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When the COVID-19 pandemic shut down all live-action Hollywood productions back in March, NBC's The Blacklist was left without a Season 7 finale. As executive producers Jon Bokenkamp and John Eisendrath exclusively told us in May, the creative team struggled to find a way to wrap up the story in a satisfying way. They briefly considered doing an old-fashioned radio play before settling on the idea of combining footage that had already been shot with graphic novel-inspired animation.
During a panel for Comic-Con@Home, Bokenkamp, Eisendrath, and few other series crew members shed a bit more light on the unconventional episode. For instance, did you know that The Meg's Jason Statham sort of had a secret, uncredited role in the finale? Adam Coglan and Matt Perrin of Proof Inc. (the UK-based studio that handled the animation side of things) revealed that an existing model of Statham was used as a placeholder because the turnaround schedule was so tight.
"At the beginning, when we were building those scenes with you guys ... we didn't have the models," Perrin said. "We didn't have anything, so we were having to animate and design the shots at the same time as building the models — everything looked gray and kind of crummy for a long time."
"I think Jason Statham stood in for quite a lot of people at one point," added Coglan. "We've just got a massive library of models of people that we've used in the past. Jason Statham seemed to come up quite a lot in that episode."
"There was a point where Statham played three characters in the same scene," cut in Perrin. "It was getting really weird."
Watch the full panel below:
For Eisendrath, the comic book approach offered an exciting way to utilize angles and shots that would otherwise be impossible in the realm of live-action. "I think part of what was fun about it ... was that we got to exaggerate some of what is ultimately part of the DNA of the show anyway. But we got to exaggerate it in a way that we never otherwise would have," he said, going on to compare James Spader's Reddington to the "supernatural, all-powerful, comic book bad guy" archetype.
The producer also stated that since they had to cut the season a few episodes short, "Season 8 starts in a much more heightened, dramatic place than normal seasons do because we are gonna tell the story we were unable to tell at the end of last season." "It picks up immediately. It's a rocket ship," Bokenkamp, who created the show, teased of next season. "It's urgent and I think it's unlike anything we've done. It's unlike any of the other seasons in a really great way and it's gonna be very different."
And, of course, the panel's moderator (Philiana Ng of Entertainment Tonight) had to ask Harry Lennix ("Harold Cooper") if he'll be returning to play Calvin Swanwick/Martian Manhunter in the Snyder Cut of Justice League.
"I wish I knew or had some insight, I'd be jumping up and down," Lennix said, explaining how he was originally supposed to take time off from The Blacklist to film scenes in the DCEU project before his character was written out of the script. "I would be delighted [to come back]. I love Zack Snyder, I love the Justice League ... I hope that it happens. I think if the fans want it to happen, it will happen because that's why we're having the conversation about his cut in the first place. If there's a demand for Martian Manhunter, I'm all in."
The Season 7 finale ("The Kazanjian Brothers") can currently be streamed on NBC's website.
(SYFY WIRE and NBC are both owned by NBCUniversal.)
Click here for SYFY WIRE's full coverage of Comic-Con@Home 2020.