Actor Name: Lance Henriksen
The Major is a man who has trained deep cover operatives all over the world. He buys and sells their work, and offers that work up for sale and it is not always as dark as murder. It really has to do with all kinds of corporate manipulations that go on anyway.
Lance Henriksen Interview
Q: Who is your character and what are his crimes?
A: My character is Bill McCready, they also call him The Major. He is a man who has trained deep cover operatives all over the world. He buys and sells their work, and offers that work up for sale and it is not always as dark as murder. It really has to do with all kinds of corporate manipulations that go on anyway. It is done every day. This is just another character structure.
Q: How did The Major come to know Tom Keen?
A: I found him when he was really young and a juvenile delinquent, and he had all the right kinds of courage to do the work we were training people to do; he was a natural, in fact. He has been working ever since. The Major trained him for the work that he does. I am very good at what I do.
Q: Why did you take the role of The Major?
A: It chose me. I was only going to do one or maybe two. And they said to me -- it was a very impulsive moment – ‘If you are going to do this you need to take the red-eye and start tomorrow!’ It was never my intention to do television. I love acting; it does not matter whether television or movies. And television is a very huge commitment because you tend to not know the end, whereas you can pace yourself if doing a film. And so that was my difficulty with television; that was the only one. I had already done a series, ‘Millennium,’ and I was on every show, no break.
Q: Why do you think Reddington has targeted your character?
A: I don’t think he has targeted me especially. I think the man has an appetite that goes in every direction.
Q: How did you prepare to portray The Major?
A: I am a little older than Tom. There is an element of experience that I have lived. I am not saying I am more experienced in a different way and I will work from that source. I will work from the source of witnessing I don’t want to miss what is going on around me. I think everybody in this show is hanging on for dear life, all the characters. It is a very dark and ambitious world. The web is a landmine. It is loaded with landmines. That is what I am seeing with The Blacklist, the interactions in The Blacklist can come from any direction, so you have to be dancing on your toes.
Q: You’re talking about very cagey, educated characters, but you learned to read late in life. What is the story behind that?
A: I was a painter and an artist and I had no need to read. I can speak my language. I am not dumb. It was just reading. It was almost like I was a self-imposed dyslexic. Some people read for absolute pleasure and I wasn’t one of them. I was so busy with life I didn’t really go that direction. Once I got into acting I realized it was all about the written word and plays. When I did my first play, I had to have someone put it on tape and I memorized it. I worked my way from that point. It didn’t frighten me. I wasn’t afraid. I have no time for fear. Again, working on a show like this where you have these very articulate writers and they push a language on you – they talk about a “delinquent inclination.” That appeared in one of the scripts “and your delinquent inclinations are the very thing that makes you invaluable” and I thought, You know what? I just have to surrender to this and I have to figure out why I am saying it.’ What am I doing by talking this way? My process is different because I am seeing language from a different angle.
Q: Do you think anyone will ever be able to outsmart Reddington?
A: Momentarily, yes, possibly, and I don’t think he would let you know. And he would have the next move ready. I think he thinks like a Rubik’s Cube; he is thinking in every direction at the same time and every color.
Q: What is it that is so appealing about playing a villain?
A: The world is loaded with people pontificating about what it should be and what it is and what you have got if you believe it -- and whatever the “it” is. Politics certainly have lost a lot of their sheen because we are seeing the outcome of politics both good and bad, and we are powerless to it, and they are the functioning kingdom and we are serfs outside the gates, and when you are playing an outlaw. Bob Dylan said it best: to live outside the law you have to be honest.
Q: What is it like working with The Blacklist cast?
A: Something really interesting happened. The whole crew, when you do a series, they end up being your support system, and you feel that when you start out doing a series. I was a visiting actor and of course you have to fear that. I felt a bit awkward in the very beginning. After three shows I like everybody and am feeling the support of the show and know I am for real and we have some real talent on this show as far as I am concerned. James Spader, we finally did a scene together and it was electric. The writing on this is pretty edgy and wonderful.
Q: What was your experience on set?
A: It’s a very big group of people, the crew is very professional so our work is framed each week and we are ready and they are ready. I have known Michael (Watkins) for a long time. Michael is one of THE BLACKLIST producers and we did “Millennium” together. It was a friendly face when I got here. I worked with James and Ryan (Eggold). That kind of support you have to earn it; the other day we did a really difficult scene they had accepted me and I could feel it.
Q: What else would you like to add?
I am just as excited about seeing these shows as I was doing them.