Ron C. Jones Interview
Q: Could you describe your character Dr. James Covington? What sort of doctor is he?
A: He is a lung transplant specialist, a thoracic surgeon who works in transplants. He is one of the most brilliant minds, a brilliant mind gone bad. His justification for what he does is he was banned. His license was revoked because he did a very risky experiment by putting an adult lung into a child which is something that the courts are of different opinions as to whether or not is a good procedure. In this particular instance it worked and he ended up saving a young girl’s life. Once his license was revoked he wanted to dedicate his life to saving children.
Q: What are his criminal elements?
A: He deals with criminals, underground drug lords and business people who have the money to pay for underground donor organs. He steals organs from living people and puts them in those who have money to pay for them. They end up murdering certain criminals and taking organs, which go to the highest bidder. If they (recipients of transplanted organs) don’t pay him the amount -- on a regular basis -- he takes the organ back. You have to pay rent for the organ! He filters the dirty money into funding a pediatric hospital. His whole justification behind the criminality is he is saving children.
Q: He sounds like a complex, intriguing character. What was it like playing him?
A: It was interesting for me because there is a duality to the character. The audience knows he has done something terrific. That ends up being the dilemma for Liz who comes in. He says to her, ‘Okay, you can arrest me. If you do, the child will die.’ If Liz lets him continue, and the child dies, it is not a good thing, and if she doesn’t let him, she has it on her conscience.
Q: He sounds as if he would be pretty deep underground, given his proclivity for organ theft and illegal operations. How was he found?
A: They find him by tracking down a lot of computer stuff and phone taps. He is just about to operate on this young boy, and they come in with guns blazing and he calmly explains the dilemma is up to you -- if you want to save the kid or not.
Q: Why do you think Reddington has targeted your character?
A: They are looking at someone and find a body where the cavity of the body is gutted out. It was one of the criminals he took the lungs and heart back from. It is a simple murder case they have to go into, and the information leads to him. Reddington is on another case. His information cross-references to my story. He knows everyone in the criminal element. He helps give them information to help them find me. I don’t have a scene with Reddington. Our stories in this episode are separate but they cross-reference.
Q: How did you prepare to portray Dr. Covington?
A: You don’t get a lot of time in television to prepare. I hopped on the computer and grabbed a lot of notes for medical language, specificity for transplants. Once I was on the set, I had to talk to the director about dialog. For me, as an actor, it becomes more about the specificity of the scene. It was about making sure the language was correct and the thought process was clear, as well as the character. He is a doctor as well as a very flawed man. The research was capturing the flawed man, and the dignity of a man at the highest level of his craft, which is as a transplant surgeon.
Q: Do you think anyone will ever be able to outsmart Reddington?
A: I don’t know. I think that is what makes the series so great. It is almost like you don’t want it to end, and I hope not because it is such a good series and I hope it goes on. I am sure eventually he will have to be caught, no television show can advocate getting away with the murder.
Q: What is it that appeals so much about playing a villain?
A: Playing a villain is a big part of what I do. Eight out of 10 characters I play have an interesting element. It gives you the opportunity to reach further into another way of thinking about these people we are usually afraid of, or think we love, and end up finding we don’t know that much about them. There is a whole other world going on beneath them. There is a door there you can open and go through and explore and that’s what makes it so interesting. You just wish you had more time and more dialog to build a story around it.
Q: What is it like working with The Blacklist cast?
A: I worked with Megan. She was extraordinary. I struggled in the beginning with some of the dialog to totally understand it. It was early in the morning and long medical jargon. She and the director and the crew -- everyone knew what they were doing. They were all really proud to be a part of something like ‘The Blacklist’ right now. You could feel that energy. Everyone knew they had a hit show going.
Q: What was your experience like on set?
A: It was a wonderful experience. Any time you get an opportunity to do something like that you want to bring in your best work. It was a wonderful two days.
Q: Does he survive?
A: He does not get killed. He does get arrested.
Q: Then could he return?
A: There is a possibility. This guy is interesting. From your lips to God’s ears!