Megan Boone Talks The Blacklist’s Supersized Return
BY Jennifer Griffin
Published 8 years ago
The Blacklist is about to burst back onto our screens with a special two part story starring Ron Perlman (Sons of Anarchy, Hellboy) as a notorious thief with a penchant for chaos.
With the show awarded a much coveted post-Superbowl slot on Sunday Feb. 1 (before moving into a new Thursday night time period on Feb. 5) we thought we really ought to catch up with Blacklist star Megan Boone, and E.P. Jon Bokencamp to learn more.
The pair filled us in on Perlman’s “serene and creepy” stint as Luther Braxton, in addition to spilling more on Liz and Red’s relationship going forward, what fans can expect from the Tom and Red dynamic later this season, and the thorny question of Liz’ feelings for former husband-turned assassin Tom.
Full highlights from our call follow below.
What can you divulge on Ron Perlman’s character Luther Braxton, and why does his story require 2 episodes to tell?
Jon Bokencamp: He’s a thief who goes about stealing things through really complex methods. He goes through his heist via big events. So there might be a massive snowstorm, or there might be a political uprising in some corner of the world where he’s looking for something. He’s constantly moving amid this chaos, and creating chaos, whereever he goes. We thought he would be a refreshing fun character that would sit well with the Superbowl. He’s a different sort of Blacklister in scope and size in terms of what he’s after and how important it is to Red.
When we first meet him he is a prisoner in a blacksite prison which suppsoedly does not officially exist. He’s lying in wait as the episode opens. He gets pulled away from an interrogation facility that nobody is supposed to be able to escape from. However things go awry.
Megan Boone: Ron brought that imposing presence and this incredible deep gravelly voice to the character. Then in some ways he played a serene calmness that was really creepy. He was like the eye of the storm. It was really interesting to watch him work.
Megan, were you ever surprised by the ‘darkening’ of your character over the course of the season?
Megan Boone: I’ve certainly had a reaction to it but it wasn’t surprse. I was delighted and intrigued by the new direction. I anticipated it as it was coming. There was no way with Liz being the protagonist, and Red being the catalyst for her change, that she was going to stagnate and stay where she was. Her evolution was essential to the show’s growth, and I was definitely glad to see that happen towards the end of season 1 and so intensely into season 2.
Can you talk a little bit about James Spader as a mentor?
Megan Boone: James is definitely the master of the ship over here. This is not his first rodeo, as they say down south where I’m from [laughing]. That’s just an example, particularly of how different he and I are, and why this is working so well. He’s from Boston and I’m from rural central Florida. His parents were professors and mine worked in real estate. We come from different sides of the earth and it’s interesting to put the two of us together and see what happens. He’s had thirty years in the business, and a successful TV show and this is essentially my first go at it. It’s been invaluable having him here to help acclimate me to this new environment and this new task at hand. I feel that we’ve been extraordinarily successful beyond my wildest dreams and I think that it’s his widsom and experience that have helped me to rise to that occasion.
On getting the coveted Superbowl slot
Jon Bokencamp: It’s a huge opportunity. There’s a lot of potential new eyeballs watching the show. I suppose on one hand that could be intimidating, but we see it as a great opportunity to let people see what the show is. It’s a two parter, but it’s a very easy access point. Somebody who has never seen the show before will be able to drop in very quickly and get a sense of what the show is, how it feels, smells, tastes, all of that. As much as we do have some serialized elements, that’s one of the most exciting things about it. There’s also a huge vote of confidence from the Network. It’s incredibly flattering, quite frankly.
Will we see more on Tom and Red’s curious relationship this season?
Jon Bokencamp: It’s definitely something we’re exploring in the back half of the season, but we don’t dive right into it in the Superbowl episode. I like to almost think of the Superbowl two parter as an event movie. It’s large in scope, and if it had a movie poster it would be the summer action movie. Because of that the timeframe is very compressed. It almost happens in real time as you’re watching the episode. So there is no time to drift away to that story of Tom. However Tom and Red, the nature of their relationship and what Liz does or does not know, or is in the process of discovering about that relationship is certainly something we are going to be leading into in the back half of the season.
Liz ultimately chose to let Tom go in the last episode. Where is their relationship at now?
Megan Boone: Strangely enough, I think Jon and I might have different opinions on this one.
Jon Bokencamp: [laughing] Well you go first!
Megan Boone: Ok, I’ll go first. Then Jon can get off the hook! I think that it’s an over simplification to say that she’s in love with him, as has been implied by some of the other characters like Red and Ressler. I think she’s got really strong feelings for him but it’s a very complicated dynamic at this point. I think once a relationship crosses a line and becomes abusive or sadistic in any way, there’s just no going back to true pure love. It already has violence in it. It already has mistrust. I always thought it was an over-simplification to say “Oh she still loves him!”
What do you think, Jon? [laughing].
Jon Bokencamp: [Joking] Oh you’re MADLY in love with him! You LOVE him! … No, look, I work with a bunch of writers who are strange and dark and have very complex lives. So yes, I think Megan’s right. I think it’s an oversimplification to say yes, she’s in love with Tom.
I do think, and I feel this way about the show in general, that everything is much more complex than it appears on the surface, whether it’s the suburban housewife dropping her kids off at school or the guy coming to punch the clock before going to work at the steel factory. I don’t think any of those people are really quite who they appear to be on the surface. I think you never say never. Anything could change. I’m not necessarily saying that’s where that relationship is going but I do think like any breakup, or any marriage that falls apart, what I’ve heard is that it’s incredibly complex. Feelings and emotions sometimes fuel people to do things that are not in their best interest and sometimes logic does not prevail. The best answer I could give to that is that it is incredibly complex, and the story of the two of them, whether it’s a love story or not, is not over. There’s still a lot of mileage in that story.
Megan Boone: We didn’t disagree at all!
Jon Bokencamp: We didn’t? Did we find a middle ground?
Megan Boone: No, I think we actually totally agreeed. We haven’t really had an open discussion about this recently, because Tom’s been kind of on the backburner while we Superbowl it. That’s what makes me excited about being on this show. We have writers who believe that about the Mom dropping her kid off at the carpool line. There’s always this much more layered psyche than you might at first assume. And also, the idea that he has a bunch of freaks and weirdos writing for him is cool! [laughing].
Jon Bokencamp: Wow! Well that is certainly true!
— Megan Boone (@MeganBoone) January 16, 2015
On reading reviews and the internet
Megan Boone: As far as reviews go, I’ve learned to stay away from reading anything about myself because actually the truth is the media is really harsh on women for the most part. I found it to be really hurtful. I think one of the blessings I have for my work is that I’m extraordinarily sensitive, but it became a real curse once I was on the world stage. I had to learn how to manage that. The best way for me to manage that was to never read anything on the internet, and never read anything about the show.
What’s the most fun aspect of playing Liz Keane?
Megan Boone: I think it’s how different she is from myself. I’m a real pacifist. I should show you guys a picture. In fact I’ll post it today on my Twitter. It’s of me holding a gun right before I was cast for the role. It’s pretty funny. I’ve had to develop a part of myself that was not even there. People say “Oh you’re such a top girl. You’re so badass!” or whatever. I’m like “No! I’m not at all!” [laughing]. So that’s the most fun for me, having to step up and adopt that sort of personality.
The Blacklist returns on Sunday Feb 1 with “Luther Braxton.” The concluding episode airs when the show kicks off a new Thursday night line up on February 5.