So yesterday I completely unexpectedly found myself at an exclusive screening of the newest episode of “The Blacklist” in London followed by an Q&A session with it’s star, a certain Mr. James Spader (Basically Sky Living, who show The Blacklist here in the UK, invited me along after I submitted a fan question)
This was an incredible, once in a lifetime experience and I hope you’ll indulge me while I muddle my way through as much as I can remember!!
The whole event took place at the Durham Street Auditorium in central London which is tiny - I think it seats around 60 people so it was really intimate. I was sitting on the front row and after the episode screening they brought out a couple of chairs and a table ready for James and the moderator/interviewer - the plan was to have the moderator ask a few general questions before opening it up to the audience with the whole thing lasting about half an hour. And then they announced James Spader and in he walked!!! He took off his coat, scarf AND HAT (major Red feels right there) and then proceeded to sit down on the chair that was literally right in front of me - I must have been one maybe two metres away from him. I have no idea how I managed to compose myself but I’m so glad I did because listening to that brilliant, wonderful man talk was just incredible
(brief but important side note - he looked great!! Brown jacket, dark red trousers, really nice brown shoes, white shirt and natty knitted waistcoat. Open shirt collar which FREAKIN KILLED ME - UNF!!!)
To go through the entire Q&A in detail would a) take forever and b) I can’t remember everything that was said in detail but I will try the best I can…
Firstly, general impressions - I had quite a specific idea of what I thought James Spader would be like and I was scared I would be disappointed but I’m thrilled to report that he lived up to, and exceeded, every possible expectation that I may have had. He was intelligent, charming, disarmingly honest, incredibly articulate, warm and very funny - just a wonderful, brilliant man. On two occasions they indicated that they were pushed for time and would have to wrap things up but both times James overruled them and said to keep going so he could answer all the people who had questions. What a legend!!!
Secondly, that voice…..I literally cannot even begin to describe how I felt sitting there for AN HOUR with that incredible man sitting metres away from me listening to that voice which, in my humble opinion, is one of the sexiest, most beautiful voices in the world. Just….wow!!!
The moderator asked general questions about ‘The Blacklist’ - how he got the role, the change in direction in season 3 etc. I really wish I could go into specifics here but I was so overwhelmed having one of my acting heroes sitting right in front of me that I think I was in a complete daze for the first 10 minutes or so - please forgive me!! I’ll give a very brief recap of the fan questions that were asked before I move on to my own personal highlight….yes, I did ask a question, and yes, he did answer it!!
1)What is your favourite movie that you’ve starred in and why?
He said he finds these type of questions really hard but basically said that the most important thing for him is the experience of making it rather than critical reception or box office success. The answer that he eventually came to was a film he shot in New Orleans that he couldn’t remember the name of with an awful director but he absolutely loved it because they had these amazing extended lunches every day and the food was incredible. I’ll say it again, this man is a LEGEND!!
Briefly talked about Boston Legal, Crash (he had to take nearly a year off after making it because it was so intense), Secretary (my favourite), Lincoln, White Palace and a few others
2) Who has been your favourite guest star on ‘The Blacklist’ so far?
Again he said this was hard because filming is such a long process he forgets who has been in what episode and when but that his favourites were the recurring roles who make up ‘Red’s gang’ - Mr. Kaplan, Brimley, Glen at the DMV and his absolute favourite Dembe (YES!!!). He went on to say that Hisham Tawfiq who plays Dembe is everything you think he is and that he loves all their scenes together
Now at this point they asked if anyone else had a question. I should point out that I suffer from crippling social anxiety and was insanely nervous but I suddenly thought ‘I’m never going to have this chance again and I’ll always regret it if I’m not brave’ so I put my hand up….and got chosen!!!
James FREAKIN Spader shifts slightly in his seat, smiles at me…and then looks straight at me. I spoke to him for a good couple of minutes and the entire time I was exposed to full on, prolonged, very intense eye contact with that beautiful, wonderful man. How I even had coherent words come out of my mouth I will never know!!
The question that I asked was quite specific and a bit nerdy but hey, it’s what I wanted to know!! I asked about the amazing monologue that Red gives in the ‘Alonso Garrick’ episode of season 1 when he’s with Ressler - the incredible ‘One more time’ speech…
3) I asked how that scene came about and whether he had any input into the script because I suspected that several of things that Red lists sound like they could be things that he, James Spader, would say.
He smiled at me again and said “Yes”. I thought that might be all I going to get (!) but then he went into great detail about how the original script version was much different and that yes, he did add some things that he wanted in there. I squeaked up and suggested ‘One more night of jazz at the Vanguard?!’ and he replied “All I’ll say is that where I live in New York is 10 minutes away from the Village Vanguard. And that L’Ambroisie in Paris is an incredible restaurant”. So I guess I was right?! He then said that they altered that scene so much because they wanted it to be real and to have an emotional punch to it - I told him that I cried watching it (true….seriously watch it - it’s FUCKING INCREDIBLE) and that I thought it was one of the best things I’ve ever seen on TV and he just gave me this really intense look and said “Thank you” (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)
That brief, very intense couple of minutes talking directly to James Spader with him sitting in front of me, looking directly at me, listening and responding to what I asked to him will stay with me for the rest of my life. It was an incredible, surreal, emotional, wonderful moment and I still can’t quite believe it happened.
They then said that they really were pushed for time now but James wanted to answer the people who already had their hands up so there were a couple more that I’ll briefly go through -
4) Does playing Red leave an impression on you after filming has finished?
Basically no - he has complete detachment from the role when he’s not doing it and although a lot of Red’s humour is his (AWWWW YES!!!!) he’s not really like him at all
5) Would you consider doing a movie of ‘The Blacklist’?
Hedoesn’t think so because the format of the show works so well as it is
6) Would you consider doing a play in London?
He would absolutely love to but it’s a matter of finding the time and being able to afford to - but yes, he would love to
Then they announced that they really did have to wrap things up as James had dinner reservations so there was a round of applause, he said goodbye, gathered up his things and then he was gone. No autographs, pictures, signing stuff etc but in all honesty I couldn’t have cared less - just listening to him talk for AN HOUR with such warmth, honesty and intelligence was absolutely priceless and worth far more than anything else. It’s part of the reason that I only took one photo the entire time - I wanted to soak in the experience and remember that.
In conclusion - one of the most memorable, incredible experiences of my life and I feel ridiculously lucky to have had it. Massive thank you to the wonderful people at Sky Living and, of course, to James Spader for making it all possible.
I realise that this is an incredibly long post and that I’ve missed out loads of stuff (sorry!!) but I’ve tried to remember as much as I can and to hopefully convey what it was like to be there yesterday. If you want to ask me anything then please do and I’ll try and answer it the best I can