Blacklist Spader
Credit: NBC

You may have a tough time recognizing James Spader on the new NBC drama The Blacklist.

The actor, who plays an ex-government agent turned criminal mastermind, went bald for the role. So, what prompted the buzz?

“Actors are burdened with everything else that they’ve done before that, any role that they’re playing, and I thought it would be nice to take off my hat as an entirely different person,” Spader, whose last TV stint was on The Office, told reporters Saturday at the Television Critics Tour in Beverly Hills.

In the pilot, Spader literally takes off his hat revealing his shaved headed after turning himself into the FBI.

“I thought it would be a great moment when he surrenders himself and takes his hat off and the juxtaposition of the shot with him in the long hair [that you see in his mug shot],” said Spader, who explains that an international criminal should have low-maintenance hair. “The way his life has been for the last 20 years, he’s moving from place to place. I thought that he should have a haircut that he could do himself, if he cares to, or he could go to some barbershop in Cambodia and cut his hair in 10 minutes. His clothes are like that too. He wears clothes that can go from a bank to a cave.”

The crime drama follows Spader’s character, Raymond “Red” Reddington, as he promises to deliver a long thought-dead terrorist to the FBI, on the odd condition that he’s allowed to speak to a criminal profiler (Megan Boone), who’s fresh out of Quantico.

The Blacklist premieres Sept. 23 on NBC.