'Blacklist' EP Addresses Hannibal Comparisons, James Spader Explains Bald Head

Writer/executive producer John Eisendrath insists the new NBC drama is different to 'Silence of the Lambs', pointing out that Spader's Red 'is not a psychopath.'
Attending a Television Critics Association panel on Saturday, July 27, "The Blacklist" boss took the opportunity to address comparisons to "Silence of the Lambs", which has been turned into a TV show, "Hannibal". Executive producer John Eisendrath felt "lucky to in some ways be compared to it," but insisted that their show's different to the work originated by author Thomas Harris.

"We are all fans of that movie," Eisendrath told reporters at the presentation. "But, I think there's a big difference between the characters on our show and the characters of Hannibal and Clarice. Red [the show's villain] is not a psychopath."

He went on elaborating, "He's much more of an enigma. Is he good? Is he bad? What is his journey like? should be part of the question of the series. Is it a journey of redemption? Is it a journey of revenge? It's very distinct from Hannibal Lecter. While [Liz] may start out from a naive, more innocent place, this is more a journey of discovery. Who she is, what is she? This is a journey for the audience, not just the character, certainly the journey they go on will be distinctively different."

James Spader admitted that viewers would feel a strong resemblace between "Lambs" and "Blacklist" when seeing an image of a young woman speaking to a man imprisoned behind glass, but he claimed, "That imagery will end very soon." The actor, who plays the master criminal on the new drama series, added, "Red does hit the street as an asset for the team."

On the same occasion, Spader explained why he shaved his head to play the role. "Actors are burdened with everything else that they've done before that, any role that they're playing, and I thought it would be nice to take off my hat as an entirely different person," said the Robert California of "The Office".

On "The Blacklist", Spader's Red mysteriously surrendered to the FBI and offers to help catch a long-thought-dead terrorist, Ranko Zamani, under the condition that he speaks only to young FBI profiler Elizabeth "Liz" Keen. Why he chose Liz is a big question as Spader teased there's a past between them that she's not aware of.

"The relationship in the film is obsession, it's not based in any sort of reality at all. As the story starts to unfold that becomes a driving force of what their relationship really is," the three-time Emmy Award winner said.

"The Blacklist" is set to premiere Monday, September 23 at 10 P.M. on NBC. Megan Boone stars as Elizabeth.

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