Why James Spader Agreed To Star In NBC's The Blacklist

The Blacklist James Spader Raymond Red Reddington NBC
(Image credit: Virginia Sherwood / NBC)

Have you ever wondered why James Spader agreed to star in The Blacklist for NBC? If you love the show, it may not require a great deal of guesswork. Six seasons in, and a seventh on its way, the crime drama has been a hit. Spader’s Raymond Reddington is at the forefront of the series’ titular premise.

Reflecting on his career with moderator Whoopi Goldberg at the Tribeca TV Festival, James Spader shared what drew him to The Blacklist. He explained that he was looking for a TV show that would film in New York and hold his interest for a stretch. Cue the script for The Blacklist’s pilot.

Among the things that James Spader found appealing was The Blacklist’s cross-section of differing genres. Spader explained (via TV Guide):

It's sort of a thriller but it's not. It's also funny at times, but then at other times it's really quite intense. And it's a character-driven piece, but then it's also sort of a procedural to a certain degree. It's a serialized, but also the episodes stand alone to a certain degree. So when I read all of that, I thought 'Fantastic, That really fits the bill for that.'

James Spader nailed his description of The Blacklist! It is all of those things. The show’s wide-ranging blend of genres is part of the show’s enduring personal appeal as well. When you have a character as fun as Raymond Reddington and a performance as grand as Spader’s, you cannot go wrong.

Even though fans have been watching Red for over half a decade, viewers continue to be mesmerized by his mythos. The timeline and his speeches through the years have only told viewers so much. As of the start of Season 7, they do not even know who he really is. Discussing the man of mystery, James Spader said:

No matter what the set of circumstances might be, that he might encounter, I could see that he could see the irreverence in whatever it was. And I thought that dichotomy can sustain me. If it holds my interest, it might hold an audiences'.

It has held this audience member’s attention and many more. Will Red be able to find the irreverent side of life as Katarina’s prisoner? Viewers will have to tune in and see. I have every belief that he will try. All of these seasons after James Spader agreed to star in The Blacklist, the show is keeping him busy.

Red is about to face off with the “most formidable big bad” that The Blacklist has ever had. Heightening the intensity of that promise is that the big bad in question is none other than Katarina Rostova. A woman that Red has expressed admiration for and shares some sort of past with.

Fans will get to see James Spader dig into all of the various facets that await Red’s journey in Season 7. It is going to be an exciting one, which will hopefully lead to some answers regarding Reddington’s true identity. The poster for the upcoming season hints that Red’s future has a lot of twists in store for viewers.

Watch James Spader’s next chapter as Raymond Reddington when The Blacklist returns as part of this fall’s premieres. Season 7 starts Friday, October 4 on NBC. New episodes will air Fridays at 8 p.m. ET. Catch up on Spader’s performance on The Blacklist via Netflix, along with lots of new content.

Britt Lawrence

Like a contented Hallmark movie character, Britt happily lives in the same city she grew up in. Along with movies and television, she is passionate about competitive figure skating. She has been writing about entertainment for 5 years, and as you may suspect, still finds it as entertaining to do as when she began.