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James Spader Talks The Avenger’s Ultron, The Blacklist & More

BY Jennifer Griffin

Published 8 years ago

James Spader

After a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it hiatus James Spader is back, both in Joss Whedon’s next Avengers movie, and also on our TV screens in NBC’s The Blacklist this Fall.

Both roles, admits Spader in a recent ScreenSpy phone call, share similarities in that both characters could be described as villains with murky agendas. In NBC’s The Blacklist Spader stars as Red Reddington, the ‘Concierge of Crime’ and number one on the FBI’s most wanted list. In the upcoming 2015 The Avengers: Age of Ultron, he will take on the role of the movie’s titular villain.

“You know, I look to the story and I look to the influences in whatever that character’s life happens to be,” says Spader of both characters. “And I also look to see what their everyday life would be like and how that would inform who they are. I also try and look at what sort of person can live that sort of life. All those things come together and marry with a given set of circumstances in the story and on the page. And there’s a character,” he adds simply. “And sometimes you sort of approach things from all directions. I really try to be open to that.”

RELATED | The Blacklist Star Megan Boone Talks Paternity, James Spader & First Day at Work

Known for his recent long-running role as Alan Shore in Boston Legal and The Practice, a superhero movie villain might seem an unusual step, but as Spader explains, the desire to immerse himself in that world is not new.

“I met with Kevin Fahey a couple years ago and just told him that I would love to come into that world at some point if the circumstances were right,” he explains.” There was a time in my life where I used to go over to my friend Will’s house when I was a kid. I hadn’t any comic books at my house but he had trunk loads of them. I used to go over there and bury myself in his room with his comics and devour them. Now I have three sons and a couple of them along the way have shown a real keen interest in that sort of world and so before it was too late, I wanted to try and see if I could be part of it.”

Pictured: James Spader as "Red" Raymond Reddington -- (Photo by: David Giesbrecht/NBC)

Pictured: James Spader as “Red” Raymond Reddington — (Photo by: David Giesbrecht/NBC)

“It’s one of the great luxuries as an actor to be able to participate in projects where the world you’re entering is so foreign to you that, in many cases, forces you to work in an entirely different way. The challenge is becomes so different. And I was intrigued by that. You know, I’ve been doing this a long time and it seemed like it would be great fun to do something that I have no frame of reference for. And there you go! Kevin Fahey called up and said, “I found just the thing,” and Joss Whedon gave me a call and said that he really wasn’t thinking about anybody else for it and that he thought it would be great fun to do. And so here we go.”

Will work on The Blacklist cause a scheduling conflict when it comes time to take on the role of Ultron?

“I’m hoping that it’s going to be a fairly smooth transition but, you know, I don’t know,” admits Spader speaking of the potential scheduling conflict between both projects. “We’ll wait and see how long The Blacklist plays. If it plays a full season, then I’m sure I will be packing my bags in the last few days of our production in preparation to get over to London and start shooting The Avengers.”

The Avengers: Age of Ultron is due in theaters on May 1, 2015.

The Blacklist airs Mondays at 10/9c on NBC.

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