Megan Boone has a renewed focus in her career and personal life -- and it’s partly thanks to The Blacklist, the NBC action thriller she’s starred in as Elizabeth Keen for nearly five years.
“Now that I’ve done The Blacklist, I feel like it’s prepared me for anything -- especially shooting 22 hours of content every year, and content that is as extreme as the material is on our show,” Boone, 34, tells ET. “I feel very confident that I can take on anything at this point.”
It’s that same mentality that has driven Boone for much of her career, though The Blacklist has a special place in her heart, if only for the acting muscles she’s gotten to flex. “In one word, what I would take from playing Liz is a feeling of extraordinary competence,” Boone reflects.
In Wednesday’s winter premiere, titled “Ruin,” the series departs from its usual blacklister-of-the-week formula and spends an entire episode with Liz as she struggles to grieve the death of her husband, Tom Keen (Ryan Eggold), and attempts to figure out a life without him. Boone’s performance is both heartbreaking and unrelenting (and it wouldn’t be The Blacklist without a few unexpected twists), and she credits the show’s producers for wanting to take a step back and embrace the new chapter in Liz’s life, and in turn, the show.
“The producers wanted to do an episode that was really cinematic, that stood alone and centered on Liz as she experiences life after Tom’s death, which gives it this very reflective tone and really breaks away from the formula from The Blacklist and solving cases,” Boone says. “I am just really grateful that they took the time to give Liz an episode to process the whole experience. With a show like ours, it’s more important oftentimes to stay with a formula, but after you’ve lived with characters for so many seasons, you want to make sure you’re going on this journey with them.”
“It was essential for us creatively to stop for a minute and revisit Liz in a totally different light and give her more of the internal quality that I always try to bring to the role, but we never really sit with in the material,” she continues. “I was excited to be able to sit with that because it’s the work I’ve always wanted to do.”
For Boone, the return episode marks a crucial shift in her relationship to Liz, and she confesses that the “fast-paced, procedural thriller that we’ve been making for the last four years has always been a real stretch for me.” “Returning to the kind of work that is more congruent with the kind of actor I am," she observes, "I found that having stretched for so long, I was able to settle in in a different way than I ever have before.”
While Boone continues to lead The Blacklist alongside James Spader, she’s using the rare off-day from filming to return to the classroom, spending her time working toward a Masters degree in sustainability at Bard College in New York City. A vocal advocate for action on climate change, the mother of one and founder of the earth-friendly toddler label Caroline Agnes (a combination of her 20-month-old daughter and Liz's daughter's names) was inspired to educate herself on an issue she’s passionate about.
“We’ve seen a lot of hypocrisy in our business come to light recently, and one of [the issues] is that we’re creating entertainment for an audience while destroying that audience’s source of life: their biosphere,” she says. “I don’t want to live a life that’s outside of my own integrity, and it was within my means to gain the knowledge and skills necessary to change the way we make TV and film for the rest of my life. I want to be able to say, when I make a film or television show, that everything I’m doing is for the good of my audience and for the good of humanity because that’s what stories are meant to be. That’s what stories are supposed to be.”
The Blacklist returns Wednesday, Jan. 3 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on NBC.