Playing a slightly awkward tech genius on “The Blacklist” and a poet-turned-advertising-supplement writer on “Girls” are two reasons actor Amir Arison is feeling like one lucky guy.
“It’s really been an amazing year,” the actor told AccessHollywood.com. “I’m so grateful. I love these two parts, like love them as much as any two parts I’ve ever had to play on TV. Kevin [on ‘Girls’] is a ridiculous character, so the character actor in me was like jumping up and down inside, and Aram [on ‘The Blacklist’], is probably closer to my personality than anything I’ve ever played.”
While he’ll reappear later this season in “Girls,” expect to see him much sooner on “The Blacklist,” which returns to NBC on Monday night at 10 PM, now that its Olympics-induced hiatus is over.
During a new interview with AccessHollywood.com, Amir hinted at what’s next following the huge “Blacklist” character death in the last episode. He also revealed what made him refuse to give Lena Dunham a smoothie on the “Girls” set and if – as a Season 1 “Homeland” alum (Prince Farid) – he’d be up for return to that Showtime series.
AccessHollywood.com: What’s it like working with Lena Dunham?
Amir Arison: Lena Dunham is a very, very special person, as most of the entire world already knows. … She is the real deal.
Access: What’s it like to film an episode of ‘Girls’? You always think about when ‘Sex and The City’ was filmed how they were followed by paparazzi and real people, who wanted to watch the women interact. Is it the same for ‘Girls’?
Amir: Most of the stuff we did were interiors, so I didn’t really encounter that, but I do remember going down to Craft Services and a lady on the street being like, ‘Here, try my smoothie.’ I was like, ‘Excuse me? What?’ And she was like, ‘Would you please give this to Lena or Jemima [Kirke] and tell them to call me? I’m such a fan and I want them to drink my smoothie and I promote all health/organic smoothies.’ And it was the most bizarre, creepy fan thing I’ve ever encountered. She didn’t even know who I was. It was just like anyone who was at the Craft Services table at ‘Girls’ somehow had a connection to them and, ‘Could you have them drink my smoothie?’
Access: What do you talk about with Lena during downtime?
Amir: Lena is actually really engaged between takes and is like, ‘Where are you from? What’s going on?’ She knows the script so well. I remember once, we were [between] takes and she had monologue after monologue and it was like, ‘How do you know this?’ and she was like, ‘It’s so funny, when I play another part, it’s impossible for me to learn my lines, but since I go over these scripts so much, and the story so much, I don’t even try to memorize them.’ … I can’t speak highly enough about her. [She] was one of the most wonderful [people] I’ve worked with in my life. And I really hope to work with her again and again. She’s very, very special.
Access: And on ‘The Blacklist’ you get to work with James Spader too.
Amir: Very exciting. Now, my character doesn’t interact with Spader’s character very often.
Access: But you did have the episode recently where he was going to kill you unless you transferred all this money. And you were almost the mole too. Were you worried when they almost made you the mole?
Amir: Well, I can say that I think I knew an episode or two before that, that I wasn’t the mole, and that I wasn’t gonna get killed. … Did you watch [the last episode]? No one is safe. I think no one is safe except for Mr. Spader.
Access: But they need you. Aram has the computer skills.
Amir: Thank you for saying so, but, I’ll tell you this though… before that episode came out, a lot of people… who had the scripts before everyone else were like, ‘Ooh, you [have] a good scene. Ooh, you got a good storyline!’ And I was like, ‘Why did you tell me that!’ – ‘cause I couldn’t get the script for like a week. … Then I got the script. That probably was my favorite scene in the entire series that I’ve had. Not just because of Mr. Spader, but because it was a fully fleshed out scene, with high stakes, a little bit of comedy, and also, our director of that episode… he let that scene play out in its entirety, including the two minutes that it takes to…
Access: The time for you to do the transfer?
Amir: Yeah, to do the transfer as well as – [Spader] learned how to dismantle the gun. That guy is for real.
Access: Red had some issues with his own personnel on his staff, and because he knows of your expertise and also your character’s weaknesses, do you think that could pave the way for more interaction between those two in the future?
Amir: I love that question and I certainly hope so. After I did the scene, I said… ‘I just realized something: besides proving my innocence… that also shows that I did an untraceable transfer. If I did an untraceable transfer, that means I can do other untraceable things, which means I can be taken in a lot of different directions.’
Access: Do you think the two-part episode where Aram tried to help Liz retake the black site was a big turning point for your character?
Amir: Yeah. When I got that script, I couldn’t believe it – that first part of the two-parter. … All of a sudden I was like, ‘I have more than a computer scene here or there? They’re giving me a gun? Everyone’s captured and I have a gun? What the hell is going on, on ‘The Blacklist’?’ And another thing that was particularly special that I noticed in that episode was — you hear about this when you’re a young actor – ‘the best TV roles are when the writers get to know you and they start writing in your voice, and the character voice and your voice and the writers’ voice all start to blend,’ and when I got that episode, they were writing jokes the way I would make them. … It was like the first time I’d experienced that kind of like synergy on a role. … I felt like the comments and the worries and the anxiousness and the humor were like all types of things I would say in that situation.
Access: Red killed everybody’s boss – Diane.
Amir: How good was that scene! How elegant and beautiful is Jane Alexander?
Access: Does her death send shockwaves through the team?
Amir: Well, first, don’t forget that Mr. Kaplan came. So, Mr. Kaplan cleaned it up.
Access: Good point. She could be missing (from the team’s perspective).
Amir: Correct. So you have to have the facts in order to send shockwaves… and how do you have the facts if nobody was there except for Mr. Reddington.
Access: Your character is still alive on ‘Homeland.’ Would you ever want to go back if they were to call? They killed your mistress, who was working for Carrie.
Amir: The wonderful Brianna Brown. … I got so pulled into the story, and Brianna was so great, I was like, ‘They killed her?’ Even though I was in the episode and I knew what happened, I was like [deep intake]. I get taken with it too just like an audience member. But, yes, I had heard some rumblings in Season 1 that I may come back or I could come back. I thought it was a great reason because the Prince is highly motivated to help because he’s very distraught by his No. 1 mistress and madam’s death, but they know what they’re doing, obviously, over there and I think the storyline went other places. .. But, I am still alive. ‘Homeland’ can go any direction, so it is not outside the realm of possibility. I would love to don the Prince’s robe again. Any time.
“The Blacklist” airs Mondays at 10/9c on NBC. “Girls” airs Sunday nights at 10 PM ET/PT on HBO.
-- Jolie Lash