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Interview with Megan Boone John
Eisendrath of "The
Blacklist" on NBC 9/4/13
This was a very interesting call. I'm looking forward to
this show. I love James Spader, but it also sounds like an
exciting show with an unusual premise. Also, the creator of
the show, as you will read below, has done many great shows
I loved such as "Alias", so I know it will be good.
Moderator: Marsha Rickett
September 4, 2013 11:00 am CT
Operator: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by.
Welcome to the Blacklist Press and Media conference call.
During the presentation, all participants will be in a
listen-only mode. Afterwards, we will conduct a question and
answer session. At that time, if you have a question, please
press the one followed by the four on your telephone. If at
any time during the conference you need to reach an
operator, please press the star followed by the zero. As a
reminder, this conference is being recorded, Wednesday,
September 4th, 2013. I would now like to turn the conference
over to (Joann Park). Please go ahead, ma'am.
Joann Park: Hi, everybody. Thanks so much for joining us
today. We are really excited about our new show The
Blacklist. On the line with us today, we have the star of
our show, Megan Boone, as well as our Executive...
Megan Boone: Hi, everyone.
Joann Park: As well as our Executive Producer and show
runner, John Eisendrath. The show premiers on September 23rd
following our big show, The Voice, from 10 to 11 pm. The
show obviously stars James Spader and Megan. We will have a
transcript of this call after, in a couple of days. We'd
love to just get this call started, so let's go ahead and
start the questions.
Operator: Thank you. Ladies and gentlemen, if you'd like to
register for a question, please press the one followed by
the four on your telephone. Our first question comes from
the line of Jamie Ruby with Sci-Fi Vision. Please proceed
with your question.
Jamie Ruby: Hi, guys. Thanks so much for taking the call
Megan Boone: No problem.
John Eisendrath: Thank you.
Jamie Ruby: So can you start by talking about how you became
involved in the project?
Megan Boone: John was involved first, so why don't you take
the lead here?
John Eisendrath: Did you mean for either or for both of us?
Jamie Ruby: For both of you.
John Eisendrath: Oh, okay. Well, I got involved in it at the
beginning. I worked at Sony. I'm a writer and a producer
there and they had done a project, I believe, the previous
development season with John Bokenkamp and that show had not
gotten on the air, but that was a very good experience and
they wanted to do something else with him. He and one of the
other producers on the show, John Fox, had the kernel of an
idea about, you know, what would happen if somebody who was
a criminal had turned himself into the FBI and what would
that look like, putting sort of an anti-hero at the center
of a cops show. That was last July, probably.
We went through the development process together, John and
I, in setting up the pitch, getting it sold. We went out to
several networks selling it and developing it from the
beginning. I got involved it, I would say last July, and
then we found Megan.
Megan Boone: My experience was that I had kind of resigned
to not participating very aggressively in pursuing network
TV pilots, but I continued to ask the people that I work
with to send me scripts this year while they were casting.
Once I got ahold of The Blacklist and I read it, I was
immediately kind of drawn to the character Elizabeth Keen
and I worked really hard on it for about a week before I met
with Eisendrath and Bokenkamp and Joe Carnahan, who directed
In that meeting, I just kind of put it all out on the table.
I probably gave one of the better auditions of my career
because it was one of the more important ones to me. I think
they continued their search, but always kind of kept me in
the mix as they were looking because obviously, it's a very
important part of the show and they wanted to make the right
decision. I kept going back in and back in and back in, kind
of rediscovering or discovering new things about who she was
in the rooms with them, because you know, you can't ever
really repeat the same thing you did last time.
The audition process actually drew me closer and closer and
closer to the piece. By the time they decided to cast me, I
was already really sort of in this world and it was an
amazing collaboration at that point because I felt so
involved and then read with Diego Klattenhoff and Ryan
Eggold and then they brought in James Spader. It just kept
getting better and better - the quality - and all of the
little pieces came together to create that sort of magic in
a bottle that you need to have a successful show. Yes,
that's how I got involved.
Jamie Ruby: Okay, great. Did you do a lot of research for
this role at all?
Megan Boone: I'm still doing research for the role. I don't
think that will ever end. There's just an endless amount of
information and new information that comes as you're
developing it, I think. Every script that comes across the
table introduces new elements of my character and
personality. For instance, the episode we're going into, I
found that she has a little bit more of a sense of humor
about things, which I think is born out of some of the
trauma she experiences prior to that episode.
You know, the character is always evolving and changing and
you know, I have the DSM5 and I've read some interviews with
prominent type profilers for the FBI that have, you know,
interviewed her and so forth. It's always helpful to stay
curious and keep an inquisitive mind about these kinds of
Jamie Ruby: Great, well thank you very much, both of you.
Megan Boone: Thank you.
John Eisendrath: Thank you so much.
Operator: Our next question comes from the line of (Paula
Jone) with InfinityTV.com. Please proceed with your
Paula Jones: Good morning.
John Eisendrath: Hi.
Megan Boone: Hi.
