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The Role Of Reddington On The Blacklist Almost Went To Four Different Actors

It's difficult to think about "The Blacklist" without thinking of James Spader. From the very beginning of the NBC crime series, the actor's charismatic performance as the brilliant and cunning Raymond "Red" Reddington has been the thing that everything else in "The Blacklist" has revolved around. While Spader, who previously won several Primetime Emmy awards for his performances on shows like "Boston Legal" and "The Practice" (via IMDb), has never won any major awards for his ongoing turn as Red, he has consistently received praise for his work on "The Blacklist" over the course of the series' time on the air.

Now, it seems practically impossible to imagine anyone else in the role of Red. However, fans of "The Blacklist" may be surprised to learn that Spader was not the first choice for the role. As a matter of fact, the creative team behind "The Blacklist" actually offered the part to four different, equally capable actors before they eventually came to an agreement with Spader. 

To their credit, the other actors who were offered the role of Red on "The Blacklist" are all accomplished film and TV performers, but they would have brought the character to life in very different ways than Spader has.

Several legendary actors were originally approached to play Raymond Reddington

In a January 2018 interview with Variety, the cast and crew of "The Blacklist" opened up about their experiences making the NBC series and shared some interesting behind-the-scenes details about the show. During the interview, executive producer and showrunner John Eisendrath even revealed that the show's creative team originally reached out to multiple different actors for the role of Raymond Reddington. In specific, Eisendrath said that the part was originally sent to Pierce Brosnan, Kiefer Sutherland, Bryan Cranston, and Richard Gere.

Eisendrath was quick to note that he's still not entirely certain how far discussions with those performers went, admitting, "I'm not sure if our offers even got to those actors or if their agents just said, 'Forget it.'" Fortunately, everything eventually worked out for the best when Spader was offered the role and accepted it.

Indeed, while most actors might have been intimidated by having to play all of Red's numerous eccentricities, that certainly wasn't the case for Spader. In fact, in an interview with Daily Actor in 2013, Spader revealed that it was the limitless possibilities Red presented that drew him to the part in the first place. "I just thought, first of all, that he seemed like he'd be great fun to play in the pilot, but he also just – he seems like he'd sustain over the course of the season and even over the course of, you know, multiple seasons," Spader told the outlet.

Opening up more about how Red's many mysteries made him a character that could be explored over many years, Spader said, "From a completely selfish point of view, that was enticing because it opened the door to all sorts of surprises as time goes on."