TODAY

TODAY   |  January 14, 2014

James Spader: ‘Blacklist’ script compelled me

As the popular crime drama “The Blacklist” returns to the air with new episodes, Al Roker talks to its star, award-winning actor James Spader, about what drew him to the role of a master criminal in an uneasy alliance with the FBI.

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>>> it is the gripping drama with millions of loyal fans now who have been hooked from day one, including our own al roker . we're talking about the breakout nbc series "the blacklist" starring james spader .

>> al got a chance to go behind the scenes and speak to the stars who weren't ready to spill some of the highly guarded secrets.

>> rookie fbi field agent elizabeth keen played be megan boone left us all wondering one thing in the fall finale.

>> are you my father?

>> no.

>> the relationship between her and criminal master mind raymond red reddington portrayed by james spader is the central theme of nbc's hit drama, "the blacklist."

>> do you know who red reddington is to lizzie keene?

>> yes.

>> you know?

>> wow, that's a very powerful stare, al roker . but i'm still not telling you.

>> what good is it?

>> you're going to steal $5 million.

>> megan knew spader would be great for the part of red.

>> i expect the transaction to be untraceable.

>> the character was perfect for james. it felt like a character that he was born to play.

>> quick. say something nice to me, it's been a dreadful morning.

>> you were on the show when this was just premiering. and now it has since exploded. it is a huge hit. are you surprised that -- at how people have gravitated to and really taken ownership of this show?

>> sometimes over the years, i've responded so strongly to i've just assumed that others have, as well. it speaks to my own eccentric proclivities and everyone else's is really ready to leave it alone . but, every so often, you do read a piece of material that compels you in the same way it would compel many. and that was the first time i read this.

>> great to be home.

>> great to you home.

>> plays hard-nosed fbi agent donald.

>> you're coming off of "homeland." and so, you already tasted the success.

>> a little bit.

>> how has life changed since "the blacklist" has become this hit?

>> sometimes you can walk through life and nobody knows who you are. but some people can get a little earnest in their requests.

>> in what way?

>> few marriage proposals.

>> some rules don't have exceptions.

>> broadway and film veteran harry lennox. you've done broadway, you've done movies. does that prepare you for this when all of a sudden you're on a show that's a household name ?

>> well, first, i'd like to propose -- no.

>> such a sweetheart.

>> i don't know you can really know how you're going to respond to being on a household name show until you're on one. this is the first time for me. i wasn't prepared at all.

>> diego --

>> thought i was giving the tour here.

>> before i hit the road, diego gave me a quick tour of the post office , an fbi blacklist set housed at chelsea piers where many of the scenes are shot.

>> wow. impressive, huh?

>> you know, no matter how much you see on tv and you see this stuff, it's amazing what you guys create out of nothingness.

>> we whip this up over the weekend.

>> piece of cake . we're whittling away all we can.

>> just another day at the office for "the blacklist."

>> we're good. let's go.

>> we figured it out. it is a great show. but there is a striking resemblance between diego , that actor there and mr. willie geist . take a look. right? look this way. no, sorry, other way.

>> this way?

>> see? amazing.

>> little bit.

>> if you need a body double at any point in time, diego , willie is volunteering.

>> he was mike on "homeland" and great on "the blacklist." handsome son of a gun , too, isn't he? and spader . who doesn't love spader ?

>> spader 's amazing. what an actor, the turn his career made. go back to "pretty in