Paula Jones: Hi, I have one question for each of you. For
John, how long is it until we'll find out why Red
specifically asked Rose - now I'm not asking you to tell me
why he asked for her, but how long until we find out?
John Eisendrath: Well, I think like any great series
question, the audience deserves periodic answers along the
way. It's not as if you have to wait very long to get some
initial answers that all, you know, build towards a final
reveal. We are very mindful that you can't - and we have no
interest in just letting that question go unanswered. It's
foremost in obviously Liz's mind. She will be insistent on
asking. I think that in a relationship like that, it's
incumbent on Red to offer up some concrete foot holes, you
know, even in the first 12 episodes.
There will be two or three answers that are sort of
incremental, but you know, I hope that in any, you know,
with any good question like that, you'll get an answer and
it might open up a different series of questions that you
might not have thought of. We're going to give answers early
on and throughout the first season. Hopefully by the end of
the first season, it will give the audience some confidence
that they understand most of why he did it.
Paula Jones: Okay, thank you. And for Megan, one of the
things about your character is she lost her father at a
young age. Does she think she would recognize him if she saw
him? Can you talk about that loss in her life and how it
affects her and how that might be part of her connection to
Red? I'm not saying he's her dad, but you know, he might
know her or something like that. Could you talk a little bit
about what the loss means?
Megan Boone: So your question was whether or not I would
recognize my father and how that would...
Paula Jones: And how the loss of him affected her life and
why it could be part of her connection to Red.
Megan Boone: Well, I think my relationship with my father is
the key to why I signed an interest the criminal minds and
in justice and the whole course of my life is altered by my
experience with my father at a young age. The question of
the relationship with Red and like how that could be drawn
into my relationship with my father is obviously one that we
can't really expand upon right now.
We're exploring that and as the series progresses, there are
obviously some paternal feelings that Red has towards me
that will need to be explained, but in my experience in
life, maternal and paternal dynamics happen in all kinds of
relationships, not necessarily, you know, between, you know,
your actual mother and child - father and child
relationships. You know, I think that's - I talked a lot
with the writers about the course of this story line and
where it might be going and from those discussions, I've
developed the past and the history for my character that I'm
open to having - to making alterations, you know, in the
future as new information comes along and as the series
progresses and evolves.
Paula Jones: Terrific, thank you.
Megan Boone: That's all I can say.
Paula Jones: Okay. I'll be watching because I want to know.
Megan Boone: Okay, thanks.
John Eisendrath: Good.
Operator: Our next question comes from the line of Tiffany
Vogt with The TV Addict. Please proceed with your question.
Tiffany Vogt: Hi, guys. Thanks for taking our call today.
Megan Boone: No problem.
Tiffany Vogt: My first question will be for John. John, I
was wondering what we can expect in the storyline of The
Blacklist each week.
John Eisendrath: I do think that one of the sort of great
things about the premise of the show is that baked into it
is the delivery of a good episodic story. It's an episodic
story that has to sort of get over a certain number of
hurdles in order to sort of merit being told on our show. I
always think that shows work best when there's a certain
specificity and ours has a lot of that because in order to
be on The Blacklist, you have to be a criminal that the FBI
does not know about and you have to be someone who would be
worthy of Red's attention. Those are hurdles that regular
cop shows and crime dramas don't have to get over.
I think that we have spent a lot of time trying to figure
out what that means and what sort of characters would be
good to dramatize as ones that would qualify as being
blacklist worthy. Hopefully, the audience will get a chance
to enjoy some of the or all of the characters who sort of -
we like to portray existing in a world of - existing in our
world - but being smart enough, clever enough, devious
enough to have avoided detection by the FBI. I think we will
offer a sort of slightly different, slightly, you know, the
kind of characters who do things that the audience might be
familiar with, but do them in a way that believably allows
them to avoid detection by the FBI.
Tiffany Vogt: Okay and my follow-up question is for Megan.
Megan, can you talk a bit more about the interaction between
Elizabeth and Red? You talked a bit about the
father/daughter kind of aspect. What else will their
relationship be about?
Megan Boone: I think that what Elizabeth wants from Red is
to understand the connection and his interest in her, so my
ultimate goal and agenda with him is to uncover that
mystery. And his agenda is a mystery to me. I've kind of
stayed in the dark about what it is he wants from me and I
discover it through the scene work with James Spader.
It has been a really wonderful way to work because I'm
always trying to read him through his performance and
through, you know, and my response to him has always sort of
grown out of that ultimate overriding question of what it is
he wants from me. If I knew any more than I do know now or
any more than anyone knows about what he wants from me, then
I think ultimately it would dull my performance a little
bit, it would dull my experience creatively in the show and
that's what keeps it exciting for me.
Tiffany Vogt: Great, well thank you both.
Megan Boone: Thank you.
John Eisendrath: Thank you.
Operator: Our next question comes from the line of Josh
Maloney with Niagara Frontier. Please proceed with your
Josh Maloney: Yes, thank you. Megan, can you sort of break
down your character for us a little bit and maybe tell us a
little bit about what we can expect to see from her in the
first couple of episodes?
