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The Blacklist: How Paul Reubens' Real Life Fear Of Blood Affected Mr. Vargas' Character

The best series figure out early how to work their actors' quirks into the show's general landscape. Some character traits — like Laverne DeFazio's predilection for Pepsi milk or William T. Riker's maneuver to sit down – actually came from the preferences or physical needs of the actors playing those roles. Another notable example is the late Paul Reubens' fear of blood influencing the behavior of Mr. Vargas, the character he played on "The Blacklist." 

Speaking with People in the wake of Reubens' July passing, Jon Bokenkamp, who created the suspense drama, explained the origin of the character's fears. When Bokenkamp first sat down with Reubens to discuss the role, he said there tends to be a lot of blood splashed about on the show's set. "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.' I thought he was joking. And so we said, 'Okay. That's who this character is. This character hates blood.' So we took his peculiarities and worked them into the show."

The actor ended up showing up to the set with a cane just in case he did faint while filming his gritty scenes, a decision that was written into the script. It turns out that Bokenkamp was determined to have Reubens on the program for a very important reason.

Jon Bokenkamp admits that he created the role of Mr. Vargas for Paul Reubens

Jon Bokencamp told people that the role of Mr. Vargas was written specifically for Paul Reubens, so he was open to trying anything the actor suggested. "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 to come be on 'The Blacklist?' And he was lovely enough to do it." In fact, Bokencamp says they underwrote the wrote deliberately so Reubens could come in with his own fresh material.

Aside from his fear of blood shaping Mr. Vargas' personality, Bokencamp reports Reubens brought another suggestion to the table — and it was all about the character's hair. "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.' " 

The double agent popped in and out of Red Reddington's (James Spader) life over a two-season span before his duplicity was revealed, and Reddington shot him to death. It marked the conclusion of one of Reubens' most interesting post-Pee-wee roles, but it will linger in the memories of "The Blacklist" fans for years to come.