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How The Blacklist's James Spader Avoids Getting 'Overwhelmed' After 7 Seasons

The Blacklist Raymond Red Reddington James Spader NBC
(Image credit: Will Hart / NBC)

The Blacklist has been at it for a long time, which means James Spader has too. The series has seven seasons under its belt and over 150 episodes. So, how does Spader avoid getting “overwhelmed” by the elaborate crime drama? As you can imagine, playing the ever-mysterious Red Reddington can take its toll.

James Spader has explained why he agreed to star on The Blacklist, and now he is revealing how he keeps his head above water after doing so. Playing Red is no easy feat, and with a network show that demands way more than 10 episodes a year, it is a sizable commitment.

Of course, James Spader’s Blacklist duties go beyond acting. He is also an executive producer as the deal he struck beforehand can attest. Spader has said that he and the writers work to stay on the same page. Part of Spader’s coping method for The Blacklist reportedly includes focusing on his work as an actor as opposed to an executive producer. On how he copes, Spader told TV Guide:

I used to get very overwhelmed by it all, and still now a little bit prior to a season, it feels like I'm gearing up for a big long running race. . . For me, the job of an actor is really to take in the smallest increments. . . So much of my focus has to really be from here, to getting to the doorway.

Taking it one step at a time seems to be working for James Spader. It is a great strategy when you think about it because it helps keep the focus on what is directly ahead. Taking it one episode of The Blacklist at a time is also how I deal with learning Red’s true identity.

If you start thinking about how far away some revelations on The Blacklist may be, you can get discouraged. It is better to stay in and savor the moment, especially when Red’s health crisis seems so far from resolution. Speaking of resolutions, James Spader is not the only one who has faced handling the intensity of the NBC drama. The Blacklist’s creator has too. Jon Bokenkamp said:

When you make a movie, you make the movie and then you go to the premiere and everyone slaps each other on the back and you're like, 'Great,' . . . And when the pilot was done, I was like, 'Oh my God, we owe another one of these next week, and then another one and another. When you're in it, it's just very, very intense, and so it's easy to lose perspective on it. . . And I was just looking to try to get to 100.

The Blacklist has already been renewed for an eighth season, which means there will be another one for the show’s creator and James Spader to work through. Considering what happened at the end of Season 7, you can really only take the television process one episode at a time. It was forced to end early.

All was not lost, though. The Blacklist was able to wrap up its season shy of where it intended to with the help of some imaginative animation. The animation proved that even if you think a whole season lies ahead of you, things can change. On that note, James Spader’s approach to the crime drama can be a useful tool for all of us!

You will be able to see more of James Spader taking on the role of Red when The Blacklist returns for its eighth season on NBC after this summer’s premieres. When Season 8 will actually bow is currently unknown. Until it is known, check out past seasons of James Spader’s performance on Netflix, along with lots of 2020 arrivals.

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.