Megan Boone: Sure. Elizabeth Keen is a psychological
profiler who is new to the FBI and it's her first day at
work when James Spader, Red Reddington, requests to speak
with her and only her in order to provide detail for
catching some of the world's most dangerous criminals. She's
stressed into these situations and she's not entirely
prepared to be a field agent, however, it's required of her
now to go out and seek out these criminals in some of the
most dangerous situations that she may encounter.
What you ultimately discover about her is that she's very
brave and capable despite her novice and there's always that
question of whether or not she can handle herself. Sometimes
she does, but a lot of the times, the mistakes that she
makes are the things that move the drama forward because
there are just so many overwhelming circumstances that she
has to face that ultimately, she falls short and makes
mistakes, and people have to come and - like Diego
Klattenhoff's character, Ressler, and Harry Lennix's
character, Harold Cooper and they have to come in and sort
of see just the sort of team around her and at the same
time, question her presence in their department.
It's almost as if she has both an incredible force of
support around her and almost no one to turn to. She's in a
very precarious situation throughout the initial part of
Josh Maloney: All right. And John, obviously you've had a
lot of success in television. This looks like another great
series, but what in your mind is it about this show that
sort of makes it special and worthy of joining your list of
John Eisendrath: Well, that list is a lot shorter than you
might think, but I appreciate that. I would say - well,
first of all, it does in my mind always begin with a great
script and John Bokkenkamp wrote a great script and one that
had great characters in it and a situation that I think was
incredibly compelling. After that, it's mostly, I think, a
lot about luck, you know, a lot of times and finding people,
you know, like Megan and like Spader, you know, you can
never count on going out to cast something and getting
people who understand the parts and who in many ways, bring
from their own lives something that both adds to the part,
but also relates to it.
I think in both Megan's case and Spader's, you know, there
is something about each of them as individuals that molded
with the character that was on the page and that is
essential to having a successful show because at that point
then, they really become dimensional. I think it's a
combination of the script, finding the right cast, which is
almost, you know, which is incredibly difficult as I'm sure
you and everyone on the call knows, the casting process for
TV products is insane, and you know, it's all done at the
same time. So in finding the right people, we were
Then I think also, it's a lot of shotgun marriages that go
on in the course of creating something. Joe Carnahan - I'd
never met him before. I'd heard of his work, I'd watched his
movies, I was a fan of his, but I never worked with him
before and he did an amazing job. That, you can never count
on and you never know it's going to happen, but he did an
amazing job, so sort of all the pieces fell in place in a
way that you can look backwards and say, "Oh, yes, totally.
We had it under control the whole time." The truth is, you
really never know.
Spader signed on I think three days before this pilot was
going to shoot and there was talk about pushing the pilot,
not doing it, we couldn't find the right guy to play Red, so
it was always very chaotic and again, you have to be very,
very lucky to have it work and then, you know, I think once
those pieces come together, moving forward, each episode is
like the chapter of a really good novel where you know,
you've started with a great first chapter and the pilot, and
hopefully every episode we can deliver a new chapter that's,
you know, as good as the first one.
Josh Maloney: All right. Thank you both.
Megan Boone: Thank you.
Operator: And we have a follow-up question from the line of
(Paula Jone) from XfinityTV.com. Please proceed with your
Paula Jones: Thank you. Hey, good morning again. John, when
you wrote this before Comic-Con, the show was all new, but
now that you've had several weeks on it, have you casted any
really great guest stars that you're willing to talk about?
John Eisendrath: Well, we have cast guest stars that we
love. I'll just give you one example because he's doing the
episode right now. Tom Noonan is playing one of the guys off
the blacklist and you know, that's an example of the kind of
actor we're getting who really can live in the part of the,
you know, characters of the blacklisters that we have on the
Paula Jones: Okay, but Isabella Rossellini has been
announced, so could you talk a little bit maybe about what's
John Eisendrath: Yes, of course. There too, there's another
example. I mean, Noonan was just on my mind because he's in
the episode at the moment, but Isabella Rossellini did - she
did a role on the show where, you know, she played someone
who was perceived to be, you know, a really admirable,
outstanding, great humanitarian. Maybe she turns out that
way and maybe she doesn't.
All I would say is that she did an amazing job, but one
thing that I was most impressed with is you know, sometimes
you ask all the actors, but even the guest actors, to do
things that really I would think, you know, test their
comfort level. We did that with her and she did an amazing
job just throwing herself into certain scenes that, you
know, were about as far away from the days of her, you know,
modeling career and you know, graceful, elegant persona as
one could possibly get. She did it with great enthusiasm.
Paula Jones: Terrific. Maybe we can get one more? Three
would be great.
John Eisendrath: I think that's all for now.
Paula Jones: Okay.
Megan Boone: Can we tell them about Clifton?
John Eisendrath: Say again?
Megan Boone: We can't tell them about Clifton?
John Eisendrath: Yes, go ahead. Yes, of course.
