The Blacklist star Megan Boone on that Liz Keen surprise — exclusive
Warning: This story contains major spoilers from the season finale of The Blacklist. Read at your own risk!
Jon Snow’s not the only one getting the resurrection treatment.
A month after shocking viewers by killing off Liz Keen (Megan Boone) in childbirth, The Blacklist revealed in the season 3 finale that she faked her death to get away from criminal mastermind Raymond Reddington (James Spader).
Without Red’s protection, however, Liz was abducted by new villain Alexander Kirk (Ulrich Thomsen), who — gasp! — claims to be her father. Boone, who gave birth in real life on April 15, shares the exclusive scoop on that epic twist. (Read our postmortem with executive producers Jon Bokenkamp and John Eisendrath here.)
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What was your first reaction when you heard they’d be faking Liz’s death?
MEGAN BOONE: Jon Bokenkamp told me on a phone call while he was breaking Liz’s arc for season 3. I was in the lobby at Film Forum, so I had to stay very quiet and discrete, everything short of speaking in code. I think all I said was, “Whoa… okay. Thank you for the information,” and then went into the theater like the cat that ate the canary and watched Terminal Station. I both loved and hated having a secret for all that time. It was the first time in my life I’ve had a huge secret for a really long time and had to keep it from my cast and so many people close to me.
Was the decision to fake Liz’s death solely because of your real-life pregnancy, or do you think Liz HAD TO get away from Red at this point?
I can say that it’s clear at this point that the answers Liz seeks about her mother, her past, and her connection to Red aren’t going to come from Red. When Liz asks Red a question — possibly one she’s asked him many times before — he is persistent in steering the conversation to a different subject. He is consistently evasive, so it’s timely that she try other avenues to get the answers she seeks as well as actively seeking out the life she wants. It’s a good point in the series for Liz to break away.
Liz was only free momentarily, and now she’s been captured by a man purporting to be her father. What’s going through her head in that final moment of discovery?
I know the father reveal is meant to be the dramatic event, but all I could imagine Liz caring about is her infant being gone. That’s it. Someone could come in and claim to be the messiah with rays of light coming out of their ears, and Liz would just want that infant back.
Liz has no idea what has happened to Tom and her baby. Can she even trust this man claiming to be her father?
Oh no, I don’t think she trusts this guy. He took away her family and possibly the anonymity she tried to gain by faking her death.
Talk about Liz’s main motivating factor for getting away from Red.
When she saw that the life of her baby was at risk because Red was in her life, it had gone too far. No matter what her personal reasons for engaging with Red before, they all fell away with the birth of her child.
Liz has pushed Red away on several occasions, but she always let him back into her life. Why do you think that is?
In order to reconcile this, I asked myself, “Why do people stay in fraught situations? And what is it about this one in particular that maintains a grip on her?” For me, it has come down to a few different things in the course of the series. When she is in over her head, she needs him. When she was a fugitive or, early on, forced to work at a higher level in the FBI than she had any business being involved, his devotion to her was useful. It was also intriguing, which isn’t enough for her to suffer some of the things that his world brings, but it’s part of his allure. I think the most important thing that keeps her coming back is her allegiance to the people in her task force and their mission. They are stopping some pretty nefarious characters and, at this point, that has felt more important than any of her other options in life.
Now that she’s technically no longer under Red’s thumb, do you think Liz and Tom can find happiness?
I don’t think we’re at the happily-ever-after point of The Blacklist… I’m not sure we’ll ever be.
Liz went into this knowing she could no longer be Elizabeth Keen. How difficult is that for her?
You might say it’s small price to pay to escape some of the more difficult situations that being Elizabeth Keen brought her. On some level, it may even be a relief for her to shed that skin.
Will that make her even more curious as to finding out who she really is, a.k.a. Masha Rostova?
Who Liz really is has always been dependent on outside factors. The entire life of the show, she has looked to the morsels of information Red offers up as indications of how she should feel about herself. Until now, she has been reactionary to overwhelming circumstances, rather than an active and resourceful woman in search of herself on her own terms. That’s why I’m very excited about her independence. The question of who she is could actually come from knowledge gained of herself, by herself. I don’t foresee a Red-less future for Liz, but I think Red will have a very different woman to deal with at this turning point in the series, and he will be forced to evolve and compensate for her newfound autonomy.
Red discovers the truth in the finale. Was there a part of her that was almost expecting or hoping he would?
A stronger Liz will suffer the consequences of extricating him from her life, rather than wish for him to rescue her again. That’s not to say he won’t, just that I think she’s become braver and not a damsel in distress. I think she’s learned a lot and is able to fight for herself now.
Does she regret not finding out exactly who Red is to her? Will that still keep her curiosity while she’s away?
She’s not closing the case on her connection to Red or her past, just changing her tactics to get that information. I think she may have given up on getting answers from him because it’s proven futile. If she is going to find out, she has to find someone who has the answers and is willing to share them. She has to branch out.
How do you think Liz and Red’s dynamic has evolved since the show began?
Once she became aware that his actions always sprang from self-interest, his interest in her became less and less flattering. Red’s veil of mystery and intimidation became threadbare, and that broken human being he shows glimpses of to the audience in private moments became visible to her. That’s when she stopped being enamored of him and started to actually love him.
Does Liz regret letting the team believe she actually died?
Absolutely. Unfortunately, hurting the ones she loved was the only way to get out.
Do you hope the team will forgive her and understand where she was coming from?
A part of me thinks they’d want freedom for her. They’ve all seen firsthand the threat that she was under in Red’s world. If they discover she’s alive, I think they’ll be relieved.
Liz’s death comes during a TV season of several fake deaths. How do you feel about that trend? Do you fear losing the trust of the audience?
I didn’t know about that trend. I’m not one of those actors who claims to not have a TV, but I can honestly say I just now finished Mad Men and started Downton Abbey, so I’m a bit behind. I’m not able to watch violent shows where all of these fake deaths you mention are prone to happen.
The Blacklist will return this fall on NBC. In the meantime, read our postmortem with executive producers Jon Bokenkamp and John Eisendrath here.
To continue reading about The Blacklist, pick up the new issue of Entertainment Weekly, on newsstands Friday or at ew.com/xmen — and subscribe now for more exclusive interviews and photos, only in EW.