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Raymond "Red" Reddington: Making Snark Sexy

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Post here to praise the always weird, always strangely sexy James Spader. And while you're at it, take a minute to consider what this role might have been like had Keifer Sutherland been cast instead (according to IMDB trivia)

Honestly, for all this show's problems, Spader keeps me coming back week after week. He's just acting circles around the rest of the cast.

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This is my first Blacklist post and I doubt it will be a popular one. Is it okay if I don't totally praise Spader in this role? I've always liked him - still do - and he's clearly a wonderful actor but my eyes and ears can't stop seeing and hearing Alan Shore.

Spader is the main reason I keep watching but I'm starting to feel like I'd be happier watching reruns of The Practice and Boston Legal.

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Kiefer Sutherland???  I could be wrong but I can't see him pulling it off quite so well. Maybe they would have made the character different.  Less cleverly snarky, more... something.

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I think Red has the potential to be Spader's greatest role. If they could only get rid of the dead weight. I'm looking at YOU, Wiggy, and the boss of Wiggy, whatever your name is.

We need Ressler, Parminda, and Red. That's it. Everyone else can go bye bye as far as I'm concerned. Maybe Tom, if he turns to the good side. 

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I want to know what Red's psychosis is.

He's not a sociopath, because he clearly feels great love for Wiggy and some of his compadres in crime, and vice-versa. He's not delusional, if anything he's a hard-core realist. He's not schizophrenic, according to any description of the many variations of THAT particular psychosis. It's a puzzle to me because for someone to be so completely hedonistic - and amoral when it comes to killing humans - yet still be one of the most brilliant, loving, and successful criminals evar...? 

So what is his damage? Anyone with a little or a lot psych training care to weigh in?

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I believe he's channeling the best of Shatner along with his own brand of sexay/smartass.  Really, what could be better?  A psych term for it might be narcissistic amoral borderline personality.  Not sure I'd want to live with that on a regular basis, but it sure is fun!

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I gotta agree, Raymond "Red" Reddington may be James Spader's best role, and, given time, could very well become one of TV history's most iconic characters. I think Spader is just that good. Red is cool, he's a badass, not afraid to do whatever he needs to do to set things right (even if that means killing someone), can be either your worst enemy or your best friend, snarks with the best of them and isn't always upfront about things...yet he can also be the kindest, sweetest, most loyal person on the planet who will always have his heart in the right place. Harold Cooper's final lines in "The Cyprus Agency" where he noted how amoral Red is with just how noble his causes are couldn't be a better summation of Red's character...it's the perfect mixture that makes Red such an intriguing character, and undoubtedly my favourite character on TV right now, if not ever.


(I'm even a fan of his Facebook page...)


One thing I will say is that I worry the writers may be missing the boat on just how good Reddington can be. Perhaps they figured that Spader was so good an actor that they didn't have to do it, but I feel like the writing doesn't make Red as sympathetic as Spader is making him out to be. For example, when Red has to finally admit that he killed Liz's adoptive father, you had a wonderful shot of Spader showing just how concerned Red is for Liz, how much he empathizes with Liz over how she's feeling and how sick it makes Red feel to know that Liz feels the way she does...all because Spader curls his lips the right way. However, when we get to "Berlin", and it's set up so that Lizzie needs Red's help for a case, the writers don't take the opportunity for Red to show some actual remorse for what happened (as Spader portrayed)- all we get is Red playing games and proffering some convoluted statement about how "Liz and Red need each other". I hope future episodes will correct this and make Red the truly iconic character he can be, because I'd hate for a character with such potential to be deep-sixed by bad writing.

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I fear, watching this progress, that this is becoming James Spader's vanity project. It seems like week in, week out, Red seems to know *someone* or has some trick up his sleeve to counter whatever trouble might come his way, and he's able to brush it off without so much as batting an eye.

I think of Berlin as a perfect example- here was a character built up in Season 1 as a credible threat, a man whose empire rivaled Red's. All through Season 1 we were kept in the dark about who or what Berlin was, giving the impression that he hung over Red like a cloud menacing him in the sky.

