‘The Blacklist’: The Secret Thing the Actors Do Between Takes to Make a Scene Work

Megan Boone plays tough FBI profiler, Elizabeth Keen, on NBC’s The Blacklist. It can take upwards of 15 hours to film a few key scenes for one episode. Boone reveals the secret thing the stars do to move seamlessly between scenes — and it’s likely not what you’re expecting.

Megan Boone knows the end of Elizabeth Keen’s ‘Blacklist’ story

The Blacklist
Megan Boone as Elizabeth Keen, Harry Lennix as Harold Cooper, Amir Arison as Aram Mojitabai, Mozhan Marnò as Samar Navabi, Diego Klattenhoff as Donald Ressler | Will Hart/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

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No fan of The Blacklist wants to fast forward to the end of the series. However, writers, producers, and showrunners already know how it all ends for Boone’s character — and likely co-star James Spader’s character, Raymond “Red” Reddington.

However, that doesn’t mean the ending won’t change to move with the flow of the season.

“We’ve had discussions, but with a series that runs this long, there’s always an opportunity to have an even better idea,” Boone told Collider in 2018. “I never really rely on any direction.”

The star went on to explain the difference between her place on the set and Spader’s.

“James came into this as James Spader, and I came into this as, ‘Who?!’ They basically pulled me off the street to do a television show, and then I got there and was like, ‘Wait! This is really hard!'” she said.

“There was such a stark difference between our positions in life. Now, we’re both the leads of the show and it’s five seasons in, and I feel like I’ve really taken my space, in a way that I didn’t feel ready to do before. That’s where I stand with the whole thing. I just feel much more confident and settled, as far as comparing myself to when I began this experience.”

However she came onto the project, there’s one thing Boone said that gets them through each take.

The secret thing the stars do betweeen takes to keep things fresh

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For a serious crime drama, Spader’s role as Raymond Reddington often brings a little levity to a scene. That said, it’s still a dark show with dark themes. Boone told Us Weekly the cast dances between takes to lighten the mood and to stay warm.

“That’s what I’ve been doing to keep warm [in NYC] when we’re shooting our winter exteriors. I think that we’re just naturally humorous people,” she said. “A lot of the reason why the dark material works for people as a form of entertainment is because we’re just humorous and we approach the drama with a sense of humor.”

If you can’t picture a Hollywood A-lister like Spader dancing between takes, Boone says his character’s demeanor calls for it and it helps her get through a scene.

“He doesn’t take anything seriously, whereas my character is the one that is going through very difficult things. Liz is always getting into a new struggle. I think people can relate to that,” she said.

Humor is a must-have on the set of ‘The Blacklist’

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Despite having a few other choices for the role of Raymond Reddington, creator Jon Bokenkamp credits the show’s ratings and success to Spader.

Look, he’s a weird dude, but he’s brilliant,” Bokenkamp told Radio Times. “He has an incredibly unique sense of humor, he can be incredibly menacing and he’s not afraid to take risks. He has brought the character to life in ways I didn’t imagine.”

Bokenkamp continued: “He’s funnier and a little weirder than I’d originally imagined. I was going for more straight 70s-thriller dark bad guy. Certain lines he adjusts. Red’s voice is a combination of the writer’s room and his own special source. You can write a line but when you hear him say it you think, ‘Wow, that sounds cooler than it did when we wrote it.’”

Spader knows his strengths as shown in many of his other projects who have a similar sense of sarcasm and humor.

“I try and inject humor when I can within the script,” Spader added. “I’m trying to do something that’s appropriate for the story and the character. I don’t know whether Reddington has the same sense of humor as I have.”

He continued: “I don’t really think about myself when I’m working. I couldn’t really care less how it relates to me or doesn’t relate to me, you know? I have a very full and vital life outside of work. It’s surprising that I’m on a television show, frankly, because I don’t really need fulfillment in my life from work. My work is just what I do to earn a living.”

Clearly, it takes more than acing chops to film The Blacklist. Having a sense of humor is a must and, apparently dance skills, too.