It's a very different-looking James Spader that viewers are about to meet in the new US drama, The Blacklist. The star of classic 1980s films Pretty in Pink, Less Than Zero, and Sex, Lies and Videotape was most recently seen as Robert California in the US version of The Office and memorably traded quips with William Shatner for five seasons on Boston Legal.
Spader's wavy hair is gone for The Blacklist; in its place is a close-cropped cut befitting a top marine turned international fugitive who now wants to work with the FBI tracking down terrorists and villains they can't find on their own.
Spader revealed that the close-cropped look of Raymond "Red" Reddington - on the FBI's most-wanted list until he hands himself in during the opening scenes of the series pilot - was partly his idea.
"I knew the very first thing when I got to New York to shoot the pilot. I had very long hair and I knew that they were going to shoot a surveillance photo of Reddington to have on the wall there when he surrenders himself," Spader told the Television Critics Association press tour in Los Angeles.
"I thought it would be just a great moment when he surrenders himself, he takes his hat off, and the juxtaposition of the shot of him with long hair and then like this.
"And I also thought that it would be nice just because actors are burdened with everything else that they've done before in any role that they're playing and I thought it would be nice to take off my hat and it's an entirely different person and a very different look to go with that.
"The way his life has been for the last 20 years, he moves very swiftly through his life. He's moving from place to place very quickly.
"I thought he should have a haircut that he can do himself if he cares to, or he can go to some barber shop in a little town in Cambodia and they can cut his hair in 10 minutes. His clothes are like that, too, in that he looks well dressed but travelling clothes. You know, he wears clothes that he can go from a bank to a cave and he's dressed accordingly."
Members of the TCA recently voted The Blacklist as the best drama of the new US TV season ahead of Masters of Sex, coming to SBS1 on October 3 and Hostages, coming to Nine on October 2. The Blacklist came second behind Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. in the most promising new show of the season list. Executive producer Jon Bokenkamp said the show would dip into a different world of crime each week.
"We're going to go find criminals that, as we present in the pilot, the FBI may not know exist. I think there's an opportunity to have fun with the various people who were involved in crime in ways that we have not seen before.
"So each week we will have a different criminal but I think the reason you come back to the show, or at least what excites me about it, are the people and the secrets that they have and what's happening at home.
"I think in most procedural type shows, you don't go home. You stay at the office or in the bullpen where they're solving the crime, and here it's essential that we go home."
The relationship between Red and rookie profiler Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone), the only person he will work with at the FBI, even though she doesn't know him, has already been compared to Hannibal Lecter and Clarice Starling in Silence of the Lambs.
Co-executive producer John Eisendrath said it was a great film and comparison but there was a big difference between the characters. "Red is not a psychopath; he is someone who is much more of an enigma," Eisendrath explained.
"Is he good? Is he bad? What is his journey like - I think should be part of the question in the series. Is it a journey of redemption? Is it a journey of revenge?"I think the same is true for Elizabeth Keen. While she may start out in a sort of Clarice Starling naive sort of innocent place, this is much more a journey of discovery, who she is. And this is a journey of discovery, not just for the audience but also for the character."