Exclusive Interview: Megan Boone on ‘The Blacklist’

Megan Boone

Megan Boone stood out in the pilot for NBC’s new drama “The Blacklist.”

She’d have to, going head-to-head with James Spader as the seductive, morally ambiguous Red Reddington. Boone plays Elizabeth Keen, the rookie agent Red chose to be his handler when he turned himself in. We got to interview Megan Boone one-on-one when she joined her castmates to present “The Blacklist” to the Television Critics Association. Now that you’ve seen Megan Boone in action, we can bring you our interview.

CraveOnline: How competitive was the audition for “The Blacklist?”

Megan Boone: Every actress that was out for work in TV that read the script I think wanted this role, and if they didn’t then they really missed out because it was the kind of role that really made me and many women very hungry I think. I think there’s something in her that me and a lot of my girlfriends who are actresses automatically responded to. I was just lucky enough to be in a place in my life where I was ready to take on something like that. Not ready in the sense that I was equipped or prepared but ready in the sense that I was willing to take a chance and take a leap of faith. Good things came of it.

Are you suggesting that some of your close friends went up for the same role?

I have some friends who went up for the role. They were very congratulatory when I got it, as I would’ve been to them. It’s a really wonderful thing that can happen for an actress in her life and I think it’s important to have that kind of compassionate relationship with your friends where you can congratulate them when they have good things happen to them. 

Did you go out for anything else this season just in case?

Actually, I went out for other things only because I wanted to increase my chances of getting this. I called the people that I work with and I said, “Keep sending me out. I want to garner interest from other projects so that this project knows that I’m valuable.” It was a business move and I was out there every day pounding the pavement just to show that even though I wasn’t a name actor and I hadn’t really gotten a break, that they weren’t crazy for liking me. 

Is your character going to get out into the field and kick some ass?

Yeah, I’m training right now in Krav Maga. I would like my character, who is now very much a rookie, to evolve into a very strong, formidable hero and someone who can hold her own in a fight against really high level criminals. So I’m training myself and Elizabeth Keen will be training in the show. Then a few seasons in, there will be I think some more intricate fight scenes. 

How complicated is this going to get for Elizabeth?

I think it’s already extremely complicated. Her whole life is turned on its ear from the very beginning. The new complications will be how she uncovers the truth and what she discovers about herself and her life that she didn’t know before. That’s true for every character in this piece. We all seem to be one thing and then are proven to be something else entirely.

When you have the interrogation or interview scenes, is that the sort of thing you look for as an actor when you can go head to head with another performer?

Those are the kind of scenes that really are a true test to whether you are in the moment and responsive and whether you have done all of your preparatory work. If that work isn’t there and if you’re not right in the moment, then nothing happens. It really tests your ability to stay in the moment with the other actor. You have to really listen to them and respond to what’s happening there. 

Is Elizabeth going to go undercover on some of these missions?

Elizabeth is going to have to dress for the part that Reddington wants her to play. 

I wondered if she would have to play characters undercover within the character of Elizabeth Keen.

I would love that. That would be so much fun. There’s no indication of it yet but it could be. It could be.

I can tell you’ve done a lot of preparation for this role. It shows. Are there things you’ve decided about Elizabeth Keen on your own?

Yes, I made a lot of decisions about her on my own, some of them private and some that I’ve shared with the creators. They are on board, or maybe we both thought of it at the same time because great minds think alike or maybe it was a good idea or maybe we’re all just having bad ideas but I doubt that’s the case. We all want her to go darker. They want her to become more jaded and a little more sinister. 

What are some things that are never going to be on the show that you know about Elizabeth?

Those are the private things. Those are the things that I keep to myself that help me play the role. 

Have you done this amount of work on all the parts you’ve played?

Yes, I’ve always worked sometimes too hard on roles. Sometimes you can do too much work and I learned that in the past. At a certain point, you need to leave well enough alone. 

What made you love acting in the first place?

Well, I’ve always been sort of drawn to storytelling and I was always very playful growing up. I’m still a playful person and it requires a sense of play. You try to always keep that childlike quality, the one that imagines friends and pretend worlds around them, pretends that there are different worlds around them that really aren’t there. So in my mind, in a sense I’m still playing house but with much bigger ideas than I was able to even conceive of as a child.

Are you looking forward to having new guest stars as some of the black list criminals?

What I love about our show is that we’re shooting in New York City and I think that’s the home of some of the greatest actors in the world. So we’ll have some really incredible people coming through the show. We have Jane Alexander next episode which is very exciting.

As one of the criminals?

One of the characters. 

I guess we’ll find out, but the potential for all of the people on Reddington’s blacklist is fascinating.

It’s pretty interesting because we could have criminals on both sides of the law. We could have politicians, we could have hackers who might be revolutionaries, they might be criminals. It could be ambiguous whether or not the person is a criminal. I think that’s a really interesting central question. What is a criminal and what isn’t?

Is the show asking that question?

Very much so because Reddington, a central part of his character is that he’s a criminal, but you get the sense that he’s trying to do something good right now in his life by catching other criminals and by helping Elizabeth Keen if possible.

You say helping. Are you sure he’s helping?

We’re not sure of that, but that’s one of the central questions as well. 

Are you equally invested in the episodic blacklist stories and the season-long/series-long story?

I’m more invested in the relationships, in the character relationships. 

How is Elizabeth's relationship with Tom?

That’s the most important relationship in my life. So I think that my relationship with Tom drives all of my decisions in the near future.