The Blacklist's Ryan Eggold on Tom's First Red Run-In and Unmasking the Mysterious Apple Man
“When I was cast, I knew the general direction that the producers wanted to take Tom,” the actor shares about his question mark of an alter ego, “but that’s probably changed six or seven times since then — and continues to change!”
Fortunately, Eggold is privy toa handful of the hit NBC thriller’s impending plot twists, including an interesting new “triangle” forming among Tom, Liz and Red, as well as the identity of that creepy, apple-ingesting surveillance man.
Eggold is also spilling scoop on Tom and Red’s mysterious first encounter (Hint: It’s not a meet-cute) and explaining how he and his love Liz can possibly move forward as a couple, given recent, murderous events.
TVLINE | What did you know about Tom when you took this role?
When I initially had the audition, I didn’t know a lot; I hadn’t read the scripts, just the sides. So, he was this nice guy and I thought it was fine, nothing groundbreaking or exciting. Then they gave us these other secret sides to see if we could bring some layers [to the role]… I went home and read the script and was like, ‘What?!’ And then I got to the end and Tom had all of the different passports, and I said, ‘Yes. Let’s do this.’ [Laughs] [Creator] Jon Bokenkamp and the writers are really smart about playing off audience anticipation and playing into and against expectation, so the show’s constantly changing and evolving.
TVLINE | How much twisty-turny Tom information are you privy to ahead of each episode?
I know maybe a script in advance what’s happening, but that’s about it. Of course, I hear ideas of where the long-term [story] is going. In [last Monday's episode], they’re setting up this new triangle of Liz, Red and Tom, in the sense that Tom is demanding he’s innocent and Red, after Tom has been cleared, is saying that he’s still lying to her, and Liz is caught in the middle, wanting to love and trust her husband… There’s this new three-way element that will start to be a little more present.
TVLINE | How much will Tom learn about Red and his relationship with Liz, given the events of last week?
That is the question, and I don’t know the answer. [Laughs] Conceivably, if Tom is innocent, then he doesn’t know much. He’s not aware of the larger picture that Red is obviously aware of. If Tom is not innocent and he is something else, he would be deeply aware of many things that Lizzy wouldn’t even know. But I truly don’t know where this is going. I’m just excited to find out.
TVLINE | So, you don’t know definitively if Tom actually has a double life? It just seems like that information would affect the way you approach each scene.
No, perhaps the most challenging scene I’ve shot so far was a very, very short, seemingly very simple scene, and it was my first scene with James Spader. That relationship is still a mystery, so I had to play two possibilities at the same time, which is a very interesting, fine line to find, and something I haven’t really done before. I know a general idea of where the train is headed… [and] where it’s going is really awesome. [Laughs]
TVLINE | Is it even possible for Tom and Liz to have any semblance of a normal relationship now?
You hit the nail on the head, because that is exactly where they are… In [a] sense, they feel like they’re at the beginning of their relationship again and are trying to rediscover and rebuild that. At the moment, I think Liz genuinely believes Tom to be cleared and innocent… So, it’s about that: How do they find the love? How do they find the trust? How do they hold each other? How do they kiss each other? How do they go back to normal?
TVLINE | Photos from next week’s episode make it seem like they’re actually doing pretty well — unless it’s just a flashback.
That’s all about starting over. It’s not a flashback and is very much about what we were just talking about. They feel like there’s some ugly memories [in their home], so they decide to paint the walls and get back to where they were good.
TVLINE | We have to talk about that apple-eating onlooker. How quickly will we find out what is going on there?
Something dramatic was going to happen with the Apple Man at the end of this week’s episode, but then they changed it… We’re changing it up until the moment it airs, which is fun, but also: Where are we going?! [Laughs] So, the plan for the Apple Man is shifting, but I do know that they’ve said to me that Tom and Liz are going to find out who is watching them soon — I think within the next few episodes.
TVLINE | Leave us with one good tease about the most recent episode you’ve shot.
Let’s see… Tom and Red have their first encounter and obviously, as our show does, it’s full of questions.