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The Blacklist's Amir Arison Faced Two Jarring Challenges Playing Aram

NBC's "The Blacklist" surrounds its central character, mysterious criminal genius Raymond "Red" Reddington (James Spader), with a cast of interesting characters. From the dearly departed Liz Keen (Megan Boone) to Harold Cooper (Harry Lennix) and Dembe Zuma (Hisham Tawfiq), "The Blacklist" has plenty of characters who are personable enough that their interactions with Red and each other provide plenty of entertainment. 

One interesting member of the show's FBI team is Amir Arison's Aram Mojtabai, the resident tech expert. Aram is hardly the biggest action hero of the show, but he's a multifaceted, smart and fascinating character whose skills quickly earn the seemingly genuine respect of Red himself. News of Arison leaving "The Blacklist" after Season 9 started circulating in the summer of 2022, and his departure is one of the reasons fans are so conflicted about Season 10

Arison obviously did great work in the role, but interestingly enough, the experience wasn't always easy for the actor. In fact, he faced two jarring challenges playing Aram in "The Blacklist." 

Continuity and consistency were big challenges when portraying Aram

"The Blacklist" mixes slow-burn storylines and case-of-the-week procedural stuff, and because of its lengthy run, the actors get to explore their characters for a long time. In a 2019 interview with the Actor's Audience (via YouTube), Amir Arison identified the sheer length of time he played Aram as one of his major challenges in the show. The other problem, which intimately connects with the first one, was how to keep the character's nature and his ongoing arc consistent regardless of the theme and tone of any given episode.      

"The most overarching challenge is, you know, playing a character for six years," Arison said. "I've changed as a person in five-six years, and grown. And so has the character. And they've really given him a beautiful, they've written to me all kinds of great stories. But we also do the cases each week, and so there's the primary function of presenting cases, solving cases, resolving cases on the procedural side of it besides the kind of ongoing storylines. [...] So making sure that a character continues to be the same, but also grow."

As an example of such challenges, Arison recounted a particularly challenging moment after Liz Keen's fake death in Season 3. After the heartbroken Aram attended the funeral, he had to return to work, which obviously impacted the way Arison had to portray the character.

"How do you go after work after getting high and crying and going to your best friend's funeral?" the actor described the challenge. "I remember working forever on that to find a way and a reason to kind of march forward."  

Aram's rapid rise from a recurring character to an important main one is testament to Arison's dedicated portrayal of the character. As this fascinating sneak peek at his process proves, he certainly applied plenty of elbow grease to rise to the challenge in any and all occasions.