Humour plays well in a crisis
American actor James Spader is known for playing offbeat characters, such as a sexual voyeur in Sex, Lies, And Videotape (1989) and a sadistic boss in Secretary (2002).
Now, the charismatic 53-year-old takes on the role of Raymond "Red" Reddington, a master criminal turned FBI informant, on television series The Blacklist.
Here are excerpts of an interview from AXN, in which the veteran explains why he cut his hair for this role.
Were the producers surprised (that you cut your hair for the show)?
I made the mistake of discussing it. (laughs)
I called them after I read the script, and I just said that I thought it'd be a great idea to cut all my hair off.
My hair was quite long at the time and… you know, this character moves around a lot. And moves around swiftly. I thought he'd be like someone who's streamlined.
He finds himself in a lot of different climates and I think he'd want to have hair that he'd be able to do himself easily.
What do you find intriguing (about the show's blacklist)? I hope (your character's) not in it?
Anybody can be in that blacklist. (grins) That's the beauty of the show.
It keeps the pressure on. If you're not up to standard, you may end up in the blacklist.
I like that (the character's) a bad guy who relishes it and enjoys it and embraces it wholly.
There's an infusion of dark humour in the show. Was that your spin?
Yeah, it was. I saw the opportunity for that and I liked that.
I like the juxtaposition of drama and humour and I think humour plays well in a crisis.
I think Raymond's got a tremendous amount of life experience: He's travelled an enormous amount, he's found himself in very dire situations. I think that gives him perspective that allows him to have a sense of humour about life.
There used to be a stigma to movie stars doing television. How do you feel about the fact that the best (shows) are now on TV?
You know, I'm really lucky. I'm able to do all of it (television, films and plays). So I don't have a sort of stigmatised perspective of that anyway.
The reason for doing (this show) is to entertain people and to tell stories. And that should be something that I think one should relish: the opportunity to be able to do that.
The Blacklist airs on AXN (StarHub Ch 511) every Wednesday at 10pm.