Ryan Eggold keeps things moving between The Blacklist and The Blacklist: Redemption.
Ryan Eggold is a busy man.
After four seasons playing Tom Keen on NBC’s The Blacklist, Eggold is now playing the same character on the program’s spinoff, The Blacklist: Redemption. Unlike some spinoffs, however, Eggold’s Keen is a character in both series, which for a while shot concurrently.
While it’s great for an actor to have steady work, it can be wearing. “Am I eating? All those healthy things? Yeah,” Eggold says wearily.
However, even though Redemption is an action show, this action hero is does have to make some concessions. “The irony is with the shooting, I have not a single second to work out, so I’m just shriveling away here. I’ll be the skinniest action star there ever was.“
Things have slowed a bit, though. “I am shooting Redemption right now. I have shot a number of Blacklists, was going back and forth for a bit, but now, thankfully just doing the one, which is good for sanity,” says Eggold.
Eggold says that the idea for Redemption has been in the works for quite some time.
“Jon Bokenkamp [creator and executive producer of both series] mentioned the idea to me fairly early on, that they were thinking about doing that, and I thought it would be a great opportunity to explore this character that I think is fascinating, with him being a spy and an assassin and a con man, and at the same time a husband and a father and an orphan.
"So, that was my thought. But I had no idea if it would come to be a reality or not. And then when it was, I was just excited to see what new stories we could tell and what new layers to this character we could find and create this new world.”
Eggold’s character has had his ups and downs over the four seasons of The Blacklist, going from the apparently innocent husband of Megan Boone’s FBI agent Liz Keen to being found out to be a spy in the employ of James Spader’s Raymond Reddington, to being in the run, to reconciling with Liz and to now being the father of their daughter, Agnes.
Tom has been so many disparate people through the series that Eggold has really enjoyed exploring the character while the audience does the same.
“I think he’s fascinating, because he has so many contradictions. In one aspect, he’s very good at being a spy. He’s very good at his job. But, on the other hand, he’s not so good at being a human being.
"I think he’s struggling to understand some of the fundamentals of relationships and love and trust and those things that he never really had when he was younger, so I think he’s interesting too.
"He’s a mystery to himself in many respects, because he doesn’t know his parents and now he’s possibly meeting his mother and trying to figure that all out for himself, where he comes from and who he is and how he got where he is.
"That has been the joy of this character, that he is somewhat of an actor himself and a chameleon and takes these different faces and different roles to accomplish whatever the task may be. So it’s always been fun to put on these different walks and talks and play a character who is pretending to be someone else and then at the same time, trying to figure out how that affects the man underneath and where that comes from.
"Who are you at the end of the day is the question, which is fun to explore. I hope that’s something that we can really get into on Redemption.”
Helping him in that search for himself - possibly - is his newfound mother, Susan “Scottie” Hargrave, played by Famke Janssen.
"How this will play out in conjunction with Tom’s relationship with his wife and daughter has yet to be completely determined. According to Eggold, “We’re figuring out how it’s going to work, sort of retaining the relationship with Liz and perhaps equally or more importantly the relationship to Agnes, to this daughter he now has.
"For these first eight [episodes of Redemption], it’s really going to be about launching this new story, so it will be primarily about the story in Redemption, and my relationship with Liz and Agnes will be kind of on the back burner, in the sense of I’m checking in, but I’m basically gone on this extended mission of going undercover in my mother’s operation to sort of figure out the truth of what she’s after and what’s going on.
"Liz basically gives her blessing because she understands better than anybody that desire to understand your own identity and your past, and that’s the kind of mission that Tom’s embarking on. But it’s not going to disappear, nor should it.
“I think from her perspective, she is of the mind that he is never going to be a great father or a great husband until he understands these things about himself.
"And if he put to rest some of the demons of not knowing where you come from and your parents and your origin, I think her hope is that he has questions that he needs to answer for himself in order to be a more complete human being and better and more present in the relationship. That’s the hope, but of course there are infinite complications.
“Because, after all, he is Tom.”
The Blacklist: Redemption premieres February 23 at 10pm, following the winter finale of The Blacklist at 9pm. The Blacklist: Redemption airs Thursdays at 10pm on NBC.