Some Of James Spader's Most Important Work On The Blacklist Happened Behind The Scenes

A decade later, NBC's "The Blacklist" continues to rally audiences behind the morally gray antics of a criminal mastermind. The drama series stars James Spader as Raymond "Red" Reddington, a government agent-turned-fugitive that assists the FBI and profiler Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone) in crossing off the names on his titular list of criminals. No stranger to the TV world, Spader's inspired performance as Reddington is a consistent highlight of the series on a weekly basis. It's safe to say that the series heavily relies on him, especially now more than ever with the absence of Elizabeth Keen. However, he is an even more important part of "The Blacklist" than previously imagined.

In 2013, "The Blacklist" was a sure-fire success before it hit the NBC television channel. After the pilot had been screened to test audiences, the higher-ups at the network bragged about it, revealing to the public that it was their most well-received project in a decade (via The Hollywood Reporter). Nine seasons later (and counting), millions of viewers still tune into "The Blacklist" eagerly anticipating what Reddington may be up to. That consistent quality does not come without commitment by its protagonist, in front and behind the camera. Not only does Spader carry through his performance on-screen, he quite literally helps run the show behind the scenes.

'Not unlike Reddington'

During an Instagram Q&A live stream in 2022 (via Express), Amir Arison, who plays FBI agent Aram Mojtabai on "The Blacklist," discussed James Spader's intrinsic role in the production as an executive producer:

"The director runs the episodes while the writers work in L. A. but James is our executive producer on set. He knows the scripts and he knows the seasons that we don't, we're getting them episode to episode. So he can sort of give an adjustment or an idea about why this might be this and he can know if a character says could or would in their speech. He'd be like 'I think that's would and not could and this is why,' it's a remarkable level of detail and not unlike Reddington."

Spader is not that different from his on-screen counterpart after all — minus the international crimes, of course. Even though he was a late addition to the cast of "The Blacklist," the actor-producer has undoubtedly proved his invaluable worth to the long-standing production. And for a show that has lasted this long, it seems inevitable Spader would become a vital part behind the scenes. Longevity requires commitment and compromise, attributes Spader brings to the table wherever he goes (even during his brief stint on "The Office").

His role in "The Blacklist" is, like anything else, a job. However, I highly doubt someone forced him to be an executive producer on the series. Bringing his level of commitment to several aspects of the show for more than a decade is no coincidence, and we're personally glad it shows on-screen every season.