‘The Blacklist’ Actor James Spader Was Once Called ‘The Strangest Man Alive’ by Rolling Stone Magazine, Here’s Why

For nine seasons, James Spader has played Raymond “Red” Reddington in The Blacklist. And throughout all of those episodes, his character has remained entangled in darkness and mystery. Apparently, in real life, Spader is just as dark and mysterious.

'The Blacklist' star James Spader, in character as Red, wears a brown fedora hat, tinted glasses, and a white jacket over a white button-up shirt.
James Spader as Raymond ‘Red’ Reddington | Will Hart/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

James Spader plays Red in ‘The Blacklist’

The Blacklist, starring James Spader, premiered in 2013 on NBC. In the pilot, Red, who was on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List, turned himself over to the authorities. However, there was a catch.

Red had a list of dangerous criminals, “Blacklisters,” who were undetectable by the FBI. He offered to help the FBI catch these fugitives, but only if he was granted immunity and could work exclusively with rookie profiler Liz Keen.

The mystery of Red’s backstory and his connection to Liz has been the series’ backbone since its beginning. And James Spader plays the dark character in The Blacklist flawlessly.

Rolling Stone Magazine claims ‘The Blacklist’ star James Spader is ‘strange’

In 2014, Rolling Stone Magazine published an article that described The Blacklist star James Spader as “the strangest man on TV.” The author interviewed Spader and explained why he is known to be an unusual man. Spader himself claimed, “It can never, ever, ever get weird enough for me.” He later revealed, “I’m obsessive-compulsive. I have very, very strong obsessive-compulsive issues. I’m very particular.”

“I rely on a certain routine. It’s very hard for me, you know? It makes you very addictive in behavior because routine and ritual become entrenched,” Spader said. “But in work, it manifests in obsessive attention to detail and fixation. It serves my work very well: Things don’t slip by. But I’m not very easygoing.”

Spader’s co-stars even weighed in on his particular behavior. William Shatner, who starred in Boston Legal alongside Spader, said, “He has all his own idiosyncrasies. I really love him. And when you love someone, that’s part of why you love them. Of course, if you fall out of love, they become beyond annoyances.”

Maggie Gyllenhaal, Spader’s Secretary co-star, told Rolling Stone, “He was always Mr. Grey [Spader’s character]. There was no small talk. He just sat down and started staring at me. I was both taken and taken aback.”

James Spader definitely has his quirks that may or may not help him when filming The Blacklist. But the NBC show isn’t the first time the actor has had a strange role.

Many of the actor’s roles have similar traits

Fans can draw many comparisons between James Spader’s character in The Blacklist and his previous roles. All of them have their peculiarities. While Red and Steff from Pretty in Pink may not seem alike at first glance, they’re both complicated and unusual. And there’s no doubt that both Red and Ultron from Avengers: Age of Ultron are dark individuals. So, some may consider Spader a character actor.

During the Rolling Stone piece, Spader said, “I didn’t really look like a character actor, yet those were the roles I loved to play. If you were a character actor who didn’t necessarily look like a character actor, you had to play bad guys.”

The Blacklist, starring James Spader as “the bad guy,” airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.

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