Where's Tom Keen?

We haven't seen Liz Keen's erstwhile fake husband Tom (Ryan Eggold) since The Blacklist's fall finale, but he will return — if not on Thursday's all-new episode (9/8c, NBC), then soon. "Tom is going to be an integral part of the back half of the season," executive producer John Eisendrath tells TVGuide.com. "First we'll learn more about who he really is and what he really does, and then he is going to come back in a way that is going to be incredibly important not just emotionally to Liz, but will in many ways actually be a lifesaver to her."

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When last we saw Tom, Liz (Megan Boone) had just released him after keeping him imprisoned on a boat for four months, and then it was revealed that Tom and Red Reddington (James Spader) have some past association that they've withheld from Liz. "By the end of Season 2, the truth about who this guy is and where he came from will be out, even in terms of way back when," Eggold promises. "And then that will inform the relationship with Red and Liz and even shed light on what Red's ultimate plan is in all this. And I think we might get into some of the beginnings of Tom and Liz."

But what will the latest iteration of the character look like? Previous incarnations included the sweet, bespectacled teacher and the bearded prisoner who choked someone to death using his leg manacles. "We're sort of exploring that because he is a bit of a chameleon," creator Jon Bokenkamp says. "We've met him presenting a story that was entirely false. So who that character is and how he operates and what his backstory is, as we fill that out, it's starting to inform that."

Check out the rest of our interview with Eggold to learn more about playing Tom, his part on Sons of Liberty and his music:

How do people react to you when they recognize you in public?
Ryan Eggold:
Sometimes people react to me as if I'm Tom, which is so funny for me because we couldn't be more different. I mean, the whole killer part. We're pretty different on that. I was at an after party for some movie and I was standing at this bar area, and this girl was looking at me just straight terrified. She was wide-eyed and afraid, but sort of following me at the same time. I was like what is going on with this girl? I had to say, "Hello," because it was so strange, and she was like, "Sorry, I just kind of think you're going to kill me." I was like, "What?! No!" That was a very funny moment.

One of my favorite Tom moments was when he punched Liz in the face in that warehouse. That was messed up!
Eggold:
I think that says something about you if that's your favorite part. Because of that, people think that he's some kind of woman-hating wife-beater. It's more that he's a soldier and will do whatever is necessary.

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Do the producers fill you in ahead of time about what's up with Tom, or are you surprised by each script?
Eggold:
Both. I get tidbits. I get phone calls and have chats with those guys, and they're great about keeping me informed so I'm not totally swimming in the deep end by myself. But I'm still often surprised when I get scripts to read the details or learn new things. The end of this season I think will be revelatory for everybody, but particularly for this character.

Will Tom's true feelings for Liz be addressed?
Eggold
: I do have my theories, but I'm not going to say them. I don't want to color people's experience. But I will say that it's fun to explore this relationship between Tom and Liz where that question hangs [around] and where Season 1 was this lie of a relationship. And now, at least they're dealing with each other honestly, albeit under strange circumstances. It's quite dysfunctional.

Does he harbor any resentment for being locked up?
Eggold:
I don't think he enjoyed it. I think that now that he's out, we'll see a new version of him.

You had quite the beard while imprisoned. Can you tell me about wearing or growing that? Eggold: I grew a beard. I loved having the beard. I hate shaving, and it feels very me. You may see it again in flashbacks, but he's done with that thing.

When Tom was killing the harbormaster, was that you, or a stuntman?
Eggold:
That's me. I love that stuff. The thing that's difficult thing about a doing a scene like that is making sure you don't hurt the person. But I'm afraid if people read that, it'll be like, "Tom's a wuss!" For that, it was real metal chains on my legs and I had to wrap them around his neck and pretend to choke him. I was like, "Please don't actually suffocate or die or break your neck." He was a stuntman because he needed to be very careful.

Will Tom's behavior be similarly cold and aggressive in the coming episodes?
Eggold:
Yes, there will be information that comes to light at the end of Season 2 about where he ultimately comes from and how he became the agent or assassin that he is. I think it will shed light on him.

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Moving on from The Blacklist, how did you get the History miniseries Sons of Liberty? Are you a history buff?
Eggold:
No, I didn't seek that project out. They asked me to do it, and I happily said yes. I've always wanted to do period stuff and still want to do more of it. It was so different obviously from The Blacklist. It was so cool. I had the long hair and ponytail, and we got to shoot muskets. We did actually have a day of gun training. Flintlock pistols and those things. It was a long shoot.

Do you have a part in the Entourage movie?
Eggold:
No, I wish that I [did]. I would have loved to do just a scene, but my part is so insulated to "Five Towns," which was the show that Drama was doing... It's not part of the movie. I wished so bad for at least one scene where I got to high-five Kevin Dillon. "What's up, bro?" But bringing back everyone would be hard.

You're also a musician and were a part of a band. Anything new coming up, music-wise? Eggold: I just did a film in Nashville and I got to put an original song in there. The film is called Lovesong. That may change, but that's what it's called now. It's with Jena Malone, Riley Keough, Rosanna Arquette — a great cast. I wrote [a song] specifically for the film. As soon as I have time, maybe this spring, I want to to take a month and record an album. But I just got my tonsils removed, and I don't know the next time I can sing. [My doctor] said six weeks, but I think he's full of shit. So that's why I'm a little labored in my speaking. I can't wait to be totally normal again with everything.

What do you think Tom's connection to Red is? Share your theories in the comments below.

The Blacklist airs Thursdays at 9/8c on NBC.

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