Harry Lennix is pulling double duty this September. The 24 and Dollhouse alum is one of the stars of NBC’s highly anticipated new drama series The Blacklist, and he’s also starring in a new star-studded film called Mr. Sophistication, which is out today. BFTV connected with Harry recently to chat with him about both projects, and how he became the veteran character actor we’ve come to know and enjoy.
On The Blacklist, Harry plays FBI Assistant Director Harold Cooper, the boss of newbie agent Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone, from Law & Order: Los Angeles), who has a past with the master criminal that Keen has to work with. “I was excited to be asked to be a part of it,” he told us. “First of all, it’s got a masterful actor in James Spader. Secondly, the dialogue and the storyline is intriguing. I was very exciting about it. It’s a cut above most of the material that we get.”
While he couldn’t reveal too much about the show NBC is banking on as its next big drama hit, Harry did give us one hint that’s already got us curious. “To a large extent, we’re finding out who these characters are and what they’re going to be doing,” he said, before he revealed, “The longest-standing relationship on the show [is] between James’s character and my character. I think that’s rife with potential and possibility, and I’m excited as everybody else.”
He thinks the relationships are what’s going to separate The Blacklist from your garden-variety crime show. “You’re interested in the characters,” he continued. “There’s a great combination between procedural drama and interpersonal relationships and I think it’s uniquely positioned in that way.”
Here’s the trailer for The Blacklist.
Harry is a TV veteran, who’s best known to audiences for roles like Islamic-American activist Walid Al-Rezani in the sixth season of 24 and former cop Boyd Langton in Dollhouse. He’s also appeared on shows like ER, House and Emily Owens M.D. But none of these are his favorite small-screen part. “My favorite show was Commander in Chief,” he said, naming the ABC political drama for which he earned an Image Award nomination in 2006. “I played the Chief of Staff. I had a blast doing it. In a lot of ways, I wish that show was still on. I think it was ahead of its time in a lot of ways, and I don’t think it was given its just due.”
Playing authority figures like an FBI Assistant Director or the White House Chief of Staff is something Harry is familiar with both in television and film; he also appeared as a general in Zack Snyder’s blockbuster Man of Steel earlier this year. Why does he think he keeps ending up in power? “I’m a tall fellow. I have a deep voice. I appear authoritative,” he theorized.
“Although in reality, in fairness to my career, I’ve played a number of parts. If you look at my work in feature films over the years, I’ve been in Spike Lee movies, [and] in my own film, I play a comedian who ruined his own career. I think that just the more popular films and TV series have me in more or less authoritative roles.”
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