Megan Boone: We've been working with Clifton Collins Jr.
this episode, too. He's a great, great actor. I was so
excited to have him on the show and I mean, it's been an
incredible experience for me because these guys keep
bringing in some of the best actors to do these guest spots.
I understand why they're doing it. The episodes are written
so well. The parts are really meaty and exciting.
John Eisendrath: And one other - so you wanted three and now
you're going to get four - is Jane Alexander. She also is on
the show and she has a part to play as a member of sort of
the larger intelligence community that's on our show.
Megan Boone: The incredible thing about Jane being involved
is that she was my teacher and has been my mentor for ten
years, and this was completely independent of our
relationship with her involvement on this show. About ten
years ago, I was ready to quit acting and she called me
personally on the phone and encouraged me to keep going, so
I really would not be here if it weren't for her in my life
and now she's on, you know, one of the more important shows
of my career. It's one of those things where it's sort of
increment fixing that happened. It's so nice to have her
Paula Jones: Okay, well thanks so much.
Megan Boone: Yes, thank you.
John Eisendrath: Although, I don't think we've had you play
a scene with her, but okay.
Megan Boone: That's okay.
Operator: We have a follow-up question from the line of
Tiffany Vogt with The TV Addict. Please proceed with your
Tiffany Vogt: Hello, again. I was just wondering, Megan, if
you have any favorite scene that you enjoyed filming that
you can share with us.
Megan Boone: Oh, gosh. The scene in the pilot where I stab
Red in the neck was really an incredible day. We were on the
29th floor of the Waldorf Astoria on Park Avenue, which for
me was just kind of larger than life, you know, just an
experience that felt a little bit like I had gone into a
different paradigm or something.
It was my first scene shooting with James and that was the
first time I learned what an incredible co-worker and
collaborator he was going to be. I did not know what to
expect, as I'm sure anyone going into a working relationship
that doesn't know, but you know, I found it - it was so
refreshing to me to be kind of nervous and I kept to myself
and I just worked as hard as I could that day, and he would
pull me aside in between scenes and ask me how I felt the
scene was going, what I needed form him and by the end of
the day, I was just as open and sort of collaborative
involved and free as I could be with anyone.
That's a huge testament to him that he made me feel that
comfortable. You know, Joe Carnahan was directing us and
that and I absolutely loved working with him. I got on the
elevator and went down from the 29th floor that day and went
out on Park Avenue and just kind of ran for a couple of
blocks because I was just so excited and happy that this is
my new working relationship. It was one of those moments in
New York City that you never forget.
Tiffany Vogt: That's a really great story. I love that one.
Megan Boone: Thanks.
Tiffany Vogt: And my follow-up question for John, are there
any ongoing storylines with any of the people that have been
blacklisted or if not, will any of those characters be
coming back in future episodes?
John Eisendrath: Well you know, if they managed to survive
by the end of the episode and for some reason haven't died,
they might reappear. We have in our minds, you know, a
larger methodology for the show, but we also are very
mindful that we are doing episodic stories that do stand
alone and really so far, you know, most of the people who
have been on the show are caught, captured and put away by
the end of the show.
There are the occasional, like what's an example - the guy
in the pilot who ran off with the chemical weapon. We do
like the idea of a guy like that and others that we've
populated in episodes come back and as we get deeper into
the season, I believe we will be introducing one or more
characters who will recur. In the beginning, we are building
a series that's really based on an episodic blacklister of
Tiffany Vogt: Okay, great. Thank you, again.
John Eisendrath: Yes.
Megan Boone: Yes, no problem.
Operator: Our next question comes from the line of (Tim
Hogan) with Press Pass LA. Please proceed with your
Tim Hogan: Hi, it's really good to get to speak with you.
It's one of the shows that I'm most looking forward to
Megan Boone: Oh, great. Thanks.
John Eisendrath: Great.
Tim Hogan: John, being a massive Alias fan, I've noticed
some of your descriptions of Elizabeth and Red's partnership
reminding me of some of the best parts of Arvin Sloane and
Sydney Bristow's tanks in a personal relationship regarding
secrets and trust. Will there be any familiar similarities
between those two relationships - Liz to Red and Sydney to
John Eisendrath: It's interesting. I would say there's a
relationship sort of a hybrid - Arvin Sloane and Victor
Garber's character. You kind of are never quite certain with
Red whereas with Sloane, he may have needed Sydney, he may
have been obsessed with her like Red is with Liz, but he was
so demonstrably, you know, on a quest for, you know, things
that were evil that I feel like - I feel like it's sort of a
I do think there's sort of a - the larger question is and I
would answer it is - there definitely is a chosen one
element to this story like there was to the Alias story,
that there is this young woman who her reasons, initially,
she has no reason why or cannot possibly fathom, she has
been selected. In that case, you know, it was fathered to
something mystical and you know, the fourteenth century
The distinction that's clear between a show like Alias and
The Assisted, this will live, you know, more in a grounded,
real space. You know, Alias was - we always liked to say it
was like a good version of a B genre. I feel like we're
trying not to live quite as far out in the, you know, hyper
real world, so Liz Keen's picture is never going to appear,
you know, in the drawings of a fourteenth century mystic,
but she has - like in any chosen one story - a real journey
of awakening self-revelation, coming to learn more about who
she is and things she may have sort of a sense about
herself, but couldn't possible fathom the sort of details.
