His name is Raymond "Red" Reddington, and he's the Concierge of Crime.
On NBC's new drama The Blacklist, which premieres Monday at 10/9c after The Voice, Emmy winner James Spader plays one of the FBI's most wanted fugitives, who has suddenly and inexplicably turned himself in. He offers his services to capture those on "the blacklist," a list of other highly dangerous criminals and terrorists, under one condition: He only wants to speak to freshly minted FBI profiler Elizabeth "Liz" Keen (Megan Boone), a woman who seemingly has no connection with him.
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Who is Red and what are his motives? Is he good or bad? Does it even matter? Check out nine reasons why we're rooting for Red:
1. Red will keep you guessing - Like Austin Powers, Red is an international man of mystery who is as inscrutable as they come. Beyond his baffling personal motivations, his vast knowledge of the criminal world that he built up for more than two decades promises intriguing future story lines. "Every story we tell, we ask ourselves, 'How can this unit within the FBI solve this story in a way that no other unit in the FBI can because they have Red Reddington?'" executive producer John Eisendrath tells TVGuide.com. "That means in each episode, he will reveal a little secret about the way he does business, the people he associates with, the way the criminal world operates that ... we're previously unaware of. Those are secrets that make for a delicious criminal."
2. James Spader is Red's stylist - From the top of his jaunty fedora downt to his Italian leather shoes, Red makes an impression, and that's owed to the actor who plays him. "He always thought that his character should wear a hat and we were all like, 'No. No hat. Nobody's going to want to see a guy with a hat," says Eisendrath. "He was very insistent that his character would wear a hat, and he was totally right ... He's been very clear from the beginning about certain accoutrements and trappings that Red would wear and have. He wears those rose-tinted glasses. His wardrobe, he's meticulous about it. Everything down to the shoes he wears, even if the shoes aren't going to appear on camera."
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3. Red talks the talk - The master criminal's style extends to his economical yet elegant speech. "[Red] is very specific and insistent on words being used purposely and with meaning and that there's nothing wasted," Eisendrath says. "An already great script was improved significantly once we cast Spader. The show now contains a lot more humor, ironic humor that comes from being jaded and having a wisdom that Red has from his experiences in life that allows him a certain humorous distance even in the most difficult times. For example, in the scene where's he's describing the blacklist, instead of saying, 'I have something that's called the blacklist,' he says, "'Let's call it the blacklist, shall we? That sounds exciting!'"
4. Red has a softer side - Red cares about Liz. Whether it's love or something else remains to be seen, but it's a glimpse into the more personal side of the criminal. "There is clearly a paternal relationship that he would like to have with her -- potentially weird, twisted, healthy, unhealthy -- all of that will be unpacked as the series unfolds," Eisendrath says. "There is also a mentor quality. He wants to teach and guide her." And when the secret of why Red knows Liz is revealed, the producers says, "We are going for surprise certainly, but ultimately we'll be going for something we hope that will be emotionally resonant, something that people can understand and that it's something that people can relate to."
5. Red has a rougher side - Suave trappings aside, Red is a master criminal, and you don't get that way without being tough and gritty. "He is not just someone listening to Frank Sinatra and drinking fine wine," Eisendrath says, referring to a scene in the premiere. "The truth is that over time we will explore lots of different wardrobes, locations, places and we want to sort of dramatize that he is much more than just a formal guy. He had to dodge the FBI for 20 years. You don't do that by always living a very loud life."
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6. Red has the brains - When the fugitive turns himself in, the massive amounts of intel he taps into for the FBI is solely contained in his head. "He says in an early episode that he doesn't have a cell phone, he doesn't really have e-mail," Eisendrath says. "He conducts his business face to face. He was in the naval academy, he was on the fast track, groomed for admiral, a very accomplished young man, so he definitely had military training, a high level of accomplished education training before he went AWOL." And during that time, Red lived abroad and thrived. "On the show so far, he has spoken French, a pinch of Mandarin and he spoke Ukrainian. So we've heard him speak three foreign languages in addition to English."
7. Red is focused - "He's a little like Sherlock Holmes. In 'A Study in Scarlet,' Watson is talking about the Earth going around the sun, and Holmes is unaware of the fact that the Earth goes around the sun," Eisendrath explains. "Watson is like, 'You're the smartest person in the world. How is it possible that you don't know something as basic as that?' And Holmes says, 'I am not interested in the things I am not interested in.' That is a little bit like Red. He's not interested in the things he is not interested in. When we meet him, he's not interested in anything other than Elizabeth Keen."
8. Red has morals - "Red does not think of himself as an evil man," Eisendrath says. "He's a very complicated man who has come by being the Concierge of Crime in a way that he can justify, based on things that happened in his life. I think he does have a moral compass that you and I might not share, but he's not Hannibal Lecter. He's not a psychopath by any means."
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9. Red makes mistakes - He will falter at times, which will humanize the normally uber-confident criminal. "He's a human being, and we need to show all sides," Eisendrath says. "We need to show his vulnerability, his joy, his sadness."
Check out the trailer for The Blacklist, which premieres Monday at 10/9c on NBC: