Friday, June 20, 2014

Everything You Really Don't Care About Vicuña: Mr. Kaplan from 'The Blacklist'

Clockwise from upper left:  Missy Dandridge, Pet Semetary, 1989 ; Off-Broadway play, The Metal Children, 2010;  Tinka in Edward Scissorhands, 1990;  Mallory in Happy Tears, 2010; Vamka in Angel, 2001.

Vicuña who?  It's Mr. Kaplan's coat that Red admired in a makeshift snowy graveyard in the Ivan episode.  It's made of the most expensive fabric in the world.  But this article isn't about 2-toed South American mammals, it's a feature on actress Susan Blommaert and the character she plays, the incomparable Mr. Kaplan.  The vicuña title is just snappier.  There has been some talk on the
Red: Good vs Evil page about Red's diminutive cleaner, so I thought I'd take it a step further and focus on Blommaert. Unfortunately there's not much info.

Blommaert, 66, is an American actress who grew up in Chicago.  She has acted in more than 20 films and two dozen television shows.  Some of her more noted movies have been Pet Semetary, Doubt, United 93, and Edward Scissorhands.  Her TV appearances have included roles in The Sopranos, Boardwalk Empire, The X-Files, The Practice, Law and Order, The Good Wife, and ER.
On The Blacklist, Mr. Kaplan appears in three episodes:  Anslo Garrick 2, The Cyprus Agency, and Ivan. 

"I have two directives, to protect you and find my employer.  I intend to do both."
In Anslo 2, Liz breaks into the house across the street from her own, where Apple Man has been spying on her and Tom.  She kills him, and per Red's orders, she calls Mr. Kaplan for help. When Mr. Kaplan arrives to clean up the Bad Apple, Liz is surprised, as we all are, to discover he is a she.

"Don't worry Dearie.  I'm used to cleaning up after you."
After Red has some target practice on Diane in The Cyprus Agency, Mr. Kaplan shows up to clean the scene to the strains of Gordon Lightoot's Sundown - "In a room where you do what you don't confess..."

"Put it on your Christmas list and if you're good..."
In Ivan, Mr. Kaplan finds the bodies of The Cowboy and Jolene buried six inches under the snow after being killed by Tom.  She determines they were killed eight days earlier, according to her analysis of the decay.  Now that sounds like a fun job!  I wonder how much she's being paid?  Apparently a lot because her vicuña overcoat can "easily cost $115,000".

I'm sorry, what?  If I had one it would last half a day before I dribbled my triple venti soy no-foam latte down the front and then got it caught in the car door.*  You could buy a modest 3 bedroom house in Pittsburgh with that kind of bank.

Since there's no more information on Blommaert, and someone needs to make use of the wiki on vicuñca, I'll provide you with more details.  The fabric comes from hairs gathered from the back and neck of the vicuña, an animal that looks like a small, orange llama and roams wild in the Andes of Peru and Argentina.  It takes the fleece of twenty five to thirty animals to produce one overcoat, and a vicuñca produces enough wool to be shorn only once every three years. The luxurious wool is eight times finer than a human hair and makes cashmere feel like 30 grit sandpaper. The fabric is known to date back as far as the days of Incan royalty, when Mr. Kaplan was in kindergarten.

So there you are - everything you need to know about Susan Blommaert, from a movie with weird scissor hands to Incan royalty.

Incidentally, Mr. Kaplan is in The Blacklist episode, The Cyprus Agency, on Saturday June 21, at 10 pm.

Sources:  Hub Pages , The Wall Street Journal

* I've never in my life had coffee and I have no idea what this drink is.


Basil said...

Bravo, CHomps! Excellent article.

You are one gifted writer.

The article was so much fun to read as I have always been curious about Mr. Kaplan and the actress who plays her.

And the info about the Vicuna coat was fun and interesting...but when I first read the title I was....wha? Huh? Great fun!!

My favorite part, though? Mr. Kaplan in Incan kindergarten!!!

JBiltz said...

I recently went back and watched Boardwalk Empire and she was almost an extra in that episode. Which really surprised me since she is a good actress and was credited. I have the feeling she was in a scene that got cut for time.

That coat is just crazy.

Chompstick said...

She has been in one episode of so many different tv shows and I imagine a number of the roles are quite small. There's no way to know by reading IMDB. She seems to be so popular on BL, I wish they would use her more.