That journey and having sort of an older guy manipulating it
is something that we do talk a lot about - the writers talk
a lot about - so there is, in the most sort of basic DNA of
the show, a comparable chosen one story with a young woman
and a, you know, morally and ethically challenged adult sort
of pulling the levers.
Tim Hogan: I understand. I see. Thanks for that. Megan?
Megan Boone: Yes.
Tim Hogan: You mentioned what a joy it is working with
James Spader and at Comic-Con, you described him as kind and
warm and humble, and he's talked about you being one of the
reasons why he even wanted to do the show. I'm wondering if
you might add the term fun to your description of working
with him. I know he had lots of fun with Bill Shatner on
Boston Legal. Do you guys share that sort of a close bond
relationship in any way as friends?
Megan Boone: Yes. Actually when we were shooting the pilot,
it was the day we were diffusing the bomb and I was having a
difficult time and you know, I was kind of spiraling down
this very serious mindset because it's a drama, so you
think, you're shooting a drama, you should be very serious
about your work. He just came up to me and he put his hand
on my shoulder and he looked at me for a good minute. It
made me feel like he was going to say something very, very,
very serious. I kind of leaned in and he goes, "Just have
fun. It's the most important part."
Ever since that point, his presence is kind of a reminder to
enjoy myself in the process. I think that, you know, no
matter what genre you're working in, even if it is a high
space drama and a thriller, if you're not enjoying yourself
and you're not having fun, then the curiosity dies. That is
one thing that James has an abundance of. He's always,
always working further into the story and there's just so
much I can learn from working with him, so the joy, the fun
and the way that he really is present, he brings that to the
You know, on the other hand, this is one of the most
difficult experiences I've never had and without that
difficulty and level of challenge, I don't think that the
colors would be there to play Elizabeth Keen because she is
entirely overwhelmed, so it's about funneling all of it and
dumping all of it into the scene work as much as I can - the
fatigue, the exhaustion, the feeling of being overwhelmed -
but maintaining that inquisitive, joyful feeling for the
work, that is what keeps me going and it's a huge lesson
that I learned from James.
Tim Hogan: That's great to hear. Thank you very much.
Megan Boone: Thank you.
Operator: Our next questions comes from the line of Suzanne Lanoue with The TV Megasite. Please proceed with your
Suzanne Lanoue: Hi. Megan, I was wondering - I was looking at
the promo and it seemed like there was quite a lot of
action. Is there a lot of physicality in this role for you
or is it all stunt doubles and you don't have to do anything
Megan Boone: It's a combination of things. You know, they
have me being dragged and they have me, you know - sorry,
there are some things that I feel like I cannot say - but I
definitely am like - I had a cake of dirt along my forearms
one night that I had to kind of wipe off with a towel. I
don't leave sets without blood all over my hair and face -
not my blood, but fake blood. Every week, I leave set having
to get rid of some kind of fake wound. I participate a lot
physically in the show. I've been doing kaomagma and I've
been doing weight training and I'm in the best physical
shape of my life just to prepare to do this. It is very
vestal and it is a very physical role.
Suzanne Lanoue: Great and John, I was wondering, now we know
that Red is a criminal - I was reading on the website. How
bad is he - is he a killer or does he just do criminal
John Eisendrath: Yes, I do know.
Suzanne Lanoue: Do we know?
John Eisendrath: He is capable of pretty much anything. He
has a moral compass. He has a point of view. He's not like
Whitey Vulture - he's not like a thug. He's not like a
mobster. He's not someone who is sort of random and sort of
just - he's not a guy who commits crimes with passion. He's
controlled, thoughtful, smart and shrewd. His capacity for
doing any crime, including killing someone, exists. He is -
but has, in his own mind, a certain, both either a
justification in the moment for the crime he's committing or
as part of a larger part of his life and his career, he has
definitely a point of view about the world he has come to
occupy, the criminal world that he's a part of and why he
went there, what his goal was. He's not, you know, any of
the sort of great, notable, real bad guys, whether they're
fictionalized or real, you might like think of, you know,
he's not Hannibal. He's not Whitey Vulture. He's smarter and
shrewder and has, I think more layers than a sort of just
criminal. There's a great deal of goodness in him. There's a
great desire to do good, mixed in with something that's
self-serving, but he has turned himself into the FBI and
while we don't know ultimately what his plan is for Liz or
why he is actually doing the things he's doing - is he
manipulating the FBI or not? We don't know those things, but
one thing we do know is that a lot of bad guys are being
caught with his help. He has both, very dark shades, but his
actions - at one level if you just look at them
episodically, have very good results.
