‘The Blacklist’ Season 9: Diego Klattenhoff Discusses Ressler’s New Look

The Blacklist Season 9 returns from the holiday break with an episode focused on Donald Ressler. “Between Sleep & Awake” explores Ressler’s grief in the aftermath of Liz’s death. In the two years since the season 8 finale, Ressler has physically changed from the clean-shaven man he was before. Diego Klattenhoff explains how Ressler’s new look came to be in season 9.

[Spoiler warning: This article contains spoilers for The Blacklist Season 9 Episode 7.]

Diego Klattenhoff as Donald Ressler, Bill Coleus as Barber in The Blacklist Season 9
Diego Klattenhoff as Donald Ressler, Bill Coleus as Barber in ‘The Blacklist’ Season 9 | Michael Greenberg/NBC

Ressler grieves Liz in ‘The Blacklist’ Season 9

The Blacklist Season 9 jumped ahead two years after Liz Keen’s death. Losing Liz deeply affected Red and the task force and Ressler has been having an especially tough time. When fans first saw Ressler at the beginning of season 9, his ordinarily rigid hair and clean-shaven face were replaced by longer locks and a beard.

Ressler again became addicted to opioid painkillers in the aftermath of Liz’s death. He resigned from the FBI and began working as a mechanic until Cooper asked him to return to the task force two years later.

The episode “Between Sleep & Awake” takes place on the two-year anniversary of Liz’s death. In preparation to visit Liz’s grave for the first time, Ressler visits the barbershop and finally returns to his clean-shaven, neat-haired self.

Diego Klattenhoff as Donald Ressler in The Blacklist Season 9. A clean-shaven Ressler in a suit puts his hand on a tombstone.
Diego Klattenhoff as Donald Ressler in ‘The Blacklist’ Season 9 | Michael Greenberg/NBC

Diego Klattenhoff explains Ressler’s new look

As it turns out, Diego Klattenhoff didn’t grow out his hair and beard with Ressler in mind. He was rocking the long hair and beard before filming for The Blacklist Season 9 began.

“The new look was basically laying around, not shaving, and enjoying myself,” Klattenhoff told New York Live. “One of the producers called me up and was like, ‘Hey, by the way, how feral do you look right now?’ and I was like, ‘Pretty feral. I’m looking like I rolled around in the backyard.’ So they said, ‘Keep it.'”

Diego Klattenhoff as Donald Ressler in 'The Blacklist' Season 9. Ressler has longer hair and a beard and stands in a motel room holding something.
Diego Klattenhoff as Donald Ressler in ‘The Blacklist’ Season 9 | Will Hart/NBC

“They didn’t really tell me about what happens storywise,” Klattenhoff continued. “So I showed up and maybe a week or two before they gave me the script and I was like OK this is kind of fitting. My natural state of being played well into this.”

The long hair and beard certainly worked well in the earlier parts of The Blacklist Season 9. Ressler has had a difficult time in the past few years. However, he finally returns to his old look in episode 8.

Ressler’s troubles in ‘The Blacklist’ Season 9 are far from over

Although visiting Liz’s grave was a big step for Ressler, he’s far from over his grief and addiction. The Blacklist Season 9 will return with episode 8, “Dr. Razmik Maier,” next week.

NBC’s synopsis for the episode reads, “The death of a professional tennis player leads the Task Force to a doctor who may be fixing the odds for a major sports betting syndicate. Red digs deeper into Dembe’s betrayal. Ressler struggles with sobriety.”

New episodes of The Blacklist premiere Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.

How to get help: In the U.S., contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration helpline at 1-800-662-4357.

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