Susan Blommaert is an American actress who is best known for playing the assassin Kathryn Nemec, a.k.a. Mr. Kaplan, in the NBC crime thriller series 'The Blacklist' (2013-17). She began acting in theatre in Chicago as a young adult and later launched her film and television career in New York. She has an impressive list of credits that include films like 'Pet Sematary', 'Edward Scissorhands', 'Mouse Hunt', 'Doubt', 'The Double', and 'John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum'. Perhaps more popular on television, she has appeared in series such as 'Law & Order', 'Mad About You', 'Grace Under Fire', 'The Brian Benben Show', 'The Practice', 'Family Law', 'The Sopranos', 'Louie', 'Madoff' and 'Bull'. She provided the voice of Mrs. McRae in the 2006 video game 'Bully'. While she has now established herself as an impactful television and film actor, she still loves acting live on stage. She has also acted in musicals.
Rise to Stardom
Susan Blommaert, who was initially interested in becoming a stylist or a photographer in Chicago, had a few different jobs before she started acting. In fact, she didn't even think about becoming an actress when she appeared on stage for the first time, playing Renfield in a summer production of 'Count Dracula' when she was in her mid-20s. However, it was her idea to cast a female actor in the role that is traditionally played by men, which she had communicated to the director, who asked her to audition and subsequently cast her. She enjoyed making people laugh. She took an acting course and later moved from Chicago to New York City in search of work. She initially worked on stage before seeking roles in films and on television to be financially stable. Her first role was in the 1987 comedy-mystery film 'Forever, Lulu', following which she appeared as Missy Dandridge in 'Pet Sematary', based on Stephen King's novel. At the time, 'Law & Order' was the only show to run long enough in New York City, other than soap-operas, and getting the recurring role of Judge Rebecca Steinman advanced her career greatly.
In the following years, she regularly shifted between New York and California for various acting gigs, and even though she was lucky enough to work with several A-list actors, her roles were mostly minor ones. She even had to audition for the role of 'Mr. Kaplan' on a short notice before starting to shoot the very next day. Thankfully, her fabulous performance made the character a fan-favorite and earned her immense popularity.
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What Makes Susan Special
Susan Blommaert, who became an actress by chance, has revealed in an interview with 'The Blacklist Exposed' podcast that she probably would not have had the guts to enter the field if she had known how the industry works. She didn't have contacts and struggled to get auditions for roles in the early years. However, she quickly mastered the art of leaving an impression on the audience, which earned her recurring roles such as Judge Rebecca Steinman in 'Law & Order', Judge Rudy Fox in 'The Practice', and Judge Barbara Burke in 'Family Law'. Incidentally, after donning the black robe several times throughout her career, she feels that 'judges' helped save her career.
In a 2017 interview with 'HuffPost', she revealed that she had not imagined the popularity her character Mr. Kaplan would achieve when she auditioned with a couple of papers in her hand. She had realized the potential of the character after watching a few episodes of the series the day before her audition and began shooting the day after. She was pleasantly surprised to see that her character became a central part of the series. The character, which was initially presented as seemingly cold-blooded and devoid of empathy, later developed to be more complex as it was revealed that all her actions were motivated by her task to protect one of the main characters, Elizabeth. Blommaert, who dies from hanging in 'Pet Sematary', is "pitchforked to death" in an episode of 'Tales from the Crypt', and had a few death scenes in 'The Blacklist', feels that her death scenes have been balanced out by her killing scenes, which are not rare either. Interestingly, despite doing several violent scenes throughout her career, she cannot watch such scenes herself!
Family & Personal Life
Susan J. Blommaert was born on October 13, 1947, in Chicago, the United States, where she spent most of her early life. She took several odd jobs after completing her studies and took acting classes at St. Nicholas School in Chicago only after becoming interested in acting in her twenties. She worked in local theatres before eventually relocating to New York City where she continued to pursue her passion for acting.