Suzanne Lanoue: All right, thanks. I'm looking forward to it.
Megan Boone: Thank you.
John Eisendrath: Great. Tell all of your friends.
Operator: Our next question comes from the line of (Greg
Staffa) with Your Entertainment Corner. Please proceed with
Greg Staffa: Hi. Thanks for joining us today.
Megan Boone: Thank you.
Greg Staffa: My first question is for Megan. When you were
presented with this role, you talk about how you didn't want
to know all of the details, but how much of an overall arc
were you given and how much of your own personal input were
you able to put into your character as it was being
developed and what was the most challenging and rewarding
point about taking this role for you?
Megan Boone: Wow. The most - for me, the most rewarding
things come from challenge. You get through a very difficult
week and then you see a scene put together from that week
and it's really good. That is a very satisfying and
rewarding feeling. As far as my personal input and how much
information I was given, these are all little pieces of the
overall puzzle that you're constantly filling in. It never
gets complete. I've never had an experience with an actor
where I'm like, okay, I'm done, my painting is finished and
it's time to hang it on the wall.
I feel like every day, I wake up and I read something - I
try to engage in something new that will inspire a new
thought that will inspire a new moment on screen that will
add to the episode. That's a process and a part of the work
that I love and I also find very rewarding. It's
never-ending. It's a journey. It's not like, okay, I have
all the information about my character now, it's all filed
away and it's time to shoot this episode and once it's over,
I'll just work on the intentions for the next episode and it
will be complete.
There are the collaborative elements working with other
people. The great thing about this work experience for me
that I don't know that I've ever experienced is I feel like
everyone around me has an intelligence that I can draw from
and that can influence me and help me to do a better job.
They also have a very - everyone on this show has a very
generous nature and is willing to give and receive and trade
ideas, so it's a very creative environment, so that's been
extremely rewarding as well.
Greg Staffa: Cool, thank you. And then for John, how much
- not the particulars of the overall episodes - but how much
of the overall story arc do you know? I mean, not the little
bits and pieces, but how far is this planned out where you
see this evolving into something? My second part of the
question is, you seem to write real strong female
characters. I'm just wondering if you had a bunch of sisters
growing up or something.
John Eisendrath: No, but do we have it mapped out? We have
some very general ideas about where we think the show should
go toward the end of the first season and if we were lucky
enough to have anything past that. We have, sort of, you
know, some general guiding light and then we have head pull
moments that we are aiming for at different intervals
throughout the first season. They always change. They never
sort of end of being what you imagine, but you know our
imagining. We have certain marks that we're aiming for at
different intervals during the first season.
And no, I had no sisters. It's funny you say that because I
have been on a lot of shows that have strong female
characters and I have no idea why, so there you go. I love
my mother and my wife and I have a daughter, so I have no
Greg Staffa: Thank you.
Megan Boone: Thank you.
Operator: Our next question comes from the line of (Stevie
Ramo) with Sci-Fi and TV talk. Please proceed with your
Stevie Ramos Hi, Megan. Hi, John. It's a pleasure to speak
to you both today.
Megan Boone: Hi.
Stevie Ramos My first question is for Megan. Megan, I
wanted to find out - in addition to Elizabeth's relationship
on the show with Red, can you try to talk a little bit about
her interaction or relationships with the other main
characters so far and how they have sort of developed in the
episodes you've shot so far?
Megan Boone: Yes. What's really interesting and what they're
writing toward is a very dynamic relationship with each
character involved - Ressler, my husband, the church that
they introduce, (Niramalek). There is salinity for one
another and a rich relationship that develops and then
there's the professional world and the question of trust,
whether you can trust the people around you and the question
of identity, whether you really know anyone. It's an
incredible problem for antagonists to have, where they love
the people in their lives, they care for everyone around
them, but they question whether they know anyone.
I think that that really draws an audience in, too. It helps
people to relate to a character and you sort of want to see
that character reach out and find someone in that crowd that
they can actually feel comfortable with and trust and rely
on. As the series progresses, someone will emerge as a
reliable friend and ally of Elizabeth Keen or that's what
I'm hoping anyway.
Stevie Ramos My follow-up question is for John. John, I'm
sort of taking the question I just asked Megan and I'm going
to go behind the scenes with it. In addition to her
character and James Spader, could you talk a little bit
about the casting of the regular or main characters on the
show and again, a little bit about what that was like for
John Eisendrath: Sure. You know again, generally, as I
mentioned, casting for pilots is a very difficult process.
All the pilots, certainly the network and all the cable
pilots are all casting at the same time, so you're
scrambling over the same, you know, very talented pool of
actors, but there's a lot of competition, so it's very
difficult. It's also incredibly subjective, so you'll see a
lot of incredibly talented actors come in and you just know
that they're not the person who you imagined playing the
part. That is also, you know, adds to the difficulty.
We, again, I think we're very lucky. I'll give you an
example. We had, I think - I can't remember the number - but
we auditioned many, many people for the role of Tom Keen. I
don't know why. I can't recall why Ryan Eggold was not in
the first, you know, dozen or so people that we read for the
part. It might've been that he wasn't available. I can't
Megan Boone: I can tell you.
