The new season of The Blacklist opens with Agent Donald Ressler being heavily indebted to Henry Prescott, since this Blacklister cleaned up what appears to be a murder for Ressler. Is your character going to be in his service?

A. I am in a precarious situation to start the season. I just assume Big Poppy [Raymond Reddington, played by James Spader] knows everything. It’s Reddington whom I am really indebted to.

Q. Where are you in the filming of the new season?

A. We are finishing up episode five right now. At this point in time, it will stretch on. It makes it more organic as it goes on.

Q.  Would you like to meet your character in real life? Are you anything like him?

A. There is an FBI agent named Ressler. Yeah, he wears a 10½ shoe, has red hair. Some are a little more alike and some are different. The suit size is pretty much the same. Sometimes you don’t want to dig too deep. People get hung up on that.

Q.  Has Ressler become morally ambiguous after killing Laurel Hitchin?

A. I don’t know. It really was an accident. Amazing all of these different situations and he slapped her. Who wears high heels in the kitchen? He covers it up. It was a moment of panic.

Q. Is there a real FBI agent or police officer advising you on how to play Ressler?

A. James Bodnar is a former New York City cop who has taken us to the gun range and has shown us an arsenal of weapons to get a feel for them. You want to be as comfortable as possible. It’s not just a running joke. You have to be versatile in your mindset. It is not just something you might see. In the history of us shooting the show, he’ll take you to the boxing gym. I asked him to take me to crime scenes but he said, “No, I can’t do that”. You pick up tips, you go this way and she goes this way. When you dramatise a character situation, some people get too bogged down in detail. If people are noticing how you’re holding the gun you’re getting too bogged down in the details.

Q. What do you love about The Blacklist?

A. We are almost ready to roll 100 episodes. Since day one, they were all very rich characters in their landscape, very rich relationships, and the father-daughter relationship, Liz and Reddington, the husband-wife relationship, Tom and Liz. My relationship with Liz and gaining her trust, knowing she has this integrity. When you have gone through this show people want to see it all play out.

“We have really great fans. I love that people want to keep watching. A bus driver was yelling at us, ‘People are watching’.”
Q. How much like a Jedi are you in the show?

A. I have been pitching that since day one. No one is black and white. Killers of the Flower Moon was a terrific true story, talking about J. Edgar Hoover. He still had tons of skeletons in his closet. It’s much more compelling the more complicated it becomes.

Q. Do people talk to you about the show when you’re walking around New York?

A. People just holler out, “Come on!” We have really great fans. People are a little more respectful when you have a family and you want them to be respectful. I love that people want to keep watching. A bus driver was yelling at us, “People are watching.”

Q. Do you think this is the sort of show people binge watch?

A. Oh yeah, everything’s going to streaming. I like to have time to digest a show, just give it time. You want to digest it, like a good meal and taste the food. It’s all about, I want it now! It’s all about freedom and people want what they want when they want it. It’s a top performer for Netflix, and a top performer for DVR, three-day, seven-day and monthly. Personally binge-watching is not my thing.

Q.  Are there plans to shoot episodes in other countries?

A. We are pretty rooted. It is something you can hope for. Maybe the producers will try to find a new headquarters or move it around. It travels the world so well. We are in over 200 territories; in 170 territories it was a top-three. The worldliness of the show helps a lot.

Q. Do you ever read the news and recommend fresh villains for the show to the producers?

A. They have their hands full. You have to catch them a year earlier. It is hard to pin them down.

Q. How difficult is it working in a tight shooting schedule?

A. There are long hours, long days, lots of travel around the city, a lot of content and a lot of locations. We have an amazing crew. We are doing 10 days where we split everyone up. We do two episodes at the same time. Our producers have to be top-notch and have to just make this behemoth of a show and you have to pull your weight.

Season 5 of The Blacklist airs on Star World and Star World HD every Sunday at 9 p.m.


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