midseason finale was pretty explosive. Just wondering where the second part of the season is heading.

Megan Boone: As you know Red Reddington has received some vital information about a safe. Now something to keep in mind if you’re a fan of The Blacklist is to always remember little details because they always pop up much later on in the storyline and that safe will be addressed five or six episodes later.

However, before that we have an episode that’ll air after the Super Bowl which is much more high-impact. Ron Perlman comes on as a guest star and then, as you know, we fashion a lot of our episodes after movies because our writers are big fanboys. The second episode is sort of an Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind while the first part is a Prison Break-type episode so a lot happens but the mythology still gets woven in. What you found out about Alan Fitch will then be resurrected later in the season and concluded before the season’s out.

I’m very excited to hear that Gloria Reuben will be guest-starring when the show comes back. She’s a treasured Canadian actress.

MB: Wonderful, yes.

The show has had so many great guest stars. I was wondering if there’s an actor or actress that you would love to work with on the show.

MB: I have had such incredible experiences already with the people who have come through. Dianne Wiest, Mary-Louise Parker, Ron Perlman, Alan Alda, Peter Stormare, it’s an embarrassment of riches so to say I would really like a particular person to come on the show, I think that would be a little greedy at this point. I’m just baffled. I sometimes have to pinch myself, it’s just amazing.

Mostly what I want for the show is that the actors who come on are interesting actors, that people tune in to see but it’s not like we’re casting James Franco as a blacklister or something like that. It’s not a stunt cast. We’re really enriching the fabric of the show with the actors we bring on.

So, there’s Ron Perlman coming up, and Janel Moloney and David Strathairn, which is very cool. Can you give us anything on what we can expect in “Luther Braxton?” Who is Luther Braxton?

MB: Luther Braxton is this blunt instrument piece that Red Reddington has a history with in Belgrade and he is orchestrating the prison break episodes that will be our Super Bowl episode. The rest, I think, is probably top, top secret hush-hush but yes, they do have a past. While Reddington is more of a chess player, I would say that Luther Braxton is more of a rugby player.

The Blacklist
David Giesbrecht/NBC

In the winter finale we seemed to wrap up the arc between Liz and Tomfor now, at least. That’s been such an integral part of the character for the first full season and a half so how does it feel to kind of tie a little bow on that?

MB: Well, it’s always difficult when you’re working so closely with an actor like Ryan Eggold and then that changes and suddenly he’s nowhere to be found for a while so that part, just for me personally, was the more difficult part.

I was glad to see the Tom-Liz dynamic play out mostly because it was sort of painful for me to watch Liz go through that with him knowing what the outcome would be. All of Season 1 was very uncomfortable for me in some ways. As you can imagine knowing who Tom is then having to play against that was uncomfortable. It was much more fun to have him chained up.

Liz has always straddled that line between doing things by the book and being badass, so keeping Tom prisoner was so fun to watch. My question is, is she really still in love with him?

MB: Oh, no, I think that that’s such a simplification of her dynamic with Tom, which is applied to her by Red Reddington and Agent Ressler so she has never come out and said, ‘I’m in love with him.’ She is obviously drawn to him for several different reasons and she has a very complicated past with the man.

I think she is deeply hurt by him and that can sometimes feel as if you have deep feelings for the person, but I don’t think it necessarily means that. I think that she just has such a complicated relationship with him and wants so much information from him that means so much to her.

That connection.

MB: Yes. There is a huge connection but in her mind she’s taken at face value what Tom Keen meant to her. Now, information about his relationship with Raymond Reddington, acts of future valour that Tom may prove to execute, you never know. Those things could redeem him in her eyes but right now he is what the audience thinks he is, which is like this double-crossing agent who had it out for her.

Ressler isn’t the best cop on TV. He always seems to get knocked unconscious or is nowhere to be found when someone else is dealing with the bad guy. That being said, I loved it when Liz brought him in to handle Tom once she let him go and he vows that he’s going to go after Tom and find him. Is their relationship going anywhere? It feels like it’s improving and she trusts him and vice versa.

MB: I think that there is a real bond beteween Ressler and Keen because of all they’ve gone through. It’s hard with the context of The Blacklist to say that anybody is a good or bad cop because it’s not like we’re dealing with criminals on the streets of Miami. We’re dealing with these souped-up super-villains and in extraordinary circumstances. I think that really the only thing you can say about the cops on The Blacklist is that they’re mortal and that they’re dealing with things that are really out of their depths because this is a criminal underworld that no one on CSI ever gets exposed to!

