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‘The Blacklist’ actor who nearly became a priest

Harry Lennix

Bryan R. Smith | AFP

Cerith Gardiner - published on 10/16/21

Life in the seminary proved invaluable in Harry Lennix's career.

Harry Lennix has notched up an impressive list of acting roles in his 30-year acting career. During the years, he’s played a myriad of roles that have more or less had a common theme: a character who tries to protect society, friends, and family.

In more recent years he’s appeared on our screens in the popular series The Blacklist, playing the FBI boss Harold Cooper, who has the difficult task of making sure criminal informer Raymond Reddington plays by the book.

Yet, the actor recently revealed that he spent five years studying with the Dominicans to become a priest. And although he ultimately decided that the priesthood was not his vocation, he believed that his time with the Dominicans proved instrumental in bringing depth to the characters he plays.

As the 56-year-old shared with Page Six, when you are a priest “you have to be able to answer people’s questions. Those questions are sometimes quite profound and require a great deal of thought and preparation to answer” — a set of skills that are crucial to accurately portray a character on screen.

The actor drew comparisons between his studies in theology and life at the seminary that have helped him embody some of the diverse characters he has played over the years. And perhaps thanks to his knowledge and past experience, the Chicago native drew an interesting correlation between today’s superheroes and popular religious movies of the past:

“People used to watch Passion movies, religious kind of movies, and I think that these superheroes have kind of taken the place of that,” he said. “People endowed with superpowers who have a wisdom or ancient kind of tradition that is superhuman.”

While the latest season of The Blacklist will be returning to NBC this October 21, perhaps one day we’ll get to see Lennix portray a priest, even a Dominican, where he’d surely be able to give a most meaningful performance.

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