Was The Blacklist's Mr. Vargas Specifically Created For Pee-Wee's Paul Reubens?

Paul Reubens is best known for playing the eccentric Pee-wee Herman across film and television. However, he was a consummate comedic performer whose filmography spanned numerous memorable roles, from Gerhardt Hapsburg in "30 Rock" to Amilyn in "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." People would write parts specifically for Reubens, as "The Blacklist" creator Jon Bokenkamp revealed to People in the aftermath of the actor's death

Reubens played Mr. Vargas on five episodes of NBC's "The Blacklist." He's ruthless yet sensitive, but that didn't stop him from ultimately betraying Red (James Spader). Bokenkamp created that character specifically for Reubens because it was just the thing the actor excelled at. He stated, "It was one of the pleasures of working on a show like that, where every once in a while you're like, 'Well, this would be weird and exciting. Do we think we could get Paul [Reubens] to come be on The Blacklist?' And he was lovely enough to do it."

"The Blacklist" is a very different type of show than what Reubens would typically do, but in this instance, he was able to bring some of his sensibilities into the part. 

Paul Reubens helped flesh out Mr. Vargas' character

Many of Paul Reubens' characters are known for being hilarious and odd. While "The Blacklist" isn't a sitcom like many other projects in the actor's resume, he still brought some of his trademark weirdness to the role. For starters, Jon Bokenkamp mentioned to People how Reubens was worried about the amount of blood on the show and how he was squeamish. He recalled, "Paul said, very specifically, on our first phone call, 'I'm a little worried about the blood. I don't love blood. I'm a little worried I could be queasy and I might pass out.'" Rather than work around it, they incorporated it within the character, so Mr. Vargas hated blood, too. 

Mr. Vargas also had an unusual hairdo during his time on "The Blacklist." Again, that was something Reubens pitched to Bokenkamp: "He said, 'Well, I'd like to talk about wigs because I think this guy has a strange look, and I think I have to know the wig before I can really know who he is.' And I'm like, 'Okay, great. Go find a wig. Let's see what we can find.'" Mr. Vargas easily could've become a forgettable character in the lengthy run of "The Blacklist." But thanks to Reubens' insights, he remains a standout.

The collaboration resulted in a fruitful friendship for Bokenkamp, who also admitted how Reubens would send him birthday and Christmas cards every year. He concluded, "Nearly a decade ago from working with him, I would still hear from him occasionally in the sweetest way possible. That's what makes it so hard." Many fans are right there with Bokenkamp in the aftermath of Paul Reubens' death, but at least there are plenty of movies and TV shows to remember him by.