‘The Blacklist’ Star Hisham Tawfiq On Why He Rarely Interacts With a Guest-Star

Every now and then, a celebrity cameos on The Blacklist, completing the already stellar team of talent. Isabella Rosellini, Joely Richardson, and Al Roker, and more, have appeared. Most of the time, Blacklist star, Hisham Tawfiq, doesn’t get to interact with celebrity guests. Here’s why.

Hisham Tawfiq has an interesting reason for not speaking with guest stars before filming ‘The Blacklist’

The Blacklist
James Spader as Raymond ‘Red’ Reddington, Hisham Tawfiq as Dembe Zuma | Scott Gries/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

As criminal Raymond “Red” Reddington’s (James Spader) right-hand-man in The Blacklist, Hisham Tawfiq’s character, Debe Zuma, has a lot of duties.

Dembe coordinates meetings, arranges Red’s arrivals and escapes, and mediates for Red and FBI Agent Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone).

That said, being Red’s go-between means having his back when in the company of a blacklister. Tawfiq explained to Niagara Frontier Publications he remains loyal to Red — even when the cameras stop rolling.

“Anytime a blacklister comes on, or someone who’s against ‘Red’, for some reason, just me personally, when I see those guest stars come in, usually I don’t get to talk to them. So, I don’t get to know them personally,” he said.

“So, I kind of treat them, when I see them, whether we’re in our cast chairs or doing a scene, as an adversary — as someone who’s just no good for Red.”

The one guest star Tawfiq got acquainted with

The Blacklist star admitted to keeping relationships with celebrities to the scenes they’re shooting. But, there’s one celebrity he couldn’ help but befriend: Laila Robins who plays Katarina Rostova.

“I had just finished watching The Boys. And she did an amazing job on that — so much that when I saw her, I had to just tell her, ‘I really like the show,’ and loved her work,” he said.

He continued: “We were working one day, and we were in the green room, and there was a pool table. So, we played pool for about an hour. And she’s such a sweetheart, and I got to know her pretty well, and we had a lot of conversations.”

Tawfiq said playing pool with Robins was the first he’d interacted “with a character who didn’t have the best interest for Red in mind.”

Tawfiq called it a surreal moment in which he had conflicting feelings to that of his character.

“She’s such a beautiful soul, such a beautiful spirit, and I have a joy working with her and playing around with her,” he added.

What to expect in season 8, according to Tawfiq


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Season 7 of The Blacklist wrapped and coronavirus (COVID-19) is still running rampant. It’s unclear when season 8 will get going. We do know that the task force team will return along with Tawfiq and Spader. Also joining is Laura Sohn who snagged a recurring status as Agent Alina Park.

There will likely be between 20-22 episodes like previous seasons. This means more blacklisters to shake up Red and Elizabeth’s world. The details, however, are foggy.

“I’m not hearing things, I know things; even without seeing the last three episodes [of season 7], I know some things that will affect season eight — and one of them is real big,” Tawfiq said. “It’s very explosive. I can say that. And not even knowing how it turns out. But I do know some things that are going to happen to set up season eight.”

“So, it’s going to be very interesting to see how we play around with that, but I think it’s going to be exciting,” he added.