Then, we meet him and what do we get? Some trite plot to kidnap Red's former wife in retaliation for Berlin's daughter chopped to pieces. All that buildup for a case that could have been resolved in a week? Then Red beats Berlin by simply taking his money- displaying an extreme lack of financial planning on Berlin's part (I think most smart investors don't leave all of their money in one place, just in case something happens to their investments or their bank)- and Berlin does nothing but wilt. Throughout the entire encounter, Berlin had no cards to play, was a step behind the entire time and caved way too easily- and he was supposed to be a threat to Red? Please.

Then we get to the acting. Aside from many of Red's henchmen- Dembe, Mr. Vargas, the Cowboy Hat guy- and Alan Fitch (whom Red also neutered too easily), I can't think of any regular characters that can or have outshined Red, and very few of the other characters the show has created have been able to hold a candle to Red. Furthermore, Red seems to get all of the best lines and zingers, and he's the only one who ever sounds like he has a plan and anything resembling tactics- everyone else is just plain dumb. It's as if Spader- who is an executive producer on the show- is worried someone will outshine him, and it's dragging the show down.

I get that Spader is the star. No question, and I want to keep it that way. However, Spader needs to realize that for Red to really have any credibility as a character, he needs to face some viable threats, not people who amount to little more than toy soldiers. What's the fun if week in, week out, Red handles everything with such ease? It's patently unrealistic, and, frankly it's just boring. I want to see someone rise above a challenge, because then you appreciate their talents more because they've actually earned the victory. If all the character does is squash his enemies like bugs, the victories are hollow and are ultimately meaningless.

In short, Spader needs to learn that Red can still win the war- he just needs to lose a few battles along the way. Otherwise, he'll ruin what could have been one of TV's greatest characters.

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I want to know what Red's psychosis is.

He's not a sociopath, because he clearly feels great love for Wiggy and some of his compadres in crime, and vice-versa. He's not delusional,

Willowy, I'm sorry I did not see this post earlier.  I made one like it recently, somewhere in this forum.  


So far, I think this is Spader's worst role.  I love him, but I'm not that intrigued by Red.  Daniel3g42, I think you make some good points and I believe the fault is squarely on the writers' and casting directors' shoulders.  I do agree Spader is a compelling presence, but the material is starting to overwhelm him.


Also, much love for Lance Reddick (Cowboy Hat guy), who is one of my favorites on The Wire.  Can't take my eyes off him there.

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Daniel3g42, I think you make some good points and I believe the fault is squarely on the writers' and casting directors' shoulders.  I do agree Spader is a compelling presence, but the material is starting to overwhelm him.


Agreed, though I will point out that Spader is an executive producer. How much power he actually has is unknown, but I imagine he does have some influence on how storylines go and what actors appear on the show...so I'm not willing to give Spader all that much of a pass, if it all.

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Oh, I think Tom Keen is a far more interesting character than Red.


But, this ain't a vehicle for TK.  Unfortunately.  *shrug*


I will say, I like James Spader, but I have noticed that his performance is....maybe one note isn't the best description, but it's close enough. JS, and Red, were fresh and entertaining....for the first half of the first season. Now it's just kinda like...almost as if JS is bored. He doesn't try to infuse anything new into Red, and for a character with so many secrets, that shouldn't be hard to do. He reacts almost the same way every time his daughter or supposed daughter is mentioned. The forced impassive stare, the wetness around the eyes.

I think "stale" is a better description for what I'm seeing, and that doesn't make me care about Red.


Then again... Red's a pretty despicable human being. So perhaps JS keeps it that way so that when the audience and Liz find out he's a whole lot worse than we ever thought(and we will, I think), it will be easier to disconnect.

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I finally saw Avengers: Age of Ultron and James Spader is perfect as the voice of Ultron, but I kept hearing Reddington. He does the same intelligent, snarky voice.



Spader pretty much plays Spader in every role. Same voice inflections, same head tilts, same everything, whether he's Reddington, the Boston Legal guy, Ultron (w/o the head tilts) or just being interviewed on a talk show. See too much of him in other venues and the mannerisms that make up Red can become irritating.

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