The Blacklist is proving to be popular but it’s a very violent show. How do you stay unattached emotionally or just block that sort of thing out?

MB: Well, I don’t know that I do stay unattached. I have found this job to be a very cathartic experience. It has strengthened me in a way that maybe a boot camp would or anything that you can think of that is extremely challenging both physically and emotionally. It’s definitely been an adventure but I don’t know that there is any way to detach from something that is so much a part of my life, as any job you go into, and particularly one that has such an ambitious production schedule as ours delivering a movie 22 weeks out of the year. It’s extremely vigorous and I feel very much attached to it. How I survive is trying to swing the pendulum and do the opposite, rest and make sure that I deliberately develop a life outside of the job with friends and lovers and parties and good food and comfort, so it’s a balancing act.

What’s it like to work with James Spader and how do you get along with him off-screen.

MB: Oh, it’s lovely. It’s such a wonderful experience. He is wicked smart and extremely caring. He’s developed a level of patience in the work that he’s taught me to have. He told me when I would get frustrated with a scene or something, he taught me how to focus that frustration and put it back into the work and I said to James, ‘Is this frustration ever going to go away? and he said no. He said you have to work to manage it. He’s just become one of the dearest people in my entire life…

How does it feel to have the post-Super Bowl spot and to have [former executive producer and director of the pilot] Joe Carnahan back for that one?

MB: Joe Carnahan is a force to be reckoned with. He really brings a lot of energy into whatever he’s doing and so I always love working with him, plus he’s one of the people who really got behind me in the casting room for the show. As far as being placed after the Super Bowl, of course I couldn’t be more grateful to the network for showing that kind of trust and support for the show. I’m just excited for this enterprise as a whole.

I’m not a very result-oriented person. I’m mostly interested in just doing the work as best I can from day to day, moment to moment. That’s what’s gotten me by and made it possible to survive in show business for me. But these little landmarks in my life and my career and in the show’s life are gratifying because it feels like those moments are accumulating to something. People are enjoying the show enough for [NBC brass] Bob Greenblatt and Jennifer Salke to choose to put us in the most public time slot all year so it’s quite a coup.

You’re pretty active on social media. Is it fun getting that real-time reaction from fans when the show’s on or do you ever get nervous as you see what people are saying?

MB: Oh, I don’t have a lot of emotion attached to social media. I’m mostly just trying to enjoy myself on it and share the things that I enjoy, like if we have a big episode or an opportunity arises for me and another cast member to get together and share our time together watching the show live with the audience. I like to do it because I think that it’s really fun for the audience and therefore really fun for me but I’m not worried too much about fans’ reactions because I know that they’re just going to be on the spectrum of fantastic to awful and it’s just going to be that way forever.

I’m never going to have a point in my career, especially as a woman, where everybody thinks I’m awesome. If you’re a woman in this industry, they’re going to be like, ‘Well, she’s really talented but her arms are too fat’ or, ‘I really like her movies but she’s dating that guy and I don’t approve.’ I just learned that I’m not going to pay attention to it and to the negativity and I’m just going to try to enjoy every aspect of my life and my career and one of those aspects as a young, upcoming actress is social media whether you like it or not so I just decided to accept it.

Which particular unsolved mystery are you keenest to find out the answer to?

MB: I’d really like to find out who my parents are, where Liz comes from and what Reddington has to do with that and his interest in her, obviously. I have the same curiosities as most of the audience, I think.

Do the writers ever drop you any hints or clue you in or are they keeping you completely in the dark?

MB: They definitely give me ideas but I’m pretty much going episode to episode because Liz doesn’t really know either so it doesn’t help me to know.

It was pretty dark there for Elizabeth by the midseason; does it get darker? Will we find out sooner or later maybe what Red and Tom’s connection is?

MB: Yes, I think the writers are going to answer everything. These trysts aren’t just arbitrary and if they were, we would be doing ourselves a disservice so I really think the Tom question is going to be answered. The Tom-Red connection will be answered. In due time.

Our main focus each episode is we need to have a blacklister that ties in to the mythology of the show, meaning that ultimately Red will have to answer to what this blacklist means, and Liz’s life and the question about who Liz really is, that’s a central question: What is the blacklist and who is Elizabeth Keen? In Season 7 hopefully, fingers crossed, everything will be answered.

Will you tune in? Sound off below.

The Blacklist returns on Sunday, Feb. 1 after the Super Bowl and moves to its new timeslot on Thursday, Feb. 5 at 10 p.m. ET on Global and NBC.