The Blacklist has been a top viewer contender for seven seasons with another on the way. Part of the show’s success comes from the stars playing the roles of criminal Raymond Reddington (James Spader) and FBI profiler Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone).
When the series was an idea, executive producer John Eisendrath and creator Jon Bokenkamp battled to cast the perfect actors. As for the other co-star of the show, Eisendrath admitted that now it’s hard to imagine someone else like Red.
“It’s hard for me to believe that he’s never played a master criminal before because he has the ability to be mysterious, dangerous and mischievous, in a way that seems perfectly suited to playing someone where you don’t know if he’s good or bad.”
While it seems like a no-brainer now, James Spader didn’t take the role yet. In 2012, before the producers settled on James Spader, they offered the role of Raymond Reddington to 24-year-old Kiefer Sutherland. Also considered? Richard Gere from Pretty Woman, Bryan Cranston from Breaking Bad and Pierce Brosnan from Golden Eye.
Sutherland is said to have been his “most wanted” outside of James Spader. Due to his 24-year-old and Designated Survivor’s fame, the actor may have been a decent Red. When the star is not performing, he is on tour with The Kiefer Sutherland Band. Programming may not have allowed participation in The Blacklist.
This is three days before filming the pilot for The Blacklist. Eisendrath and Bokenkamp had long calls with the actor to discuss the job. They didn’t meet him in person until the first day of production.
Eisendrath expanded on the difference between a cable show and a network show, that is, why a big-name celebrity can put aside a role.