John Eisendrath: Do you know, Megan?
Megan Boone: Yes. Ryan wasn't interested in doing TV and
then his agents nagged him and nagged to read the script. He
wouldn't and then finally, they said they're really looking
for this character and the script is incredible. You're
missing out on an opportunity if you don't read this. He
read it and then he shipped himself from New York to
audition in LA, I think. He was actually working on a film
with (Tony Kaled) in New York at the time.
John Eisendrath: See, Megan knows all of this. I know
nothing. I had never seen him before. I had no idea he was
doing a move with (Tony Kaled). I'd never heard of the guy
before. He was great. Literally, he walked in and I can't
remember why, but I think he walked in and we weren't quite
ready. I think even before he auditioned, we were like,
okay, I think this guy might be the right guy. It was sort
of like, oh, there he is. That's what I was saying earlier -
that rare sort of - you're very lucky when that happens.
You're like, yes, that's the guy we want for the part
because before then, you want someone who's this and someone
who's that and one guy comes in and he's got one part of
what you want and not the other and then reverses for the
next guy and then you see someone in our case, it was Ryan.
I was like, oh yes, he's got it all. That was true with him
and you know, the same was true with Diego. Again, Megan
probably knows - I don't know why we didn't see him for a
while. Maybe he was still on Homeland, I have no idea, but
he too was somebody who came in late in the process. We had
auditioned and auditioned and auditioned people to play the
part of Ressler and I can't remember whether we made an
offer that didn't go through. You know, that happens
sometimes, too where you know, you make an offer and then
that deal doesn't close and you're like oh God, that's never
going to work. Then the next guy walks through - and with
Diego it was like that - he came late in the process as
well. Like with Ryan, we were like, where have you been? Oh,
okay, and now we know he was in Homeland. I hadn't watched
Homeland and Bokkenkamp hadn't watched it either. It wasn't
like we were familiar with him or knew him from that show,
we just thought oh yes, he'd be great. I think that's true
for them and I can't remember - you know, well I mean again,
and with Harry, Harry I think came - the truth is everybody
came. Megan was the first person we casted by I think a long
way and everybody else just took a long, long time.
Stevie Ramos Well listen, thank you again both for your
time and best of luck and success with the show.
Megan Boone: Oh, thanks. Thanks.
Stevie Ramos Thank you, again.
Megan Boone: You're welcome. Thank you.
Operator: Our next question comes from the line of (Judlyne Lilly) with WNEW. Please proceed with your question.
Judlyne Lilly: Hello, and thank you for joining us today.
Megan Boone: You're welcome.
John Eisendrath: Thank you.
Judlyne Lilly: My question for you is there are a lot of
really bad villains out there. They're psychopathic, there
is lots of blood gushing. Did you have a difficulty in
determining who your villains would be and what they would
be so good at doing bad things?
John Eisendrath: I think it's one of the hardest things to
do every episode, sure. I think it's incredibly difficult to
try and find that kind of character that you haven't seen
before, so we had to try, anyway, to walk a fine line
between - as the other guy mentioned earlier - a show that
we want to be grounded and real, and yet have bad guys who
are big enough to merit be on the blacklist and yet, not so
big that you expect them to wear, you know, capes and
spandex outfits. We don't want it to be like a cartoon, but
we don't want it to be a bad guy that could be on Law and
Order. It's hard. It's incredibly difficult.
Megan Boone: They're doing an incredible job, though. I
mean, every villain is so unique and I mean, imagine trying
to create a Bond like villain 22 episodes a year. I can't
imagine the challenge myself, but every time I get a new
script, I'm just like, oh this is so cool! One of the really
interesting things about the villains is they sort of
dictate the genre and the tone of each episode, so James
Spader, myself, Red and Liz are able to sort of move through
these different genres to find these different villains, and
the villain himself sort of brings a flavor to each episode
and it keeps it very new and interesting.
Judlyne Lilly: All right, so we won't see any repeat
villains or will they come back or have recurring villain
John Eisendrath: Not yet. Right now, we don't have any plans
yet for people to recur. We are going to arc toward a place
later in the first season where I think that might happen,
but it's not in the first batch of episodes.
Judlyne Lilly: Thank you.
Megan Boone: You're welcome.
John Eisendrath: Our pleasure.
Operator: And we have a follow-up question from the line of
(Tim Hogan) with Press Pass LA. Please proceed with your
Tim Hogan: Hi, this is for Megan. John has mentioned Harry
Lennix's role being somewhat thankless and how he made the
brave choice to play Cooper against Tide, so for all of
Harry's Matrix and Bell House fans out there, I was hoping
you might expand a little bit about looking at him and how
his character fits into the story overall.
