From Beverly Hills to international spy, actor Ryan Eggold has played the role of teacher twice on television but his most recently role on NBC’s hit show The Blacklist turned him from elementary school educator to covert operative. Eggold’s character Tom Keen recently returned to The Blacklist with a new look and plenty of questions about where he was in the meantime.
Eggold sat down with NBC10 to talk about his turn as Tom Keen, to give some insights into the Californian native behind the character and the Pennsylvania singing star he would love to co-star with.
Was it difficult to make the jump from 90210 to The Blacklist?
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I wouldn’t say it’s difficult to make that jump. Every role is fun…. Anytime I get a new role I feel like I forget what the job is – I forget what acting is or how to do it … You sort of stumble through it until you find your way and say, ‘Alright, I think I have a semblance of who this guy might be.’ I’m just grateful to be playing a role that’s well written and multidimensional.
So where was your character Tom this whole time?
Tom was in Brazil, he joined a group of professional knitters who knit quilts and sell them for $10 apiece and he decided to come back and be an assassin. (Eggold jokes)
I actually don’t know where Tom was, I think he was regrouping. Liz let him go from the boat and when we find him again he’s sort of desperate for a job and trying to rebalance himself. I think he’s desperate for a job, not just to keep going, but to forget where he’s been and what he was and who he was with Liz. Sort of hide behind a new mask because I think he has difficulty coping with his own life.
Is Tom your favorite character you’ve played?
It’s hard to say favorite but I would definitely say I love the character and I’m super grateful to be playing him. He’s definitely, definitely on my list of Top 5 or so.
What comparisons do you draw with Tom?
I draw a few -- obviously, the sociopathic murderous tendencies I don’t share in common with him. He’s someone who pretends for a living so I can certainly relate to that. When he was the schoolteacher there was a lot of that that was closer to me as a person as terms of the more mild-mannered nature. But discovering the violence and finding those parts of yourself where you can find rage and bring those kind of things are really fun because it’s new for me.
What happened to the hair?
It was gorgeous; I’m not going to argue with you there. I didn’t shampoo (he jokes).
Tom is going on a new mission and he’s going undercover as a new character and we’re going to get more into it but it’s for his new mission – it’s a new look, a new persona.
Do you prefer it long or short?
For me personally I like both – I like change. I don’t like to stick in one look for too long... It’s a good job for that. The long hair was really fun, I dug it but the short hair is so much less work – you take a shower and you’re ready to go.
What is it like for a Southern California guy spending winters now on the East Coast?
It takes a couple of weeks for my blood to adjust and then I’m fine. This is my second winter in New York – last winter was friggin’ freezing – I think winter’s been better. Maybe I’m crazy. But I’m kind of enjoying the snow right now because I know we’re at the tail end of it. It does make for a pretty picture – with the snow-capped trees. It’s funny, growing up in California I didn’t have the snow, I didn’t have seasons, so I kind of appreciate it because I haven’t been slogging through it my whole life.
I got giant snow boots that are just big pieces of rubber on my feet and I just stomp through the snow. It’s kind of fun.
Who would you love to play in a biopic?
I gotta say Kurt Cobain but I’m 30, so it’s already too late for me. Who would be Courtney Love? Could we miss up Taylor Swift, mess her up a little bit -- give her some runny mascara or something?
What is your advice in life?
Don’t take advice from me that’s my advice. (He smiles) I guess my advice would be just to be sure of yourself, no matter what, to be self-possessed to not make your decisions based on what other people think.
What message would like to give your Blacklist viewers?
The ride that Tom is going on is really about to change and I’m really excited for people to see it. And, I’m really excited to see where this character is going, he’s really at a crossroads in his life. So we’re going to learn more about who this guy really is, finally, for the first time. About who he is without a false identity -- who he is not being the violent assassin, spy that he is -- but who he really is as a person. I’m excited to explore that.