Multi-hyphenate talent Ryan Eggold chats with us about the new season of The Blacklist, sitting in the director’s chair, and his dream co-star.
You recently wrote, directed, produced, composed, and edited the film Literally, Right Before Aaron. How has the switch from actor to director changed your perspective on the craft?
RYAN EGGOLD: When I walk on set as an actor, I’m now more curious about what the director needs, how I can help facilitate that, and how I can help fit into the production. When you’re younger, you’re sort of like “Everyone get out of my way. It’s time for me to act.” As you get older and you’re on more sets, you realize what a massive effort it is. I have more of an appreciation for everybody’s jobs and all the contributions that go into it.
Would you say you prefer being behind or in front of the camera?
RE: They both have different rewards and different challenges. Doing the massive amount of work to make a film made me appreciate the simplicity of being an actor and just walking on set with your one short job to fulfill and your one perspective to see the story through. The joy of being a director or a writer is that you get to help craft a story, the tone and the style; you get to play every part in your head, be cognizant of the framing and have much more shaping of the totality of the story. Writing and directing is newer so it’s a bit more exciting to me at the moment.
You’ve had the opportunity to work with so many great actors, including James Spader on The Blacklist. Which of your peers do you feel complement your acting style well?
RE: It would be difficult to pick one person. This sounds like a diplomatic answer but it’s really fun to work with everybody in the sense that you get something different from everybody. When you’re working with James, it’s kind of all business and you have to be on point. But when you’re working with a veteran who’s so solid like that, it makes your job easier because you have to try and react honestly and be present, and the scene should turn out well because you’re in a scene with James Spader. But when I work with Megan, there’s a vulnerability and sensitivity there that I really enjoy, and Megan and I make each other laugh and have a more playful relationship. Working with Diego, he’s hilarious and when we get to butt heads, I love that kind of masculine dynamic that we get to play out sometimes. Amir is so funny. Harry, years ago we had a storyline and he was just so smooth and good at what he does. So it’s really a joy to work with everybody.
Any dream co-stars for the future?
RE: Man, oh man, there are too many! There are a million people that I would kill to work with. As far as directors, I would love to work with Woody Allen. Actor-wise, Ed Norton is the first name that comes to mind. I’m a big fan, so that would be a lot of fun.
What can we look forward to on the new season of The Blacklist? What can viewers expect from Tom Keen?
RE: It’s an exciting new season. I’ve been gone, I had my Redemption adventure and was sort of out of the Blacklist story for a while. So it’s a bit of a homecoming, coming back to Liz and the child that we have together. I’m reinitiating into the family and into this relationship that I was sort of out of for a while. Red is now my father-in-law, basically, and I’m hearing this for the first time and trying to figure out how to adjust my tumultuous relationship with Red into this new setting. Thirdly, I have this bag of bones that I really believe is the key to Liz’s identity and her story and her peace of mind. I know that Red is desperately opposed to the truth of that coming out so I’m pursuing that vigorously, which is going to lead me down a few rabbit holes.
You are currently based in New York. Do you have any favorite hangouts or restaurants where you go to unwind or maybe not get recognized?
RE: There are so many places in New York, but I would say The Spotted Pig is a great restaurant—one of the best burgers in New York. I used to live right next to it, and I would just sit at the bar and have a burger for lunch and just read.
Season 5 of The Blacklist premieres on September 27 at 8 p.m. on NBC. Eggold's latest film, Literally, Right Before Aaron, hits select theaters and VOD on September 29.
Photography by: Photography courtesy NBC