The Blacklist Star Parminder Nagra Joins Executive Producers John Eisendrath and John Bokenkamp to Discuss the Series

The Blacklist Episode 12 The Alchemist (8)

It’s been quite a meteoric rise for those associated with NBC’s freshman drama The Blacklist. Thanks to the great performance of James Spader, some interesting performances from case of the week bad guys, really cool action sequences, and an added layer of mystery, The Blacklist has managed to avoid the usual stink of being on NBC and has become one of the top-rated shows of the season. It will be interesting to track the show now that it’s not being propped up by The Voice. The early returns seem to indicate the show could stay strong, but the show still returned down to a season low among adults 18-49.

TV Equals was fortunate enough to sit in on a conference call featuring executive producers John Eisendrath and John Bokenkamp. One of the stars of the series, Parminder Nagra, joined the call midway into it. Here’s a bit of what they had to say:

On the challenges of making the series

Eisendrath cited weather concerns and huge set pieces as his biggest challenges in making the series. In particular, he referenced the bridge scene in the pilot which featured car crashes and lots of gunfire. However, Bokenkamp mentioned the changes he’s had to make coming to the world of television from feature films. He said his biggest challenge is the quick turnaround TV asks for. He’s used to getting 6 months on a project, and now he sometimes gets 6 days.

Figuring out the timing of big reveals

When asked about the challenges of managing the bigger mysteries of the show, the Johns mentioned how much they worry about achieving a balance. They claimed they don’t want to tease the audience, but they don’t want to burn through story too fast either. They do plan to address and service the central characters every week, but they’re still based in the procedural realm, so they’re main focus in each episode will remain on finding interesting Blacklisters. At the end of the day, the Johns said they just want to be surprising to the audience.

Things added to Meera Malik since original pilot

Nagra was asked about the things that have been added to her character since the original script. She said the writers “are always adding things that surprise me”. As a result, she has to play each scene as truthfully as she can because she doesn’t know what’s coming next. The Johns added the actors on the show have to be patient as they wait for opportunities to further explore their characters. They did mention that the audience would learn a lot more about Agent Malik in the coming episodes.

Most fascinating aspect of her character

Nagra likes the idea that her character has seen and done lots of things prior to being assigned the Reddington case. She really looks forward to finding out more about her as the show progresses. The hard side of the character really appeals to Nagra, and she specifically mentioned her character torturing a bad guy early in the show’s run. She said she gets really excited whenever those scenes that display Agent Malik’s “hard side” appear in the script.

Spader and season two

With season two of the show announced, the executive producers were asked if there was a shift in direction planned for season two given how late Spader came to the project prior to shooting season one. They mentioned they’re starting to gain a good understanding of Spader’s voice. It is allowing them to provide better writing to the character of Red Reddington. However, they discussed the importance of remaining open to the direction of the show. They realize a television series can take on a life of its own, and they have to be willing to accept it and ride the wave as best they can. They have a sense of Spader and Reddington, but they’ll allow the show to dictate where they go from here.

Things to look forward to

The Johns said we will not get an answer about the relationship between Red and Liz Keen, but things will continue to come out as season one progresses. The show will remain a procedural at its core, but occasionally personal issues will bubble to the surface and provide episodes like the midseason finale and the winter premiere. The Johns couldn’t tease many future guest stars, but they did mention Campbell Scott would be making an appearance soon.

The Blacklist airs Mondays on NBC at 10 PM.