Charmed said...

Chompstick- This is a wonderful article on a well deserved, beloved Blacklist character. It's always fun to see Mr. Kaplan in her capacity of Red's devoted and always interesting henchman. They care so much for each other. It will be great to find out their real history at some point.

You did very well filling in all the blanks with humor and information about the coat. I love the pictures. Echoing Basil, Bravo!

fangirl said...

Fascinating! I love reading stuff like this.

Her Mr. Kaplan character is so interesting and unusual, and she's just perfect for that part. It's such a nice thing when Hollywood manages to pull off these little miracles of characterisation + perfect casting.

Well-written article, Chomps! Brava!

Naike said...

Chomps, simply put: this is brilliant!
So entertaining to read, so informative, so much fun!
You are one heck of a talented writer! Congratulations! I hope we will have many more occasions to read your excellent writings for a long time to come!
So much enjoyment!
Thank you so very much for it!

For some reason, Mrs. Phyllis H. Paddock, in nine long seasons of "The X-Files", is that strange creature among all those strange creatures in an even stranger world on "The X-Files", that has impressed me the most and has left me with the most vivid and longest running memory of that show. I'm convinced Susan Blommaert's outstanding portraying of the devil(!) him... er, herself had a lot to do with it.
Critics and TV viewers all agreed (and it's probably quite rare that both groups would agree so easily on something) that "Die Hand die verletzt" was one of the best "The X Files" episodes ever, even if the long-term mythology of the show was not a part of it. And that says something about the quality of the episode, I think.

Naike said...

By the way, as a cover, Mrs. Phyllis H. Paddock impersonated the role of an — wait for it — innocuous school substitute teacher! Sounds somehow familiar? Yeah, I'm kind of thinking I'm never going to trust any substitute teacher in my whole life again. Red would certainly classify them just as the CIA, attractive, but treacherous. And such sweet smiles. Or maybe not, after all.

There were so many more parallels between "The Blacklist" and "The X-Files", as has been mentioned before. One sure was the aligning of impressive guest appearances by remarkable actors. You will certainly recognize one or two familiar faces among that list (Susan Blommaert is on page 3, by the way). Whenever there is a poll on the internet with a similar topic such as "best villain" or maybe more appropriate "creepiest character on a show", it will be highly probable that you are going to find Susan Blommaert's name as Mrs. Phyllis H. Paddock on that list, even after many years have passed since that episode was put on the air for the first time. It's surprising she hasn't appeared more prominently in feature roles. Then again, there are actors who like it just that way. And yes, I see that much talent in Susan Blommeart. She sure manages to capture the viewer's attention.
I'm so hoping we are going to see more of Mr. Kaplan in season two of The Blacklist. The relationship between Red and Mr. Kaplan is probably one of those most intriguing to me.

Naike said...

Chomps, I had some basic knowledge regarding "Vicugna vicugna". I knew it was put on "The IUCN RED List of Threatened Species" in 2008, for example (Fortunately for the Vicugna, in the "Least Concern" category). I knew you could make some pretty scarfs and nice stoles out of their wool and that you would have to pay a few $/£/€ for those.

But until Red asked Mr. Kaplan about the fabric of her coat, I had no idea of what Mr. Kaplan's coat was made of. And I would certainly never — like never in a million of years! — have been able to guess the price tag on such a coat.

$115,000???...!!! HOLY CO... CAMELIDAE!
And I always thought it was outrageous that a purse could cost as much as not one, but two Harley Davidsons!
Oh, by the way, Red can have Mr. Kaplan's coat. In return, I really, really, like REALLY want Mr. Kaplan's purse! I knew it could only be a matter of time until that purse would get its recognition on the internet. I mean, purses on TV shows now have their own fan base, right? Brenda Leigh Johnson, Alicia Florrick or Claire Underwood, any-gal?

But then again, if Mr. Kaplan's purse would cost as much as her coat, I would opt for that Harley, after all. Or probably two. ;o)

~End of Post~

Laocoon said...

Great job, Chomps!!

Chompstick said...

Thanks, Laocoon. It's good to see you back. I'm late posting something new because I'm on vacay.

Harry said...

Chompstick: Just read through your Mr. Kaplan/Vicuña post. Really enjoyable and witty! Question: How does one navigate from the home page or Topics column to access pages like this?