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Already worked into a frenzy by the Red Reddington fedoras distributed in the room, the raucous audience at Comic-Con International erupted in applause when star James Spader walked on stage for The Blacklist panel.
He was joined by executive producers Jon Bokenkamp and John Eisendrath for a discussion moderated by TV Guide Executive Editor Michael Scheider.
Returning Sept. 22 for a second season on NBC, crime drama stars Spader as Raymond “Red” Reddington, the world’s most wanted fugitive who turns himself in to the FBI and offers to give up “The Blacklist,” a global directory of all the criminals with whom he’s worked. But there’s a catch: He’ll only do so on the condition that he deals with one person: Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone), an FBI profiler fresh out of Quantico.
“It’s been quite a journey this past year,” Spader said. ”The craziness started last year here at Comic-Con. And those of you that have been watching, thank you for that.”
The actor, who will play Ultron in Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron, admitted he’s in the dark about Red’s past almost as much the audience is. “It’s been an interesting year trying to figure out who he is,” he said. “I probably just have a few less questions about that than all of you. I know just a little more, just enough to be able to play him.” He hinted that we’ll learn at least a little more in Season 2.
Schneider observed that the highest Blacklist case number in the first season was 162, which means the series has to air for at least seven seasons – a notion welcomed by both the audience and the panelists.
He then cut the chase, asking, “When will we find out about Red, Lizzie and whether or not he’s her father?” Although the much-anticipated answer wasn’t going to be revealed at Comic-Con, Bokenkamp said their relationship is central to the series, with more being revealed next season.
“Ultimately, what the relationship in the past between Elizabeth Keen and Red was is not the most important question,” Spader said. “Because, really, what the show is about is their relationship and it creeps up on you. What the nature of the relationship now is.”
Season 2 will begin with Berlin (Peter Stormare) on the run and the team recovering and living with the repercussions of the events from the season finale/
While details about the new season were sparse, it was announced that Mary-Louise Parker (Weeds) will join the cast as Naomi Hyland, a character “inextricably tied to Red.” It was confirmed that Alan Alda and the Cabal will return to further complicate Red’s life.
A sizzle reel set to AC/DC’s “Back in Black” highlighted some of Red’s more memorable moments, replete with his famous non sequiturs. A shortened version can now be seen as a promo on NBC.
Afterward, the discussion was opened to questions from the audience. Asked what Red thinks about himself, Spader replied, “He takes full responsibility for his acts. I think he knows his full capacity for goodness and he knows his capacity for badness.”
When another fan asked how the show’s villains are created, Hokenkamp answered, “The baseline question that we need to ask ourselves was established in the pilot which is, ‘Is this a criminal the FBI doesn’t know about?’ So that eliminates a lot of people and it is a very strict first hurdle we must pass. We have to look in areas that are very obscure.”
The Blacklist returns Monday, Sept. 22 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on NBC.