The Blacklist Season Premiere: Ryan Eggold Talks Surprise Twist

NBC’s hot new drama “The Blacklist” premiered on Monday night, and following an hour of primetime twists and turns involving an international criminal mastermind and his youthful FBI handler, one unexpected dark secret was found under her dining room floorboards.

(Spoiler Alert: This interview contains details from the premiere episode of NBC’s “The Blacklist.”)

After several suggestions by Raymond “Red” Redding (James Spader) that Elizabeth Keen’s (Megan Boone) husband might be hiding something, it took a badly stained bloody carpet for her to finally realize her sweet spouse, Tom Keen, is keeping secrets.

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It’s a twist the man playing the seemingly cuddly and caring Tom — “90210” alum Ryan Eggold — didn’t even know about during his first audition. Once he learned of the turn — his character has a box full of cash and a dozen or so passports — it’s fair to say Ryan was rather pleased.

“I was like, ‘Oh, wow! This part’s amazing. Let’s do this thing,’” he told Access Hollywood.

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So what’s next on the NBC series? Well, after being brutalized by a man on Red’s “Blacklist,” in the home he shares with Lizzie, recovery is the first order of business. But, the secret will be explored and Ryan hinted at what’s to come in the weeks ahead. There was a big reveal at the end of the pilot. You’re not just the sweet little Tom Keen helping his lovely wife adopt a baby. You have a secret. Can we just stop for a moment and address how cool that is?

Ryan Eggold: Yes, it’s really cool. When I accepted the role, I didn’t know yet that there were gonna be all these possible layers to the character and I got to the end of the episode and I was like, ‘What?’ Yeah, it’s a very, very cool reveal and it’s really great because it’s like the man that she’s married to, someone who is so close to her, who she sleeps in a bed with every night, is perhaps, not who he appears to be. That’s like such an intimate betrayal, conceivably.

Access: How soon are we going to start to find out why he has all these passports and so much cash in the box under the floorboards?

Ryan: Much to my chagrin, it’s… on hold ‘til Episode 6. It’s still present. It’s not like it goes away, but it’s very, very much on the backburner until Episode 6.

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Access: Is part of that because you nearly died in the first episode? That makeup was really good by the way.

Ryan: That makeup was amazing. That makeup was by this guy [Louie Zakarian], who does the makeup for ‘SNL’ and they just won an Emmy. They’re an amazing team. I should send you this picture I took of myself that I took in the trailer to put in your article ‘cause it’s so gnarly looking. It’s really nasty. [Editor’s note: See Ryan’s pic above, on the far right].

Access: Are we going to deal with the fact that Tom’s in the hospital coming up after the first episode? He’s got to be badly damaged!

Ryan: Yeah, absolutely. He is badly damaged. That is part of the reason it goes on hold. … [In the second episode], I’m hanging on by a thread (laughs).

Access: Lizzie finds out her husband has this secret. How does it affect her?

Ryan: She becomes like, well she is an FBI agent. She starts investigating. … Completely without my knowledge.

Access: Obviously Red knows something about your character because he hints at it throughout the premiere episode. What can you hint at about your relationship with Red?

Ryan: There are so many possible relationships for him and Red and I tell Spader every day that I can’t wait to do a scene with him and I don’t know when that’ll happen. The writers, they won’t give me that yet. Well, they have told me one possible option, but I certainly won’t say [what it is] yet because that’s a way down the road reveal. People have actually pitched me all sorts of interesting ideas, like that he was sent as a guardian by Red to watch her and then… that he’s on Red’s ‘Blacklist,’ or he’s some kind of assassin that he’s here to kill Liz or to kill Red. There’s a number of possibilities. But, I think the real answer is going to get even more complicated than any of those — in a good way.

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Access: Looking ahead — how is the state he’s in and what happened in the premiere going to affect Tom and Liz’s adoption plans. I imagine adoption agencies would look at him being in the hospital and think, ‘This is probably not the safest place to place the child.’

Ryan: Who wouldn’t want to adopt with a possible psychopath? I’m just saying (laughs). Their plans — we’ll see… I don’t know what’s going [to happen] with that story line…. The one thing I love about that story line is that either way it works, she’s getting deeper emotionally and in every way connected to this man by adopting a child with him and becoming parents — and to possibly someone that she doesn’t know or possibly a horrible person. And is he possibly using it as a tool of manipulation to keep her close or to manipulate her into feeling certain things or whatever? There’s just all these possibilities with that that are kind of dark and cool.

“The Blacklist” continues next Monday night at 10 PM on NBC.

-- Jolie Lash

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