The Blacklist's Ryan Eggold on Tom's First Red Run-In and Unmasking the Mysterious Apple Man

RyanEggoldTheBlacklistThe Blacklist‘s Tom Keen is a mystery — one that Ryan Eggold is as eager as viewers are to solve.

“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.

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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]

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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?

RyanBlacklistTVLINE | 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.

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  1. K. says:

    I really like The Blacklist but… hope it’s not just me because I think the character Tom brings the show down and would be better off without him…

    • Josh says:

      Funny, I think the Tom storyline is one of it’s best parts…They just need to be careful not to drag it on.

      • K. says:

        Agree, I think that’s what it is for me, just starting to drag a little with Tom. I think it would be interesting if he turns out bad and gets added to the list!

  2. Andrew Doehrman says:

    Interesting interview, Megan. I’m very intrigued as to where Tom’s storyline is heading. Whatever “side” he ultimately falls on, I’m sure the writers will handle it well. I think, based on the 6 episodes that have aired thus far, “The Blacklist” is far and away the best new show of the season (drama or comedy).

  3. Nick says:

    i got addicted quite quickly to the Blacklist and I must say I keep taking Red’s side. He’s fun, intriguing and he genuinely seems to care about Liz.
    When I found out they would have addressed Tom’s double life issue on last week episode, I knew he was going to be cleared by the end of the hour because they couldn’t solve that mistery just yet, but nonetheless I still believe he’s hiding some very dark secrets from Lizzy, and that they’ll split up by the end of the season. Maybe Tom will take up another role and stay in the show, or maybe not.

  4. Josh says:

    Well Tom is definitely NOT a teacher, at least I hope not as that would be anit-climatic(unless it ends in tragedy due to Elizabeth’s mistrust..), the question is whether he’s a good or bad guy and if he really does love Elizabeth or if it’s all a ruse. I sort of hope he does, as I think she has better chemistry with Tom than straight-laced FBI agent from Homeland.

  5. Ugh this is going to be yet another SUPER frustrating episode. I can’t stand watching Liz and “Tom” being all lovey dovey when it’s obvious there’s something going on and he’s lying to her, especially because if he’s innocent the entire plotline will be stupid and pointless. It’s going to suck so much seeing her believe in him when she shouldn’t. Ugh!

    • JC says:

      I think the point is Red’s manipulation of Liz, and as a profiler I can’t believe that wasn’t obvious to her from the beginning. He undermines and destroys her other relationships/sources of emotional support and presents himself as the only one she can trust so that she gets to where she only depends on him. He’s fixated on her for whatever reason, and getting her to trust him completely is part of the game.

      • jerrired says:

        Yeah a huge part of me hope Tom is innocent and it’s all Red’s manipulation. I think that would be a bigger and better twist than Tom actually be this crazy evil guy.

  6. Tran 2.0 says:

    SPOILER ALERT! Wonder if Tom has become a “double agent” a la Brody in Season Two of Homeland.

  7. Abc says:

    I actually really love Tom. I personally hope he is innocent. I mean I think they could still make the storyline interesting. I think it would almost be more annoying if they go through all the trouble to make it seem like he is innocent and have him be guilty in the end.

  8. Melissa says:

    Am I the only one who thinks that Red is Lizzys father??!!

    • scotlore says:

      @Melissa: No Not the only one.. I think Red is Liz’s father too.

    • em says:

      I thought that in the first episode, but then there were so many hints afterwards that I thought it was too obvious. Maybe I’m overthinking though.

    • Nick says:

      That’s the first thing I thought as well. But then wouldn’t that be too obvious? I’m now more inclined to believe Red is someone’s important from her childhood, but not a direct relative. Like her godfather, or a close associate to her family.

      • Drew Melbourne says:

        I’m guessing it’s a reverse Star Wars (spoilers for Star Wars) and it turns out Red isn’t her father, but he KILLED her father.

