'The Blacklist' 's Hisham Tawfiq Talks Working with TV's 'Sexy Criminal' James Spader and Teases a 'Shady' New Nemesis for Season 3

Upcoming season of The Blacklist is promised to be unexpected by the show's stars

Photo: NBC

NBC’s hit series The Blacklist is known for it’s shocking twists, and star Hisham Tawfiq promises that season 3 will be no exception.

“When it comes to The Blacklist, there is always something unexpected, but when I read the script for the first episode, I was hitting the roof I was so excited,” Tawfiq tells PEOPLE. “This season is completely shocking, it takes a different approach, because the focus is on one shady character as opposed to new ones being introduced every episode.”

The actor – who plays Dembe Zuma, the bodyguard of James Spader‘s Raymond “Red” Reddington – is referring Mr. Solomon, a “delightfully evil” character played by X-Men: First Class and Twilight actor Edi Gathegi, who will make his first appearance in the season premiere.

“There’s a different dynamic with the cast on account of Red and Liz being on the run,” he says. “The focus is now on catching them and not on a bunch of different criminals. They sort of are the criminals in this season.”

Tawfiq, 38, says Spader’s Golden Globe-nominated portrayal of Red has garnered him the label of a “sexy criminal” among his fans.

“When I look on social media, he’s like a sex symbol, everyone just loves him,” he says. “He’s bad, but there’s absolutely no animosity towards him.”

The series regular says his on-screen, bodyguard relationship with Spader, 55, works so well because of their off-screen chemistry.

“[James] went out of his way to introduce himself to me and find out who I was personally, and we had a lot of chats. He’s a good guy” says Tawfiq. “He invested in getting to know me and that shows on screen. He’s such a perfectionist, it’s amazing watching him work.”

RELATED VIDEO: The Blacklist‘s Harry Lennix on the Perils of Playing a Fake FBI Agent

The Blacklist

returns Thursday at 9 p.m. ET on NBC.

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