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NBC Insider The Blacklist

Harry Lennix Says This Season 3 Scene Is the "Emotional Highlight" of The Blacklist

After putting over 200 Blacklisters behind bars, Lennix looks back at The Blacklist's legacy.

By Jessica White

The relationship between Reddington (James Spader) and Cooper (Harry Lennix) on The Blacklist is incredibly compelling. Cooper has been the commander of the Task Force since the show's debut in 2013. He's benevolent to his core, so adjusting to Red's morally gray lifestyle took a while. Cooper doesn't always love Red as a criminal informant — especially when he misleads the Task Force for his own selfish gain. Even still, Cooper remains loyal to the Task Force's mission of catching bad guys — and realizes Red's criminal experience is an asset to that mission. 

By The Blacklist's final season, Cooper has become one of Red's closest confidantes and friends. Now that Congressman Hudson has unearthed Red's role as a criminal informant, Red's assumed all legal blame for the Task Force's shady misdealings — and that's largely to protect Cooper and the other agents. With the Task Force shut down for good, Red's now on the run, and we're essentially back at square one for The Blacklist. Cooper is an FBI agent. Red's a wanted fugitive. And the clock is ticking to arrest him. 

Harry Lennix opens up about his Blacklist experience

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NBC Insider chatted with Lennix a few weeks ago about The Blacklist's emotional conclusion and his experience on the show. Read more, below. 

NBC Insider: Over 200 episodes later, how does it feel to say goodbye to The Blacklist?

Lennix: Without the fans, we would not have been able to tell this story... There was, from time to time, the question as to whether or not we'd be able to go on telling this story. But I have to tell you, when we first started, I thought we were maybe a five-year show. I was kind of surprised, although not on the other hand because it was such a good show and it was so well-told. But I'm glad that we got a chance to do 10 years, 'cause that's extremely extraordinary. We've come to the conclusion. And I think that we're all very happy that we had this amount of time. As Carol Burnett used to say, "So glad we had this time together."

Who is your all-time favorite Blacklister the Task Force has put away? I know there are so many options.

It's like 218 shows [laughs]. I liked the Stewmaker in Season 1. He was a very, very, uh, intriguing character, spooky, creepy. But yeah, for a little while there, Elizabeth Keen was a Blacklister. So I'm gonna put her on the list, too.

Harold Cooper on The Blacklist

What would you say is one of your favorite memories from the show?

It was [C2E2] in Chicago. I remember it was Hisham [Tawfiq]; Clark Middleton, who played Glen —  who we deeply miss and were grateful to have had for so many years. [Blacklist creator] Jon Bokenkamp was there with us, John Eisendrath, the show’s runners. We had a couple of guys who created a podcast where they would talk about The Blacklist. It was like all things Blacklist, all the time. So being able to engage like that with our fans was wonderful...On screen, of course, it's a little more difficult to tell. But I remember my favorite thing to say, even though it was difficult, was the oration speech when we thought Elizabeth Keen died the first time [in Season 3 of The Blacklist]... That, to me, was the emotional highlight.

How do you feel Cooper's relationship with Red has changed since the start of The Blacklist?

In the earlier seasons, of course, there was a lot of animosity, if you will, or reluctance — even though we knew that we needed each other. The Task Force needs Red as much as Red needs the Task Force and that kind of thing. But we were a little more hesitant to say so in any kind of productive and pleasant way. But I think that we've come to rely on that fact. So that's a big change.

The Blacklist

In one word, how would you describe the ending of The Blacklist?

Lennix: Mysterious. I'm like the fans in this regard. We really don't know exactly what the last moments of the show are going to be. So that's going to be a lot of fun and [I'm] looking forward to it. So it's as mysterious as we started. 

The Blacklist two-hour series finale airs Thursday, July 13 at 8/7c on NBC and will later stream on Peacock