        • Joe says:

          I’m waiting for the double plot twist. You find out Red “Killed” her father at the end of this season after teases that he might be her dad. Then you find out in a later season he lied and actually IS her father, who worked for the CIA undercover, but something awful happened with the family, Lizzy survived, and from that day he’s been rogue undercover establishing a criminal empire and playing a dirty game, all in an effort to find out everyone involved with the family’s murder, and now that he has enough to go on and knows lizzy’s job, has decided to stay close to “protect her” and use her to get revenge on the people who destroyed his family – even if that means lying to Lizzy and pulling a reverse Vader, and saying he killed her dad when he actually IS her dad.

          That’s where I see this going in the long term.

    • Kim says:

      Me too! I’ve thought that since the first episode!

    • Ashley Land says:

      Nope. I was also thinking that too. I have a feeling that he is lizzy ‘ s father!

  9. Abc says:

    I was totally thinking that at one point but I thought that would be way too obvious and predictable.

  10. scotlore says:

    I think the Farmer monologue Red told the Stewmaker was potentially revealing about who Red was and who he became.

  11. lisa says:

    I originally through Red would be her father but it would be too obvious, my current theory is that she is the daughter of a former associate/friend of Red’s and he is using her to lure her father out ………… with the added bonus of turning her against her father due to Red’s manipulations ….. Red’s gofer (the one who pretended to be the Dean) said something about finding “their man” so that pushed me to my current theory

  12. dq18 says:

    If Tom is so innocent, how in the h-e-double hockey sticks did he find that box?! Lizzie pit it back in the floor. It’s covered with carpet.

    On another note, I don’t want Red to be Lizzie’s father. I would much rather her father be an even bigger bad on the list that Red is trying to draw out. Maybe once upon a time they were friends, but then her father turned. Red genuinely cares about Lizzie, but also wants to see her father pay.

  13. Joey says:

    Great interview with Ryan. I can’t wait to see Tom and Red’s first meeting.

  14. David4 says:

    So it sounds like they were going to speed the show up a bit when they had 13 episodes, now with 22 they are going to DRRRRRAAAAAAAGGGGGGG it on. Too bad.

  15. DavidSask says:

    I quit this show last week with no reveal and it becoming villain of the week show. I may come back to show when it becomes not what is above and more twists are added to show, James hammy faces and character are over the top as well, dial it down several notches please!!!

  16. ethan says:

    I wonder if the show is also leading to a slow burn with Ressler and Liz once the Tom/Liz thing is over because he is obviously lying to her. The way he was comforting her after the stewmaker and the exchange they had while she was profiling him the next episode seemed pointless otherwise. I much prefer Ressler to Tom. I’m not sure if it’s the actor or the character but all I can think when he is on screen in ‘bland’ and ‘blah’.

  17. sarah says:

    I love this show!
    It is interesting that the writers keep changing the storyline.
    I still say he is innocent.

  18. Anaconda says:

    I recently watched an interview with the showrunners. They said that the storyline will center around Liz’s “growth” and Red finding his own salvation and redemption in her. Personally, I hope Liz and Tom fight for their marriage, even in the face of opposing forces that threaten to tear them apart. If he is hiding something, I hope he still maintains his love and benevolence towards her. Btw, I think Ressler and Cooper are dirty. Red may soon be the least of Liz’s problems. Perhaps Red already knows this. If you recall dialog from the pilot, he told her he wanted to make HER famous, with no mention of the other agents.

  19. Ellie Mehntel says:

    I think that Lizzie’s dad really is Red but from an affair with her mom. so he has the interest in her as a dad. she thinks mom’s hubby is really her dad. Red doesn’t want to sully mom’s good name. of course, she could knock him out & get DNA if she ever catches a clue.

  20. lizzie also says:

    It’s James Spader for crying out loud. Not that everyone else isn’t doing an awesome job because they are but why can’t everyone just relax and see where the show goes.
    It’s a TV show and it’s Spader . . . . what more do you want???

  21. tajicat says:

    i think the writers have to watch as tom being at the hospital..meets red but before all this
    the planes stopped flying so how did he get there so fast..

  22. brad says:

    You see.. i hope tom is inocent and red wants to blowmind lizzy.. i mean if tom whas an double agent or somethig he would not get wonded that easy by a single old and ill man in the first episode when he apeard to be stabed. And i don’t know.. he had that interview in boston with that “friend” of red.. so i don’t know but i think red is playing him. Also i don’t know what to think about toms metting with red.. any clue?