Megan Boone: Yes. Well, the only character that I know and
how it fits into this story overall is Liz Keen, but my
experience with Harry Lennix himself is that he's obviously
an incredible actor. He's an incredible man. He's very, very
kind and wonderful presence to have on set, but the way that
he plays Cooper as opposed to the way Cooper was written
brings a wonderful quality to the show because Cooper was
written as a necessary veteran of the FBI, you know? And
then when I went to play my first scene with Harry, I sat
across from him and it's the scene where he asks me to
profile myself. I had expected to be very intimated by the
character of Cooper, but sitting across from him, he's this
very warm and open man. That's what he brought to the
character. I think that adds to a new dynamic and a new
dimension to the show because if you have someone that you
think you can really trust and then you have a show about
identity and whether or not you really know the people
around you and there are so many places you can go with this
man because he can draw you in and make you feel comfortable
and he's an authoritative position and he has a lot of power
and then if you bring in darker elements, then that can
create a very dynamic kind of problem that you have to
solve. I think his character is going to go through some
different sort of incarnation from the show, but he draws
you in and makes you want to trust him.
John Eisendrath: Did I say Harry's role was thankless? I
don't remember that. Did I say that?
Tim Hogan: I read that in an interview. Maybe you were
John Eisendrath: Oh, always mis-quote it. No, I'm kidding.
Megan Boone: I don't think it is.
John Eisendrath: It's just that often times, that's the role
where you're just sort of giving out expositions and
everybody else gets to do all of the stuff out there, you
know, but I think we're going to find ways for his character
to do both.
Tim Hogan: Thank you very much for those insights.
Megan Boone: Oh, no problem. Thank you.
Operator: Our next question comes from the line (Greg
Staffa) with Your Entertainment Corner. Please proceed with
Greg Staffa: Hi. I just have a follow-up for Megan. You
had mentioned earlier that you considered given up acting a
few years ago. Looking at your film and TV bio, you know,
you're a relative newcomer, so it shocks me to hear you say
that given the performance that you've given us in the
pilot. What advice - I'm just curious - what advice would
you have for young woman? You play a strong female role
which is hard to come by now and then. What advice would you
give to someone out there that - looking at you now and
hearing you say that you considered giving up, what - who
were your role models growing up that gives us who we see
Megan Boone: It's very easy to become discouraged as an
actress in your 20's because the roles that are written for
20 year old girls generally discount the possibility that
they could have intelligence or have struggled other than
boy problems. Ultimately, I would - part of my career would
be that I would like to find stories that change that and
give young women an opportunity to express themselves in a
different way. I found it very difficult to find a median
for expression at a young age as a woman.
I'm entering into a period in my life where for one reason
or another, there are female roles few and far between, but
there are female roles that I feel like are interesting. I
think the advice that I would give to young women would be
to continue to develop themselves and continue to stay true
to themselves, be patient and know that life can change in
an instance in this field. You know, coming together with a
project like this is a lot like finding, you know, a soul
mate or falling in love.
It's like you wait your whole life and wonder if it's ever
going to happen to you and one day it does, and then you've
got a whole new set of problems, but at least your life is
evolving and transforming and you're being challenged on a
new level. You know, I look back at those times and I wish
that I had known then what I know now because I would've not
had gotten so discouraged, but fortunately, I had mentors
like Jane Alexander and other wonderful men and women who
are in my life that help me to feel like I should continue
to move forward in this path.
If a young woman out there doesn't have that, you know, and
is reading this, then I would hope that they would remember
that that role is out there. Those experiences are out there
as long as you keep an open mind and understand that life
can change in an instance.
Greg Staffa: Cool. Thank you very much.
Megan Boone: Thank you.
Operator: And we have a follow-up question from the line of
Jamie Ruby with Sci-Fi Vision. Please proceed with your
Jamie Ruby: Hi, again. You've talked, Megan, about
collaboration with everyone. Does that mean that there's
room for like improve when it comes to some of the lines or
do people more stick to the script?
Megan Boone: Well, the script is...
John Eisendrath: I'm listening very closely to that, Megan.
Megan Boone: The script is very particularly written and put
together. Ultimately, I find that I rise to it every
episode. You sort of figure out why they made that decision
and that decision is often times more specific and has a lot
more clarity than anything that you could bring into it in
the amount of time that we have.
Improvisation is a freedom and an option that we have once
we get the take of the scripted dialogue, but it's not
necessarily something that I ever feel like I need to
creatively because ultimately, I'm just trying to tell the
story and the story is given to me by a group of very good
writers who have deliberately written these scenes and gone
over and over them to make sure that they're right. I don't
think that me or anyone in the cast feels on the day of
shooting that there's anything that really needs to be done
Jamie Ruby: All right, well thank you.
Megan Boone: Okay.
Joann Park: Thanks, guys. That's all the time we have left
for the call. Thanks for all of your great questions. Thanks
to Megan and John. We really appreciate you guys taking the
time today to do these questions.
Megan Boone: Thanks, (Joann). Bye.
John Eisendrath: Thank you, all.
Operator: Ladies and gentlemen, that does conclude today's
conference call. We thank you for your participation and ask
that you please disconnect your lines.
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