On the NBC series Blindspot, while Jane (Jaimie Alexander) continues to try to unlock some major secrets from her past, the FBI team that she’s a part of are all deal with their own personal crises. And Agent Edgar Reade (Rob Brown), who is trying to uncover the truth about some memories that he’s repressed, must rely on the help of his partner, Agent Tasha Zapata (Audrey Esparza), to deal with an urgent matter before things spiral even further.
During this exclusive phone interview with Collider, actor Rob Brown talked about Blindspot being a true ensemble, the twists and turns in the story that have most surprised him, how he learned about Reade’s story arc for Season 2, still learning the details as he gets each script, why he typically prefers to have all of the answers ahead of time, and that mole in the FBI. Be aware that there are some spoilers discussed.
Collider: This is a kick-ass show that does an awesome job of giving everyone in the ensemble interesting storylines.
ROB BROWN: Yeah, I appreciate that, of course. It’s a true ensemble. I’d like to think that (showrunner) Martin [Gero] has a lot of tools in the box that he can use. He’s asking a lot of us, but hopefully we’re delivering. We’re working hard on it. Hopefully, that’s coming across in the pieces that come at you, every week.
Last season, everyone was keeping secrets from each other, thinking they were protecting each other. How do you think stripping all of that away has most changed the dynamic, this season?
BROWN: I think that’s how life is, in a lot of ways. Reade mentioned to Zapata, earlier in the season, that Jane was a pawn. That’s just an observation and not necessarily a criticism. At different times, people are pawns. In order to just get by, you have to utilize others to survive. You have to depend on your teammates whenever you’re in a compromised position where you don’t have full control. Sometimes you have to rely on people you work with, even if you have differences.
With all of the twists and turns of last season, what most surprised you about the storylines, both overall and with your character, specifically?
BROWN: It’s gotta be the Sandstorm revelation about Jane’s family. But for me, specifically, I didn’t know that we’d continue on with the Jones storyline. That was, in itself, surprising, but I was excited about it and am currently enjoying the challenge.
When Martin Gero told you what your story arc would be, at least for a portion of this season, was it anything you saw coming, or were you surprised that this was the road that you’d be going down?
BROWN: How it’s playing out now, I never could have imagined. But we spoke, last year, about continuing on with it. And then, over hiatus, I met with Martin and we went over the first half of the season. I said, “All right,” and here we are. I’m just trying to deliver what’s on paper. Obviously, this is a delicate issue that we want to be respectful through. In that sense, I’ve just been a vessel, not necessarily wanting to input anything that I want to say about it. I’m just trying to portray what’s on the page. That’s not completely true. I did want Reade to always come from a place of strength, no matter what. But aside from that, the words on the page speak for themselves. We’ve got great writers, so it’s been great. For the genre that we’re in, even though we’re trying to plant our own flag, it’s easy to get wrapped up in a case of the week. I don’t think that’s this show. Sometimes we want to focus elsewhere because people are interested in more than that, frankly.
When you were told about this arc, were you told the full journey? Were you told whether or not Reade was really abused and what he was really responsible for doing or not doing, or have you learned that as you’ve read each script?
BROWN: I still don’t know. Over hiatus, Martin spoke to me for an hour, but it was just a broad outline of Episodes 1-10. We’re on Episode 9 now, and I still don’t really know. Seriously, I don’t really know, which is cool. It’s almost as though we’re in real time when we work. I’ll find out soon, I’m sure of it. It’s the midpoint of the season for us, so I’m going to find out the second half of the season soon. But as of right now, I don’t know.
Is it difficult for you, as an actor, to not have those answers?
BROWN: I like to have all of the information, so usually I’ll bother writers. Last year, I bothered Martin a lot. I bothered everybody. Whatever writer was on set, I’d bother them about stuff. So for me, that’s difficult. I don’t really like that. But it’s helpful because it’s like we’re going in real time, as we roll through it. And it’s cool to just be in the moment. The scenes speak for themselves, so I just try to be a vessel and not really worry about anything else right now. We never have too many scripts ahead, anyway. We’ve got a lot to focus on, in one day, let alone three or four episodes ahead. We never really have more than we can handle.
Since Reade has been trying to piece his own memories back together, he’s gone through a range of emotions. We’ve seen him lash out and be violent and angry, and he’s been confused because he’s not sure what really happened, but he still had enough sense to take a personal day to try to work some things out. What would you say his headspace is, at this point? Is he off the rails, or is he still aware of his actions?
BROWN: He’s as aware as he can be. I think he’s a little unstable, which is understandable. Reade likes to be in control. He’s a stable, consistent person. But right now, because of so many shake-ups, personally and professionally, he doesn’t know which way is up, so there are temporary lapses in judgement or restraint. That’s not to say that’s where Reade is at permanently, but that’s where he’s at, for the moment that comes out. All of it is understandable, considering the things that he’s being tormented by.
Does Reade need to finally get definite answers about exactly what happened to him, in order to be able to fully process and move on from it?
BROWN: I guess conventional wisdom is that you should face everything, talk about it, process it, come to terms with it and move on. I guess that’s possible for Reade, but it’s also possible that all of that can be accomplished and more questions could still come out, or maybe those answers won’t be satisfying. But, that’s not always how it works. It takes a long time for people to move on in life, in general. When dealing with complex issues, people find different ways to cope and those ways aren’t always the most truthful.
Especially with how things were left in the last episode, what can you say to tease where things go next for Reade?
BROWN: He and Zapata, his partner and friend, are in a bad spot. From there, they have to figure out how to get out of that spot, before more eyes are on the situation. The more people that see it, the more people who end up involved in it. It’s a situation where, if you see it, it’s bad news. It’s a bit of a panic time. It’s damage control time. It’s basically Reade and Zapata trying to figure out how to protect themselves in a bad-looking situation.
Do you think he’s relieved that Zapata stuck herself in this situation, so that he has somebody to go through it with, or do you think he’d rather be dealing with it alone?
BROWN: I don’t think enough time has elapsed to even process that, honestly. That realization may happen later. Right now, it’s really just about damage control.
There’s also been talk of a mole inside the FBI. When things like that come up, do you guys talk about your own personal theories as a cast, or do you wait for the next script to show up to see if the answers are in the next episode?
BROWN: We never know when those things will be answered, but we do like to share theories and spitball things back and forth. What it comes down to is that any one of us could be the mole. It’s a never-ending conversation.
Have you thought about what the ramifications of that reveal could mean?
BROWN: Personally, no. We just show up to work, each day, and we basically find out once we get the script. There’s no warning. In a lot of ways, we’re just like you, as fans of the show waiting to get the next script. Part of why I used to bother the writers was just as a fan of the show, wanting to know what’s going on. I want to know who the mole is, too. But by virtue of Reade’s storyline, I’ve chilled out and stopped worrying about what’s later. I just literally focus on today, and what I’ve gotta get done today, so I haven’t put much thought into where the show would go.
Blindspot airs on Wednesday nights on NBC.