David Giesbrecht/NBC
Lynette Rice
July 18, 2013 AT 11:09 PM EDT

The Project: NBC’s The Blacklist

Panel: A panel of Johns! Three executive Producers were there: Jon Bodenkamp, John Eisendrath, John Davis, plus stars James Spader (Red Reddington), Megan Boone (Elizabeth Keen), and Diego Klattenhoff (Donald Ressler).

Footage screened: The premiere episode that’ll bow Sept. 23 on NBC.

Snap judgment: Spader’s turn as an enigmatic criminal who helps the Feds catch a bad guy — but only if Agent Keen plays a lead role in the hunt — was a hit with attendees who were particularly appreciative of the veteran actor’s comedic style. The pilot is particularly violent, but in a deliciously evil way. And everyone naturally assumed that Spader plays Boone’s dad — but it’s not clear if that’s the case. (And the panel certainly wasn’t going to tell us).

The Big Revelations: This is Spader’s first Comic-Con! He kept his cool – quite literally – by attending the panel in tinted sunglasses. He got a big round of applause when he walked the dais. When asked why he chose the role, Spader kept it simple: “You see an awful lot, you are immediately drawn in by these people but by end of the story, you know nothing about them.”

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